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Overview of Policy Debate

posted Feb 27, 2012, 8:33 PM by Kristel Peterson   [ updated Feb 27, 2012, 8:34 PM ]
DEBATE is an opportunity for students to use their skills of reading, thinking, writing, speaking and listening in a meaningful situation that can be related to their own lives. Teams of two students research a controversial issue to collect facts and expert opinions for/against a proposed change (stated as a resolution). They prepare cases by using these data and making inferences. Teams face opponents in timed speeches. They attempt to elicit judges’ votes by stating a strong case and refuting opponent’s claims with contradictory facts and explanations. Elementary students argue either as an affirmative or a negative team.

Debate focuses on six main skill areas:

1. ANALYSIS: the higher thinking skill of breaking down an idea into its parts (parts may be comparisons, contrasts, causes and effects, and trends). In debate, analysis follows a fairly standard process of finding pro and con positions on the issues.

2. ORGANIZAT ION: the three part organization of a speech—introduction, body, and conclusion.

3. DELIVERY: the presentation of a speech including projection, eye contact, fluency, and style.

4. EVIDENCE: facts, statistics, and expert testimony given in support of an argument.

5. REASONING: the higher level thinking skill of synthesis used to identify main points, support each with evidence, explain relationships, and draw conclusions.

6. REFUTAT ION: identify and counter opponents’ arguments and conclusions with reasoning and evidence.

Debate includes specific vocabulary and speech structures.