Good Judgment is based on predetermined Criteria

Judgment, like Critical Thinking is based on specific Criteria. Unlike Critical Thinking, the criteria used in judgment are specific to the field. For example, judging a dog show and judging in a criminal court use very different criteria. Judging or evaluating a student’s work require very different evidence than what a doctor uses to judge a patient’s health. Evaluating the effectively of a teacher and evaluating the effectiveness of a medicine require very different forms of testing. I have often judged Science Fair projects. That doesn’t mean I could do a good job judging American Idol.

What do all of these situations have in common?

1. There is always at least one person who is the in the position of judge.
2. There is always at least one person or object being judged. Often there is a large group.
3. The judgment is always based on a predetermined set of criteria. It never comes down to what the judge likes or doesn’t like. Judgment is supposed to be an objective process as far as that is possible.

The Criteria for Judging a Dog Show.

A dog show judge needs to know precisely what the criteria are for each kind of dog. To judge a poodle, you need to know exactly what the ideal poodle is like. The dogs in the show are not judged against each other, but in comparison to that ideas poodle.

in the picture we have a lovely young Papillon. He is never judged against a poodle or any other dog. He is judged against the criteria for the ideal Papillon. These characteristics include

1. Are the size and weight in the correct proportions?
2. Eye color, shape and size
3. Head and muzzle shape
4. Thickness of whiskers
5. The shoulders
6. The thickness and colors of the coat
7. The tail
8. The way the dog walks
9. The dog’s attitude

The Criteria for Judging a Science Fair

As a science teacher, I was asked every year to help judge at the State Science Fair. One of the rules was that teachers never judged projects by students from their own school or from their children’s school. We also used three judges for each student. This made the process more objective. Additional judges were used when it came to top awards and awards in special categories. (Ask yourself if you could devise a better system.)

The judges were assigned randomly in areas of their expertise. We were each given a list of criteria. I don’t remember exactly what they were, but I can imagine them fairly accurately. For each criteria, we had a range of points like 1-5 in some areas and 1-10 in other areas.

1. The student’s research paper:
Is it clearly related to the topic?
Is it informative and well written?
Are the sources appropriate, varied, and up to date? This means low points if the student used 5 encyclopedias.

2. The display:
Is is well-organized showing an understanding of the scientific method?
Is it neatly done, attractive, and easy to understand?
Are there photos, real objects, models or other materials to observe?

3. The student:
Is their explanation clear, interesting, and informative?
Does it show a deep understanding of the topic?
Do they show evidence of original thinking?
Do they show understanding of the scientific method?

4. What, if anything shows that this work is highly original and contributes to the field?

What Criteria are used in a criminal court?

Neither the judge nor the jury can simply listen to the evidence and come to a conclusions of innocent or guilty. They must consider the evidence carefully.This might include

1. Did the accused have a motive? Did he have an alibi?
2. What did witnesses see or hear or know about the crime?
3. What physical evidence exists? Fingerprints? Blood or semen? Blood on the clothes of the accused person?
4. Are their others who might also be guilty of the crime?
This isn’t my field of expertise, but you get the idea. The judgment must be based on clear evidence. We say that it must be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

What Criteria are used by the judges in American Idol?

1. Singing well: The judges always say this is the big question. Do you have talent? This includes pitch, style (including communicating emotion), an individual tone, voice range and control, and an original sound.
2. Song choice: This sound strange to many of us. But the song should fit their range, the kind of music they want to sing, and work for them as individuals.
3. Performance or stage presence. They need to reveal their personality and should have charisma.
4. The singer’s willingness to work extremely hard and show that the can improve each week.
5. The singer must know who they are and he kind of music they want to sing.(Country, pop, jazz, blues)
6. They must work well with others and show respect for other contestants and for the judges. This means they should thank the judges for their advice, not argue with them.
7. Judges say that appearance doesn’t count but it does. They often say a person has the “whole package.” If everything else is equal, they will choose the one who is best looking… because this will also appeal to fans.

While the judges may disagree, they are still basing their judgments on the same set of criteria.

If you are invited to be a judge, perhaps to judge bicycles decorated by children, you would need to begin by developing a set of criteria. If you were invited to judge a talent show, you would need to develop your criteria. If you were asked to judge the best brownies at the County Fair, you would need to have a set of criteria.

Without clear criteria, all you have is your personal opinion.

Science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain, value judgments of all kinds remain necessary.   —  Albert Einstein