chapter  6
Engendering Academic Success
Debate as a School Engagement Strategy
ByCarol Winkler
Pages 12

To explain how debate bolsters school engagement, this chapter presents empirical findings about how debate works as a pedagogical approach. It examines various modes of delivering debate instruction that span in-class activities, online courses, extracurricular programs, and interscholastic debate competitions. The chapter evaluates how debate works at the middle-school, high-school, and college levels, and in both urban and suburban schools. It describes how emotional, behavioral, and cognitive factors contribute to student disengagement, explains how educational researchers distinguish the three concepts, and explores how debate facilitates heightened engagement across this spectrum. Debate improves behavioral engagement by heightening the level of student participation in the classroom. To a large degree, debate counters cognitive disengagement because it promotes critical thinking. Debate's ability to augment critical thinking development transcends academic subject boundaries. The chapter concludes by reviewing robust studies that demonstrate the positive relationship between debate and academic achievement.