Chat with us, powered by LiveChat What do you perceive as the benefits of this approach (if any?) Discussion Question #2: What were your top three approaches to curve the Church’s influence? Why?Module6.doc - Writingforyou

What do you perceive as the benefits of this approach (if any?) Discussion Question #2: What were your top three approaches to curve the Church’s influence? Why?Module6.doc

 Discussion Question #1: What do you perceive as the benefits of this approach (if any?)

Discussion Question #2: What were your top three approaches to curve the Church's influence? Why?

Module 6: Taking a Stand: Decision-Making through the Rank-Order and the Art of Using Questions in Guiding Content-Centered Learning

This module begins with notes on the importance of value clarification and the art of questioning, followed by the content-centered approach to the decision-making process. In this module, we will discuss the content-centered lessons: Rank-Order. In addition to examining each approach's steps, components, and rationales, examples will be given.

Module Notes

Value clarification discussions are not merely conversations that moralize about some situation or problem. Such considerations should include segments where participants reveal what they know, what the terms they use mean, what decisions and judgments they have made, how and why they value what they value, how they feel, and how they made their decisions and choices. One way of looking at ‘values clarification’ is to view it as a process that involves the investigation, use, and reflection upon one’s values, value choices, feelings, and the reasons for and the consequences of one’s values, value choices, and beliefs. In the middle and high school classrooms, values clarification activities and discussions serve as a medium for students to express themselves in ways that give the teacher evidence that this process is working.

Teachers are also concerned with teaching content; state and district exams frequently pass up opportunities to incorporate value clarification activities because they perceive such experiences as void of substance. However, teachers can work with student values and feelings without abandoning the subject matter content they value. Once the efficient way is to use a clearly defined questioning strategy before or after the material is presented to get students to think about values and feelings while simultaneously learning to comprehend content.

A Questioning Strategy

Ideally, questions are designed to get specific information from students about what they know, think, value, and feel (affective domain). It is, therefore, necessary for teachers to ‘connect’ with these affective as well. Thus, if students are to be helped to form and clarify their values and perceptions in light of their studying information. Then teachers need to be able to use questions to guide both cognitive and affective responses.

Empirical Questions ask for specific, precise information that is available or has been studied and is to be recalled. In either case, the correctness of a student’s response can be checked against some source. Examples of Empirical Questions are:

In what year was Darwin’s book, Origins of Species, published?

Who wrote the poem “The Raven”?

How many meters are there in a mile?

Defining Questions ask students to clearly state the meaning of a term or phrase so that they and others know how the word is being, has been, or is to be defined. Correct responses to Defining Questions help avoid semantical confusion and errors in interpreting students' vocabulary. Examples of Defining Questions are:

What are some clear cases of good music as you define it?

How would President Biden define gun rights?

What is a proper definition of the term “freedom’?

Topical Questions ask students to clarify a central focus and connection to what they are studying in a particular lesson or activity. Students should be regularly invited to identify themselves and the class as the primary focus of the experience. Examples of Topical Questions are:

What is the initial idea we have been covering this entire week?

What main idea did this activity stress?

What would it be if you could boil down this whole lesson into one central point?

Relational Questions asks the student to explain how they are studying related to or tied to the lesson or chapter focus. Students may likely know the direction of the study and the subject matter content without understanding the connection or relationship between them. Relational Questions ask students to identify and explain these particular relationships. These questions help students realize the relevancy or relatedness of what they are studying to what they have considered or the focus of instruction. Examples of Relational Questions are:

How is this cartoon of the Panama Canal related to our study of ‘National Security Issues’?

How is this article on pollutants compared to the video on pollution we watched yesterday in class?

In what ways is this poem connected to our study of death?

Valuing Questions ask students to express their values, preferences, ratings, and choices, often connected with ‘good,’ ‘wrong,’ ‘better,' etc. Examples of Valuing Questions are:

Who is the greatest inventor of all time?

Of Spain, France, and Italy, which nation would be your first choice to visit?

Which of these two paintings do you like best?

Emotive Questions ask students to express their emotions using terms that signify feelings. The answer to Emotive Questions should contain words like ‘upset,’ ‘happy,’ angry,’ ‘mad,’ etc. If a student’s response does not include such a word, it is probably not a passionate answer, even if the question was dynamic. Examples of Emotive Questions are:

When you first drove a car, were you excited?

Does the thought of terrorism in this country scare you?

Would you be worried or scared if you found yourself in that situation?

