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Welcome to the DAV Website
The DAV is a non-profit association which exists to promote debate. It is the peak debating body in Victoria and runs large competitions for adults and for schools across Victoria. It provides training and resources for debaters, teachers and adjudicators.

The Adjudicator feedback forms

Every second round, adjudicator feedback forms are handed out to students to fill in after their debate. The purpose of the forms is to see how adjudicators are performing, if their feedback to student’s is useful and the student’s perspective on their adjudication.


 Common issues raised by debaters


There were a number of issues raised by the debaters in the "comments" section of the forms.


The adjudicator based their decision upon their own personal beliefs


Adjudicators are trained to take the viewpoint of the hypothetical "average reasonable person" when assessing the matter of both teams. Special knowledge of the subject matter, or any personal beliefs are not to play any part in the adjudicator's decision. Therefore when assessing matter, adjudicators are to take a completely objective approach, looking at the logic and relevance of each argument.


Adjudicators will rely upon their experience and understanding of debating rather than their own personal bias. It may be that if an argument is not accepted by an adjudicator that: a) it lacks effective explanation; b) does not have evidence/examples to support the argument; or, c) lacks proper links to the topic.


The topic is too one-sided and isn't a fair debate


Topics are set by the Vice President (Schools) in consultation with a selection committee of experienced adjudicators. When selecting the topics, we are conscious of the need to give both sides a fair argument.


The topics are usually based around contemporary issues that are the subject of vigorous and lively debate in the community. Issues that are one-sided tend not to be contentious and don't really make for good debates - so we don't use them!


The adjudicator didn't give us speaker-by-speaker or individual feedback


There is no rule that an adjudicator must go through and comment on each speaker during their oral adjudication. An adjudicator might decide that there were comments, both positive and negative, that applied to most or all of the speakers in the debate. If you want to find out more specific feedback, then you should ask your adjudicator!


The adjudicator penalised us for all our mistakes, but ignored the mistakes of the other team


In every debate, there must be a winner. If you disagree with the result then you should be prepared to approach the adjudicator, and seek further explanation and clarification of the reasons for their decision.


We encourage adjudicators to keep their oral adjudications to less than 10 minutes. it isn't always possible for adjudicators to mention everything that was done well or badly by each of the team.


Adjudicators keep telling us different things. When we are given feedback we change our debating style, but then the next adjudicator tells us the opposite of what the first one said.


All adjudicators have received the same training and are told to apply the same set of rules to each debate.


There aren't any "golden rules" that apply to debating - the function of the adjudicator is to look a range of factors in determining which team was the most persuasive. It is extremely rare that any one individual factor will alone determine the outcome of a debate. In every debate, both teams will have different strengths and weaknesses, and the adjudicator must engage in a balancing act to decide which factors were more decisive.


If you feel that you are being given conflicting advice, then again, ask your adjudicator for clarification. In many instances, there has simply been a misunderstanding between the adjudicator and the debaters. If you are still unsure as to what the correct rule is, then consult the Australia-Asia Debating Handbook and training materials that are on the DAV website.


The scores given by the adjudicator don't reflect the strengths and weaknesses of each speaker across the Matter, Method and Manner categories


Adjudicators are somewhat limited in how they mark debates. About 90% of speaker scores tend to come out in the 73-77 point range. More information about scoring can be found in the Scoring Resource page.


The adjudicator didn't take into account that this was a secret topic (or advised subject debate) and expected too much of us


We understand that these debates are probably a bit more daunting than debates where you can prepare your team case beforehand. But there's no rule that we should expect less or set lower standards just because the teams have only had an hour to prepare. The key to doing secret topics is using your allotted time properly, teamwork and remembering the essential elements of debating. So the trick is to keep doing all the things that you would normally do in a debate, and try not to think that just because it is a secret topic then all the normal standards and expectations don't apply.


The other team didn't keep their speeches to within the speaking times and we did. So how can we have lost the debate?


Speaking significantly above or below time is certainly a problem. In both instances it can attract a method penalty. Matter given well after the second knock cannot be taken into account by the adjudicator. If a speaker gives a speech that is well below the allowed time, then they probably also have problems in that they haven't explained their material enough, or raised enough arguments.


There is a view however amongst some debaters that if a team has time limit problems then they must automatically lose the debate. There is no such rule. Failing to keep within the time limits is simply one of the factors that an adjudicator takes into account when reaching their decision.



Getting the most from your adjudication


The most important thing to remember is to listen very carefully to what is being said by the adjudicator. Take notes of what is being said so that you can read over your feedback before your next debate. It's not just the result that matters - the constructive feedback that an adjudicator provides should be important for both teams to decide how they can improve. After the oral adjudication, if time permits, be prepared to ask your adjudicator a few polite questions if you need something clarified, or if you want more feedback.