Course Syllabus

Fayetteville State University

College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Performing and Fine Arts



Semester: Fall 2003

Course No. & Name: SPEE 401-01 Argumentation and Debate

Day/Time Class Meets: BU 237, 12:30-1:50 TTH

Instructor: Dr. Jeanie Almeida

Office Location: 206 Telecommunications Bldg.

Office Hours: MW:2-4, TTh:11-12, 2-3

Office Phone: 672-2031




A study of the principles of effective argument, with special attention to reasoning,

evidence, motivation, organization, persuasion, and refutation.



Rybacki, K. C. & Rybacki (2004). Advocacy and Opposition. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.



When this course is completed, the student or facilitator of learning should have achieved the following course objectives:


1. Describe the function of propositions of fact, value and policy in argumentation and strategies for adapting arguments to different types of audiences.

2. Analyze types of arguments and the manner in which arguments are structured and presented in a variety of public discourse.

                    3. Attend and report on a public debate on a substantive issue.

4. Construct and implement an original debate.


1. Demonstrate understanding of the course material in a variety of ways: through class discussion, assigned papers, exams on the readings, collaborative small group debates, and reports on observed public arguments.


                    1. The student/facilitator should reflect on and evaluate learning and

                    teaching in class discussion and assigned papers.



                    1. The student is encouraged to use the Internet for researching papers.

                    2. The student is encouraged to use the media as sources of class

                     discussion topics and as models for debate.


                    1. The student/facilitator is encouraged to understand the differences that

                     exist among people and their cultures and the ways in which these

                     differences affect different techniques of argumentation and different

                     attitudes towards debate.


                    1. The student/facilitator will engage in a collaborative group effort in the

                    construction and presentation of one group debate.

                    2. A collaborative approach is essential towards establishing effective class




Knowledge INTASC#1     The teacher understands the major concepts, assumptions, debates, processes of inquiry and ways of knowing that are central to the discipline he or she teaches.

Reflection INTASC#2     The teacher is committed to reflection, assessment, and learning as an ongoing process.

Assessment NCDPI#8.3     The teacher uses assessment strategies to involve learners in self-assessment activities to help them become aware of their strengths and needs, and to encourage them to set personal goals of learning.

Technology NCDPI#6.4     The teacher knows how to use a variety of media communication tools, including audiovisual aids and computers, to enrich learning opportunities.

Diversity INTASC#3     The teacher understands how students differ in their approaches to learning and creates instructional opportunities that are adapted to diverse learners.

Collaboration INTASC#10.12, NCDPI#10    The teacher establishes respectful and productive relationships with diverse home and community situations, and seeks to develop cooperative partnerships in support of learning and well being.



Grade Distribution


Library Research Paper              200 points

Paper                                             100 points

Oral Presentation                         100 points


Public Speech Analysis Paper     100 points

Class Participation                         50 points

            Group Debate                             150 points

            Group Debate Paper                  100 points


Midterm Exam                                 75 points

Final Exam                                       75 points

                        750 Total Points


Grading Scale

A= 690-750 points (92-100)

B= 623-689 points (83-91)

C= 548-622 points (73-82)

D= 480-547 points (64-72)

F= below 480 points (Failure)


Class Participation (50 points)

You are required to attend class regularly and participate in class as a member of the audience or as a contributor. Attendance is mandatory on days when you have been assigned an oral presentation, on exam days, and during debate week. You are allowed three excused absences (with documentation) per semester and two unexcused absences. Every absence over five will result in a 3 point drop from your final grade. If an assignment, quiz, test, exercise, etc. is missed, makeup should occur by the next class period. All papers accepted after one week will be dropped 20%. After two weeks of the due date, late papers (or speeches) will not be accepted.



WEEK          DAY             TOPIC                                      ASSIGNMENTS


Week 1     Th Aug 21 Course Introduction                             Chap. 1

                                    Presumption/Burden of Proof               Chap. 2


Week 2     T Aug 26 Propositions of Fact, Value                  Chap. 3 & 4

                  Th Aug 28 and Policy


Week 3     T Sept 2 Toulmin’s Model of Argument                 Chap. 5

                Th Sept 4 Toulmin’s Model of Argument                 Chap. 5


Week 4     T Sept 9 Great Speeches                                Chap. 12 Videotape

                Th Sept 11 Evidence /Forms of Reasoning         Chapters 6 & 7


Week 5     T Sept 16 Great Speeches

                 Th Sept 18 Evidence/ Forms of Reasoning         Chapters 6 &7


Week 6     T Sept 23 Fallacies in Reasoning                             Chap. 8

                Th Sept 25 Advertisements                         Public Speeches Paper Due.


