To Argue, or Not to Argue?

The role of debate in teaching at LTH


  • Adrian Sanchez Fernandez
  • Fang Huang
  • Siri Norlander
  • Stephen Burleigh
  • Sven Wernersson


Debate, Faculty of Engineering, Case study, Critical thinking, Social Constructivism, Threshold concepts


Since Ancient times, debate has been a tool to present, explore and defend different positions on a given subject. Although several benefits of debate as a teaching tool have been reported, this approach is not as often used in higher education as other methodologies, such as traditional lectures or discussion seminars. Here we explore the role of debate as a teaching tool in higher education, in particular focusing on natural sciences and engineering education. We also include a case study of one of the very few examples of in-class debate at the Faculty of Engineering, Lund University. Considering the advantages and disadvantages of debate, a critical analysis of the possibility of including debate in other courses at this Faculty is presented, with a set of initial recommendations for implementing this type of approach. We hope that, based on our conclusions, more courses will aim to include debate within their teaching methodologies, as this will promote critical thinking among the students, help to improve their communication skills and contribute to a deeper understanding of central concepts of the course material.