Should Affirmative Action Be Required In College Admissions?

Ages: 15-18
Suggested length: 2-3 class periods (45-55 minutes each) 
Device accessibility: 1 device per 1-2 students

Lesson Information

At a glance

In this lesson, students will explore a fully developed Kialo discussion on the question, “should affirmative action be required in college admissions?” Topics such as affirmative action measures can be intricate and complex. This lesson aims to present the strongest case possible for each side so that the students can make informed interpretations.

The students will first explore the Kialo discussion independently and then prepare an argumentative presentation about affirmative action in a real-life context. Students will be assessed on this presentation.

Learning objective(s)

In this lesson, students will:

  • Compare arguments for and against affirmative action measures.
  • Express an informed opinion on this subject using reasons and evidence.
  • Create and recommend solutions for a real-life case.

Prior knowledge

Students should have familiarity with affirmative action measures in college admissions, though it is not essential. It is recommended to briefly discuss the term “affirmative action” with the students before the activity.

Teacher preparation

  • There is no need to clone this discussion. Students can explore the discussion hosted on the Kialo_Edu account by clicking this link.
  • If you would like to invite students to the discussion using the “Share” button or the Teams feature, create 1 clone of the discussion for yourself.
  • When inviting students to the discussion, give them Viewer permissions.

Provided materials

Lesson Plan

Suggested length: 2-3 class periods (45-55 minutes each)

Lesson components:
– Opener (15 minutes)
– Activity
– Part A: Explore the Kialo discussion (focus of partial class period)
– Part B: Introducing the case study (focus of partial class period)
– Part C: Working on presentations (focus of partial class period)
– Part D: Deliver presentations (focus of 1-2 class periods)
– Optional closer (5 minutes)

Student groups will be assessed on an oral presentation. (see suggested rubric in provided materials)

Opener (15 minutes)

  1. Show four different profiles of highly qualified college applicants, and ask your students to discuss in pairs which two they would admit to college:
  1. Ask students to share their answers and rationale. Then reveal to students the demographic information of each applicant:
    1. Student 1: Latino male
    2. Student 2: Black female
    3. Student 3: White male
    4. Student 4: Asian female
  2. Ask students if this information changes students’ answers to the question of admission, and why.


Part A:  Explore the Kialo discussion (focus of partial class period)

  1. Go over Part A of the student instructions.
  2. Direct students to explore the discussion, vote on claims, and discuss with their partners.

Tip: You may wish to demonstrate voting to your students. Pick any claim and model how to give it a score of “4.” You can then revoke your vote by clicking on the “4” again.

  1. Conduct a quick class discussion on what students shared with their partners. 

Part B: Introducing the case study (focus of partial class period) 

  1. Go over Part B of the student instructions. Show students Stanford University’s undergraduate admissions profile alongside data from the US census.
  2. Discuss as a class: are Black/African American students sufficiently represented in the admissions profile? Should Stanford take any action to change this?

Part B: Preparing the presentations (focus of partial class period)

  1. Go over Part C of the student instructions and distribute the presentation rubric. 

Tip: Arrange groups of students who want to take a similar stance. If this proves difficult, encourage some students to volunteer to defend a different stance to their own as a challenge.

Part C: Deliver presentations (1-2 class periods)

  1. Groups deliver presentations.

Optional closer (10 minutes) 

  1. Ask students to reflect and answer the following questions independently before they leave class:
    1. Have your views on the topic changed? If so, how? If not, why not? 
    2. Do you think any other aspect of this issue should be studied further?

Related Kialo Discussion

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