Spring 2014 Course: Teaching Science & Engineering through Debating Civic Issues


One of the main goals of STEM education is to cultivate a scientifically literate citizenry, able to deal intelligently with debates over “hot” issues like biotechnology, alternative energy, and climate change. Activities like structured discussions, mock trials, model public hearings or in general debates also have been shown to be effective at fostering deeper engagement with course content and deeper learning. This one credit (approximately 3 hours per week) online course will invite you: to reflect on the objectives of debate pedagogy; to investigate how it’s being used in your own discipline; to explore measures of success; and to experience debate exercises in both teacher and student roles. You’ll end the course having designed a “teaching-as-research” debate exercise suitable for one of your own courses.


  • Instructor: Dr. Jean Goodwin, Professor, Department of English, Iowa State University
  • Duration of course: January 13, 2014 - May 2, 2014
  • Synchronous meeting times: one or two synchronous guest lectures in the evening (dates TBA)
  • Format: This primarily asynchronous course will start January 13, 2014; to accommodate various universities' start dates, the first deadline will not be until the following week. After that, there will generally be two deadlines per week (e.g., "post a reflection on learning objectives by midnight Monday; respond to someone else's posting by midnight Thursday"). Some activities will be team based, requiring collaboration among 2-4 students, e.g. by email. I will hold an office hour one evening a week, and there will be at least one "guest lecture" to be held at a specified time in the evening. Course activities will end May 2, 2014.
  • Credits: 1 credit.  Students may participate with or without credit, as they prefer.
  • Course Type: Graduate course
  • Open To: Early or advanced CIRTL Network graduate students, post docs, academic staff and faculty
  • Technologies: Moodle, email, Skype & Google Hangouts