Using debates in the Police Foundations program to develop durable skills.

Amy Watt is a faculty member in the School of Justice and Emergency Services who teaches in the Police Foundations program. As a former police officer and an award-winning career coach, Amy is keenly aware of the importance of providing her students with authentic opportunities to develop the skills that industry is looking for in preparation of their chosen profession. With this in mind, Amy found a creative way to integrate student debates into her remote courses.

Amy leveraged educational technology tools to equip her students with the skills that they needed to fully participate virtually – and the benefit is that many of those skills are transferrable and connected to competencies that employers are looking for. The use of debates, for example, helps bolster students’ confidence. During the online debates, students were encouraging one another in the chat by typing encouraging statements such as “Excellent, point, Jordan” and “Solid Rebuttal, Aaliyah”. In the policing world, much of the communication is done on a computer in the police car; remote learning has allowed Amy to mimic that environment with her students.

The debate topics are hot topics that reflect what is happening in the world. This semester, the topic of the debate focused on the benefits and challenges of online learning. Using the Virtual Classroom, the students were split into small groups so that they could prepare for the debates by working in small groups and brainstorming points for their assigned positions.

Points that were raised by students demonstrated depth of thought and meta-cognition; some points raised by students included:

  • With virtual learning, you can go over the content as much as you like, which is often necessary in order to understand more difficult concepts.
  • I feel more comfortable writing in the chat or emailing peers and professors rather than speaking in front of the class to ask questions or state my opinions.
  • The affirmative team won because they convinced me online is better than an in-person class. I entered this debate convinced that in-person class was better; however, after what the group presented, I changed my mind.

To further develop students’ transferrable and durable skills, Amy links course assessments to her background as a career coach. She creates assessments that provide students responses to interview questions including:

  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a team project where there was a conflict.
  • Tell me about a time when you overcame a challenge.
  • Tell me about a time when you prioritized information and acted decisively.

The assessments in her courses focus on applying concepts and creating something new such as constructing a behavioural interview response. In addition to providing her students with course resources, Amy also created a training video that she has shared with her colleagues in the Police Foundations program using the H5P studio through eCampus. She has also used the eCampus studio in order to virtually check-in with her students to ensure that they are having a positive experience in their courses. She frequently asks her students about their user-experience so that she can create content that they enjoy, engage with, and learn from. The verdict so far is that they like this format:

Curious about H5P? Want to learn more? Check out our page on using the H5P studio, we also run PD sessions on H5P throughout the year. To join, check out our events page.