For Judges

Judges’ Role

  • Review ethics cases prior to the Ethics Bowl.
  • Understand how an Ethics Bowl is different from a debate. (See Introduction.)
  • Be familiar with evaluation criteria. (See below.)
  • For each round:
    1. Complete scoring sheets for Team A and Team B.
    2. Ask probing questions of Team A at designated time. (See Sample Questions below.)
    3. Complete written feedback to each team, including observations and advice.

Note: During a round, judges should only converse with each other during the question period and while writing feedback. Judges should not converse with students about any of the cases between rounds.


Evaluation Criteria

Does Team A (as lead team)

  • focus on what is ethically important about the case and related issues?
  • address the complexities of the issue?
  • articulate why the issue is polarizing? why it may be difficult to find agreement?
  • identify alternate perspectives that animate the issue?
  • demonstrate flexibility and adaptability in their thinking?
  • weigh possibilities and take a stance on the issue(s)?
  • use evidence and research to support their position?
  • demonstrate active listening?
  • after hearing ideas raised by Team B, just reiterate their original position, or synthesize new ideas to reach clarity and deep understanding?
  • demonstrate respect for Team B and the judges?
  • answer the question posed by the moderator?

Does Team B (as responding team)

  • demonstrate active listening?
  • show respect for Team A?
  • understand Team A’s position, or ask for clarification?
  • acknowledge perspectives raised by Team A, which they support?
  • use evidence and research to support their position?
  • challenge Team A’s assumptions? correct factual errors or misperceptions?
  • simply agree with, or argue with Team A? or, present new perspectives to help take the dialogue to a deeper level?
  • simply restate what they understood Team A to mean? or, ask probing questions that help Team A expand their thinking?
  • help Team A strengthen or change their position?

Judges’ Question Period

  • Judges should confer with each other before asking questions of the students.
  • Judges should not put students on the spot, ask students to defend positions, or use leading questions to impose their own beliefs on students.
  • Questions should
    • be reflective and probing
    • prompt deeper or expanded thinking
    • be open-ended, require the application of new knowledge, or help to surface underlying assumptions, implications, or issues not yet articulated

Sample Questions

  • Can you clarify what you meant when you said -------?
  • Team B raised the idea that ----------. Can you explore this idea more deeply?
  • Who in society would be most affected by a change in how we handle this issue in Canada today?
  • The issues in this case focus on the micro level. Can you address the macro/ big picture perspectives? (or vice versa)
  • How can we soften or mitigate problems that might arise?
  • How might your position on this issue affect ---------? (e.g., name a particular group of people; the environment; other countries)
  • Do you foresee any implications of your position that have not yet been raised in this conversation?
  • What in society or history makes this a relevant issue for us, here and now?
  • How might ---------? What if --------? Tell me more about -------------.

Judges’ Scoring Rubric and Judges’ Score Sheet

Ethics Bowl Scoring Rubric

Part 1: Presenting Team’s Initial Presentation (15 points total)

a. Did the presentation clearly and systematically address the moderator’s question?

5 = Comprehensive presentation. Clearly and systematically addresses important issues and demonstrates excellent understanding of moderator’s question. Takes a clear position and articulates reasons for point of view, including relevant and corroborating evidence.

4 = Reasonably comprehensive and systematic presentation. Addresses and develops most issues relevant to the question. Provides some degree of rationale and corroborating evidence for position.

3 = Minimal awareness of issues surrounding moderator’s question and unclear position. Limited corroborating evidence for position. Many important issues are missed entirely.

2 = Underdeveloped presentation. Little attention paid to moderator’s question. Serious problems with logic of position.

1 = Presentation is confusing. No understanding of important issues. Does not address or answer moderator’s question.

b. Were the central ethical and moral dimensions of the case clearly and thoroughly discussed?

5 = Demonstrate thorough understanding of the ethical and moral dimensions of the case. Also explores socio-cultural values surrounding related issues. Explicit and rational reasoning is evident.

