The Subjective Dimension
The essays in this volume explore the subjective dimension of intercultural language learning, ranging from theoretical considerations to empirical studies and providing stimulating insights into this important area of study.
Cognitive Dissonance and the Subjective Mind in Foreign Language Learning: The Use of Structured Academic Controversy in the German Language Classroom
Introduction: Structured Academic Controversy (SAC), engagement and cognitive dissonance
SAC, also known as ‘Structured Controversial Dialogue’ (Zainuddin/Moore 2003) or ‘Co-operative Controversy’ (D’Eon/Proctor 2001), is a pedagogical technique designed to scaffold informed, constructive debate by learners on controversial issues or issues about which reasonable people are likely to disagree. To date, SAC has been most closely associated with the teaching of political education in schools (cf. Hahn 2009) and with classrooms in which the primary objective has been to develop critical thinking skills (cf. D’Eon/Proctor 2001).
In its simplest form, SAC involves giving or directing students towards materials which argue polarised positions on a controversial issue. As a result, it can function both as part of a course based solely on face-to-face interaction or as part of a blended learning approach which integrates face-to-face with online learning (see for example Garrison/Kanuka 2004), in that teams of learners can be required to source, share and reflect online on relevant material in advance. It can also be usefully associated with the notion of a ‘flipped classroom’ (Berrett 2012; Teaching Methods 2011) in which class contact hours can be devoted to interactive engagement while the absorption of content takes place outside of the classroom, usually in advance in the learners’ own time. When using the SAC approach, learners ← 187 | 188 → are divided into groups of four and two of the group members present their position on the controversial topic to the other two. The objective is not to...
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