Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Sí se puede! (Yes we can!): A critical ethnography of students' identities in an Urban Debate League
by Mathis, Sara Marie, Ph.D., The University of Utah, 2015, 216; 10024264
Abstract (Summary)

Policy debate is an educational practice that researchers have verified teaches students an important skill set that is highly valued in today’s workforce and communities. The problem is that this interscholastic activity has traditionally excluded students from underrepresented populations and those who live in poverty. In the late 1990s, Urban Debate Leagues (UDLs) were created to rectify this problem. UDLs brought policy debate to large urban school districts. Quantitative research shows that UDL students improve their GPAs, test scores, graduation and college matriculation rates. However, there is little qualitative research to support these findings.

In this dissertation, I argue that identity is what changes students. Students are influenced by many different identities that they are able to explore through the UDL program. The study asks two questions 1) what identities are offered by a UDL? and 2) what tensions exist between the identities experienced in the UDL and the students’ social identities? Critical ethnography and portraiture were the two methodologies utilized. Analysis of the data showed that students explored three types of identities—debater, academic, and the Carlinville Urban Debate League. The findings also showed tensions between debater identities and student’s social identities particularly race and class. It was determined that identity was the key to understanding the influence of UDLs on its participants.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Darling, Ann
Commitee: Endres, Danielle, Middleton, Michael, Strine, Mary, Thompson, Audrey
School: The University of Utah
Department: Communication
School Location: United States -- Utah
Source: DAI-A 77/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Communication
Keywords: Debate, Ethnography, Identity
Publication Number: 10024264
ISBN: 9781339517711
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