How Do I Use Controversial Issues to Build Cognitive Skills in My Students?

How Do I Use Controversial Issues to Build Cognitive Skills in My Students?

How Do I Use Controversial Issues to Build Cognitive Skills in My Students?


Every instructor has faced at least one, and in today’s politically charged climate, you might have seen several. They’re hot moments—those occasions when classroom discussion turns combustible and threatens to burst out of control. Whether they’re inspired by course material, classroom dynamics, or outside issues, hot moments can disrupt teaching and degenerate into personal attacks.

Or they can enhance student learning.

In How Do I Use Controversial Issues to Build Cognitive Skills in My Students?, you’ll learn how to use difficult discussions to improve students’ ability to reason—and help them function as respectful members of a civil society.

Drawing on developmental theory, this presentation will show you how to foster a climate of respect and support constructive engagement with challenging issues. Stop trying to avoid hot moments and learn how to manage them to maximize student learning.


This presentation shows you how to promote student growth and development by digging—with great fairness and respect—into all those topics you’re not supposed to talk about. You’ll learn how to do the following:

  • Incorporate key characteristics of effective teaching into classroom discussion
  • Use personal stories and scaling tools to establish a climate of respect
  • Strengthen class commitment to civil discussion with student-oriented exercises
  • Help students understand and analyze their beliefs
  • Explore cognitive dissonance across the political spectrum to help students analyze controversial issues
  • Use challenging discussions to promote student growth and enhanced learning
  • Structure discussion of challenging topics
  • Lead respectful and constructive discussions

The presentation leaves you both inspired and prepared to show students what skills they need to engage with beliefs they might not share. You and your students will be ready, willing, and able to participate in safe and respectful discussions that enhance learning and communication.

Learning Goals

After viewing this presentation, you’ll be able to do the following:

  • Recognize the importance of creating a climate of respect in your classes
  • Describe politically neutral exercises used to promote cognitive dissonance
  • Use sample exercises to create cognitive dissonance
  • Design and manage a well-balanced discussion

Topics Covered

Blending research-based insights with concrete strategies, this presentation shows you how to build a climate of mutual respect in your classroom and use developmental theory, cognitive dissonance, and difficult content to strengthen students’ reasoning and communication skills. As students develop the capacity to work through difficult discussions in a civil and constructive manner, they become better learners. This results in greater student success, healthier campuses, and improved social discourse.


If you’d like to give your students the skills they need to navigate difficult discussions with respect and a positive attitude, this session is for you—no matter where you are in your academic career or what subject you teach. It will be equally relevant for online faculty since controversy can flare up just as easily in online classes as it does in traditional courses.


The ability to analyze and discuss different beliefs is essential for a positive campus environment and a healthy society. Order this 20-Minute Mentor today and teach your students how to explore controversial topics in a climate of respect.


Product Code: PM17NA

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