Content-Centered Learning

Content-centered learning was developed by Stahl (1979) to stress the common elements that exist across various approaches to teaching values education. Six styles of content-centered lessons will be discussed: Force- Choice, Rank-Order, Negotiation, Invention, Exploration, and Structured Pre-decision. Regardless of the particular method of the content-centered lesson, five characteristics of moral dilemmas are considered:

1. There is a neutral issue or context that people may react to or think regarding some values or moral beliefs (e.g., Supporting the suppression of pro-democracy demonstrators in the name of socialism or supporting “pro-Marxist rebels in Central America during the Cold War)

2. It is a value or moral issue that could be considered in extreme forms (good versus evil, Communism versus Capitalism, etc.)

3. A value or moral issue in conflict with another value or moral issue in a problem-solving situation (e.g., supporting religious rights versus government atheism, promoting human rights versus state/national security)

4. A value or moral issue that may cause conflict because it allows for two or more possible choices.

5. A situation where two or more values or moral issues are applicable may conflict with one another.

Decision-Making: Rank Order

The rank order format emphasizes a hierarchical view of one’s options, preferences, possible solutions, likes, and dislikes. This format enables students to consider and use the personal, internal, and hierarchical values and belief systems each holds. Students must select among relative goodness and badness choices to respond to specific situations. The rank order decision strategy requires students to consider an entire spectrum of values, beliefs, or feelings while simultaneously using the value beliefs they hold as priorities.

The Rank Order approach consists of five major components (steps):

1. A situation, usually a short story, provides sufficient background information to understand how some options should be ranked in order. The primary purpose of this step is to help students develop a perspective on a person or situation and the circumstances that present some alternatives to be considered. The story or situation is usually written to support the material covered directly. For example: In the example below, I had just completed the section titled “The Nation Copes with Problems Abroad.” In this case, we discussed the rationale for building the Berlin Wall and how the West reacted.

2. A list of five to twelve options is to be ranked in order. This set must be homogenous in two critical ways. First, the list has a set of policies, consequences, interpretations, or criteria. Second, options should attempt to be nearly equal regarding attractiveness and unattractiveness concerning feasible solutions. In the case of this step, make every effort to make the options fit the situation. What I mean is, if you are discussing the Progressive Era, the list of options used in this step and for the Rank Order format should be issues or possible solutions discussed within the unit. In short – do not just “dream up” ideas. It is confusing for the student!

3. A set of precise directions for how students are to rank order the listed options. These instructions provide information on how students should rank and order the items. For example, students might “Mark the choice you like the best with a “1”, mark your second choice with a “2,” and so forth. While this sounds dumb – this is a significant step. Imagine if you were handed a sheet. Would you necessarily know what to do? Making it clear is essential. It will save you from a headache when you must repeat yourself seven times, giving directions!

4. A sheet where students are to record their thoughts and decisions. The sheet should contain 1) an abbreviated list of options, 2) potential positive and possible negative factors for each option, and 3) a minimum of four discussion starters. Regardless of your story or dilemma and how it fits into your instruction, the process where students use inquiry to work through and solve a situation is critical. In the rank-order approach, this is critical! By providing an abbreviated version of your options (step 2), you are asking your students to “rank” the options given and have to think about the positives and negatives of each.

5. A set of questions as discussion starters. These questions are used to encourage students they have processed, help students comprehend and interpret the situation they have just examined, and consider the choices they were to rank. Even the best lesson is not practical if you give it to the students and have little to no closure. Having questions at the end that directly relate to the lesson or dilemma can do several things. First, discussing or even having written student responses to the questions allows them to reflect and summarize the decisions made, and second, if you have a discussion, it might sway others in their choices. Regardless, it provides closure and a potential formative assessment.

The following lesson is an example of a Rank-Order decision-making lesson. You will notice that all the required components/steps are included in the case below. To get a sense of this strategy and format, assume the role of the student.

Group Decision Sheet

Directions: For this activity, you must assume the following is true.

Date: Monday, 9 September 1987

Location: Communist Eastern Germany

Situation: As members of your country’s secret police, your job is to protect, at all costs, the communist government. The communist government is officially atheist. They have no religious affiliation, nor do they openly support organized religion. Your country's churches and religious communities are considered a ‘thorn’ in the government’s attempts at strict control of society and its citizens. Since World War II, churches have maintained independence in an otherwise strictly controlled state. Many churches throughout Eastern Europe influence local citizens to criticize government policy and often provide a safe harbor for environmental, peace, and human rights groups. Fearing a political backlash from its European neighbors, the communist government will not close the different churches. Instead, controlled measures seek to ‘limit’ the religious threat. Your group's ongoing investigation into church activity uncovered several perceived threats directly related to the Church’s influence. The government views the Church as a threat because 1) the Church represents strength and retreat in a harsh daily living environment; 2) the Church provides hope and salvation through the belief in a higher power and afterlife and not allegiance to the communist government; 3) the Church can connect to the masses through outside activities not related to Church-related operations; 4) the Church provides a counterbalance to the government’s strict control of society. The government’s policy is to stop or decrease the Church’s influence directly or indirectly. As your group reads the government report, several proposals are designed to limit the Church’s overall authority.

