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National Communication Association

NFA Panels at the Virtual 2020 National Communication Association Conference


Inter-Program Mentorship in Forensics: Learning Alliances at the Tournament Crossroads
Thu, 11/19: 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Room: Zoom Room 22

For many forensic participants, the mentoring relationships formed through forensic activities are a critical part of their higher education experience. Bennetts (2002) defined traditional mentoring relationships as "intimate learning alliances that happen naturally, and which may occur at any age" (p. 155). Although such alliances may easily be observed within forensic programs, the tournament crossroads which bring people and programs together offer a unique opportunity to examine mentorship in an interorganizational context. Therefore, this panel seeks to examine, through mentorship theory framing and personal narrative, the experience, strategies, and implications of inter-program mentoring in the forensic community.

Discussing the Use and Effectiveness of the NFA's Open Door Policy and Mindfulness Room Beyond the National Tournament
Thu, 11/19: 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM, Asynchronous Session

This session will discuss the survey results from a regional IE tournament analyzing the utilization of the NFA open door policy and mindfulness room. A 16-item survey (with both qualitative and quantitative prompts) was administered at the conclusion of the swing in order to gain a sense of participants' perceptions of past tournament experiences and experiences with the newly implemented features. Seventy-one (n=71) respondents participated (competitors, coaches, tournament staff, and hired judges). Analysis of the data revealed: 40% of participants had felt the need to leave a round in the past (a disproportionate 80% of which were women, nonbinary, or genderqueer), a clear quantitative increase in perceived confidence competitors felt to leave the room as needed after the reading of the open door policy, judges and students had divergent perceptions on the effectiveness of the open door policy, and while the mindfulness room concept was praised, the main criticisms were the size and levels of accessibility to the room. The authors offer suggestions on administering an open door policy and a mindfulness room in a forensics context.


Coaches at the Crossroads: Professional and Personal Challenges to Continuing in a Coaching Career
Fri, 11/20: 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Room: Zoom Room 23

The forensics community finds itself at a crossroads. Numerous challenges face our community, including the elimination of programs, cuts to budgets, cancelled national tournaments, and many more (Williams & Gantt, 2005). Coaches of forensics teams are also finding themselves at personal and professional crossroads. A variety of scholars have noted the burnout that coaches face due to the many administrative, travel, and coaching demands (Richardson 2005; Olson 2004; Trejo 2004). The discussion of coaches leaving the activity has focused largely on burnout as it relates to the demands of coaching and operates under the assumption that coaches only leave the activity because they no longer enjoy coaching. Although this literature offers a valuable perspective, we need new research that considers other personal and professional factors that increase the likelihood of coaches to leave the profession. Professionally, speech and debate positions are less likely to be tenured than in previous decades and institutional advancement often requires leaving coaching positions. Personally, coaches starting or maintaining families also face challenges and demands. This panel brings together current coaches and those in the process of exiting the profession to examine institutional strategies, personal best practices, and potential structural changes to the activity to keep coaches who still love coaching in forensics.

Competitors at the Crossroads: A Discussion Engendering the Creation of a National Mentoring Resource
Fri, 11/20: 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Room: Zoom Room 28

In its best form, the forensics performance space is one that encourages the free expression of identity, the sharing of personal narratives of struggle and oppression, and the advocacy of acceptance, healing, and change. We have created, as much as is possible, an environment wherein student competitors feel safe and supported while they both share individual narratives and advocate free from judgement. However, what happens when our student competitors find themselves at the crossroads between graduation and the professional world: a professional world and environment which is neither dedicated to providing a safe space for one's identity or the advocacy for change? How do they remain true to the voices that we have nurtured and encouraged while at the same time navigate a complex and too often less than supportive professional world? This discussion will focus on finding ways to mentor students as they navigate that crossroads; and hopefully, as they accommodate to their professional lives. The goal would be to propose a national resource in the form of a website jointly maintained by the various forensics organizations that would include personal success stories and strategies, a link to legal resources, and, hopefully, direct access to personal mentorship.
National Forensics Association Business Meeting
Sat, 11/21: 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM
Links will be sent to the membership.
This is the November business meeting for the National Forensics Association. The meeting will include officer, financial, and committee reports, tournament announcements, and discussion of old and new business. All NFA members are encouraged to attend.

“Where Have All The Duos Gone?”: The Current Status of Duo Interpretation
Sun, 11/22: 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Room: Zoom Room 14

Forensics research has long discussed the value of competing in individual events. However, not all events have received attention in research, including duo interpretation. In a time where programs are forced to justify our worth and purpose to university administration, it is imperative that we continue to seek out answers regarding the status of our events in order to continue positive progress within the activity. Although duo interpretation is just one event, it is the only individual event that allows for collaboration between communicators in an effort to bring performance to life. The event is at a crossroads, and while other individual events such as after-dinner speaking and communication analysis have been extensively researched discussing norms and the evolution of the event, duo interpretation has largely been ignored within the forensics research field. Therefore, this panel seeks to examine, through past practices and current norms, how the event of duo interpretation has evolved and what we as forensics educators must do in order to address the decline of numbers within the event along with solutions we can implement to encourage growth of the event within the forensics community.