Students are grouped into labs based on experience level, which we assess by gathering information prior to camp, and these groups form the heart of the NSD experience. All NSD labs maintain a 1:5 instructors to student ratio, to enable an active, small group collaborative environment. NSD treats all students as equally important by assuring individualized attention to each and appointing veteran national circuit instructors to work in every lab. Each lab is led by both senior and junior faculty members. Labs focus on developing and leading students through a robust lifecycle of skill development that emphasizes repetition, implementation and skill mastery.
- 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio, or better, with a small group of 10-14 students
- Led by the best debate minds in the country
- Receive a core curriculum that is appropriate for each student’s level
- A “homeroom” environment that meets consistently over the course of camp, so that lab leaders are familiar with each student’s needs and progress, and students form close-knit friendships
- Labs enable us to teach students the core curriculum in a small group environment that facilitates the introduction of new concepts through discussion, structured activities, and collaboration in small groups
- Great opportunity for fun bonding times, with lab dinners and activities for socializing
Rather than teach our core curriculum through large group lectures, we supplement daily lab meetings with additional instruction from specialist faculty who rotate in to teach in lab. Rotations consist of three 2-hour blocks of time (one a day for three days) during which labs receive instruction on specialized topics by two instructors who are experts in those topic areas. Rotations capture the benefits of large group lectures (introducing students to new staff, and allowing the staff to speak on their strongest topics), but retain the unique benefits of lab (hands on instruction, small size, and the ability to effectively and immediately reinforce topics with drills and homework).
- Learn specialized topics in debate from instructors who are expert in those topic areas
- The small group lab setting is the perfect way to teach students in an environment that facilitates the introduction of new concepts through discussion, structured activities, and collaboration in small groups
- Rotations meet over several days, so instructors can provide students with readings, drill materials, and assignments to be assessed at the next meeting
- Learn the core curriculum through active learning and hands-on small group work
Each student is assigned a mentor group, with one faculty mentor and a total of four students. Mentor groups meet almost daily for the duration of camp, so that mentors can track students’ progress and needs over the course of camp. This creates a terrific environment for students to receive a specific curriculum tailored to each individual student’s needs and interests. In mentor group, students receive customized drills, ask questions they have from other parts of their curricular day, and work on research projects and case construction.
- 4:1 student-to-faculty ratio, or better
- Groups are matched by experience level, so that each group is a set of peers with similar needs
- Forge close connections with mentor and fellow mentees, and provide students an additional instructor who will closely track their progress throughout camp
- Receive structured drills, feedback on cases and assignments, assistance with special research projects, and the opportunity for Q&A’s in a small group environment
- Great opportunity for fun bonding times, with mentor group dinners and activities for socializing
All students attending NSD have practice debates on most days, judged by our expert instructors, who provide extensive round feedback on what students should do to improve. Some of these rounds will occur in the annual NSD Camp Tournament, which provides a competitive opportunity for students to showcase the skills they have learned over camp.
- Rounds are paired based on skill level, so that students debate rounds with peer competitors
- Great opportunity for students to implement the new skills they learn at camp and receive feedback from experts on the arguments they have written
- Each round is paired with structured, expert feedback on the details of each speech
- Practice rounds provide excellent material for instructors to lead students through structured “redo” speeches, so that students make steady progress on debate skills
We end most days with office hours, modeled on the office hour system used by many colleges and universities. During office hours, all of our faculty are available to meet with students individually (or in small groups, if they prefer), and students are empowered to select the topics for each of their office hours meetings. This makes office hours an excellent opportunity for students to learn more about topics that interest them, develop new skills, receive assistance on homework, and do structured practice by redoing speeches from rounds they have debated or by having instructors create custom drills calibrated to their needs.
- Access to all of our top faculty
- One-on-one meeting time
- Students select what they would like to work on
- Receive customized drills, assistance with homework, and insight from top faculty
- Paired with open work time, so that students can switch fluidly between office hours meetings with faculty and collaborative work with their peers
In elective seminars, students learn about niche topics–from debate strategy to philosophy to political theory–from specialist instructors. Students choose from a wide range of elective seminar options, so they can attend the seminars that most interest them.
- Seminar offerings provide options for students of every skill level, from novice to advanced varsity
- Opportunity for students to chart their own course, and select topics in areas of debate and academia that spark their interest
- Learn from faculty who are most specialized in and passionate about the seminar topic area
- Great opportunity for students to interact with additional instructors at camp
- With the introduction of concepts, example materials, and research tips, seminars are a great way for students to jump start their own work on a seminar topic
Students have the opportunity to practice and showcase their new skills in a supportive, educational environment with our end of camp tournament. All students participate in preliminary rounds, and students who perform well also participate in elimination rounds, which also serve as showcase demonstration debates for all students to watch.
- All students participate in six preliminary rounds, with helpful analysis and feedback from our faculty judges
- Qualifying students debate in elimination rounds, while other students have the opportunity to learn by watching those rounds and hearing judge feedback
- “Break out” elimination rounds, so that the top younger debaters have more opportunity to make it into elimination debates
- Tournament-like structure allows students to familiarize themselves with the real, in-person tournament environment
- Opportunity to practice competing against top students, with excellent faculty judging
Students watch demonstration debates on the camp resolution from our younger faculty, many of whom were recently nationally top ranked debate competitors. Demonstration rounds are moderated by senior faculty, who break down the round with students in-between speeches, answer student questions, and provide a post-round analysis.
- Demonstration debates featuring recent top competitors help familiarize students with the camp topic, as well as high-level debate strategy and execution
- Debates are divided by skill level, so that students receive demonstrations that are attuned to their level of background knowledge and their curricular needs
- Expert moderation assists students in understanding demonstrations in-depth, speech-by-speech
- Materials for demonstration debates (cases, rebuttal speech documents, etc.) are distributed to students, so that they can be used for student drills
With any camp registration, students receive free access to NSD’s Skill Builder pre-camp curriculum. Skill Builder features stand-alone curriculum modules intended for independent study, built by top faculty. At camp, we want our students focused on the most valuable aspects of our sessions: intensive, interactive instruction that amplifies and deepens students’ existing skill sets and builds new ones, learning deep skills in specialty areas from top faculty, and participating in a supportive learning community with peers. Skill Builder helps students solidify background skills ahead of camp, so students can focus on what matters most while they are at camp.
- Purpose built by top debate coaches to help students improve their debate skills through focused, individual work
- Step-by-step, easy to use modules with tools to improve their debate skills and arrive at camp ready to maximize their improvement
- Includes drill materials and rubrics for self-assessment, so students can practice on their own
- Great for students with skill areas they want to improve before camp, and for true beginners who who want an introduction to debate before camp
- Helps students focus on the most valuable work at camp, not on catching up