Evidence-backed Positions

Engaging in learning projects that build skills such as researching, analyzing, clarifying, categorizing, prioritizing, questioning, explaining, defending, and most importantly, building a case with strong evidence to support a position.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Working in a small team, students design, develop, present, and defend a position on a controversial issue in an informal debate format, employing a number of common research and debate strategies.

Method Components

As students undertake an informal debate activity, the educator leads them through the process of developing and articulating an evidence-backed position. Each step can be conducted individually, in small groups, or in whole-group instruction.

Developing and articulating an evidence-backed position

  • Before the debate, define, research, and plan. Suggested activities include:
    • Students select a relevant issue or issues to debate.
    • Students form teams, with at least two teams that have different positions on the same issue.
    • After some preliminary research, each team writes a draft position statement.
    • Each team dives into thoroughly researching the evidence that supports its position, as well as evidence that could be used against that position (counter-arguments); further research is done to develop evidence-based defenses against the counter-arguments.
    • Each team edits its position statement if needed, based on deeper research.
    • Each team signs an agreement to follow guidelines for a productive debate, such as (see the Productive Teamwork micro-credential):
      • Be courteous and respectful of others.
      • Listen attentively.
      • Speak only when recognized by the moderator.
      • Do not monopolize debate time.
      • Speak clearly, slowly, and loud enough to be heard by the all participants.
      • Speak with passion and commitment.
  • During the debate, present, respond, and argue from evidence. Suggested activities include:
    • A moderator is chosen to remind everyone of the guidelines for the debate, to make sure that e each team has equal time to present its position, and that a reasonable number of short clarifying questions can be asked if needed.
    • Each team makes an opening statement that presents its position and some of the compelling evidence that has led the team to take this position.
    • Each team member has a chance to present an aspect of the evidence-backed position, alternating with the other teams' members.
    • Each team makes a closing statement that summarizes the evidence and its stand on the issue.
  • After the debate, review, evaluate, and reflect. Suggested activities include:
    • For each issue, all students write on one side of a card which position they favor, what they most liked about their favored teams' presentations, and what they wonder could be done next time to improve (see the Kind Critiquing micro-credential); on the back of the card, they write a reflection on what they learned from the debate.

Suggested preparation

  • Students discuss examples from their own lives of times when they became convinced of a certain position on an issue and what kind of evidence led them to commit to that position and list the kinds of evidence that convinced them the most.

Suggested review

  • Students discuss their reflections on what they learned from the debate experience and how they could make an even stronger evidence-backed position the next time they participate in a debate.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

There is strong research evidence that regularly crafting evidence-based positions for interactive debates or presentations can help improve academic attainment, increase student engagement, develop critical thinking and research skills, build better communication skills, motivate further learning, increase confidence, and enhance multicultural awareness.


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1, 3, and 4 and a “Yes” for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview questions

(200-word limit for each response)

  • Activity Description: What kind of project activities did you and your students engage in to become more proficient in creating evidence-backed positions? Please describe the learning activities and strategies you used.
  • Activity Evaluation: How do you know your students increased their proficiency by engaging in the evidence-backed positions project and what evidence did you collect that demonstrates these learning gains?

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

Please submit work examples from two students (such as links to writing, audio, images, video, and other media) that demonstrate progress toward the evidence-backed positions competency, including items such as evidence of discussions on what makes for compelling evidence, samples of student-developed position statements, examples of student research work on evidence for their positions, audio or video excerpts of actual debate sessions, reflections on what was learned from the debate experience, and other relevant items.

Part 3. Student reflections

For the two students whose work examples were included above, submit student-created reflections on their experience of the evidence-backed positions project activities. Use the following questions as a guide (200-word limit for each reflection):

  • How did the research for evidence to back your position on the issue deepen or change your understanding of the issue?
  • How did the debate process change your view of the value of evidence in making good decisions about important issues?

Part 4. Teacher reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned, using the following questions as a guide (200-word limit):

  • What was the impact of engaging your students in the evidence-backed positions activity?
  • How will experiencing these project activities shape your daily teaching practice in the future?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
Requirements for Evidence-backed Positions
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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