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Competition, Community, and Educational Growth

Contemporary Perspectives on Competitive Speech and Debate

Edited By Kristopher Copeland and Garret L. Castleberry

Competition, Community, and Educational Growth: Contemporary Perspectives on Competitive Speech and Debate is an up-to-date text providing informed academic thought concerning the impact of forensics. Its primary focus is to demonstrate how the forensic activity allows students to actively engage and learn outside the classroom. Specifically, Competition, Community, and Educational Growth focuses on how students educationally grow through the activity. The book frames methods and pedagogy as best practices to provide educational growth for students and explicitly connect learning outcomes for students. Coming from the perspective of higher educational instructors, the book provides insight beyond the high school experience. Competition, Community, and Educational Growth examines contemporary perspectives on competitive speech and debate theory, experience, and methods of instruction.

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Chapter 11: Competition and Community-Building in Forensics (Kendrea James)


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Competition and Community-Building in Forensics



Forensics, as an extra and co-curricular activity at many institutions of higher education, provides an opportunity for students to gain many benefits, such as developing public speaking skills, gaining research expertise, and being prepared to succeed professionally (i.e. developing skills to present oneself in a professional setting).1 In addition, the forensic community creates a unique culture for students, which includes a space for students to practice professionalism, politeness, and develop a unique support system. However, students are tasked with balancing the demands of competition within the unique community that is built.

Rieke and Smith discuss how competitors acknowledge forensics as a competitive activity, thus emphasizing the game paradigm.2 Therefore, at the heart of forensics is competition. Forensic students spend hours researching, writing, and practicing in order to be competitive on the circuit. These hours are often not spent alone, as forensic team members are often tasked with peer coaching. In addition, many hours are spent in van rides to and from tournaments each year. Additionally, tournaments are often a space for students to merge with various schools from around the country. As a former competitor in the forensic activity, I wanted to explore community-building in relation to the culture of competition within the activity. In relation to competitive forensic teams, I always found my goals personally reflected those of my teammates: we wanted to win, but...

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