Date of Graduation

Spring 2019


Master of Arts in Communication



Committee Chair

Eric Morris


This study seeks to use qualitative interviewing and grounded theory analytical methods to explore motivations for intercollegiate debate participation, as well as to update and expand existing research on the subject. This study found that students participate for a variety of reasons including an affinity for competition, enjoyment of the process of debate, the acquisition of skills and perspectives, and finding a sense of community within both their debate squads and the broader debate community. Further, this study found that students remain motivated to participate in debate despite competing demands on their time by strategizing completion of coursework, satisfying social needs within debate, and modifying existing extracurricular and familial commitments to best serve their needs. This study is limited by its small sample size and the corresponding limitation of perspectives. Despite its limitations, this study provided useful insights into how debaters communicate their motivation to join and stay involved in debate and offered explanations for motivating factors.


intercollegiate debate, grounded theory, social exchange theory, motivation, qualitative interviewing, NDT-CEDA

Subject Categories



© Joe Hamaker

Open Access

Included in

Communication Commons