Why Don't Teams Get Feedback from Judges?

Volunteer judges at REC Foundation events interview teams and review their notebooks, then assess them against a set of comprehensive rubric criteria. We get asked all the time about why teams don’t get feedback from judges after events about what they did well, and what they need to improve.

The most important thing to know about the REC Foundation judging rubrics is that they were developed in collaboration with a teaching college specifically for use by teachers and coaches. The overall intent is that teachers and coaches work with their teams to evaluate their performance throughout the competition season, providing direct and immediate feedback from a well-informed position.

Additional Factors

  • In most cases, the in-classroom feedback for emerging & developing teams will be some version of “look at the rubric and see what you’re missing.” This gives teams an opportunity to grow and improve before a competition.
  • Details of judging deliberations at REC Foundation events are confidential, because teams are discussed and compared. Highly developed teams are likely to score well on the rubrics, so most feedback at an event would be based on comparisons with other teams and would violate that confidentiality.
  • Because each event uses a different group of volunteer judges, scores are inherently subjective and can vary between events. The REC Foundation rubrics are designed as tools for judges to filter and compare teams at a single event, and aren’t intended to help teams understand why they did or didn’t win a particular award at that event.
  • Well-intentioned feedback from a volunteer judge could potentially be discouraging and harmful. For example, if a student worked hard on sketches of their robot only to be told that they should work on improving their sketches, it wouldn’t be constructive. When a teacher provides feedback in a classroom, it’s buffered by the student-teacher relationship and there is a framework to contextualize that feedback. There is no such relationship at an event between teams and judge volunteers.
  • Self-evaluation supports the student-centered nature of REC Foundation programs; this could include having trusted adults conduct a practice interview or notebook review, and provide feedback based on the rubrics in a low-stress environment.