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Why debate?

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Giovanna Smith

on 3 October 2013

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Transcript of Why debate?

Why debate?
Who benefits?
Improved Skills
Listening, speaking, and reading
Improved communication and speaking skills are a major benefit of competitive debate, especially for students who speak English as a foreign language (Williams, 2001 & Littlefield 2001)
Collier (2004) found an improvement of 25% in the reading scores of 209 high school debaters versus 212 randomly selected non-debaters from the same school
debaters construct arguments and think critically about evidence
they improve their library research skills
they practice self-managed study
they improve their time management

When you have to justify your ideas, and give firm evidence to support them, you become more confident in your beliefs and abilities.

High school debaters develop an increased commitment to attend university or college, as opposed to their non-debating peers (Collier, 2004 & Shuster 2008)

Debaters also have a higher postgraduate studies completion rate: 90.2% versus 76% in non-debaters (Rogers, 2011)
Institutions that have a debate culture, or a debate society, also benefit.
Debating and debate societies boost an institution's profile
Debate programmes can also connect students and their institutions to the communities around them.
Additional benefits
Another way to engage local communities is to
host public debates on a local issue

debaters are more likely to participate in professional internships that are relevant to their studies
debaters are more likely to be accepted into graduate school
they are more likely to have a job offer on graduation

And once they have a job:

debaters get better feedback from employers and supervisors
debaters are happier with their career choices
Aspiration, motivation and confidence
Debaters can travel and see the world, learn from other perspectives and represent their institutions and countries abroad, competing for international prizes and recognition

Global Debate and Public Policy Challenge:
All expenses paid trip to Budapest, Hungary for further training and competition
Five winners receive $10,000 grant for further study in policy field, or to cover a year's work experience with a non-profit organisation

International Public Policy Forum
All expenses paid trip to New York for finalists
First prize - $10,000

World Universities Peace Invitational Debate
First prize - $2,000
Debate as a teaching tool

Debates in the classroom help students to learn and engage with the course content.

Debate is a form of active learning, very different to passively receiving information from a text book or teacher.

In Goodwin's study (2008), 88% of business students reported that classroom debates increased to their understanding of the topic, and another class reported that debate helped them to appreciate the real life significance of economics.

Source: Rogers (2011)
Opportunities to travel and compete
Mother Teresa
Pervez Musharraf
Stephen Hawking
Sheikh Hasina
Ziauddin Sardar
Students can contribute to the wider communities by teaching debate skills to younger, less privileged members of society.
Firstly, by attracting expert international guests, who speak at debating society events. These guests can vary from politicians, scientists, philosophers, authors, religious leaders, etc. This raises publicity and respect for the institution. Just a few examples of visitors to UK debate societies include:
Bill Clinton
Institutions also benefit from publicity and promotion at debate events, both at home and abroad.

Students who travel to international debate forums represent their institutions with pride, and talk to other debaters about their universities. This is excellent publicity - we have seen before that debaters are more likely to attend graduate school, and they will listen to other debaters for recommendations.

And when an institution hosts a debate event, it has the chance to showcase itself to the debating world, which we have seen is full of dedicated, engaged and motivated students.
For example:
In summary, why debate?

Debate is a learning tool, and a teaching tool.
It improves academic and personal skills.
It increases confidence and aspiration.
It engages people in open, constructive discussion, where everyone's contribution is important, and everyone can benefit.
Collier, L. (2004). Argument for Success: A Study of Academic Debate in the Urban High Schools of Chicago, Kansas City, New York, St. Louis and Seattle. Paper presented at the Hawaii International Conference on Social Sciences, Honolulu.

Goodwin, J. (2003). Students’ perspectives on debate exercises in content area classes. Communication Education, 52 (2): 157–163.

Littlefield, R. (2001). High school student perceptions of the efficacy of debate participation. Argumentation and Advocacy, 38 (2): 83–97.

Shuster, C. (2008). Not Making the Case: A Critical Examination of Research Supporting Urban Debate Leagues. Paper presented at the 2nd International Conference on Argumentation, Rhetoric, Debate and the Pedagogy of Empowerment, Ljubljana, Slovenia, April 11–13.

Williams, D., McGee, B. and Worth, D. (2001). University student perceptions of the efficacy of debate participation: an empirical investigation. Argumentation and Advocacy, 37: 198–209.
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