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DIGITAL DEBATE ASSIGNMENT

150 points possible


Assignment Objective: To fulfill course objectives by constructing original arguments, using
evidence and warrants, and refuting opposing arguments.
Assignment Description:
A lot of debate happens digitally these days, and just because a lot of it is terrible, does not mean
it has to be. The ability to make good arguments online is a valuable skill. Throughout the
semester, you will engage in an online debate with onei of your discussion-section classmates on
a proposition agreed upon with your teaching assistant. The debate will unfold in three rounds.
The Procedure:
Each team will receive a proposition in consultation with your TA. A proposition is a statement
of policy that can be debated before a deciding body (like a legislature). In simplest terms, one of
you will affirm that proposition (agree with it) and the other will negate it (disagree with it). For
example, if the proposition under consideration is that the United States Congress should act to
end existing restrictions on a womans access to abortion, you will construct a thesis that affirms
or negates the proposition.
Round 1: Opening claims, context and definitions (1000-1200 words) (60 pts possible)
In the first round, you are asked to clearly define how you are using the terms under debate, state
your affirmation/negation of the proposition, and offer claims in support of your thesis. In
defining the terms, you have to consider how strong of an affirmation/negation you want to offer
for the proposition, and under what conditions. In the example proposition above, you would
need to decide what act means, whether you would want to end all existing restrictions, and
also what rights Congress has to enact such legislation in relation to state governments. Once you
have answered those kinds of questions, then you will have your position on the proposition
(your thesis). You will also provide some context on the social, political, and economic stakes of
the controversy that leads to your proposition. All of this will be in the form of an introduction.
After providing definitions, a thesis and context, you should then provide your three (3) claims in
support of your thesis. Then, you should use at least one piece of data to support each claim.
Your data should be of the highest quality possible. Most importantly, you should supply
sufficient warrant that shows how the data supports the claim, and then also how each claim
supports the thesis. You will be well served thinking about Toulmins The Layout of Argument,
specifically the three main parts to his model: claim (argument), data (evidence), and warrant.
You do not need to provide a summary at the end, but may offer a brief concluding sentence or
two.
Round 2: Refutation of your partners claims (1000-1200 words) (60 pts possible)
In the second round, you will want to provide refutations or counter-claims for each of your
debate partners main claims. For every counter-claim you provide, you must use at least one
piece of high-quality data to support it and sufficient warrant. There are many ways to refute
someones claims, including questioning definitions, logic, relevance, examples, assumptions

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and impacts. You may also choose to show that there are major disadvantages to what your
partner proposes or better alternatives they have not considered.
You do not need to provide an introduction or a summary in Round 2. You may choose to
provide a brief introductory and concluding sentence.
Round 3: Rebuttals and conclusion
(500-600 words) (30 pts possible)
In the final round, you will offer rebuttals. In other words, you will defend each of your claims
against your partners refutations. This may involve revising or refining some of your original
claims and offering additional evidence and warrant. It also may be the case that your partner did
not do a very good job refuting you in Round 2, and so this can be the basis for some of your
rebuttal. Reiterate why you should win the debate and offer concluding comments. You do not
need an introduction in Round 3.
Grading, Format and other Criteria:
You will want to research this as if it were for an argumentative paper, but since you are in a
digital space, you should be creative with your writing style and the kinds of evidence you use,
including embedding or linking to images, videos, and audio clips. Even though only you, your
debate partner, your TA and Dr. Chvez will see your debate, it is very important that you use
good judgment when determining what information you embed or link to. Think very carefully
before presenting material that is violent, that promotes racism, sexism, transphobia,
homophobia, ableism, xenophobia, or other systems of oppression, or that is otherwise
questionable in content. If it is necessary to link to such material, it may be appropriate to
provide a short content warning that indicates the nature of the material to your reader.
While you should consider being creative, at least half of your evidence must come from sources
you find in a UW Library or using the UW Libraries Databases.
Each round must be well written, well organized, coherent, and without grammar, spelling, or
sentence structure errors. Do NOT do more (or less) than the designated word limit. You should
also cite your sources in the text and include a reference list at the end of each round (this does
not count in the word limit) using proper MLA Style. If you have trouble with style, you should
consult the webpage for the UW Writing Center (http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/index.html)
or the MLA style manual, which you can find at one of the UW Libraries. Writing style and
structure will comprise 30% of your grade for each of the debate rounds.
Your content will comprise the remaining 70% of your debate grade. Each round should be
logically sound and should clearly conform to the assignment requirements. Failure to do what
youve been asked to do will not result in a very good grade. You are encouraged, however to be
creative and innovative in the way you craft each round of the debate. Good digital posts often
include hyperlinks, embedded YouTube videos, pictures, and visual appeal. You can do all of
these things in the Learn@UW discussion board forums that we are using, so make sure to pay
attention to the aesthetic appeal of your posts.

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-For information about how to embed images in discussion posts see:


https://kb.wisc.edu/page.php?id=2978
-For information about how to embed audio and videos see:
https://kb.wisc.edu/page.php?id=3460
- For information on how to wrap text see:
Learn@UW home page, document entitled how to wrap text
i

There may be some instances where you will be in a group of three instead of two. In those
cases, if you are the only person on your side of the debate, you should pick just one of your
partners to refute in Round 2 and rebut only that person in Round 3. If you are the person with
two people on your side, but who was not chosen for refutation in Round 2, you will work with
your TA to decide what refutations you will need to rebut in Round 3.

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