Ways of facilitating a Pro and Con Grid activity in a physically-distanced learning space
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, 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
- Classroom with campus wireless connection
- 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 within a classroom with a physical distancing layout.
- 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 shared Google Doc).
- Determine when you will have students engage in this activity (beginning, middle, end, or outside of class).
- Set up students into groups. Note: Consider limiting the group size to 2-3 students. Groups larger than 2-3 people are encouraged to use text-based chat features instead of speaking to one another to reduce the noise volume in the room and to prevent shouting across long distances between students.
- 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.
- Direct groups template they will use to complete the activity
- Option 1: Students speak with one another across the empty seats.
- Option 2: Groups follow a link that creates a new version of the template in Google Docs. The document is shared among the group members and with the instructor.
- 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.
- 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
- Classroom furniture is not to be rearranged to facilitate activities. If you need a different general assignment classroom to meet your instructional needs, contact your curricular representative.
- If students are to move around the room during an activity, consider the mobility, location, equipment, and furniture needs of all students.
- The physical distance between students (particularly in large lecture halls) may make it difficult for students to hear one another when they are asked to speak.
- This same physical distance may increase the noise level in the room as students try to speak to one another. This noise level may cause issues for some students. To this end, it is recommended that group size be limited to pairs (ideally) or triads at most. Activities requiring larger group sizes should utilize text-based chat solutions like those found in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
- 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.
- Creating a Document Template in Google Docs
- Using Google Docs Chat Feature to Collaborate
- Using Breakout Rooms in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
- Using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra with iOS Devices
Angelo, Thomas A., and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers. Jossey-Bass, 1993. pp. 168-171.