Numerous educational papers and books identify active learning in the classroom as a way to retain STEM undergraduates. Librarians need not be left out of the action, even if they aren’t in the actual or virtual classroom. A common active learning activity that professors use is to divide a class into debate teams that read about a controversial topic and debate it. At the University of North Texas, one of our biology professors decided to have her students debate the topics of evolution and global warming. She asked us to identify freshman-level documents and compile a reading list. A graduate student and I methodically decided how we would select the readings, which presented some challenges you can read about in our paper. Apparently, the resulting debates were lively. This is a relatively easy way to get involved in active learning and retention. Debating is even something you could suggest to faculty when they are searching for new ways to engage students.

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