4 = Ethical and moral dimensions of the case are identified. Demonstrates good understanding of related issues. Rationale and corroborating evidence for position are also presented.

3 = Adequate understanding of ethical and moral dimensions of the case. Underdeveloped discussion.

2 = Minimal understanding of issues related to the case. Inadequate discussion of ethical and moral dimensions.

1 = Little or no understanding of ethical and moral dimensions of the case.

c. Did the presentation indicate awareness and thoughtful consideration of different and conflicting viewpoints?

5 = Insightful awareness, analysis, and discussion of different viewpoints, including conflicting viewpoints.

4 = Good awareness of different viewpoints. Good analysis and discussion of differing perspectives on the issue.

3 = Very basic awareness and underdeveloped discussion of different viewpoints. Does not fully address opposing viewpoints.

2 = Minimal awareness or consideration of different viewpoints. Little understanding of the complexities of the issue.

1 = Does not address different viewpoints or complexities of the issue.

Part 2: Responding Team’s Commentary on Opposing Team’s Initial Presentation (10 points)

To what extent has the responding team addressed and engaged with the position of the presenting team?

10 = Especially insightful response. Demonstrates active listening, as well as a spirit of respectful challenge. Takes intellectual risks to create new ways of thinking. Asks probing questions and provides ample evidence for positions taken.

9 = Solid response. Demonstrates strong listening skills, addresses most of the issues, and poses insightful questions. Challenges opposing team’s position by exploring alternative viewpoints. Provides good evidence for positions taken.

7–8 = Good response. Demonstrates good listening skills and understanding of issues. Makes some attempt to challenge and examine opposing team’s point of view, using some evidence. Asks good questions.

5–6 = Adequate response. Some important points made, but few insights. Some demonstration of active listening. Few, if any, questions posed.

3–4 = Inadequate response. Mostly argues for own viewpoint. Minimal attempt to explore different perspectives. No questions posed.

1–2 = Does not address or engage with the ideas presented by opposing team. Argues only for own viewpoint.

Part 3: Presenting Team’s Response to Opposing Team’s Commentary (10 points)

How did the presenting team respond to the opposing team’s commentary?

10 = Excellent, insightful response. Open to, and synthesizes, new ideas presented by opposing team to take original position to another level.

8–9 = Very good response. Acknowledges and addresses key points raised by opposing team. Demonstrates some flexibility of thinking and openness to new ideas and ways of thinking.

6–7 = Good response. Demonstrates understanding of ideas presented by other team, but incorporates few, if any, new points of view that would take original position to a new level.

4–5 = Response seriously lacking. Team mostly restates original position, with little or no consideration of issues raised by opposing team.

1–3 = Inadequate response. Restates position; ignores commentary from opposing team.

Part 4: Presenting Team’s Response to Judges’ Questions (20 points)

How did the presenting team respond to the judges’ questions?

20 = Exceptional response. Evidence of deep reflection and expanded thinking.

17–19 = Solid response. Thoughtfully addresses key points raised by judges. Demonstrates reflective analysis.

13–16 = Good response to judges’ questions. Demonstrates understanding of issues raised.

9–12 = Mostly restates original position. Addresses some issues raised by judges’ questions.

 5–8 = Minimal understanding of issues raised by judges’ questions.

1–4 = No understanding of, and/or minimal response to, issues raised by judges’ questions.

Part 4: Presenting Team’s Response to Judges’ Questions (20 points)

Did the teams engage in respectful dialogue? (5 Points per Team)

5 = Respectfully engages all parties in an exceptionally open and productive discussion.

4 = Respectfully engages with other team’s arguments and ideas.

3 = Respectful of other team’s argument, with marginal engagement.

2 = Dismissive of other team’s presentation and position.

1 = Combative and dismissive of other team’s position.



Judges’ Score Sheet

Judges' Team Feedback



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