BENEFITS & RESEARCH STUDIES
WHAT EXPERTS SAY
“Dedicated participation in drama and debate has significantly increased the success rate of college applicants at all schools which track such data.”
— The Wall Street Journal
SUCCESS IN MIDDLE / HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE
Improves vocabulary, reading comprehension level, reading speed, writing speed and level, speaking, attentiveness, critical thinking, creativity, and note-taking skills, essential across subjects. There is no academic activity that stimulates a child's development across so many core academic and life skills. A good one page summary of academic research studies on the benefits of speech and debate is available here. A more detailed meta study on benefits is available here. And a paper on the benefits of starting early in Middle School is here.
Dr. Joseph Bellon, in the paper, "A Research Based Justification for Debate Across the Curriculum" further reviews four decades of research and proposes debate be incorporated across subjects, summarizing: "The existing academic literature makes a powerful case for debate across the curriculum. Debate training improves communication competence and critical thinking, and the existing research in educational psychology gives us every reason to expect that these benefits will only increase as debate pedagogy is implemented across the curriculum... Debate gives students an opportunity to develop skills they will need in the real world – an opportunity that contributes to their academic success while simultaneously improving their social skills." The full research paper is available here.
SUCCESS IN COLLEGE
Professor Minh Luong of Yale University cites the unique benefits of speech and debate on Selective College Admissions. Debate vastly improves thinking, processing, expression, organizational, and communication skills sought by colleges. Speech and debate can also improve performance in college interviews and the application writing process, to become a stronger persuasive advocate of the student's accomplishments, passions and goals. Professor Luong's paper is available here.
RAISE SAT/ACT TEST SCORES NATURALLY
Debate can help naturally raise standardized test scores for students. Debate provides the ultimate fun way to boost intrinsic motivation and performance on tests like the SAT and ACT. In 2016, the SAT Test was reconfigured by the College Board which administers the test. The President of the College Board, David Coleman, is a former championship debater who was also a driving force behind the new Common Core Standards in the United States education system, which in turn have been incorporated across many parts of the world, including India's new draft proposed educational overhaul which is available here and cites the importance of many of the same skills that the new SAT and Common Core seek – skills which students naturally learn by engaging in speech and debate.
Learn more about how the newly designed SAT was meant to reduce the value of traditional test prep, and how it is now ideally suited towards the skills focused on in speech and debate, particularly evidence-based analysis and empirical research which the English portion of the test has been adapted towards away from previous memorization of vocabulary; and similar changes to weighting greater emphasis on data analysis and interpretation in the Math portion of the test. Stefan Bauschard, the former Harvard Debate Coach, has written an article titled "Debate Participation as the Ultimate SAT Prep", further explaining the link between the new SAT and how speech and debate provides strong natural preparation here.
DEVELOP THE TOP LIFE SKILLS EMPLOYERS SEEK
An Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) survey found 93% of Employers wanted a stronger focus on written and verbal communication skills, critical thinking, and demonstrated problem solving ability. Speech & Debate help master these skills in a fun and engaging way that's designed for students as they progress through Middle and High School. The survey finds 93% of Employers viewed "a candidates' demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, & solve complex problems in more important than their undergraduate major." The full survey report is available here and additional employer surveys and economic trend research from the AACU can be found here.
PREPARE FOR THE upcoming HOLISTIC INDIAN CURRICULUM
In the summer of 2019, the Indian Government released a draft policy proposing a generational overhaul of India's education system to move away from traditional rote memorization and towards a holistic, skills-based learning approach. Students with exposure to Speech and Debate will gain skills relevant to prepare them for success under the proposed policy. Here are selected pertinent excerpts that reflect the Government moving Indian education in a direction where children could be significant aided by Speech and Debate:
"Holistic development of learners: The key overall thrust of curriculum and pedagogy reform across all stages will be to move the education system towards real understanding and learning how to learn – and away from the culture of rote learning present today. The goal will be to create holistic and complete individuals equipped with key 21st century skills. All aspects of curriculum and pedagogy will be reoriented and revamped in order to attain these critical goals.
Reorientation of the content and process of school education: The entire school education curriculum will be reoriented to develop holistic learners and develop in learners higher order skills of critical thinking, creativity, logical deduction, collaboration/teamwork, social responsibility, multilingualism, quantitative reasoning, and digital literacy.
Oral and written communication skills: Both verbal and written communication have become increasingly important in the modern world. People spend much of their daily lives communicating messages, requests, questions, opinions, feedback, anecdotes, and more – both in person and in written or digital form. Numerous surveys of employers around the world reveal that verbal communication skills are ranked first among potential job candidate’s “must-have” skills and qualities. The ability to speak, listen, question, discuss, and write with clarity and conciseness – and with confidence, eloquence, friendliness, and open-mindedness – is considered a truly essential skill for all managers and leaders. The Policy therefore recognises the importance of schooling systems developing excellent communicators...
Incorporation of communication in every subject in the Middle and Secondary years: In the Middle and Secondary stages, communication in front of one’s peers will continue, with the aim to discuss more sophisticated and course-specific topics."
The full draft policy can be downloaded here.