According to Google, a criterion (noun) is “a principle or standard by which something may be judged or decided.”
We use criteria every day when we make a decision about what to wear, what to have for breakfast, and so on. Often this criteria is implicit; criteria are not expressed or even conscious.
When deciding what to wear, for example, criteria might include (but not be limited to, and may for some be the complete opposite of or different to):
- clothes, that:
- I already own
- match in colour and style (according to subjective personal preferences)
- suitable to the weather (temperature, humidity, sun exposure, precipitation)
- are gender conventional
- are appropriate for public wear
- demonstrates values that I agree with (through slogans or images)
(Recently a scientist was criticised for wearing a shirt that was not considered appropriate for his appearance on international television. Perhaps he had not carefully considered the criteria for choosing his clothes that day.)
As teachers, we define and use criteria to make judgements of student work. Because our students cannot read our minds, but their academic success is dependent on such judgements, we need to be explicit with the criteria we are using to make judgements. The criteria needs to be well communicated; not just proposed but also understood by students themselves.
In the first phase of the Technology Process, Investigation, we should collaborate with students to define the criteria for judging their products. We will also have criteria in mind for what good investigation, design, and production looks like, and should discuss these too.
The criteria for making a stop-motion animation, for example, might be:
- meets purpose
- can be used in intended context
- meets length specifications (e.g. 2 minutes long)
- meets other specifications defined in investigation phase
- worked with constraints (e.g. budget, time, materials)
- smooth transitioning of active objects between images
- smooth frame rate
- appropriate framing, lighting and position of active and focus objects
- appropriate focus of images
- engaging scripting
- effective use of display elements (onscreen text, borders, etc)
- engaging music, sound mixing or special effects
- engaging content
- effective sequencing of content (plot events or presentation of messages or ideas)
- effective transmission of content (messages or storyline consistent between audience members)
- accurate portrayal of events, ideas or people, demonstrating understanding of intended knowledge learning outcomes
- comprehensive investigation
- well-communicated plans (plans may change)
- independent problem-solving
- effective communication and collaboration with others
- demonstrated skills for using film editing program
- safe and appropriate use of equipment
As we work with students to develop criteria, they become more aware of the requirements for success in school and in other contexts. They can think consciously about criteria when making decisions.
So if this criteria is met, does that mean a student therefore deserves a high grade? No, in addition to criteria, we can use standards.
I appreciate the SOLO Taxonomy for assessing student work, because it addresses quality and complexity rather than surface level checklists of requirements.
A pre-structural performance by a student would be evidenced by a product or design solution that does not address the technological challenge presented.
- In the case of the development of a stop-motion, this might be a basic stop-motion production that does not meet the criteria above, and therefore does not address the technological challenge.
A uni-structural performance by a student would be evidenced by a product or design solution that addresses a single problem, without consideration of the broader problem, context, or alternative solutions.
- In the case of the development of a stop-motion, this might be a basic stop-motion production that meets the criteria above, satisficing the requirements without consideration of other elements, ideas or opportunities.
A multi-structural performance by a student would be evidenced by a range of proposed solutions, and the development of a single product that meets the technological challenge. There is broad understanding of the challenge. There is consistency between the rationale (purpose, context, specifications and constraints), criteria, design ideas and product.
- In the case of the development of a stop-motion, this might present as a stop-motion production that addresses the requirements, with consistency between the established rationale and the generated product.
A relational performance by a student would be evidenced by a range of proposed solutions, each of which is extensively investigated. Final decision(s) regarding the best option(s) are justified. Design ideas are linked with the rationale and product.
- In the case of the development of a stop-motion, a relational performance is demonstrated by the presentation of multiple design options, with justification for decisions made.
An extended abstract performance by a student would be evidenced by knowledgeable and justified problem-solving, using creative ideas and mature design development concepts. Constructive criticism of the product is presented, and alternatives and improvements suggested if not pursued. The technology process is understood to be iterative.
- In the case of the development of a stop-motion, this might be evidence by a creative and justified product. Justification for final development is presented, but constructive criticism and suggestions for improvements are made. The student may have developed multiple videos, or experimented extensively before finalising the product.
Criteria and standards, expressed here using the SOLO Taxonomy (Biggs & Collis, 1992), both take careful and considered design by the teacher, and must be communicated effectively with students.