What Does Formal Online Debating Bring to Graduate Education?
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Debating is a formal process of argument that has a long tradition of application in education. Educators value it as a strategy for promoting the development of skills associated with influencing others using logic, facts, and rhetoric. In Athabasca University's Advanced Trends and Issues in Nursing course, graduate students explore logic and logical fallacy. Pairs of students then apply these concepts to the asynchronous, online debate of a nursing issue. The emphasis is on students demonstrating logical coherence supported by evidence. Emotions run high as students attempt to convince their classmates to accept an argument, one they may not have supported at the outset. Our presentation is a report on an exploratory study of the formal online debating engaged in by the students in the course. Data include the actual online debate documents and the students' perceptions about the process. Findings support the value of competitive debating in online learning environments for promoting both the discovery of all perspectives of important issues as well as the development of highlevel competencies of argumentation, a form of reasoning intimidating to many nurses.