The Narrative of the Professional: The Value of Collegiate Forensics Participation
Becker, Robert Roy
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Forensics, or competitive speech and debate, has a history stretching back to the ancient Greeks. Although practitioners, students, and coaches have long sung its praises, limited research has been done to demonstrate the long-term value of forensics competition for students. This study used narrative interviews to discover the perceived value of forensics competition to individuals who were at least ten years removed from competition and had not remained active in forensics. After interviewing 34 individuals, this study used grounded theory (Glaser, 1965; 2002; Glaser & Strauss, 1967) to analyze the results. Analysis revealed that individuals followed a similar pattern of becoming involved in forensics and remaining as participants. Additionally, they believed they learned academic skills, social skills, and had more opportunities because of their participation in forensics, despite having to overcome some negative effects of participation. Participants noted that they used many of the skills they developed in forensics every day. Participants also demonstrated that forensics was a part of their identity and many remained connected to former teammates, former competitors, and their alma mater. Analysis led to the development of the Narrative of the Professional, which is the story of the forensics competitor.