[eDebate] CEDA-40 - All Call for Community Research, Analysis and Opinion

Gordon Stables stables
Thu Jul 19 16:50:57 CDT 2007


If past practice is any indication, once the topic is announced the
discussion will focus on more immediate questions and analysis. Before we,
as a group, make that adjustment let me introduce a significant research and
analysis process to our membership. In just a few years (2011) CEDA will
celebrate its 40th anniversary. One of the primary tasks of the 2nd VP is to
coordinate research conducted at the CEDA Nationals tournament and through
the organization's efforts. It is my belief that my beginning an organized
campaign now we will have a process that will allow the organization to have
acted on those ideas before it turns 40. That project is something called
CEDA-40.

I am not a fan of totalizing historical comparisons about debate, but it is
hard to dispute we do precious little to analyze our own activity in any
organized form and then share those insights with the larger community.
Throughout the history of organized intercollegiate debate a variety of
written forms existed to let the community learn and share from each other.
Some were formal, refereed journals and some took the form of articles in
handbooks. I suspect among many of us learned not only from the people we
interacted with, but also by reading the work of some very talented people.
In order to have a truly proud celebration of CEDA we need to take the time
to apply our impressive analytical and research skills inward, even if just
for a short time.

I do not romanticize the idea that we can, or should, encourage our diverse
community to narrow their efforts into a single rigid professional
discipline. The fact that we all have different professional relationships
to debate does not, however, mean we cannot take time to examine the
activity we care do deeply about and then share those conclusions. When I
first became involved in the topic process I was amazed how much research
and analysis our community produces each year. Last year on the court topic,
for example, dozens of folks contributed hundreds upon hundreds of pages of
research analysis. Ever had that moment where you google a debate subject
and find a wording or controversy paper? I think it is time for the
community to google our practices, institutions, and goals and have the same
success. It doesn't matter if you are a student, alum, professor,
professional coach, volunteer, attorney, parent or just an interested party
- we need to rebuild our collective community knowledge base.

For easy reading here are some questions and answers about this initiative.

What is CEDA 40? 

A collection of community research and opinion organized into a strategic
planning document. The document will:
	
1.	Conceptualize important challenges and opportunities confronting the
CEDA community 
	
2.	Begin to develop reforms designed to promote the organization's
goals in time for the organization's 40th anniversary (in 2011)

In other words, it is a collection of original perspectives and research by
the CEDA community. This document is an organized means of allowing the
community to learn to the experiences, perspectives and research by other
community members.

What kind of topics should people research and analyze?

This is the question to be determined by you as members of our community.
Instead of relying on informal conversation, momentary chats on edebate or
other informal forms, this process gives people the opportunity to take a
more orderly and well-developed assessment. Some of the possible areas for
analysis include:

*	The Organizations that make up the community (CEDA, NDT, ADA, AFA,
etc.)
			The procedures, practices, leadership structure,
schedules, etc.
			
*	Our Competitive Practices
			Tournaments, Judging, Argumentative Practices 
			
*	Membership (The CEDA Community)
		Schools, Coaches, Debaters - Who are these populations? How
are they changing? 

What form should these efforts take?

*	Summaries of current practices 
				Once upon a time vicious battles raged over
debate theory in journals and other sites. There are occasional posts, but
we could certainly use some contemporary means of assessing the desirability
of argumentative trends.
	
*	Statistical analysis (metrics or surveys)
				How much debate is there in a given season?
Do we know much bigger or smaller a region is in the last decade? Do shorter
topic wordings produce greater novice retention? Are there positive or
negative trends in nature of gender participation? We see lots of opinions,
but much less in the way of orderly analysis. We have the wonderful tool of
debateresults to allow folks to build these research questions from several
years worth of data. There are, of course, earlier records that may provide
interesting points of comparisons. 
	
*	Case studies
				There are plenty of occasions where
conventional wisdom is produced by the most basic of information. We have
amazing folks in the community who have started programs, re-started
programs, helped them expand, and yes, seen programs wither and die. What
happened? What makes the difference? I know there are about 1,000,000,000
edebate posts on the subject but what about a 5 page detailed explanation
about how the successes or failure took place by a debater or coach involved
in that effort?
	
*	Reaction (editorial) essays
				Perhaps you would like the opportunity to
write a lengthy defense of the organizations goals, missions, or trends.
Perhaps you have experiences with teaching, recruitment or recruitment that
you would like to share. Maybe you just want to rant. Here is your chance.

*	Reform proposals
				When I witnessed the discussion of NDT
redistricting a few years ago one I was unprepared to appreciate how much of
our planning is directed at short-term efforts. By necessity we are all
worried about the next topic, the next season, the next tournament, the next
class, the next meeting, the next paycheck, time with our family, sleep,
etc. There are plenty of items that can and should be debated for reform in
the near-term, but there are also some fundamental questions that cannot
(and shouldn't be) done at the last minute. Do you think we should
fundamentally revisit some form of how we organize, compete or teach? We
need the type of developed proposals that can serve as the foundation for
important efforts.

Submitted materials will be organized and included in an edited volume that
thematically organizes the materials. It will be produced as a free,
publicly available e-book. Thanks to the cooperation of incoming CEDA
journal editor Al Louden, outstanding submissions will be considered for
inclusion in a future issue of Contemporary Argumentation and Debate: The
Journal of the Cross Examination Debate Association.

The deadline for submissions in December 15, 2008. This gives everyone
almost 18 months to develop, plan and produce research. This also allows
individuals, or groups, to conduct research at the 2007 CEDA Nationals
tournament. This will allow a number of 2009 events to be influence by this
research product. It will be available in time to influence the development
of the 2009 NCA Panels, the 2009 Summer Argument in Alta (which is
bi-annual) as well as the business meetings of both CEDA and the NDT.

This is a call for everyone involved with the CEDA community to find the
time between now and December of 2008 to stop, reflect and add to the body
of knowledge that makes up our activity. Maybe you like summarizing and
explaining current practices. Great. Maybe you want to analyze the
demographics of a specific tournament or region. Awesome. Maybe you have
some ideas abut how to restructure our organizational or regional processes.
Wonderful. 

Tomorrow the topic will be out and the next set of urgencies will fill all
of our lives. I am not asking anyone to write a report this weekend. I am
asking that everyone stop and assess if you can add to the body of knowledge
that our community relies upon. I will regularly post and encourage
participation, but please consider taking part. This is your community and
it needs a small fraction of the research and analytical skills that we
possess.

Thanks for reading.

Gordon


Gordon Stables, Ph.D.
Director of Debate and Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication
University of Southern California
Office: 213 740 2759               Fax: 213 740 3913
http://usctrojandebate.com

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