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  The Journal of Effective Teaching
an online journal devoted to teaching excellence


Journal of Effective Teaching, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2010  

Comeaux, P. (2010). Fostering Student Engagement: Examining the Roles of Self, History and Cultural Identity. The Journal of Effective Teaching, 10(2), 62-73. [Full Text]


This paper describes and analyzes a Debate-Discussion Learning Project designed to foster student engagement with the subject matter and each other in reflective and analytical dialogues. This project is a significant component of a course, The Rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement, which has a major goal of understanding how the legacy of racial discrimination in the past impacts self and cultural identity. In this essay, I argue that the design of the course and in particular the debate-discussion component, purposely created with a collaborative learning approach, successfully engaged students in substantive discussions of the events of the Civil Rights era and its present-day impact. This paper provides a brief review of literature on collaborative learning; a description of the course and the “Debate-Discussion Learning Project”; an analysis of why the project worked; and, best practices for using debate-discussion across disciplines.


Keywords: Student engagement, collaborative learning, classroom discussions, race relations.