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Author Topic: Judges Reading Evidence During CX  (Read 11206 times)
dylanquigley
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« on: October 13, 2011, 02:48:50 PM »

This seems to becoming increasingly common and, after initiating several very interesting hallway conversations with folks I respect a lot, I would really like to start a broader discussion.

Though I was at first very skeptical, after a surprisingly positive response from those I've talked to, I am considering asking for a flashed version of the speech after the speech but before the CX. I think that this may increase the quality of discussions and discourage the practice of simply reading a slew of bad evidence and hoping that the other team will not have time to criticize all of it in a speech. (I had some interesting discussions with some folks about how this practice would discourage the shell game CX where they person being cross examined keeps saying "its the next card" - I always just kinda felt like this was part of the game, though I've decided that was probably just the summer I spent as Klinger's labbie and not necessarily a valuable part of the activity.)

I definitely do not want to follow along during speeches as I'm already concerned that even the limited practice of reading after speeches might a) encourage people to be unclear and further push us away from a rhetorical/persuasive activity and b) further degrade people's flowing abilities. I will attempt to continue to try and hold the line on clarity and persuasion in speaker points.

The other DA I can think of is time - though a) it should save a near equivalent amount of time after the debates since I'll already have all the ev on my computer that I would need to call for and b) whats another 4 minutes in all this paperless mess. A possible alt is to just ask for the doc when everyone else gets it before the speech but this doc will not be marked etc and thus does not have the adv of saving post debate time.

This is only an experiment and I greatly appreciate others input.

Edit: As was pointed out to me, I forgot to mention that I would only consider doing this in a paperless v. paperless debate to avoid any disparities.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2011, 04:20:01 PM by dylanquigley » Logged
kearney
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2011, 05:09:39 PM »

Changing my original post after talking to Ermo....

I originally thought this method would discourage clarity and explanation.

After some more thought/discussion, I think judge style won't change very much. Someone who wants to reconstruct a round will just have the opportunity to do it quicker (and perhaps follow the round better while it's happening); someone who prefers explanation/clarity will still probably hold debaters to that standard. Though the danger is that judges will not be responsible (stop flowing, paying attn, etc.).

The effect on CX shell games is definitely noteworthy, and it certainly encourages more nuanced discussions.

I still don't know if I want to lead the way in this effort or anything, but it makes sense to me.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2011, 05:44:54 PM by kearney » Logged
dylanquigley
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2011, 06:52:35 PM »

As I find myself, despite my debate upbringing, very much against reconstructing debates I am very nervous about anything in this vein effecting clarity/explanation. Though it's something its easy to say we can reassess as we go on, that is very often not what happens once a ball like this gets rolling. I think I will try to be very diligent about holding the line on clarity etc. and try to be willing to work with/follow any consensus that begin to be formed about these practices.
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ScottElliott
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« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2011, 06:47:15 AM »

How does the judge know that the evidence she reads DURING the round is actually relevant to the arguments gone for at the end of the round by the 2NR and the 2AR? Seems like a waste of time for the judge to read evidence during the round. If the evidence is important enough to decide the round on, let the debaters flag that evidence in their last two speeches for the judge.
This practice of reading evidence during the round just encourages debaters to mumble-spread their way through their speeches.
I have noticed lately that debaters are now operating under the expectation that the judge will read all or most of their cards for them---and then will make the appropriate cross-applications and shadow extensions for the students, rather than render a decision based on the actual arguments presented and gone for in the last two speeches. It is difficult to debate the opposing team and the judge at the same time.

Scott Elliott
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sharris
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« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2011, 01:37:19 AM »

As someone who has been reading along during speeches I find the notion that it makes me accept less clarity to be completely false.  When reading cards while debaters are reading them I can tell when they are mumbling and being unclear.  I find myself yelling clearer even more frequently in rounds when following along in their speech then when just listening.  I can immediately identify any card clipping and I insist that I be able to identify the words being read as I follow the speech.  I can tell the difference between it being their fault for mumbling and my fault for a lapse in concentration.  When just listening we often let people be less clear because we sometimes blame ourselves for not listening close enough.  I also think my flowing is better while following the speech than when just listening.  I no longer have butchered authors names randomly scribbled on my flow.  You still have to flow the speeches because all of the arguments are not in a speech doc.  I dont think the clarity disad has any validity in my experience and my experience thus far is a giant link turn.

I love being able to read disputed cross ex cards.  I find myself far more engaged in the debate from beginning to end when the speeches are jumped to me.  I feel completely reenergized as a judge.  I no longer have the experience of having to read cards after the round just to figure out what the debaters are talking about. 
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antonucci23
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« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2011, 12:43:36 AM »

I've sat the fence on this for a while, sharing Kearney's fears.  I can see how it might make judges better in individual instances, but still have a long-term corrosive effect when applied to the whole pool.

