Cards for discussing

This method has been created by Giovanni Crisonà – CSCS Italy, in 1995, to help teaching health and safety in vocational training courses and then has been extended to any other situation where it was necessary to ask to a group of people, to discuss a subject and to reach sharing opinions or just to acquire more information on it. The method uses a very simple approach that consist in generating discussion and self-changing, passing through a four steps process: 1) teaching or provoking the acquisition of information through classes or other methods like self research, study etc.; 2) student self reflection on the subject; 3) common reflection and discussion/contracting in small groups; 4) analysis and discussion of the results in plenary session.

Target Group

Any adult.

Actual Activity

Tools necessary:

1) one of the bunch of cards for any participants. Any card has a sentence on it. As example we list a group of sentences on common stereotypes:

  • Taking part in working life implies respect of rules and people
  • Different cultures mean problems and conflicts
  • Leading groups implies authority
  • Working with others means to be a good ‘team player’
  • It is difficult to overcome gender  stereotypes
  • Gender stereotypes affect working life
  • Racism supports the defence of our country
  • Migrants people support the development of our economy
  • Paying taxes is a civic duty
  • Education is a pre-requisite for a good working-life
  • Volunteer activities are linked to religions values
  • Homosexuality ‘means’ demographic problems
  • Education and training should stopped after 30 years
  • Women and men have different cultures and same rights
  • Religions have been often a problem  for peace
  • Taking care at safety and security in work-places is time consuming

2) one form for any participant, necessary to register the chosen card order. The form lists the sentences written on the cards and any sentence has the same letter written on the backside of any card. Participants have to report the card order in the table at the bottom of the form.

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sheet sample

3) White board


1)     With any method to teach (lecture, self study, research etc) the professor introduce the subject  as he/she prefers

2)     Start of the card workshop: professor gives the cards to students; any student has a bunch of cards and has to set the card’s order, basing the truth or agreement with the sentence written on every card. Time available is usually no more than 20

3)     Professor gives the form to every student that has concluded the task and he has to write his/her name and the card’s order in the table at the bottom of the form (2 minutes). Student must conserve his/her own cards in the order chosen for the next step.

4)     When all the students have concluded the task, there is a break while the professor, using the form filled, sets groups of 3/5 people for discussion. By putting the forms in stack it’s possible to create a table, as in the picture below, to easily find people who putted cards in opposite order. The target is to create groups with people with opposite or, at least, different opinions.


5)     Students have to discuss in group and reach a common order for their cards. They also name a representative for the group who list, at the end, in another blank form, the card order chosen by the group. The group decide also a name for itself. It is important to give the blank form only at the end of the task, when the students have already decided the common order, to avoid that instead of using the cards to discuss the existing differences, they (everybody) look the list in the form, by forgetting their own previously card’s order

6)     Professor gives back the form filled to every student. In plenary session, professor draws a column on the white board for any group and starting from the upper level list, one to one, the cards chosen by every group. Any sentence can be commented and it is possible to evidence differences between groups. Professor ask to each group, time to time, to comment the discussion that they have done on a particular sentence



  • The strength of this workshop consists in the fact that people involved have the real possibility to change their opinion or information because they discuss it with colleagues instead of simply accepting the professors’ opinion as a truth. When they consider true a sentence that the rest of the group do not consider true, the discussion frequently provoke a change…
  • The method has been used and ameliorated during more than 15 years with hundreds of different experiences and target groups and with some thousands of participants.
  • Everybody, at the end of this experience, is very happy because they had the possibility to share their opinion and to understand better the subject.
  • Often, the ones who were not well informed on some point acquire the right information discussing the reason that has determinate a certain order for their cards
  • The form filled by every student is really useful, in plenary session, to let himself, to compare his own previously arrangements with the group results

Areas for development:

  • To develop an online tool that help to create and manage this kind of workshop
  • To create a resource of sentences ready on different subjects


This method is transferable to any context where is necessary to ask participants to discuss to change or to consolidate their opinion and/or their information.

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