Active Learning In Virtual Environment/Pro and Con Grid

Activity: #in-class/short-term, #individual-work, #quick-preparation


A rather effective way to encourage students to develop their critical thinking skills could be creating a list of advantages and disadvantages on a given matter. Furthermore, students have an opportunity to compare and contrast their viewpoints. This strategy determines a person to analyse the information deeper and therefore state more constructive responses. Moreover, completed lists of points could become a starting point for a class debate.[1] Students have to create two columns on a spreadsheet - one with benefits and another one with drawbacks regarding a certain topic. Depending on the time given and complexity of the topic, the number of points varies. If activity is held during an online class some platforms can be used such as any document editor, Google documents or Blackboard Discussion Boards.[2]

Pros Cons illustration

Activity arrangementEdit

  • pick a specific topic based on some problem or issue students are already familiar with, provide students with a clear statement or a question
  • state the number of pros and cons students should list[3]
  • decide on the platform students will be using
  • set the approximate time of the activity, for example, 20 minutes give or take
  • divide the class into small groups or assign the task to be done individually
  • after the task is completed, encourage students to share their ideas


  • develops analytical and evaluative skills
  • makes students to think beyond their initial response[4]
  • students list ideas on both sides of a topic, not only their preferable opinion
  • may become a starting activity before going into details of a certain subject

How to use this method in online class?Edit

The simplest way to conduct this activity would be to set a statement or a question and then ask students to create a table. The table can be created in any document editor. The most accessible to everyone is google documents. A simple or a more complicated table can be created. An example of such a table would be the following:

Pros Cons Table

If you need a detailed instruction of how to create the table, it is available here: Add and edit tables.
Blackboard Discussion Boards is great for creating class discussions during online meetings. However, most of the content is accessible only by a fee.


  1. Griffith University, ‘Explore learning and teaching - Pro and Con Grid’, 18.05.2020
  2. Academic Outreach and Innovation, ‘Pro and Con Grid’, Washington Academic University, n.d.
  3. QepCafe, ‘Pro and Con Grid’, n.d.
  4. Queen’s University, ‘Teaching and learning in higher education - Examples of Active Learning Activities’, n.d.