African and African American Studies Debates

In this activity, students are broken into three teams: two teams of debaters and one team to judge, in order to discuss a topic from class.

The students are to have done the readings and answered a response prompt online prior to the class. In class, the instructor divides the class into three groups. The topics are taken from the class, such as affirmative action. Other debates feature one theorist versus another, and each team represents one of the theorists.

No materials are required, but the judging team uses a pen and paper to take notes during the debate.

After the activity, the instructor's class had a discussion about the activity and some students realized that they had not adequately thought about the other side of the debate. After the debate, they could better see the merits of both sides. Some students even ended up changing their minds.

The goal is to see how much the students have learned about a certain topic and to help them think critically about it. It also helps the instructor to see how well students understand different topics and whether more discussion would be useful. 

For this activity, it is important to make sure the two debate teams are even, because it makes it easier to assign each student a different part of the debate presentation: presentation of the topic, argument for, counterarguments that are addressed, and the conclusion.

NB: The creator of this activity asked to remain anonymous.