Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education


Date of this Version



Teaching Excellence: Toward the Best in the Academy (1995-1996) 7(7)


Copyright 1996, Barbara L. Watter. Used by permission


In my version of structured controversy. students choose a controversial issue related to the course in which they are enrolled. prepare pro and con arguments based on course material. debate the issue formally in class, and engage in small-group discussions to discover common values and solutions. Although I have used structured controversy only with college students in psychology courses, it could be adapted easily for other age groups and academic subjects (Johnson and Johnson, 1979; Johnson and Johnson. 1987; Johnson. Johnson, and Holubec, 1993). Using structured controversy involves three steps: preparations, argumentation, and collaboration.