Professional Development: Directing Forensics – Directing Speech, Debate, and Theater (Not Currently Being Offered)

PD 540/PD 540G – Directing Forensics:  Directing the High School Speech and Debate Program

The Course

This course seeks to serve the needs of those secondary school educators and co-curricular advisers who have been assigned the responsibility of supervising an interscholastic speech and debate program at the middle school or high school level.  In this course students will explore basic topics related to the pedagogy of forensics, the management of forensics programs, and the professional issues associated with the role of a forensics coach/director.  Discussion of Theatre, mock trial, and related programs is included.

The Content

This 8-week, fully-online course includes content on a range of topics of interest to the new director, as well as new insights for directors with more experience.  For new directors who have plenty of competitive background, the course is designed to bring new insights into questions of philosophy, pedagogy, and organizational management.  Click here for a list of topics explored by the course.

The Advantages

  • The course has a number of features that should be attractive to new, as well as experienced, coaches and directors:
  • The course is fully online and asynchronous.  Students can log-on at their convenience to complete course content on a flexible schedule.
  • The course is eight-weeks long, offered during the summer.
  • The price is astoundingly affordable.  NFHS members pay the same discounted rate whether they are undergraduate or graduate students, in-state or out-of-state.  The result is discounts ranging from around $100 to as much as $900, depending on your state and degree level.
  • The course is rich in multimedia content, including interviews conducted with officials from NFHS, the National Forensic League, the Educational Theatre Association, select state association directors, and nationally respected coaches and forensics leaders.
  • Significant time is devoted to essential pedagogical concepts of forensics that can be applied to all activities, and used to justify program budgets and decisions.
  • Specific units are devoted to the essentials of instruction in debate, public address events, theatrical and interpretation events and activities, and related activities such as mock trial.
  • Entire modules of the course are devoted to important management topics such as legal liability, hotel contracts, parental relations, public relations, and tournament management.
  • The course is designed to link to existing resources from the NFL, NFHS, and EdTA so that new coaches and directors can learn both from the course, and from the organizations of which they will be a part.
  • There are no textbooks to buy.  Participants will have complete access to the reading materials they need online.

The Instructor

Dr. Kevin Minch, is a Professor of Communication, Director of the Truman Institute, and Dean of the Joseph Baldwin Academy, at Truman State University.  Prior to assuming his current role he was Truman’s Director of Forensics for 10 years, leading a program that encompassed the full range of individual events and two genres of debate.  During his tenure students captured multiple national championships, and Truman was the only program to earn two national parliamentary debate championships on unanimous decisions.  He currently volunteers as a National Federation of State High School Associations College Advisor and serves as the NFHS Speech, Debate, and Theatre Consultant.

NFHS Discount

As part of a special agreement negotiated between Truman State University and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), NFHS members are eligible for a substantial discount on tuition for this course.  This agreement erases the distinction between undergraduate and graduate, as well as in-state and out-of-state enrollments.  All verified NFHS members pay a tuition rate of $230 per credit hour* ($690 for the course) plus a $20 online course fee.  By comparison, the current credit hour rate for an undergraduate, in-state student is $282.  In-state graduate students pay $316.50.  Out-of-state students pay $513.00 (undergraduate) and $543 (graduate).  For an out-of-state, graduate level student, the $25 NFHS membership fee translates to a $914 in savings!  Plus, there are no textbooks to buy!

Not currently an NFHS member?  Visit the NFHS’s membership page to join or renew.  For more information on membership benefits of the NFHS Speech, Debate, and Theatre Association, click here.  Among other benefits, NFHS membership confers $1 million in excess liability coverage for coaches interacting with students.

*Note:  Currently-matriculated Truman State University students, regardless of NFHS membership, are not eligible for this discount.


