It is important to take pride in your classwork; especially when it’s a 12-page paper. After spending so many hours researching the reward you get is hopefully a grade above a B, ideally an A, as well as the satisfaction that you know what you’re talking about. In a perfect world this would be the case, but it takes a lot more than a couple days worth of researching to truly understand a topic. Before you over inflate your ego hold a mock debate at home to see if your argument really holds water.
The focus of this type of mock debate is to see if you really understand your subject matter. Present your argument and findings to an unbiased third party; children under the age of 5 excluded, unless you want to answer several nonsensical questions. Keep the setting casual, or in an environment where you feel comfortable, like your living room. Share your key messaging points from the paper, and your thesis. To keep the argument focused and academic give the other person some direction of the type of feedback you’re looking for. Stay general so they can look at the broader picture.
This would also be a good opportunity to discuss issues you have come across with your work. While the other person may not have extensive knowledge on the subject they may be able to give you an idea of how to go about finding a solution. Once you have everything in place, start debating!
Set a time limit ahead of time for each point and returned response; think of the Presidential debates. The formality of the time restraints will force you into being concise with your answers, instead of it turning into an opportunity to fall back on being wordy. After an hour plan to cut off the debate. It’s important to use your time wisely as an online student. When the debate has ended gather your notes and create action items to implement the changes into your paper.
These small events create distance from your work, and they can be much more effective then reading the paper back to yourself. If you find that you’re stumbling to explain something while talking, it won’t be much better when you’re typing. A mock debate should be an enjoyable activity to help break up your online routine, and to get you interactive with those around you. Have fun with it, and be sure to thank your “opponent” afterward.
By J. Mason
Online Learning Tips Editor