Judging is an exciting and rewarding process for both the Judges and the student competitors. While the process may initially feel overwhelming, focusing on making it a student-centered experience is key to the success of the program.
The Do's of Judging
Make sure teams receiving judged awards are student-centered. Students must do the majority of the work designing, programming, and repairing their robot. Coaches, mentors, and parents may provide minimal assistance but may not do any of this work without students present and involved. Through observation and interviews with teams, Judges identify teams that are student-centered. These teams understand that the purpose of the program is to enhance the learning process, not to win at any cost. Judges shall give higher consideration to teams that favor the enhancement of student learning over teams that favor winning at any cost. Judges, with input from event staff, should identify teams that are not student-centered. For more details, review the RECF Student-Centered Policy, which includes situational examples.
Positively engage with the student competitors. Smile and be warm and friendly towards the students. Demonstrate your full interest and involvement in discussions with students and your Judge Team by refraining from distractions such as phone usage or side conversations. Also, encourage parents and coaches to allow the students to answer all questions during the interviews.
Focus on qualitative assessments over quantitative assessments. While Judges will consider objective factors as a part of the judging process, the decisions on judged awards ultimately must be based on qualitative deliberations. Judges, under the guidance of the Judge Advisor, should focus on qualitative judgements when reaching consensus on judged awards.
The Don'ts of Judging
Don’t have a real or perceived conflict of interest. Judges should not judge or interview teams that they have any affiliation with. Judges can judge at an event where they have teams, but they must disclose this proactively to the Judge Advisor and provide this information on the Judge Sign-in Sheet. The Judge Advisor will ensure that any Judge with a potential conflict is not assigned to judge any teams they should not interview, and the Judge with the conflict should refrain from any participation in deliberations of teams for which they have a potential conflict.
Don’t ask the students personal questions during interviews. Never be alone with students, whether in person or in a remote interview environment. Always work with at least one other Judge and two or more students. Do not meet with teams in a private space.
Don’t look back at other events to see what teams have already qualified to higher levels. Judged awards given at each event are to be given based on the judging at that event. The Judge Advisor and Judges must refrain from looking at which teams may have won awards at previous events or which teams have already qualified to a state/regional/provincial/national championship or the VEX Robotics World Championship when deciding judged awards.
Don’t take the rubrics or judging materials home with you or share them with the team or coaches. The judging process includes frank discussions about teams, and the documentation relating to the judging process must be protected from disclosure. These documents and discussions must remain confidential and Judges should take precautions to ensure that these documents and discussions are not shared with or overheard by teams or other event participants.
Don’t "share the wealth" by re-allocating judged awards based on performance awards. Judged awards must be decided based on the judging guidelines. Deliberations should be conducted during the last round of qualifying matches and concluded before the first round of VRC Finals matches or before VIQC Finals matches. Therefore, Judges should not know or look at which teams have won the Teamwork Champions Award (IQ), Tournament Champions Award (VRC), or Robot Skills Champion Award when deciding on judged awards. For example, Judges should not change which team is given the Excellence Award because a team won the Tournament Champions Award or Robot Skills Award. Judged awards and performance awards must be handled independently. A team is allowed to win performance awards and one judged award at an event.
Don’t give more than one judged award to a team at an event. No team shall be awarded more than one judged award at an event. Top teams often win robot performance awards (e.g., Robot Skills Champion) in addition to judged awards. Individual awards that are presented to adults, such as a Volunteer of the Year Award, do not affect a team’s eligibility for a judged award.
Don’t let the Event Partner give input or be part of deliberations for judged awards. This does not apply to individual awards, like Volunteer of the Year or Sponsor of the Year, or to instances where there is a reported Code of Conduct issue.