Sam Greenland is currently President of the World Universities Debating Council. Sam has debated for Oxford and has also been a successful schools coach, directing the Hong Kong team at numerous World Schools Debating Championships. Recently he has been representing the University of Sydney Union in competitions, and reaching the WUDC semifinals among other advanced elimination rounds. He has been very active in creating the standards for non-native speakers to participate in international tournaments such as the WUDC. Sam has also been working on how debate can be used as a tool for teaching English and how debating improves the overall academic performance of students.
Curriculum documents and broader educational statements place increasing emphasis on critical thinking and rich assessment tasks. Classroom debates have been used in a number of secondary and tertiary contexts to assess student performance against curriculum learning outcomes. However, a number of authors have questioned the worth of debating as a classroom activity, in part due to the low level of research on how it can be accurately assessed and on the extent to which debating does or does not favour certain pre-determined groups of students.
This keynote presents a new assessment tool for classroom debates aimed at teachers who are not themselves debating experts, and analyses the performance of that assessment tool when used in a number of classroom contexts in Hong Kong secondary schools. It further explores whether the data presented from those interventions supports claims made in the literature that debating is an activity biased in favour of students who are male, high academic achievers and with high levels of English literacy.
The presentation finds that the new assessment instrument allows debating performance to be measured successfully by instructors in a classroom context. It also implies that debating does not possess the biases that some authors attribute to it, and therefore should gain wider acceptance as a useful classroom activity for developing and assessing critical thinking. It concludes with an exploration of the possible impacts of these results on classroom pedagogy and programme design for both curricular and extra-curricular activities.
Further details can be found at the conference websites:
Basic information at debate.uvm.edu/debateblog/better/Welcome.html
News blog at betterworldconference.blogspot.com/
The conference was organized by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, University of Maribor in Slovenia uni-mb.si/ , ZIP, Za in proti, zavod za kulturo dialoga/Pro et contra, institute for culture of dialogue zainproti.com/ , and the World Debate Institute of the University of Vermont debate.uvm.edu/debateblog/wdi/Welcome.html .
The organizers are grateful for the support of our sponsor QatarDebate qatardebate.org/ .
Thanks to organizers Boris Vezjak, Alfred Snider and Bojana Skrt. Special thanks to Peter Mesarec, Monica Sobocan and Aljoša Polšak.