This came from the judges' blog on the FLL website. I hope that
everyone will take the time to read this.
Why scores and rankings don't mean much.
Some of the most common questions I hear about FLL judging concern
scores or rankings of teams. Among the questions are “What was my
team’s score?” and “Where did my team rank among all the teams?” I
always respond to these questions with “The policy of FLL is to not
release scores or rankings.” This in itself is not a very explanatory
answer, and usually leads to follow-up questions and confusion about
the process in general.
I’d like to tell you why I think disclosure and distribution of
judging scores and rankings is not a good idea.
The main reason can be found in FLL’s Core Values. “What we discover
is more important than what we win.” FLL judges are trained to
evaluate teams on what they have learned throughout their season
using the set of criteria defined in the rubrics. Rubrics are
designed to serve as a list of expectations for a learning process
that can then be used to evaluate achievement. So in essence, they
can be used to evaluate what a team “discovers” throughout the season.
Judges can use the rubrics to provide teams specific feedback on
strengths and areas for improvement by returning feedback to the
teams using the rubrics as a template for the feedback. By providing
this feedback instead of a score or ranking, the judging process
directly reinforces the Core Value.
Judging is also a subjective process. For most championship
tournaments, not all judges get to see all the teams at an event. The
judges are human and have variation in how they evaluate teams. The
judging process is designed to minimize these differences, but they
do occur. The best way to normalize differences between groups of
judges in order to compare teams is for judges to talk about the
similarities and differences between teams. The time constraints for
a typical tournament are so tight that this normalization process is
really only possible for teams in consideration for award. So if
actual scores or rankings were distributed, a team might feel that
they have received a low “score”, but in fact they may have just been
evaluated by a “tougher” set of judges.
Another reason to not provide scores or rankings has to do with the
FLL awards distribution philosophy. FLL teams may only win one award
at a championship event. Imagine if a team “scored” or “was ranked”
number one in more than one judging category or award. The natural
inclination is to think that team should be awarded more than one
trophy, which runs counter to the FLL awards distribution philosophy.
Finally, there is a psychological reason for not distributing scores
and rankings. FLL tournaments are supposed to be fun celebrations
where all teams share what they have achieved. Some teams may feel
that if they receive a low “score” or “ranking” that their season and
experiences have less value than those of a “higher scoring” team. Or
they may simply feel beaten. FLL is about focusing on what has been
learned, and no one should feel beaten after a learning experience!
In fact, learning quite often has greater impact when we fail or have
a setback. I want the kids to know that there is something positive
that comes out of every experience. It doesn’t have to be a high
score or a trophy. It can be satisfaction that your robot can
complete just one mission every time. It can be a discovery by a
young researcher who has found his or her future in nanotechnology.
No score can measure that.
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