Proposal A: Infiltrate Church Seminaries. Stasi agents recruit fellow seminary students as informants to gather information on individuals seeking to become pastors. Information collected includes political beliefs towards the government, church activities, and underground movements.

Proposal B: Removal of Religion in schools. As part of the official atheist policy by the government, all school curricula will follow strict science guidelines and doctrines followed by humanistic theories. All reference to religion is mysticism. The desired outcome is that humans control their destiny, not religion.

Proposal C: Government-led anti-church activities . Pressure youth to participate in government-organized activities after school and on weekends. Such activities include political meetings, work internships, and sports events. Students who refuse are isolated and ridiculed.

Proposal D: Promote Social Differences. Encourage youth to pursue different music, politics, and entertainment preferences from older generations. Promoting a humanistic (atheist-centered) form of self-gratification is counter to traditional faith-based families. The desired outcome is a cultural divide between youth and older generations.

Proposal E: False information. Spread false news and rumors about beloved pastors and clergy. Stories include but are not limited to fabricated stories about church members, fake accounts of power struggles within the Church, or affairs among married members. The desired outcome is to create distrust among members and clergy.

Proposal F: Recruitment of Pastors/Clergy. Stasi agents recruit pastors and clergy to become informants. Informants spy on one another, providing critical information on Church activities, relations, scheduled events, and members. The information provides counternarratives for Church activities and vital information to spread rumors and disinformation.

Proposal G: False information and blackmail. Using options A and C elements, Stasi agents create damaging rumors among the Church about leadership to expose and extort. Actions may include extramarital affairs, illegal drugs, or theft of Church funds. The desired result is removing specific Church leadership and replacing it with informants.

Proposal H: Government loyalty and acceptance. Students must take an atheistic oath to the government and pledge to live their lives as members of a communist society. Such allegiance includes active participation in political organizations, after-school activities, and job training. Failure to take the oath often results in denial of higher education, specialty schools, or desired jobs.

Directions: Rank order the following proposals from your group most preferred to the least preferred one. Place a ‘1’ in from the preferable proposal, a ‘2’ in front of the following most preferable, and so on until you have placed an ‘8’ by the least desirable proposal.

In keeping with our beliefs, we rank the proposals as follows:

____ Proposal A: Infiltrate Church Seminaries

____ Proposal B: Removal of Religion in schools

____ Proposal C: Government-led anti-church activities

____ Proposal D: Promote Social Differences

____ Proposal E: False information

____ Proposal F: Recruitment of Pastors/Clergy

____ Proposal G: False information and blackmail

____ Proposal H: Government loyalty and acceptance

1. We selected proposal ____ as the best course of action because

2. We selected proposal ____ as the worst course of action because

3. If asked by the leadership of the secret police to justify my rankings based on effectiveness, we would

4. If asked by Church leaders or students to justify our rankings on moral or ethical grounds, we would say

5. The consequences we most wanted to avoid as a direct result of our decision are:

Questions for Review and Reflection

Suggested follow-up questions to focus and guide inquiry, reflection, and learning.

1. What is the group's primary problem(s) to resolve in this situation?

2. What is the significant difference between your best solution and your worst solution?

3. Assuming the situation was actual, how would you feel about the person or group who had to decide?

4. In this situation, what information and efforts by the government are warranted to limit the power of religious organizations?

5. When does the government have the right to spy and manipulate its citizens to maintain national security?

6. When do an individual’s liberties and freedoms outweigh a government’s power for national security and control?


Online Web Discussion – Read each of the questions below.  After doing so, select all questions to focus your discussion.  Please make one thoughtful, original posting (a direct response to your chosen question) and at least one thoughtful response to a classmate's posting. 

Original Student Response is due by Thursday, 22 February, at 11:59 p.m.

Response to a peer(s) is due by Monday, 26 February, no later than 7:00 a.m.

Discussion Question #1: What do you perceive as the benefits of this approach (if any?)

Discussion Question #2: What were your top three approaches to curve the Church's influence? Why?

Analyzing Public Issues Lesson is due no later than 26 February by 7:00 a.m. Please drop your lesson selection in the dropbox titled "Analyzing Public Issues." The lesson is worth a total of 20 points.

Online / Kialo Activity: The Divided City = 5 Points This online debate centers around the merits of The Divided City activity. Once the module notes are read, and all examples are explored, please go to the link below and respond to the statement posted. You are graded on the following: 1) two original claims – statements, comments, or suggestions originated by you (2 points); and 2) you must respond to your peers’ claims, statements, comments, or suggestions. You must make three contributions (3 points). All claims and responses must be completed by 7:00 a.m. on 26 February.