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Pro and Con Grid
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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 deciding 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 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
- There are no special requirements for this approach.
The following workflow is meant to guide how to facilitate a Pro and Con Grid learning activity within a classroom.
- 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 (e.g., Create a shared Google Doc).
- Determine how you will create groups.
- Determine when you will have students engage in this activity (beginning, middle, end, or outside of class).
- Set up students into groups.
- Present an example of a pro and con grid.
- Hand out a blank sheet of paper to students. Have them draw a pro and con grid on it.
- Let students or groups know how many items you expect them to list.
- Determine whether students should use words, phrases, or sentences in their pro and con arguments list.
- Give students five to ten minutes to complete the activity.
- Direct students to share their documents with the instructor.
- 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/grades based on the quality of the grids.
- Discuss the results of the activity at the next class meeting.
Accessibility and Room Considerations
In Issues in Bioethics, students read several recent articles on the current debate about patenting human genetic material. The professor wanted students to reflect on this issue and write a prompt: "From your viewpoint as consumers, what are the principal pros and cons of allowing the patenting of genes?" At the beginning of class, he divided students into groups of four. He passed out a handout to each group with the question at the top and two columns (PROS and CONS). He asked each group to come up with six entries for each column. He gave them ten minutes to complete the activity. Instead of collecting the papers, he had each group report their list, and he created a master list from all groups' results (Angelo 169).
An Assistant Civil Engineering Professor taught a Bridge and Highway Design seminar. Students studied two proposed designs for a suspension bridge before class. The professor wanted to know how well students could evaluate each proposal's strengths and weaknesses. She also wanted to expose the internal decision-making processes they would use to make a recommendation. At the start of class, she gave students a piece of blank paper and asked them individually to list three to five strengths and weaknesses of each proposal. Students had 5-10 minutes to complete the task. She called on students to share their results without comment. She collated the results on the whiteboard. The class reviewed the list, which revealed some differences of opinions. Students were given another 10 minutes to work in pairs to review the lists and make a recommendation along with a rationale for their decision. She had teams vote on each proposal and called on some students from each side to defend their decisions (Angelo 169).
Angelo, Thomas A., and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers. Jossey-Bass, 1993. pp. 168-171.