Department of Communication

Benefits of Teaching Argument and Deliberation

Deliberation as a teaching strategy has increased due to the variety of its pedagogical benefits. Deliberation improves critical thinking by providing a constant consideration and synthesis of other viewpoints. The emphasis on conversation in deliberation improves students’ critical listening skills, reflective capacity, and ability to incorporate other viewpoints into their own opinions. Synthesizing multiple opinions often offers a heuristic spark for students’ innovation energies.

Promotes active learning: Deliberation depends upon the consistent participation of students in classroom discussions. As such, it is an alternative to, or supplement to, lecture-style teaching. The incorporation of student voices through deliberation provides an exciting opportunity for students to involve themselves in their own education.

Enhances communication and listening skills: Deliberation is an inherently communicative exercise, as opinions based on knowledge are shared with group members. Students must develop the ability to express their own opinions to other group members while remaining sensitive to others’ experiences to form collective judgment.

Facilitates social interaction: Deliberation relies on teamwork instead of individual effort. Students must learn how to respect each others’ opinions while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of each others’ experiences. This small group work provides students with cooperative skills. Students learn to respond to diversity in opinion and resolve conflicts, both of which are important in a society marked by difference.

Invents new modes of thinking: Deliberation encourages innovation and invention of new ideas and solutions. Conversation and reflection challenge students’ opinions and encourage a synthesis of analysis, criteria, and judgment that often reveals new and unique approaches. Diversity of experience is a strength that encourages a wide variety of alternatives to be proposed and evaluated. Students often create new self-understandings as they listen to other experiences. This process can be crucial to generating individual and collective knowledge and forming nuanced opinions on critical issues.

Strengthens democratic decision-making procedures: By opening arguments, ideas, and opinions to discussion, students can participate in a democratic method of judgment. Judgment is naturally more legitimate when the process of arriving at that decision is open to discussion, rather than passed by decree. Instructors who move the deliberative practice beyond the classroom, by engaging actors outside of the academy, can also have the potential to influence decision-making agents.

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