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November 27--  A vital aspect of post-secondary education is establishing what your belief system is and learning how to present it to others. In Southeastern Technical College's (STC) Move on When Ready program (MOWR), students are asked to do both.

Pete Frost is an English Instructor at STC, and she's adopted a new strategy when it comes to teaching about persuasive writing. Rather than have her students write an essay for their grade, they instead have a classroom-wide debate over a variety of current issues.

stcdebateShe lets the students choose the topics they want to debate, and the students begin researching their sides of the issue and prepare their presentations. Topics range from national issues like anthem protests to local ones like whether or not public schools are better at educating students than private schools.

"They're at an age where they are forming their belief systems and learning how to defend them," Frost said. "Everyone has been very respectful and considerate of their peers in the debates."

Frost said that most of these students have never had to get in front of others and give a speech or deliver a presentation. She says that this assignment often makes them come out of their shell and helps them work on their presentation skills.

Frost grades the assignment as she would any other essay, but adds a delivery and presentation component. The students must submit a reference page citing used sources. After a debate, the students in the audience are allowed to ask additional questions and then vote on who won the debate. The voted winner receives an additional two points to the assignment's grade.