Scholars have often touted the educational benefits of forensics (e.g.: Bartanen, 1998; Beasley, 1979; Brownlee, 1979; Ehninger, 1952; Gartell, 1973; Jensen, 2008; McBath, 1975; Millsap, 1998; Schroeder & Schroeder, 1995; Stenger, 1999; Yaremchuk, 1979). Critics, most notably Burnett, Brand, and Meister (2003), have argued forensics is only a competitive game with the idea of education used as a crutch to uphold the activity in the eyes of schools. While attempting to counter critics, many forensic educators have scrambled to find proof of student learning. Besides theoretical approaches to potential learning methods (e.g., Dreibelbis & Gullifor, 1992; Friedley, 1992; Sellnow, Littlefield, & Sellnow, 1992; Swanson, 1992; Zeuschner, 1992), the evidence of student learning in collegiate forensics has been scarce.
Kelly and Richardson (2010) and the 2010 NFA Pedagogy Report represented a new era of forensic assessment by trying to nail down learning objectives for the activity. Kelly (2010) argued, “Higher education is being reshaped by standardized assessment practices, and collegiate forensics must reshape practice accordingly” (p. 131). As the debate rages on about appropriate learning objectives in the community, assessment practices to measure any form of learning still remain missing. Many scholars have called for a better understanding of forensic learning outcomes but have never applied genuine academic learning objectives to forensics (e.g., Church, 1975; Holloway, Keefe, & Cowles, 1989; McMillan & Todd-Mancillas, 1991).
Beyond identifying learning objectives, forensic scholars have had difficulty accurately measuring learning outcomes of the activity. These struggles are reflected in communication studies assessment; Morreale et al., (2011) noted communication educators have trouble providing accurate assessment data due the performative nature of the field. To help answer the call most recently initiated by Kelly and Richardson (2010) and Kelly (2010), this article will identify and explore an appropriate assessment method for forensic learning outcomes, and provide data for use by future forensic educators and scholars.
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"Experiential Learning and the Basic Communication Course: A New Path to Assessing Forensic Learning Outcomes,"
Speaker & Gavel: Vol. 51
, Article 4.
Available at: http://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/speaker-gavel/vol51/iss1/4