Pro and Con Grid in Large Courses (online)
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Using Pro and Con Grid activity to facilitate critical thinking in a large online course.
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Pro and Con Grid has students follow a decision-making process by reviewing an issue, creating a list of pro and con arguments, and making a decision based on the weight and analysis of those points. A review of students’ lists reveals the depth and breadth of their analyses, capacity for objectivity, and strength of their decision-making skills. In large courses (150 +), it can be difficult to facilitate active learning. This document walks you through the steps in planning and implementing this approach in your large course.
Example: Review the scenario regarding the use of natural coloring in place of artificial colors in cereal. Create a list of pro and con arguments. Review them, take a position, and present your rationale.
Use it when you want...
- To help students to move beyond their first reaction to a topic, to search for at least two sides to the issues in question, to weigh the value of competing claims, to think critically about the construction of arguments they encounter in the real world, or to get an overview of their analysis of an issue of mutual concern.
What students will need
- Laptop, or tablet, or mobile phone
- Resources for student access to computers
The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Pro and Con Grid learning activity in a large online course.
- Write a prompt that will elicit thoughtful pro and con arguments on a decision, judgment, dilemma, or issue.
- Create a Canvas Assignment in which students will submit and review each other's submissions.
Creating a Peer-Reviewed Assignment In Canvas
- Select Assignments from the course navigation.
- Select + Assignment.
- Provide a name for the assignment (ex. Pro and Con Assignment).
- Provide a description and directions for submitting and reviewing the submissions.
- Under Points, specify the number of points students will receive upon completing the assignment.
- Under Submission Type, select Text Entry.
- Under Submission Attempts, select Limited and 1 for Number of Attempts.
- Under Peer Reviews, select Require Peer Reviews.
- Under How to Assign Peer Reviews, select Automatically Assign Peer Reviews.
- Under Reviews Per User, specify the number of submissions you want students to review (ex. 2).
- Under Assign, identify the section(s) to which the assignment will be released.
- Under Due, specify the date/time the assignment is due. This will be when the peer review process will begin.
- Under Available from, identify the date/time the assignment is open/visible to students.
- Under Until, identify the date/time the assignment is no longer open/visible to students.
- Select Save & Publish.
- Direct students to the Canvas Assignment.
- Let students or groups know how many items you expect them to list.
- Determine whether students should use words, phrases, or sentences in their list of pro and con arguments.
- Explain the review process and provide a rubric for students to use.
- Review grids. List the points students provided in each category and do a frequency count. Which arguments do students mention most often? Compare students’ lists with yours. How balanced are the two sides?
- Provide feedback/grade based on the quality of the grids.
- Discuss the results of the activity at the next class meeting.
Accessibility and Room Considerations
- Be aware that some students might not have the bandwidth to participate in synchronous sessions. Make sure students turn off their cameras to reduce bandwidth. Students can also use the dial-in phone connection for audio, instead of their network connection.
- The technologies recommended here should meet most campus accessibility requirements. However, you should check with the McBurney Disability Resources Center for guidance on any specific accommodations for your students.
Angelo, Thomas A., and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers. Jossey-Bass, 1993. pp. 168-171.