Sample Assignment: In-Depth Topic Exposition

Explore this example of a Kialo discussion on a history topic.

Students can use Kialo Edu to create an in-depth, expository argument map of an academic topic. In this kind of assignment, students map out all the issues and arguments around a debatable topic, creating a comprehensive representation of the varying perspectives. You might think of this use of Kialo Edu as an “essay alternative,” but instead of writing a rigidly linear expository essay, students structure ideas in a multilateral Kialo format.

This approach is excellent if you would like to target argumentation and logic skills in your teaching—for unlike writing a traditional expository essay, students don’t need to juggle writing conventions or questions of style. Using Kialo Edu, students can focus purely on the logical structure of arguments as a means of examining academic content.

Learning objectives

Students will:

  • Practice research skills across a variety of sources.
  • Present and evaluate fact- or logic-based opinions from diverse perspectives.

How do I get started?

  1. Log in or sign up for Kialo Edu.
  2. Create a template discussion by clicking on the + New button at the top right of the My Kialo page. This discussion can be blank, or you provide a prompt.
    1. You can opt to include a thesis for students to work with, or leave it blank.
    2. In the Background Info, you can write specific instructions and include any useful links. You can also go back and edit this once the discussion is live.
    3. During the creation process, you can enable Tasks to ensure that students include an adequate number of ideas and sources in their Kialo discussion.
  3. Use the Clone and Invite Wizard to create a clone of the discussion for each student in your class.
  4. In the top section, “Invite each to their own cloned discussion,” pick a team.
  5. Check the box Create a separate clone for each team member.
  6. Ensure students’ role is set to either Writer or Editor.
  7. Now each student in your class has their own discussion to develop. You can access these through the Own tab of the My Kialo page or through your class’s Team page.

Sample student instructions

Your task is to create an argument map about an interesting historical question.

First, choose a specific historical event we have studied this semester, like the Revolutions of 1848, the outbreak of World War I, or the fall of the Weimar Republic.

Think of a genuinely debatable question about this event, on which you can take a strong yes/no position. For example, “Did the Weimar Republic fall to the Nazis?” is not a genuinely debatable question! Instead, try something like “Was the fall of the Weimar Republic mostly due to the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles?”

In the thesis of the Kialo argument map, write out a position statement. For example, “The fall of the Weimar Republic was mostly due to the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles.”

Next, add pros and cons that either support or refute the thesis. It’s best to start with big, general arguments. Research different perspectives to understand what these are.

Then, add more pros and cons to your first set of arguments. Use these to represent supporting arguments or evidence. Don’t forget to cite your sources!

Keep going until you feel like you’ve created a complete map of the common arguments around your question. Your map must contain AT LEAST 40 claims, and at least 25 of these should include a source.

Have fun!

Sample Discussion

To open this sample discussion in a new tab, click here.

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