COMM 191A Syllabus

Director of Forensics: Tina Lim
Office: HGH 214
Phone: 408-924-5381

Course Texts

Winebrenner, T. (1994). Intercollegiate forensics. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.

Knapp, T. G. & Galizio, L. A. (1999). Elements of Parliamentary Debate. Menlo Park: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers, Inc.

Course Overview

The focus of COMM 191A is competition in Parliamentary debate. COMM 191A fulfills elective units. A unit of credit is earned by competing in one tournament. The obligations for this class include: research, writing and speech design of at least one prepared event and one limited preparation event (events listed below), practice, and participation in at least one tournament.

Learning Objectives

Students are expected to:

  1. Identify, analyze, synthesize and research arguments on controversial topics;
  2. Construct arguments with credible evidence;
  3. To think and speak critically;
  4. Work effectively in a diverse environment;
  5. Cooperate and support one another while traveling to competitions;
  6. Understand, and demonstrate, difference between fact, value and policy debate.

Course Policies

  1. Since you receive priority registration, you are required to attend debate practices from 3:00 pm – 5:30 p.m. Make sure you arrange your class schedule accordingly.
  2. Regular and punctual attendance is required. In the event that you must miss a practice, you are required to notify the coaching staff in advance.
  3. To earn one unit of credit, you must adhere to course policies and successfully participate in one tournament.
  4. You are expected to know (and stay informed of) the major state, national and international issues of the day, drawing from no fewer than five media sources.
  5. You are required, and expected, to do your own original thinking. San Jose’s policy on academic honesty will be enforced. Any form of plagiarism can disqualify your team and/or the entire SJSU squad, not only for individual tournament(s), but also for the full competitive season.
  6. Specific requirements for competing are listed in the Tournament Rules and Contract, attached to this green sheet. You are required to sign this document prior to any tournament travel.

Course Expectations


Research is a vital activity to debaters. Parliamentary Debaters must maintain a current file of all topical events, anecdotes, philosophical points of view, quotations, etc. Evidence may be used in the 15 minute preparation period. All Parliamentary debaters will practice extemporaneous and impromptu speaking.

Practice Debates

Before attending a tournament, students are required to participate in a minimum of two practice debates that are critiqued by the coaching staff. You should be observed running both government and opposition cases. Regular attendance in coaching sessions of resolutional analysis, case building, refutation, and government and opposition strategies are required. No students will travel to a tournament until they are deemed prepared by the coaching staff. Debate practice should not be entered into half-heartedly. The student’s full effort is required in order to evaluate performance and indicate areas for improvement. When you are not debating, you will be expected to flow debates and give critiques. Be prepared to argue either side of the case if called upon in practice. Signing up for a tournament doesn’t guarantee you are qualified to go to a tournament, it just indicates to us your preference. Qualify as soon as possible for every tournament.

Impromptu or Extemporaneous Speaking for Debaters

Impromptu speaking helps eliminate some of the rough edges in speaking and thinking on your feet. Extemporaneous speaking keeps debaters current in state, national, and international events. Both are great activities for debaters besides other members of the squad. All of those entered in extemporaneous speaking are responsible for maintaining a file of recent materials to be taken to the tournament. Information older than three months must be jettisoned. Parliamentary debaters must maintain a team shared and compiled current events file. If you don’t contribute, you can’t use it.


You will be expected to work in concert with the coaching staff in order to prepare your events. All topics must be cleared with the coaches before you use them. Your work must be evaluated and approved by the coaches before leaving for a tournament. No one will attend a tournament unprepared. The coaches will sign off on whether you are ready for competition.

No research, no evidence, no drills, no practice debates = no tournaments. All are necessary to be able to compete.

Go to Tournament Rules for information on how to sign up for tournaments, tournament conduct, travel preparations, tournament procedures, and the tournament contract.