SC008: Marriage and Family

Preparing for Your Debate

Please follow this link to see the schedule of debates and the list of debate teams, as well as the links to teams' bibliographies.

You are now a member of one of the debate teams. Your team will be graded as a whole. This means that you will be as strong as your weakest link. Determined who will be responsible for each portion of your team's debate, but be sure that you work together so that all members of your team have an adequate knowledge of your arguments and evidence.

1. You have to collect social scientific evidence to support your argument as well as to refute potential arguments of your opponents. One good place to start your search is the comprehensive list of Sociology research resources. I would especially recommend the Sociological Abstracts database listed on that page. You could also try using Google Scholar. If using Google Scholar, use it on campus – that will make it much easier for you to open the articles that you find. You can also use Quest library catalog to search for books. To get started, you could brainstorm various keywords that could be helpful to find evidence on your topic, and then perhaps divide the work of actually searching for articles and books. Select your keywords carefully, and try a variety of combinations to identify the most appropriate ones. In your search, be systematic. Keep track of where you have looked, what words you used for searching and your results. When you find an article or a book that is directly related to your subject, look at list of keywords for that article or book to see what other keywords you should be using to find similar materials. Also, when reading a relevant book or article, always look at their bibliographies to see whether there are other relevant materials cited there. Stay in touch with your group to make sure that you are finding a variety of sources rather than all reading the same articles.

2. You will have to email me the list of the sources you are using as your evidence one week before your debate, and set up a meeting with me to discuss your evidence.

3. The debate itself will start with an opening statement made by your team. This statement should be approximately 10-15 minutes long and should state your team's position, clearly make specific arguments to support this position, and present the supporting evidence. You may use PowerPoint for your presentation, if you choose to.

4. You should have at least 15 questions that can be asked of each of your opponents. These should be on separate sheets of paper or on notecards for easy reference. The questions should be specifically directed to your opponents and should be concise and clear.

5. You should have answers prepared which will be used to respond to your opponents questions. Imagine that you are from the other team and determine what questions may be asked of your team. When preparing the answers, rely on social scientific evidence to make your responses more grounded.

6. You should have a final conclusive argument/statement prepared that you will make at the end of your debate (the main points of this statement will be written on the blackboard). This should be no longer than 5 minutes. You should take notes during the entire debate so that you may refer to these in your final presentation of your team's views.

It is up to you to prepare yourself for the challenge that lies ahead. Only one team will win this debate. The winning team will:

  • have a solid background regarding all material
  • have plenty of social scientific evidence to back up claims
  • use teamwork to teach all in group the important concepts behind specific positions
  • clearly present their arguments and evidence
  • ask clear, concise, and relevant questions
  • provide informed answers to their opponents’ questions
  • be creative