That said, this account is kind of compelling, and there's probably not much uniqueness to some long term erosive effect, so I think I'll give it a try @ the coast.

I think I'll ask for it when it's getting passed around, though, just because I burn enough time already in awkward flash drive exchanges.

Just my two cents
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gabemurillo
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2012, 12:48:38 PM »

I think if the judge limits themselves to only reading cards that are featured in the cross-x there is no DA. The reason I don't follow this practice is because I'm afraid I would be too tempted to read all the cards and therefore would be unfairly interjecting myself into the debate. I try to only call for cards if there is a debate about those pieces of evidence, but if I read each piece of evidence i'm not sure I'd be able to prevent myself from intervening based on my reading of the evidence as opposed to the debaters debating of the evidence (I know its old fashioned of me but I do constantly worry about paperless slowly removing the debaters from debate, and this is just another possible example). Obviously this is to some extent inevitable b/c I try very hard to listen to the text of cards as they are read, but this tendency seems too tempting or at least too difficult to prevent if you have the entire text of the evidence in front of you.


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JustinGreen
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« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2012, 02:25:08 PM »

I'm a fan of doing it.....

one practice to make this easier:  I started each round at the Coast sending out an email to all 4 debaters and making sure every speech doc was replied to all - means all 5 people have the speech doc with one upload. (also means debaters do not need to give you cards later).

I did not follow the cards during the speeches, but found that this allowed debaters to ask questions about evidence without having to re-read it out loud.  I also think this might have had a psychological impact on the debaters; they knew the judge cared about the cross-Ex. In the instances of both watching a 3-0 v 3-0 debate and a 0-5 v 0-5 debate the cross-exes were better than expected; debaters clearly put more effort into asking about lines from evidence instead of the more typical vague "where does it say X in your evidence?".
 
Occasionally in prep time I did read the evidence in the debate, this was done so that I could tell the debaters how they SHOULD have used the evidence.  Sure, there is the risk that reading the evidence might influence decision, but judges who are going to read all of the cards likely will do so inevitably.  Having them before the debate ends probably means they have enough time to compare the cards with their flows.  As long as a judge identifies a difference between the evidence and the argument transmitted, I cannot see why this is a problem.

Justin Green
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Malgor
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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2012, 02:34:39 PM »

what if a team does not want the judge to have access to their evidence until after their speech/speeches are concluded?
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Hester
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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2012, 03:13:28 PM »

I think if the judge limits themselves to only reading cards that are featured in the cross-x there is no DA. The reason I don't follow this practice is because I'm afraid I would be too tempted to read all the cards and therefore would be unfairly interjecting myself into the debate. I try to only call for cards if there is a debate about those pieces of evidence, but if I read each piece of evidence i'm not sure I'd be able to prevent myself from intervening based on my reading of the evidence as opposed to the debaters debating of the evidence (I know its old fashioned of me but I do constantly worry about paperless slowly removing the debaters from debate, and this is just another possible example). Obviously this is to some extent inevitable b/c I try very hard to listen to the text of cards as they are read, but this tendency seems too tempting or at least too difficult to prevent if you have the entire text of the evidence in front of you.

paperless has weakened to the point of almost non-existence the ability of debaters to flow [not inherent in paperless debate, but debaters figure why should they worry what's being said at such incomprehensibly fast speeds when they can just read the speech doc]. might as well let the judge get out of flowing too. in fact, everyone sharing the speech doc might obviate the needs to resolve the problem of judges being distracted during speeches - with the speech doc always handy for a quick review, those in-round gchats won't be nearly as damaging to the decision-making process...
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Ermo
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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2012, 03:18:48 PM »

As a side note, I judged a round where teams emails speech document files instead of using a jump drive. It seemed quite a bit more efficient, even though it's important to have jump drives when there are internet issues.

If a team did not want a judge to have access, I would defer (no community norm as yet). I wonder the reasons: Judge distraction, processing evidence differently, something else? When I've had speech files during rounds, I've found trying to both read and flow is harder than just flowing.

Here's my short list of the costs & benefits of in-round access. I think there are good arguments on both sides, and how judges USE them determines the cost/benefit. Most benefits could be viewed as costs, FWIW.

