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Learning Democratic Citizenship: An Experiment in Teaching Deliberation
Unformatted Document Text:  the deliberative experiences they had. This reinforced the classroom learning and heightened their skills with each successive deliberation. When we review the project, there are two parallel learning experiences— moderation and framing of issues—that we think are very important to include in any training for deliberative talk. Moderator training heightens understanding of both the challenges and benefits of deliberation. We presented moderator training as voluntary and about half of the group chose to go through it, giving us a control group of sorts within the study population. What we found is that those who had the training had the most sophisticated understanding and appreciation for the ways in which deliberation can overcome or perpetuate inequities in political engagement. The heavy responsibility on a moderator for insuring success in a deliberation helped clarify for students that deliberation can be a valuable means of democratic talk but that it also must be learned— that structure and timing is not easy to implement without skilled moderation and some understanding of the process. Since moderators in deliberation cannot interject their own views into the discussion, students trained in moderation also showed a greater appreciation for the importance of listening, thinking about the voices not at the table, and weighing the advantages and tradeoffs of policy choices before them. Framing of issues for the two issue books that the students wrote for the campus and community deliberations also had powerful pedagogical outcomes. All of the Democracy Fellows participated in these framings as researchers of the issues and evaluators of the issue book drafts that a smaller group of students wrote. Before each book was drafted, students conducted both archival and interview research on campus and in the community. In researching and writing the campus issue book, they gained 20

Authors: Harriger, Katy. and McMillan, Jill.
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the deliberative experiences they had. This reinforced the classroom learning and
heightened their skills with each successive deliberation.
When we review the project, there are two parallel learning experiences—
moderation and framing of issues—that we think are very important to include in any
training for deliberative talk. Moderator training heightens understanding of both the
challenges and benefits of deliberation. We presented moderator training as voluntary
and about half of the group chose to go through it, giving us a control group of sorts
within the study population. What we found is that those who had the training had the
most sophisticated understanding and appreciation for the ways in which deliberation can
overcome or perpetuate inequities in political engagement. The heavy responsibility on a
moderator for insuring success in a deliberation helped clarify for students that
deliberation can be a valuable means of democratic talk but that it also must be learned—
that structure and timing is not easy to implement without skilled moderation and some
understanding of the process. Since moderators in deliberation cannot interject their own
views into the discussion, students trained in moderation also showed a greater
appreciation for the importance of listening, thinking about the voices not at the table,
and weighing the advantages and tradeoffs of policy choices before them.
Framing of issues for the two issue books that the students wrote for the campus
and community deliberations also had powerful pedagogical outcomes. All of the
Democracy Fellows participated in these framings as researchers of the issues and
evaluators of the issue book drafts that a smaller group of students wrote. Before each
book was drafted, students conducted both archival and interview research on campus
and in the community. In researching and writing the campus issue book, they gained
20


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