Evidence based decision-making and assessment for the Cross Examination Debate Association

Paul E. Mabrey III, Keith Richards


Events within the last 15 years of college policy debate have sparked widespread discussion and reflection on essential questions like who participates in debate and why does (or should) one debate. Recent debate success and controversies, both having made waves throughout popular media press, have only complicated these conversations. Deliberations on what should be done in the college policy debate community, whether through individual discussions or at the institutional level, have been largely based on anecdotes and hearsay rather than the evidence that supposedly sets this debate community apart. In an attempt to provide evidence that might enhance these deliberations, the 2014 Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) Census was administered during the fall of 2014 to gather data on current college policy debate demographics and attitudes toward contemporary debate practices, norms, and controversies. The 2014 CEDA Census was completed by 378 respondents, representing current debaters, coaches, and alumni. Survey participants answered questions about their own demographics, the debate resolution, motivations for debate, community concerns, tournament administration, and overall debate satisfaction. This essay reviews literature on debate assessment and data collection, outlines the CEDA Census research methodology, presents preliminary data analysis, and concludes with initial evidence-based recommendations.

            Keywords: policy debate, evidence, data, assessment

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