Benefits:
1. Easier to make follow some CX angles
2. Easier to process analytics about either team's evidence (instead of piecing it together an hour later).
3. Helps with author names (I'm a known butcher of unfamiliar names)
4. Faster RFD (5 min to get files, more if judge starts during prep time)

Costs:
1. Debaters might become less communicative (not just less clear)
2. Judges might listen less since it is easier to compensate
3. Judges might overly police cards, lowering the need for debaters to do so (evidence is already more important on a panel than with single judges, imo)
4. Less work to judge = worse judging (or better judging, if you assume the amount of effort applied is inelastic)

In my opinion, judges might experiment a bit, and see what differences they notice. Most perceptions can benefit from empirical data.
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Malgor
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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2012, 05:06:45 PM »

to ermo's last sentence, i don't really trust judge self-diagnosis.  what judge would come out and say it makes them pay less attention etc etc?  If a judge wants to see the cards of course they'll come up with a bunch of reasons why they need them-we're in debate, that's what we do.

for example, how many times do paperless debaters admit that they are flowing the speech doc more than the speech itself?  I have never heard a debater admit this (partially bc they probably don't notice it really is changing their flowing habits), yet this season I have been pretty diligent about watching both teams during any given speech, and flowing is at an all time low.  It certainly seems to be a common problem.

Everyone can shoot back that 'it's nothing new, debaters have been bad at flowing forever' but it's undeniable paperless makes it way easier to indulge in the habit by reducing the blowback of failing to flow.  That reason alone is enough to convince me we should not start the norm of allowing judges to have the speech doc during the speech.  Why take away the risks and amplify the rewards for judges who will not pay as much attention?

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Ermo
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« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2012, 11:26:58 AM »

what judge would come out and say it makes them pay less attention etc etc? 

The hermeneutics of suspicion....
I DID come out and say it, at least so far as following along with every card as being read. From the post you replied to:
"When I've had speech files during rounds, I've found trying to both read and flow is harder than just flowing."

Why take away the risks and amplify the rewards for judges who will not pay as much attention?

This discuss of risks and rewards confused me - what precise risks and rewards were you referring to? I think many judges, young and old, are seriously interested in being better judges, not just doing what they must to skate by. In fact, I think (and hope) anecdotes of judging ignoring speeches are rare, and are probably more related to exaggerating one's own skill at multitasking. This problem is not unique to debate judges - there is a lot of attention being paid to the topic in the context of texting & highway safety.

I agree some debaters flow less. Such debaters are vulnerable at losing to analytical arguments not in the speech doc's. Most rebuttals are not "in the docs." There is potential for self correction. Plus, people who looked over the shoulder at cards 10 years ago also had weak flows. But, if you think of the flow as a combination of the person's memory (visual, auditory) and what is written, it may not have degraded as much as it appears.
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dylanquigley
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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2012, 05:21:24 PM »

I experimented with it and decided against continuing for two reasons. First, it was simply annoying and time consuming to add another person to jump to every speech. JGreen's email idea seems like what I obviously should have done, though it does seem like there is always some person in every debate who can't get online. Second, I did not want to follow along during the speeches and found fumbling around to find the right cards and read them while the CX was going on to be too slow and distracting from the actual CX that was going on.

This was only my personal reaction and others may find it to be more useful but, for now, I think I will refrain from getting the evidence before the end of the debate.
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tcram
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« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2012, 06:14:55 PM »

I think the risks of enabling judge hackery are fairly marginal for the most part.  Many judges do come to the debate with their best effort (albeit almost always grumpy and annoyed, but that may speak more to the average personality type of a college debate coach) and those that aren't either cashed out of their commitment or have the reputation for being lazy/distracted/preoccupied/non-sober and people make the gamble on them with their prefs and then perform their own reputation-confirmation process.

Most of what it at issue in this thread mostly seems to be more of a conceptual disagreement of the purposes (or prioritization thereof) of debate.  Articulating a list of 'best practices' for judging and debating requires a larger referent to orient the discussion: should we value research over speaking, or explanation/spin over truth, or evidence as fact over evidence as argumentative support?  Tough to say and perhaps it is necessary for debate to have a 'come to jesus' talk about the ways that the digital age transform the purposes of debate and how we should adapt or create new paradigms to address debate practice.  Mostly I wish there was a larger community voice in debates over debate like there was during several of the paradigm debates of a few decades past (WMJs excellent efforts to carry the torch not withstanding).

Personally, I will continue to judge my full commitments without getting the speeches ahead of time.  Being able to assess arguments with all of the information in front of all the parties is certainly something debate should seek to teach (although I'll be damned if I ever see that anymore...), but I also think debate should be able to teach the ability to explain/refer/refute arguments to an audience who DOESN'T have the information in front of them.  Thus my approach. 
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