Graduate School Great Debate
- Loughborough University
- Date first submitted:
- 12 Oct 2009
- Date last modified:
- 14 Dec 2009
- Relationship to RDF:
- Domain A: Knowledge and intellectual abilities
- Domain B: Personal effectiveness
- Domain C: Research governance and organisation
- Domain D: Engagement, influence and impact
- Working with others
- Communication and dissemination
- Researcher-led activities
- Research project skills
- Academic practice
- Postgraduate researchers
Impact Level 2: Learning
The Debates are designed to develop skills of communicating, thinking on your feet and formulating effective arguments under pressure. There is a direct link to skills required in the Viva examination.
Impact Level 3: Behaviour
Repetitive practice demonstrates how behaviour and delivery can be improved by implementation of the theory
Rationale, aims and outcomes
What is the rationale for doing this?
How does it fit with institutional strategy?
What are the main features of the provision?
What are the aims and expected outcomes?
The rationale behind the Great Debates, are to provide a platform to experience thinking on your feet and getting across your message in a pressured environment. Formulating an argument and being able to counter another point of view which you may or may not have condsidered beforehand.
This is great preparation for conference presentation and question sessions, seminars, and ultimately the defence of your research at Viva.
The main aim is to give real experience of verbal communication and reasoning in a pressured environment.
Greater confidence in personal communication abilities,
Experiencing the need to think quickly on your feet
An understanding of the importance of arguing around the points raised by another individual
Understanding the importance of listening to others to ensure you answer the questions posed
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
Two teams of 3 or 4
Audience participation plays a large part in the process. This is open to all.
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
Benefits are measured by the feedback from the participants, and the enthusiasm for the format from the PGRs. (Must be said they are keener to be in the audience than the debating teams!)
We think this is one of the few formats that can deliver the pressure and requirement of quick thinking and clear speech at this level.
The main challenges with the debates are firstly getting a good topic that has plenty to argue on both sides, and secondly getting participants. They really appreciate what they have experienced after the event, but it is quite an exposing, daunting thing to volunteer to do, especially when English is not your first language, as has been the case with a lot of our past participants.
Topics for debate, are debated widely before the events
Participants are strongly encouraged by whatever communication mechanisms we can use.
In the long term our hope is that there could be a student-led debating competition run once a year which would be managed by the students, and set up on a departmental basis to try to get more partisan support from the audiences. This would increase participation, excitement and energy around the event.