Pro and Con Grid (online)
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Using Pro and Con Grid activity to facilitate critical thinking in an online course.
Time and Effort
|Instructor Prep Time||Low|
|Student Activity Time||Low|
|Instructor Response Time||Medium|
|Complexity of Activity||Medium|
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.|
Use it when you want...
- To help students to move beyond their first reaction to a topic, search for at least two sides to the issues in question, weigh the value of competing claims, think critically about the construction of arguments they encounter in the real world or get an overview of their analysis of an issue of mutual concern.
What students will need
- Laptop, 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 an online learning environment.
- Write a prompt that will elicit thoughtful pro and con arguments on a decision, judgment, dilemma, or issue.
- Select the desired approach and prepare the technology to facilitate the activity (ex. Create a Zoom session or create a shared Google Doc).
- Determine when you will have students engage in this activity (beginning, middle, end, or outside of class).
- Direct students to the Zoom session during scheduled class time.
- Set up students into groups. Consider limiting the group size to 2-3 students. The easiest way to do this in Zoom is to use the Random Assign feature. Identify the number of groups you want and it automatically populates students into them. You can also use Custom Assignment to create groups or use the Allow attendees to switch groups option.
- Direct students to the Google Doc link that creates an individual version of the document for each group.
- Leave time for students to ask questions about the activity and get any clarification on the topic. Let them know how much time they have to complete the assignment.
- Have groups follow a link that creates a new version of the template in Google Docs. Have one student record the results in the document.
- 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.
- Give students five to ten minutes to complete the activity.
- Direct students to share their documents with the instructor.
- After the allocated time, end the breakout session and have students return to the main session room.
- Have a member from each group report their findings.
- 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.