Sample Debate Round Analysis

Sample Ballots

Judge "A" Ballot

Judge "B" Ballot

Judge "C" Ballot

Judge "D" Ballot

Ballot Review and Analysis

Stock Issues and Win-Loss
One of the biggest concerns voiced by prospective new judges is that they will do a bad job because they won't make the right decision (won't pick the correct winner).

A proper understanding of the sample ballots should alleviate that concern. All of these ballots were written by judges with several years of experience. The result:
    2 judges voted Affirmative
    2 judges voted Negative

This was not a contrived result for this example. Numerous experienced judges were asked to watch the video and judge the round. Four were able to make the time to do so. None of the judges know who any of the other judges are. In fact, essentially the person who wrote this web page knows who wrote the four ballots.

In fact, in the vast majority of cases when there are multiple judges watching the same round at the same time the result is a split decision. Some of the judges vote Affirmative and others vote Negative.

Why is this so important?
There is no "right" decision (universally agreed upon by experts). As long as the judge makes his decision based only on the information presented by the debaters and follows the simple Stock Issue decision model, the judges decision is "right". While it may be heard often in debate circles it bears repeating here, "The judge is always right."

Win-Loss really does come down to:
Did the Affirmative Team convince you there is a big problem that must be fixed?
Did the Affirmative Team convince you that specific problem is not going to go away?
Did the Affirmative Team convince you their plan will make things noticeably better?

If the Affirmative Team convinced you on all three points: Vote Affirmative!
If the Affirmative Team failed to convince you on any one of the three: Vote Negative!

Looking briefly at the voting details, for the Negative ballots the judges agreed in part and did not agree in part. Judge "B" voted Negative on both Significance and Solvency while Judge "D" voted Negative only on Significance. Here again a key point is that they both listened to the same arguments and came away with different conclusions on the details while they ultimately agreed on the winner.

Written Reasons for Decision and General Comments
Another concern expressed by many judges is they are not sure what they should write on the ballot.

Without looking at the details it is readily apparent that some of these experienced judges wrote a lot, others a moderate amount, and one fairly brief remarks. While it is true that more comments can be nice, brief, limited comments are fully acceptable and greatly appreciated. (To extend this thought a bit farther, it is likely that the more extensive comments were provided because these ballots were intended as examples, so the judges included a longer and more wide ranging set of comments than they might do on a regular basis. In addition, being able to type the comments might have made it easier to write a bit more.)

As with everything else about CCNW debate, the most important part of the written comments are those related to the Stock Issues.
What big problem did you see?... Or, why were you not convinced?
What was the reason you did (or did not) feel like the problem would persist?
What gave you the confidence the plan would work?... Or, why did you decide it would not?

Beyond explaining the reasons behind your win-loss decision, there are many other things you might say that would be helpful to the debaters. Ultimately, the best comments are those that they can use to become better at debate, and ultimately better Christians and members of their community.

Were they well organized? Say what you saw.
Were they confident and yet courteous? Or could they improve here?
Did they have any mannerisms that you found distracting?
In short, just let them know anything you think will help them improve.

Speaker Points and Rankings
In CCNW we work to keep our focus on the substance of the debate (as framed by the Stock Issues). The manner of presentation is distinctly a secondary concern. With that said, we do want our debaters to become better, more polished, more effective speakers. Thus, while speaker points are not our first priority, they are important and we do ask our judges to give the debaters feedback through the speaker point scores.

All judges are provided with a scoring guide that explains the criteria associated with each speaker point category. The information in this handout comes from Chapter A3 of the CCNW Manual, Section A3.6 - Speaker Evaluation Criteria, and subsection III of this describes each speaker category. The CCNW Manual can be found on this web site at the "CCNW Rules" link on the left side of the site. In addition to explaining the purpose of each category Section A3.6 provides additional guidance about how to assign speaker point scores. If you are judging at a CCNW event and are not provided with a speaker point scoring guide or have any questions about assigning speaker point scores, just ask the event staff and they will provide you with whatever you need.

Taking a look at the specifics, as with the win-loss decision, there is no perfect way or end result when assigning speaker point scores. A look at the scores assigned by the experienced judges reflects a very typical variation of results. Some judges tend to be a bit more generous with points while others a bit less so. So judges like certain styles of speaking and reward those with that style, while others have different preferences.
In the same way that following the Stock Issues will produce a fair and proper win-loss decision, a conscientious application of the speaker point scoring criteria will produce reasonable and helpful speaker point scores. During the course of each debate event, Round Robin or Tournament, each debater sees a number of different judges. Overall the preferences and biases of one judge are typically balanced out by a different set of preferences and biases of another judge. The net result: 1) The better speakers average higher points and are rewarded with Speaker Awards for their proficiency. 2) All speakers get important feedback about what areas of speaking their judges see them doing well, and what areas more frequently receive lower scores indicating an area that needs work.