Students not currently matriculated at Truman State University will need to register as a Non-Degree Seeking Student.  Students who are members of the NFHS Speech, Debate, and Theatre Association will be asked to provide a copy of their current membership card, their membership number, or their name and state as it would appear on the NFHS membership roster, so that we can verify eligibility.  Once the simple application is completed and reviewed, our staff will manually register students in the appropriate section of the course (based on undergraduate/graduate level and/or NFHS membership) and you will receive information on bill payment and how to log-on to the course.  To begin the process follow the link for Non-Degree Seeking Students above or contact Allison Owen at the Truman Institute at (660) 785-5384 or at

Advisory:  Each state has different laws applying to the ability of out-of-state providers to offer online courses within their borders.  Non-Missouri residents are encouraged to visit our state approvals site for more information as to how this might impact their registration and use of credit.

PD 540/PD 540G

Directing Forensics:  Directing the High School Speech and Debate Program

Content and Topics

  • Introduction to Forensics
    • The History and Evolution of Interscholastic Forensics
    • National Associations and Professional Development in Forensics
    • The Structure of Organized Forensics in the US and Abroad
  • Theoretical Pedagogy of Forensics
    • The Forensics as “Laboratory” Metaphor
    • Major Research in Forensics and Learning Outcomes
    • Forensics and the Gifted or Special Needs Student
  • Competitive Pedagogy of Forensics
    • The Relationship Between Competition and Classroom Pedagogy
    • Criticisms of Competition
    • The “Championship” vs. “Festival” Performance Models
    • Competition:  Winning and Losing
  • Teaching Research for Forensics Students
    • Teaching Ethics to Students Conducting Research
    • The Role of the Summer Institute in Research
    • Managing the Collaborative Dynamic in Team Research
    • National and State Rules Governing Research Products
  • Diversity Issues in Forensics
    • Trends in Participation by Gender
    • Issues in Participation for Students with Disabilities
    • Fostering Team Diversity
    • Protecting Against Threats From Inappropriate Behavior
  • Team Building and Organizational Leadership
    • Exercises to Promote Team Unity
    • Developing Team Leaders
    • Balancing Team Leadership and Managerial Concerns
  • Preparing Students for Debate Competition
    • Understanding Cross-Examination Debate
    • Understanding Lincoln-Douglas Debate
    • Understanding Public Forum Debate
    • Approaches to Student Research and Practice
  • Preparing Students for Public Speaking Competition
    • Understanding Extemporaneous Speaking
    • Understanding Impromptu Speaking
    • Understanding Persuasive Speaking/Oratory
    • Understanding Speeches to Entertain
    • Understanding Expository or Informative Speeches
    • Approaches to Student Research and Practice
  • Preparing Students for Oral Interpretation Competition
    • Understanding Literary Genres
    • Selecting Literature
    • Cutting Literature
    • Issues in Copyright and Performance Law
    • Scriptbooks, Blocking, and Costuming Rules
  • Preparing Students for Theatrical Contests
    • School Plays for the Inexperienced Theater Director
  • Preparing Students for Mock Trial and Student Congress Competitions
    • Understanding “Mock Trial” vs. “Moot Court”
    • Congress and Discussion Competitions
    • Approaches to Student Research and Practice
  • Preparing Students for Collegiate Forensics Experiences
    • Understanding the Differences Between High School and College Competition
    • Preparing Students for Tryouts and Scholarship Competitions
    • Recommendations
    • Academic and Competitive Priorities When Selecting a College
  • Public and Parental Relations
    • Promoting Program Success Within Your School
    • Promoting Program Success to the Local Media
    • Public Exhibitions and Performances
    • Communicating with Parents About Policies and Rules
    • Communicating in a Crisis
  • Law and Liability Issues
    • FERPA and Privacy Issues
    • Parental Permission
    • Safety Issues
    • Addressing Emergencies
    • Creating Boundaries
  • Managing Tournament Travel
    • Good Practices for Transportation
    • Good Practices for Overnight Stays
    • Good Practices for Student Conduct at Tournaments
    • Good Practices for Managing and Documenting Expenses
  • Organizing Tournaments
    • Developing the Invitation
    • Preparing the Site
    • Events
    • Tournament Post-Mortem