This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Can Deliberation Occur? Student Decision-Making about Controversial Political Issues in Online, Face-to-Face, and Blended Formats




Busbin, William

Type of Degree



Curriculum and Teaching


This study investigated the influence of format on the ability of students to reach a collective decision regarding a controversial political issue through the deliberation process. Three deliberation iterations were observed with the three formats including: face-to-face only; online only; and a blended format, containing both an online and face-to-face component. In addition, this case study explored students’ critical thinking about the topics, the influence of both the teacher and topic selection on student deliberation, as well as to what extent students are able to reach a collective decision regarding a controversial political issue. Data was collected from the deliberation transcripts, student pre and post-deliberation writing assignments, selected student interviews, teacher journal notes, and a survey given at the conclusion of the study. Results indicate that each format has both its own benefits as well as drawbacks that vary based on the students and curricular need. Several emergent variables influenced the outcomes of this study including the observed class’ collective dynamics, students’ interest in the topics that were deliberated, and the persistent obstacle of developing a decision-making procedure for the deliberation process.