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Transformations in a civil discourse public speaking class: speakers' and listeners' attitude change

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Learning to engage in civil discourse requires students to maintain an openness to new points of view and attitude change. In a public speaking course based on principles of civil discourse, classroom procedures were designed to foster subjective reframing by engaging students in the disorienting exercise of supporting multiple perspectives on the same topic. Based on extensive coding of listeners' journals, speakers' videotaped reports, and pre-/postassessments of attitudes toward controversial topics, results warranted the conclusion that public speaking courses may be better designed for speaker transformation than for listener transformation. Overall results have implications for educators designing public speaking courses and those interested in preparing students to participate in civil, robust, and effective public discourse. In particular, more potent methods for engaging students as listeners need to be implemented.
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Keywords: attitude change; civil discourse; public speaking curriculum; subjective reframing

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 April 2004

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