One Claim, One Source, Different Evidence

Claims & Evidence
Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 20 minutes (plus student prep time outside of class)

This assignment generates a conversation about how and why different people can come up with different evidence, even using the same sources.

Choose a place that everyone in the class has easy access to (Clemons, the bookstore, one dining hall, the Lawn). Invent a claim which will be relatively easy to support with observational evidence from the location (Clemons is designed for socializing, not studying; the purpose of the bookstore is to promote UVA sports, not academia; UVA students have a variety of interests and backgrounds; the Lawn symbolizes the diversity and democratic spirit of UVA).

Ask every student to go to the location and write down at least 10 detailed pieces of evidence to support the assigned claim. In class, arrange students in groups of 3 or 4 and ask them to compare their evidence, making note of any differences. Students should discuss why their evidence differed.

As a class, discuss the degrees and causes of variability in reporting evidence.

Variation: Divide the class in half, and ask half the class to support a contradictory claim. First, group students as above (with other students who found evidence for the same claim), then put them in mixed groups to discuss how the same source can support completely opposite claims.