One of the assigned projects for the AKC Judging Task Force is to investigate various distance-learning possibilities. The creation and development of a virtual, computer-based simulation of a judging experience could be of significant value in the education and evaluation of aspiring judges. This document will briefly describe a basic model whose framework could be used for multiple purposes. It cannot replace all the valuable hands-on ways of learning about dogs and judging, but it can be an efficient and effective component of an educational journey.
The Basic Model
On a computer screen, the participant is shown a class of six dogs, one by one, with a series of photographs showing side views, front, rear, head, and breed specific examination perspectives, and videos of movement, including down and back and around the ring for each dog. The participant chooses which images to view, and then places the first four dogs in order, first through fourth.
To determine the "correct" answers, the instrument would be given to ten different breed experts (chosen by the Parent Club), and their placings combined to form a consensus ranking of the six dogs. There would not be just one correct answer, rather a range of acceptable placements.
The basic model could be used for a variety of functions and multiple options.
- Judges education
The participant could compare his or her answers to the preferred responses of the breed experts. The breed experts could be asked to record their explanation for each of their placements, and the participant could learn why the dogs should be placed in a particular order.
- Judges evaluation
The participant's score -- how well his choices matched those of the experts -- would be useful data for consideration by the Judges Review Committee for an aspiring or applying judge. The participant could explain his choices, which would provide evidence as to how well he knows the breed.
- Judges recertification
Should there come a time when it would be appropriate for a judge to demonstrate his competence, comparing his scores and explanations to those of his peers would provide objective evidence of his breed knowledge -- or lack thereof. A diligent judge may want to self-assess his abilities to evaluate a breed, especially if it has been some time since he judged them, or has a big assignment coming up. (see also 6. Practice sessions below)
- Field Representative education
This model should help aspiring or potential Field Reps to enhance their learning on the large number of breeds that they need to know and understand in order to perform their job well, and would be a good review tool for the continuing education of all Field Reps.
- Breeder education
While most breeders and exhibitors would be interested in knowing what judges are taught, the model could be modified to include validated expert breeder opinions on the reasons for placements from a breeding or breed function point of view.
- Practice sessions
After increasing the pool of examined dogs in the model to avoid duplication or memorization of the actual evaluation, aspiring judging applicants could test themselves before applying, both to improve their placing abilities and to see whether they are ready for advancement.
- "You Be The Judge" game
With appropriate simplifications, the model could be a potentially popular game with the public, letting gamers compete and compare their top scores with others on-line.
- Increasing the number of dogs entered in the class from six to eight would increase the number of different ways four dogs could be placed from 360 to more than 1,600. Validating the ranking would still be straightforward. Obtaining cogent expert commentary with so many choices would be more challenging.
- Creating of pool of twenty dogs from which six are randomly selected could help mitigate the possible "memorization" or sharing of preferred answers.
- A time limit in the evaluation mode would come closer to the real world pressures of judging in the ring.
- In future years, more dog examples could be added and placements and commentary could be updated.
To make these models work, cooperation and participation of breed Parent Clubs is essential. Here is what would be requested of the clubs:
- Six (or more) dogs with good quality images, standing and in motion.
- Similar to the old "Hands-On Test", prefer two examples of good quality, two of average quality, and two of mediocre quality.
- Prefer dogs or handlers not be recognizable, or may use one handler for many or all dogs.
- Dogs are to be in show trim and condition, properly trained and handled.
- A list of 10 breed expert judges willing to participate.
- Identify and photograph any breed specific features normally examined in the ring.
- This would not duplicate the touch and feel of an actual dog examination, especially in coated breeds.
- With so many breeds to cover, this will be a large project and potentially very expensive and time consuming.
- Parent Clubs will vary in their ability to provide dogs, images, and impartial experts in a timely manner.
- There will be difficulties obtaining uniform presentations of the dogs, both in one breed and across many breeds.
- We need to avoid promoting recognizable dogs.
- Who will grade the explanations of placements, and how will that be done?
- The costs and maintenance of computer services could be substantial.
- The set of six dogs may be too similar/difficult or too obvious/easy.
The development of this model could provide an effective educational opportunity by demonstrating preferred judging placements. It could serve as an objective measurement of a judge's ability to properly place dogs in a virtual show ring. The model could be a valuable addition to the judging environment. This model could continue to be developed and improved, and extended to many other uses.
AKC Judging Task Force
Dr. Charles Garvin, Chair
Douglas A. Johnson