Objective Vs. Subjective Evaluation Criteria

Personal interactions facilitate subjective assessments.
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Everyone has a teacher who seems to play favorites. Their class always seems unfair. No matter what you do, you can never seem to get a perfect score on anything. That may be happening because the teacher is basing their grades on subjective evaluation criteria. The subjective evaluation definition is when a teacher evaluates the qualities of a student’s performance based on intangible or unquantifiable evidence.

Objective performance evaluation happens when teachers base grades on quantifiable evidence like the number of questions a student answered correctly on a math test. The difference between subjective and objective evaluation criteria is that subjective evaluation relies on opinion whereas objective performance evaluation depends on inarguable facts.

1 What Is the Subjective Evaluation Definition?

The subjective evaluation definition may seem a bit confusing. It is easier to think of subjective evaluation in terms of real-world examples. You use subjective evaluation criteria, for instance, when you are reading a book. Some people enjoy science fiction, while others enjoy romance.

By their subjective interpretation, each person thinks one genre is better than the other. But in reality, they are only relying on their personal tastes and preferences. When teachers evaluate a student’s performance in the same way, they are also relying on subjective measures of evaluation.

2 What Is Objective Performance Evaluation?

While subjective evaluation relies on opinions about intangible characteristics, objective performance evaluation in grading attempts to quantify measurable values of quality. Objective evaluation happens most often in classes like math and science where each question on a test, for example, has only one correct answer.

Evaluation criteria become objective when they are measurable. Measurable criteria can include the word count of a paper, the time of a speech or the number of grammatical mistakes in an assignment. Some classes like art and writing, however, can be difficult to grade completely objectively.

3 What Is the Difference Between Subjective and Objective Evaluation?

The main difference between subjective and objective evaluation criteria is that objective performance evaluation is scientifically quantifiable. Its characteristics can be seen by anyone, not just the observer, or in the case of grading, the teacher. Subjective evaluation criteria, on the other hand, may look different depending on the observer.

The problem with subjective vs. objective evaluation criteria is that few subjects are ever totally objective. The more students are encouraged to think creatively, the more subjective factors will be introduced into classwork. In these cases, the best way for teachers to remain objective is for them to grade projects using a rubric that outlines objective, quantifiable criteria.

Rebecca Renner is a teacher and freelance writer from Daytona Beach, Florida. Her byline has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Magazine, Glamour and elsewhere.