Week 7     T Sept 30 Fallacies in Reasoning                             Chap. 8

                Th Oct 2 Advertisements

                    Review for Midterm


Week 8     T Oct 7 Midterm Exam                                             Chs. 1-8

                Th Oct 9 Arguing Fact Ch. 9


Week 9     T Oct 14 Legal Argument                                         Chaps. 9

                Th Oct 16 FALL BREAK.


Week 10     T Oct 21 Arguing Value                                          Chap. 10

                    Th Oct 23 Theatre as Argument Film


Week 11     T Oct 28 Arguing Policy                                         Chap. 11

                  Th Oct 30 Political Debates                                     Videotape


Week 12     T Nov 4 Presentations                                Presentation Papers Due.

                   Th Nov 6 Presentations                               Presentation Papers Due.


Week 13     T Nov 11 Debate Format                                       Appendix A

                                    Form debate groups.

                  Th Nov 13 Writing arguments                                 Appendix B.


Week 14     T Nov 18 Debate groups meet.

                  Th Nov 20 Debates                                             Debate Papers due


Week 15     T Nov 25 Debates                                             Debate Papers due

                   Th Nov 27 Thanksgiving Holiday


Week 16     12/2 Last day of class.

                            Review for Final Exam.

Final Exam is scheduled Thursday December 4th at 12:30-2:20.




(1) Public Speech Analysis Paper Each student will select one public speech and write a 5 page paper analyzing the arguments in the speech. It is preferable that the speech selected have an accompanying transcript so that students can read the text rather than attempt to reconstruct the text. The Washington Post and the New York Times provide transcripts of most Presidential speeches and the speeches of other major political figures, such as the heads of nations. As a guide towards analysis, categorize which statements or arguments are arguments of fact, value or policy.


(2) Library Research Paper (5 pages) and Oral Presentation. Topics for the five page paper can be selected from the bibliographies at the end of each chapter in the textbook; each chapter has a section of supplementary readings. For other topics, such as judicial debate or legal issues, check in the library for books. Each student should select one reading by Thursday, October 2 so that students can give presentations on their literature research to the class in November. Oral presentations of the text selected should be designed to be 10-15 minutes long and include a concise summary of the major points of the reading so that students in the audience can learn from the student presentations. For texts exceeding 100 pages, teams can be formed and duo or trio presentations can be given wherein each member of the reading team reviews part of the text. Papers are due during presentation week.


(3) Group Debate. The group debate will be presented to the class and should follow standard college debate format. Debate format is provided in Appendix A of the text and will also be covered in class. Debates should last from 20 to 30 minutes and will be timed. Debates should focus on a topic of general importance. Two students should team up to form a pro side and two students should team up to form a con side. Each student should prepare a brief which details the arguments the student has formulated for the debate. Instructions for the brief are in Appendix B.


(4) Midterm and Final Exam. Both exams will be essay exams.



This course will utilize a variety of teaching strategies: lecture, class discussion, small group discussion, role play, supervised debates, video presentations, theatrical presentations, independent field trips, and library research. The underlying philosophy guiding the course structure is that structures of argument support many forms of public discourse. A good understanding of the processes of reasoning that are used to construct and support arguments enables us to interpret the reasoning behind many types of discourse, including advertising and public relations, legal and juridical procedures, political and religious oratory, among others.


Bloomfield, Leonard. (1933). Language. New York: Holt, Rhinehart & Winston.

Bormann, E. G. (1985). The Force of Fantasy: Restoring the American Dream. Carbondale: So. Ill. Press.

Burke, K. (1966). Language as Symbolic Action. Berkeley: U. of California Press.

Burke, K. (1961). A Rhetoric of Religion. Boston: Beacon Press.

Campbell, K. K. (1996). The Rhetorical Act. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Chomsky, N. (1975). Reflections on Language. New York: Pantheon Press.

Foss, S., Foss, K. A. & Trapp, R. (1991). Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric. Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press.

Foucault, M. (1972). The Archeology of Knowledge. New York: Pantheon.

Goffman, E. (1963). Behavior in Public Places. New York: Free Press.

Hodge, R. & Kress, G. (1988). Social Semiotics. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell U. Press.

Morris, C. Signification and Significance.(11964). Cambridge, Mass.:MIT Press.

Searle, J. (1969). Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge, Eng.:Cambridge U. Press.

Silverman, D. & Torode, B. (1980). The Material Word: Some Theories of Language and Its Limits. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Walton, D. N. (1992). Plausible Argument in Everyday Conversation. Albany: SUNY Press.

Whately, R. (1828/1963). Elements of Rhetoric. (D. Ehninger, Ed.). Carbondale: So. Ill. Press.

Toulmin, S., Rieke, R., &7 Janik, A. (1984). An Introduction to Reasoning (2nd ed.). New York: MacMillan.