Corporate leaders, university professors and academic studies all tout high school speech and debate as one of the most valuable activities in high school.
Looking for future business leaders? Look no further than students who competed in speech and debate, according to Robert Sher, a Forbes columnist, author and CEO coach. Check out: “How To Find The Millennials Who Will Lead Your Company” from the Forbes.com March 2014 issue to read about his advice to CEOs.
Trying to see a link between college admission and participation in debate? Read the department paper by Minh A. Luong, a Yale Professor in the Ethics, Politics, and Economics, ” Debate and College Admissions,” which drew a strong link between debate and college admissions.
Want to understand the skills that speech and debate students learn? Review the compilation of benefits developed by the National Forensic League:
Critical thinking skills: A wide body of research conducted at institutions including Yale University, Truman State University, and the National Forensic League has established that students involved in debate and speech consistently display higher levels of critical thinking skills, which correlates to increased problem-solving abilities and overall academic performance.
Unique benefits for gifted and at-risk students: Students who need to move at their own pace find intellectual stimulation in debate. When engaged, both groups of students act out less, by as much as 50%, according to a 2005 study.
Higher performance on standardized tests: Debate students tend to score better on standardized tests including the SAT and ACT, as well state accountability assessments. As high school coach Rusty McCrady notes, “Not only do forensics and debate foster creative and intelligent citizens for the 21st century, they may even help your local school system win the numbers game.”
Improved graduation and retention rates: Students who participate in debate and speech are more likely to graduate high school and attend college than their peers. A study by Professor Briana Mezuk in the Journal of Negro Education revealed, “among African American male students, debaters were 70 percent more likely to graduate from high school, three times less likely to drop out, 50 percent more likely to reach the ACT college-readiness benchmark for English, and 70 percent more likely to reach the ACT benchmark for reading” (from NFL partner, the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues). Additionally, Professors Colbert & Biggers noted in the Journal of the American Forensic Association that 90% of debaters go on to earn at least one graduate degree.
Improved access to content material: Students who speak and debate form personal connections with material, improving their memory and understanding of the material. As concluded by the journal Argumentation and Advocacy, incorporating oral language skills into instruction enables students to “build links between words and ideas that would otherwise be perceived as separate and as having less meaning” (2000, p. 163).