Let’s Have Cooperative Learning for Lessons!, pp. 9 of 11

Prepare Instructional Materials

The descriptions of group tasks for SAC need to be prepared. The teacher also needs to identify the phases of controversy procedure and interpersonal skills used for each phase, the definition of position, the summary of key supporting points and resource materials for supporting evidence.

Structure the Controversy

SAC begins with assigning students to heterogeneous groups of four, assigning the pro and con positions to the pairs and structuring positive interdependence and individual accountability. Positive interdependence takes the forms of goal interdependence (for example, group consensus on the issue, members’ mastery of all the relevant information and participation in presentation), resource interdependence (different materials are distributed to different members) and reward interdependence (bonus points given to the group if everyone masters the basic information for the two positions and scores well). Individual accountability is built by ensuring that individuals participate in preparing and presenting the assigned position, discussing issues, reversing perspectives, preparing and presenting report, and taking an individual test on the materials.

Conduct the Controversy

The steps for conducting SAC are:

  1. assign each pair the tasks to learn their positions and the supporting arguments and information, 
  2. assign each pair to research relevant information and prepare a presentation with persuasive arguments,
  3. assign pairs to present their positions to one another,
  4. have students conduct open discussions by exchanging ideas and information freely,
  5. have pairs reverse their positions and present the opposing position sincerely and forcefully,
  6. have groups to drop their advocacy and reach a decision by consensus, write a group report that includes joint positions, evidence and rationale, take a test on both positions and do group processing.  

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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