Whether you’re going into politics or you just enjoy a good debate from time to time, the ability to make a good argument for your side can be a valuable skill to have.
Students who want to learn how to make a strong and structured argument should take Speech 311: Argumentation and Debate.
The focus of the class is critical thinking and analyzing logical arguments, according to the course description.
Speech 311 also aims to develop organization, supporting materials and delivery of effective arguments.
Students will participate in four debates throughout the semester, with emphasis on developing students thought processes and the students ability to put forth arguments as the semester goes on. Each debate will be for the either the affirmative or the negative, and students who are not debating are asked to participate by asking questions, contributing to the argument and assessing the critical thinking of the students who are debating.
Students are required to write an analysis paper on their arguments or evaluate other students’ argument.
“(The class is) a challenge, but it’s worth the challenge,” said Roberto Garcia, a communications major and student in the class. “It has good information. If you’re pursuing a career that involves debate, the structure you learn in the class is essential.”
“I like (the class). (Professor Paul Duax is) a no nonsense teacher. He has high expectations, and I think that’s legitimate …There’s no floating through our class. He expects you to participate,” said Rosemary Killingsworth, a communications and family studies major in the class.
Duax puts a large emphasis on student participation, and student competence in debating. If either he or your debate partner loses confidence in your debating ability, you will be given a vote of “no confidence” and will receive half-credit for the debate, according to the course syllabus.
“It’s about clear thinking and critical thinking and what it means to go beyond an opinion,” said Duax. “(I want students to) ask good questions. Question every assertion, ask questions like, ‘How do you know that?’ … I’m encouraging people to ask more questions.”
Speech 311 is offered noon to 1:20 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays in Davies Hall 215, and noon to 1:20 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. It is not available during summer semester.