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Erin Vrana

Dr. Bryant
Deliberation Evaluation
Our classs discussions on the state of higher education were valuable and insightful
discussions that showed a high level of deliberativeness and preparedness. Specifically, my
deliberation group utilized the analytic and social processes of deliberation to share our ideas
and arrive at a common goal or opinion. Also including the portion of deliberation in online
forums, the deliberation unit allowed us to broaden our perspectives and learn how to
communicate and discuss with others either in person or through another mode of
Our deliberation group used certain aspects of the analytic process of deliberation to
help us in our discussions. To start, the packet for Shaping our Future with three options to
improve higher education helped found the solid information base that we needed to have an
insightful discussion. Reading the packet before we came to class helped our group members
be prepared to contribute to the discussion and form opinions ahead of time on the best ways
to improve higher education. In prioritizing key values, we utilized our personal experiences
with the higher education system, including the college application processes and cost of
attending, to take an in-depth look at what we felt was most important in the debate about
higher education. For instance, we all felt that merit was most important in administering
scholarships for attendance to university, rather than need-based. We recognized that need-
based scholarships are very important to help people in lower social classes attend college, but
we felt that colleges should not lower their academic standards to administer these
scholarships, but should incorporate merit into the consideration as well. However, since most
of us in the class are in the Schreyer Honors College or are Paterno Fellows, there is most likely
an element of bias because we all have merit-based scholarships that help us attend school
here at Penn State.
Since our group didnt fully support any of the three options, we had to tweak a few
parts and contribute our own ideas to create options that incorporated both the original
options and what we felt was important in the higher education debate. We also looked at the
pros and cons of each solution in fact, that was how we recorded our discussions for most of
the options, in lists of pros and cons, and ways in which we would modify the option. For
example, in the option that suggested requiring students to study more math, science, and
foreign languages, we did not agree with this suggestion, because we felt forcing people into
fields that they do not enjoy or are not interested in will not lead to better scientists or better
mathematicians, only a surplus of uninterested students that will not apply themselves. The
option that we disagreed most with was the second option, which suggested teaching integrity
and responsibility in classrooms. We completely disagreed with this, because in our opinion,
morals should be taught by parents and family members, and should be taught earlier than at
the college level. One modification that we suggested however, was to add more courses that
are already in progress in some institutions courses in ethics in specific areas of work and
study. For instance, ethics in medicine and scientific research is a course that is taught at some
graduate and medical schools. We thought that instead of teaching what is morally right and
wrong, the instructors could teach what is currently legal and illegal in the field, and then allow
for class discussion on the moral and ethical obligations of a physician or scientific researcher.
As opposed to directly telling the students what is right and wrong, the professor allows
students to hear their peers perspectives and form their own educated opinions within their
field of study. Our edited suggestions also played into making the best decision possible, by
mixing and matching certain aspects of each option presented by the packet to form our own
We also incorporated the social process of deliberation in our class discussions. The
moderators job came into play in adequately distributing speaking opportunities, by allowing
each member of the group to speak, and allocating speaking times for each persons opinion.
We ensured mutual comprehension by asking questions to clarify someones point of view, and
each persons differing perspective allowed us to consider others ideas and experiences.
Everyone had a unique perspective to contribute to the discussion, based on background,
gender, political affiliation, personal experiences, and many other factors. This allowed us to
broaden our perspectives and consider other points of view. In doing so, we respected the
other deliberators by allowing them to share their ideas and by giving their ideas credibility and
not discounting them if we did not agree with them.
The last part of the deliberation unit was the assignment to comment in an online forum
related to higher education and share our opinions or start debate. My attempts at
conversation were met with limited success, for varying reasons. My first post was in the
comment section of a USA Today article on the new SAT format.

I received no comments on this post, which I have realized is most likely because I found
the article and commented a few days after it was posted, and only one person commented
after I did. The people who had already commented were unlikely to revisit this post again, so I
visited another website,, and tried again.
I first posted one comment, then one response to someone elses comment (my user
name was Erin44).

In this comment, even though I asked a question, I found that this did not lead to any
responses or commentary from the other participants. However, I think that I left the question
a little too open ended and it could have been seen as rhetorical. I also wonder that since I
mentioned that I am a recent college undergraduate, people were less likely to respond or read
my post because I am seen as more inexperienced, young and nave. I also did not make a
specific response to someone or write a particularly inflammatory post.

The response that I left to someone elses comment had slightly more success, but still
no responses. This is the comment thread leading up to the response that I posted the
commenter that I responded to was the one with the screen name jwgsgg.

This comment, unfortunately, also received no responses, not even from the person I
was addressing. However, it did get 4 likes from other users, which I found to be interesting.
This is a more passive form of approval, and rather than stating something of their own in
response to me or jwgsgg, they showed their agreement with my statement towards this
user. This was interesting to me because it is a form of communication that one does not see
when communicating face to face it is a silent form of approval that allows the conversation
to continue and does not interrupt, but still contributes in its own way.
The deliberation unit allowed my classmates and me to learn how to be better
deliberators, which includes communicating with others that you may or may not know,
discussing opinions with others who may disagree with you, and learning the differences
between face-to-face communication and communication through other sources, such as the
internet. I feel that my group completed the deliberation very well, in being respectful of each
other and ultimately reaching a common conclusion.