Debate in the EFL Classroom: Seeking Improvements in Student Perspective-Taking Skills and Group Cohesion

Iadarola, Sara (2018) Debate in the EFL Classroom: Seeking Improvements in Student Perspective-Taking Skills and Group Cohesion. Diploma thesis, Scuola universitaria professionale della svizzera italiana (SUPSI).

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This project investigates the efficiency of debate in the EFL classroom as a means of developing students’ perspective taking skills, and increasing classroom cohesiveness. It aims to determine the degree to which debate can be beneficial to the quality of students’ interaction in class, as well as general improvement in group cohesion. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of debate, a five-week experiment was carried out in a thirdyear class at the Liceo in Mendrisio. Each lesson featured a different objective centered on didactic activities, culminating in a full classroom debate. Students were first introduced to the core concepts of argumentation and debate, from both structural and linguistic points of view. This introduction was followed by exploration of diametrically opposed views on a given subject, which in turn led to a debate in pairs, a group debate and a subsequent full-class debate. Questionnaires were provided to the class, (pre-test and post-test), as a means of assessing patterns of student interaction before and after the didactic experiment. Results were inconclusive, suggesting that debates did not demonstrably improve perspective taking abilities and class cohesion, yet not necessarily disproving the value of the debate-centered activities. In fact, while there have been some post-debate variations in the students’ patterns of interactions, there are not enough changes to conclusively state that debate increases student cohesion. Relatrice: Paolo Jacomelli. Materia: inglese.

Item Type: Thesis (Diploma)
Supervisors: Jacomelli, Paolo
Subjects: Formazione - Apprendimento
Divisions: Dipartimento formazione e apprendimento > Scuola media superiore

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