In-Class Debates

Introduction

We will have three debates in this course, one each on "Intelligent Design and Public School
Education," "Science and Religion," and "Evolution and Human Nature." My hope is that these
debates will sharpen your understanding of the issues, will be challenging, and (last but not
least) will be fun. Let's aim for all three.

Basic Instructions

• Each student in the course will be on a debate team for one of the three debates.
• Each debate team will have three (or in some cases, four) students.
• Students will be randomly assigned to debate teams.
• One team will be assigned the "Pro" side of an issue. The other team will be assigned the
   "Con" side of that issue.
• Students not on a debate team for a particular debate must still attend class and participate.
• Every student on a team must participate in the preparation for its team's presentation, and in
   the presentation itself. A fair "division of labor" should be established prior to the debate.
• Each student may or may not find herself debating in support of the position that she actually
   holds. At the conclusion of each debate students may express their own views of the issues,
   but should not do so before or especially during the debates.

Debate Format (3rd Edition)

Debate follows a structured format. Many different formats are possible. For our purposes,
the following format will be observed:

  1. Instructor introduces the debate topic and the two teams, and reviews the debate format.

  2. Pro side introduces its team, and gives its Opening Statement.                                     2 min.
      (No arguments are given at this time, just identification of which position on the
      given proposition the pro side it will defend, and an outline of the kinds of
      considerations it will bring to bear in the defense of that position.)
 
  3. Con side introduces its team, and gives its Opening Statement.                                    2 min.
      (No arguments are given at this time, just identification of which position on the
      given proposition the con  side it will defend, and an outline of the kinds of
      considerations it will bring to bear in the defense of that position.)

  4. Pro side presents its first argument in support of its position.                                        2 min.      

  5. Conferral period.                                                                                                           1 min.

  6. Con side responds to Pro side's first argument. (Be sure to respond directly to Pro        1 min.   
      side's argument, rather than introducing another, different argument or set of issues.)

  7. Con side presents its first argument in support of its position.                                       2 min.

  8. Conferral period.                                                                                                           1 min.

  9. Pro side responds to Con side's first argument. (Be sure to respond directly to Con       1 min.
      side's argument, rather than introducing another, different argument or set of issues.)

 10. Pro side presents its second argument in support of its position.                                   2 min.

 11. Conferral period.                                                                                                           1 min.

 12. Con side responds to Pro side's second argument.                                                         1 min.  

 13. Con side presents its second argument in support of its position.                                   2 min.

 14. Conferral period.                                                                                                           1 min.

 15. Pro side responds to Con side's second argument.                                                        1 min.  

 16. Pro side presents a third argument in support of its position.                                         2 min.

 17. Conferral period.                                                                                                           1 min.

 18. Con side responds to Pro side's third argument.                                                            1 min.

 19. Con side presents a third argument in support of its position.                                        2 min.

 20. Conferral period.                                                                                                           1 min.

 21. Pro side responds to Con side' third argument.                                                              1 min.

 22. Open debate between Pro and Con sides.                                                                      6 min.

 23. Pro side makes its Closing Statement. This is an opportunity for the Pro side                2 min.
       to bring together the various threads of its case in favor of the proposition.                               

 24. Con side makes its Closing Statement. This is an opportunity for the Con side              2 min.
      to bring together the various threads of its case against the proposition.                                  

 25. End of debate. Audience may ask questions of either team.

 26. Completion of Debate Scoring Sheets and Teammate Evaluation Forms.

Grading

• Each student will receive a grade based on three factors: scoring by the audience; evaluation
   by other members of the student’s own team; scoring by the instructor.
• For each debate, those in the "audience" will be given a Debate Scoring Sheet. Their job is
   to judge the debate fairly and objectively. Brief comments must be included with each score.
• The Instructor will also complete a Debate Scoring Sheet.
• Each student in a debate will evaluate his or her teammate's contributions to the team's
   preparation for the debate, and his or her performance in the debate, using the Teammate
   Evaluation Form. Brief comments must be included with each score.