Speak Up!: A Quantitative Exploration of the Long-term Impacts of Competitive Forensics
Lawton, Michael Christopher
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Aristotle wrote about three genres of speaking: deliberative, forensic, and epideictic. Drawing on the teaching of Aristotle, the field of forensics was born, focusing on public speaking and debate as competitive events. Forensics is an over-century old activity that has grown with education in mind. This study utilizes quantitative research methods to analyze the long-term impacts of forensics participation. Former competitors completed a total of 381 surveys, answering a range of questions set to gauge the viability of the skills gained through forensics. The research question for this study seeks to identify what the long-term impacts of forensics, if any. The results supported the research question and all three hypotheses: forensics offers an immense amount potentially positive benefits that can impact a student far beyond their competitive eligibility. With ten skills presented in the Likert-type questions, between 83.5%-98.9% of respondents agreed that forensics has benefitted a specific skill set. Only two of these categories, networking and organization, rated below 94% agreement. An independent samples t-test exposed that women were more likely to perceive positive impacts on organization than men. A one-way ANOVA revealed a significant difference in perceived research abilities between those who competed in high school and college, as compared to high school-only competitors. The evidence of the positive long-term impacts of forensics participation on career success offers a strong justification for the continuation of forensics programs.