Obama scores the win as Clark College students rate debate

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter

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photoDave Kosloski, director of speech and debate at Clark College, listens to the presidential debate with his debate team students Monday.

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photoNathan Woodruff, 18, a member of the Clark College debate team, takes notes during Monday's presidential debate.

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Barack Obama won Monday's presidential debate, according to 10 Clark College debate students who watched and scored each candidate.

The students scored the evening not on each candidate's foreign policy, but according to their demonstrated debating skills, using a rubric developed by their teacher, Dave Kosloski, director of speech and debate at Clark.

Eight students determined that Obama won the debate based on the predetermined criteria. Two students chose Romney as the winner. Both of those students said they consider themselves conservative Republicans.

The students had watched the other two presidential debates this fall, but this was the first one they'd watched together as a class.

Kosloski's rubric directed students to score both candidates on factual information, comprehension, persuasiveness, delivery and rebuttal.

He asked students to consider whether the candidates used facts to support their

arguments; demonstrated a thorough understanding of information; made logical, convincing arguments; communicated clearly and maintained eye contact, with good voice and delivery rate; and addressed opponent's arguments with counter-evidence.

Of the 10 students and Kosloski, three lean more toward the Democratic position, two toward the Republican, four are independents, one is a registered Libertarian and one is undecided. Five are voting in their first presidential election. Two are Running Start students too young to vote. Most live in Vancouver. One lives in Hockinson, one in Battle Ground and one in Woodland.

When Kosloski asked what each candidate's greatest strength in the debate was, Nathan Woodruff, 18, said, "Obama had the punch line about horses and bayonets."

"Instantly after that, it was already trending on Twitter," said Sanam vonKaenel, 17, a Running Start student who isn't yet old enough to vote.

"Here's what I like about that interaction," interjected Kosloski, the instructor. "That was totally impromptu, extemporaneous."

Jared Cortnik, 25, an independent from Woodland, said, "Obama kept butting in, accusing Romney of lying. Do you think that turned people off?"

When Kosloski asked students what topics should have come up during the foreign policy debate, their answers were immigration, Mexico, the drug war.

One student said that Obama and Romney presented conflicting information about international trade being up and down. "Is it up or down?" she asked.

When the students were asked whether the debates make a difference in helping voters choose a candidate, Alexander Nelson, 19, said, "They're fighting for the 1 percent that is undecided."