Controversy Analysis Worksheet
(with Example Essays Below)

from G. K. Clabaugh & E. G. Rozycki
Analyzing Controversy, 2nd Edition
2002 NewFoundations Press


Analysis Questions

Pre-analysis: (form, partisanship)

1. Can you state the apparent controversy as a yes-no question?

2. Are there representatives for both sides of the issue?

Content Analysis:

Problems of Understanding (slogans, reifications, definitions, pseudo-solutions, name-calling, presuppositions.)

3. What are the critical terms upon which this controversy hinges?

a. Give the definitions on which there seems to be consensus.

b. Are there other problems of understanding?
Problems of Fact: (Feelings, etc. ; Authority, Operationalizing, Inquiry Blockers)

4. What are the issues of fact underlying this controversy?

a. What sources of fact (authorities) are recognized by both parties?

b. Are there other issues relating to fact that need clarification?

Problems of Value: (Fact & value, benefits & costs, responsibility)

5. What issues of value are there which relate to this controversy?

Meta-analysis: (logical errors, problems with consensus, commitments to a special theory of society, agendas maintaining conflict)

6. Are there metaproblems?


Examples of Controversy Analyses

Alternate Route Certification by Donna Wake
Using the analysis protocol provided above, this paper examines the controversy surrounding alternate route certification programs employed by states and school districts across the nation to move uncertified personnel into teaching positions.

No Child Left Behind: an analysis of the controversy by Thomas Imms.

The Math Wars by Kathleen Kelly. What is the nature of the dispute between "traditionalists" and "reformists" as concerns what is taught and how it is taught in our Nation's mathematics classrooms?

School Vouchers: an analysis of the controversy by Ellen Stanley.
Using the analysis protocol provided above, this paper examines the controversy about providing vouchers to students in public education to enable them to obtain schooling from a variety of alternative sources.

Will the Philadelphia School District Ban on Soda Sales improve Students' Health? An analysis of the controversy by William Piel