NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ1100979
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 22
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1559-9035
Reading and Writing with a Public Purpose: Fostering Middle School Students' Academic and Critical Community Literacies through Debate
Mirra, Nicole; Honoroff, Benjamin; Elgendy, Suzanne; Pietrzak, Gabriel
Journal of Language and Literacy Education, v12 n1 p1-22 Spr 2016
Middle school is a crucial transition period for adolescents; in addition to beginning to grapple with the academic literacy demands of college and career readiness, they are working to find their place in public life and developing opinions about civic issues. This article presents debate as a literacy practice that is uniquely suited to helping middle school students increase their academic reading comprehension skills while also honing their critical literacy skills and capitalizing on their developing civic identities. Our study extends the established body of literature about the benefits of classroom debate by focusing on the impact of extracurricular, community-based debate among students in a large northeastern public school district. We use a critical literacy framework and mixed methods approach including analysis of standardized test scores of 179 debaters, as well as 34 interviews with students, teachers, and administrators, in order to explore the impacts of voluntary, community debate participation. Our findings demonstrate how debate encourages students to analyze complex texts, take multiple perspectives on controversial issues, and use their voices to advocate for social justice. Our findings speak to the power of community literacy initiatives to support academic development and foster critical literacies.
Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia. 315 Aderhold Hall, Athens, GA 30602. Tel: 706-542-7866; Fax: 706-542-3817; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A