In this audio clip on handling classroom debate for autistic students, Laura Gilmour asks her mentor Dr. Melike Shalomon for her take on how to set up classroom dynamics and expectations to encourage the best debate environment on hot-button issues. As Dr. Schalomon says, “You don’t have to agree, but you do have to get to the point where you can respect the other person’s opinion.” This brief exchange has a lot of good advice.
Dr. Schalomon’s background is in behavioral neuroscience. Her graduate education focused on animal research in rodents, with an emphasis on neuroanatomy, neurosurgery and neurogenetics. She studied cerebral lateralization and the consequences of damage to the corpus callosum as a result of split brain surgery and congenital agenesis of the callosum. After obtaining her degree, she developed a secondary teaching and research interest in the field of human sexuality with a primary focus on sexual orientation. She has explored the relationship between sexual orientation and sexual behavior in exceptional populations. Over the past several years, her main research interests have refocused on behavioral neuroscience. She is engaged in a program of research using zebrafish. Zebrafish are rapidly becoming a major model organism for studying the nervous system, as their genetics are well understood and their neurochemistry closely parallels that of the human brain. One focus of Dr. Schalomon’s research with zebrafish is the development of reliable and valid paradigms for assessing zebrafish behavior. These paradigms are then used to explore how environmental manipulations, for example pharmaceutical agents, affect various behaviors including anxiety and memory.
Download the audio file here: Debate in College STEM Classes: Hot Topics and Autistic Students