One group of students has a discussion or debate, while the rest of the students observe, analyse, and learn.
  • Small groups (3-10)
  • Large groups (>10)
  • 10-30 minutes
  • 30-60 minutes
  • Discussion
  • Understand
  • Apply
  • Evaluate

When to use it?

  • When you want to organise a discussion or debate where everyone has an active role.
  • When you want to identify how well the students have grasped the topic in question.

Activity instructions


  • Choose a discussion topic, the contradictory viewpoints, and the multiple perspectives.
  • Decide whether the debaters have a certain role or if they need to defend a viewpoint.
  • Decide how the spectators will observe and analyse the debate. Do they need to use a predetermined feedback form or can they observe the debate freely?

Activity steps

  1. Make groups
    Divide the students into an 'inner circle' (debaters) and an 'outer circle' (spectators).
  2. Make subgroups
    Divide the debaters into multiple subgroups.
  3. Explain the topic
    Provide the subgroups with the discussion topic, the statement that needs to be defended or contradicted, and/or their viewpoint.
  4. Prepare
    Give the subgroups a couple of minutes to prepare for the debate.
  5. Give instructions
    Explain to the spectators what is expected from them.
  6. Start the debate
    Bring the subgroups together in the 'inner circle' and start de debate. The spectators observe and analyse the debate.
  7. Provide feedback
    After the debate has ended, let the spectators give feedback to the debaters.

Tips for implementation & variation

  • Online teaching: The debaters can prepare in breakout rooms. During the debate, the spectators need to mute themselves and switch their cameras off.
  • It's ideally used for discussing contradictory viewpoints or to view a certain topic from multiple perspectives.
  • It's a good idea to appoint a moderator for the debate.
  • You can enable students to step in and out of the inner circle, for example when the moderator appoints new members.
  • You can choose to let the two groups switch roles after the first debate: The debaters become the spectators and vice versa.

Supporting tools