Teaching Scientific Controversy

What defines a scientific controversy?

Ideas in Science: Scientific Controversy, from Visionlearning

In most cases, controversy is a sign of health in the scientific endeavor, and the more people that are involved in the controversy, conducting research to address the issues, the more rapidly progress is made. Sometimes the scientists involved in a controversy are portrayed as rivals, similar to the environmentalists vs. the oil companies in the controversy over offshore drilling, but this is not an accurate portrayal. The “winner” in scientific controversies is not one side, but the entire scientific community.

This module from the Process of Science Library collection of Visionlearning addresses the definition of a scientific controversy, reviews examples of scientific controversies, and provides an online quiz with resources for further exploration.

Structured Academic Controversy, from On the Cutting Edge – Teaching Methods

A Structured Academic Controversy (SAC) is a type of cooperative learning strategy in which small teams of students learn about a controversial issue from multiple perspectives. The structured academic controversy technique is designed to engage students in controversy and then guide them to seek consensus.

This website contains the what, why, and how to teach with a structured academic controversy approach, as well as examples for classroom use.   Teachers may also access video clips on the use of SAC: http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/affective/sac_video.html