Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School



High school principals consider the state championship debaters to be outstanding in every respect: in scholarship, leadership, personality, activities, and professional success after high school. These debaters have distinctive personalities and demonstrate leadership both in and outside of the classroom. The principals evaluated these students as scholastic leaders, with many of them receiving university scholarships upon graduation from high school. The superior intelligence of the group was acknowledged. It is apparent that school administrators consider the championship debaters to have been the distinguished citizens in their schools. Personal contact with debaters and debate coaches throughout the state of South Dakota gives support to the claim that proficient debaters are also distinguished school citizens. There are also distinguished school citizens who are not proficient debaters. Research in this area of study using control groups indicate that distinctive personality, high intelligence, and scholastic leadership are not the unique characteristics of debaters. Many debate coaches believe that there are certain factors that a student has that are directly related to success in debate. Herold P. Sampson, veteran debate coach at Watertown High School, says that grades in mathematics and English indicate success in debate. Donald J. McCarthy, Superintendent and debate coach at the high school in Colman, South Dakota, believes mental ability and mathematics grades are the best indicators of probable success in debate. Others like Alton P. Schenk, debate coach at the high school in Yankton, South Dakota, believe the student’s personality and class rank to be of importance to superior debating. In South Dakota, debating is becoming highly competitive among both class “A” and class “B” schools. Debate coaches, in an effort to develop better teams, try to predict which students will respond to coaching and become superior debaters. This research attempts to determine the relationship between known factors and a student’s success in debate.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Debates and debating -- South Dakota -- Brookings


Includes bibliographical references (page 47)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Only