Pro and Con Grid (ALC)

Active Learning

This KB document is part of a larger collection of documents on active learning activities that take place in Active Learning Classrooms (ALC). More Active Learning documents

Using Pro and Con Grid activity to facilitate critical thinking in Active Learning Classrooms
Time and Effort
Instructor Prep Time Low
Student Activity Time Low
Instructor Response Time Medium
Complexity of Activity Medium

Description

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.

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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

  • Laptop, tablet, or mobile phone
  • Classroom with campus wireless connection

Workflow

The following workflow is meant to guide how to facilitate a Pro and Con Grid learning activity within an Active Learning Classroom.

Pre-Class

  • Write a prompt that will elicit thoughtful pro and con arguments on a decision, judgment, dilemma, or issue.
  • Select the desired approach and create a Google Doc template with the example on top and a pro and con column below to facilitate the activity.
  • Determine when you will have students engage in this activity (beginning, middle, end, or outside of class).

In-Class

  • Present an example of a pro and con grid. 
  • At each table, have them assign a scribe to copy the Google Docs template and capture the group's work. Ensure all students' names are at the top of the document and the instructor is given access. 
  • Let 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.
  • Upon completing the activity, call on one or two tables to present their findings. Ask the rest of the class if they had items not represented by the reporting groups.

Post-Class

  • Review grids from shared Google Docs. 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

  • None

Technical Document

Examples

Example 1

An Issues in Bioethics Professor has students read several recent articles on the current debate about patenting human genetic material. He wants students to reflect on this issue and respond to the 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 presents each group with the question at the top and two columns (PROS and CONS). He asks each group to come up with six entries for each column. He gives them ten minutes to complete the activity. He has each group report their list and create a master list from all groups' results (Modified from Angelo 169).

Example 2

An Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering is teaching a Bridge and Highway Design seminar. Students have just studied two proposed designs for a suspension bridge before class. She wants to know how well students can evaluate each proposal's strengths and weaknesses. She also wants to expose the internal decision-making processes they use to make a recommendation. At the start of class, she shared a Google Docs template and asked each table to identify three to five strengths and weaknesses of each proposal. Students have 5-10 minutes to complete the task. She calls on a few tables to share their results without comment. The class reviews the list, which reveals some differences of opinion. Students are given another 10 minutes to work in pairs to review the lists and make a recommendation along with a rationale for their decision (Modified from Angelo 169).

Citation/Source

Angelo, Thomas A., and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers. Jossey-Bass, 1993. pp. 168-171.



Keywordsrationale, pro, con, argument, decision, analyze, decide, decision-makingDoc ID118471
OwnerTimmo D.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2022-05-10 14:50:30Updated2024-04-10 14:41:16
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
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