Single Student Team Judging Changes

There was a recent Q&A question and answer that was posted on the official Judging Q&A:

The question asked how to handle single student teams with regards to judging criteria referencing teamwork. The CJC’s response was the following:

Teamwork and communication skills are a vital part of the educative values of REC Foundation programs.

Teams that consist of a single student are not able to demonstrate teamwork and communication skills within their team. As such, they would fall into the Emerging category for the Team Interview Rubric for the Teamwork, Communication, Professionalism Criteria. The text of that description is as follows: “Only one team member answered questions or contributed to the robot design process.”

The full verbiage that exists for award criteria is “Team interview demonstrates effective communication skills, teamwork, professionalism, and a student-centered ethos.” All of the items listed, except for teamwork, can be demonstrated by a single student. The teamwork aspect is covered under the Team Interview Rubric verbiage. While not automatically disqualifying the team from any judged awards, the judges should consider this data point as they would consider any others in determining award candidates, finalists, and winners.

I know this is a departure from how single student teams have been handled in some regions in the past, so I wanted to post this on the forum for better visibility so that students and coaches that will be impacted by this change will be aware of it.

“Emerging” would mean that a team would get 0-1 points out of 5 points for that category.

Please keep discussion respectful and on topic.


Wow. That is… extraordinarily disappointing. I am honestly shocked and disturbed about this new stance related to single student teams, which have in the past been allowed to be judged, in my experience, much more fairly. I have been involved in Vex for many years, and have done judging for a lot of them; I have encountered some exceptional single student teams, and I think this is a huge disservice to them.

What if that single student can describe impressive teamwork (regardless of having a ‘traditional’ team)? Shouldn’t they get a benefit for that? For instance, if it is a single student but during the interview they discuss the various ways they interact with their robotics community in a teamwork-oriented way (such as exchanging ideas or scrimmaging or other highly interactive ways).

BTW, this should also mean that a multi-person team who shows up to a competition with only 1 team member receives the same treatment, don’t you think?


Deeply disappointed but utterly unsurprised.


I always thought that single student team will have the best teamwork and communication. The student always have 100% consensus and agreement :stuck_out_tongue:

Jokes aside… I am pretty surprise by this ruling.
There are so many other ways for the single student team to demonstrate teamwork and communication, eg, with the alliance partners or with other teams during their prep, etc


I think the Committee on Judging has moved in a direction that leaves less ambiguity that was subject to regional interpretation. In the long run, this will lead to much needed consistency as the VIQRC and VRC programs grow globally. The landscape is much different today that it was a decade ago.

Teams chose their structure - from go at it alone single member team to a small army of 20 odd students from an organization with only one bot. Whatever configuration they chose, there are strengths and weaknesses to consider.

Thanks for opening the discussion here.


I’ve had a thought that this might possibly open events up to ADA lawsuits. It’s entirely possible that somebody may require some form of accommodations that would make it so that they’re better suited to being on a single person team, and the opportunities for teamwork and cooperation that have already been pointed out in this thread (e.g collaboration with other teams online, the sort of collaboration that you have with alliance partners etc) might serve as a good opportunity for them to work on those skills, even if the best choice for them is to be on a one person team. I certainly don’t think that that should disqualify them or even penalize them in the judging process. And I have a headache just imagining what judging would be like if a team would have to submit some kind of documentation or even give some sort of attestation that them being on a one person team is an accommodation, because judging is already a murky backroom process.

There are certainly pros and cons to being a one person team. It’s a lot easier to build consensus with yourself, but you’re also doing everything on your own. I remember when I competed there were several single member homeschool teams that were very well respected in the community and, in my view, demonstrated teamwork and cooperation in the spirit of an educational robotics program a lot better than multi person teams, because they would work with and help anybody who needed help. If the stance of judging is that teamwork can only be demonstrated within a team, I wonder what the point of alliances are, and I certainly wonder why the VEX IQ matches are called the Teamwork Challenge.


Except students and teams don’t always have that choice. 99 times out of 100, I’m sure that students would prefer having some teammates alongside them to compete. But for various reasons, they don’t always get that choice and have to choose between going at it alone or not going at it at all.

If they have to discuss alternative ways they’re engaging in good teamwork practices, that’s fine, and honestly, those alternative practices should be encouraged regardless of the number of students on a team. However, in my opinion, students shouldn’t be relegated to the bottom end of the rubric for factors outside of their control.


100% teams who have only one member chose to register to compete … No one forced them to register. I know it sounds harsh, but that is the reality - they had a choice.

As for judged awards, it is now explicit that team with more than one member have an edge in all matters regarding interteam dynamics where teamwork is an indicator for that award. (I’m only referring to VRC from experience.). Does that mean a one person team may not earn a judged award, absolutely not, you can have a really strong single person team do well on all other indicators for a particular judged award. Moreover, single person teams may also do well in performance awards as well.

I appreciate the clarity provided by the Q&A as it provides consistency.

I can’t speak for them, but I know that the voices in my head have spirited discussions all the time. :roll_eyes:

I can see what they are doing and why they want to do it. It’s like in IQ, you can be a single person team, but you only get to drive 35 seconds.

No, there will be signs in the notebook about what the team did as a team. So the only issue will be at the pit interview.


I don’t think this argument is sound, and as somebody who volunteers my time to this program to ensure that as many students as possible get the same opportunity to be excited and inspired about STEM and robotics that I did, it’s also kind of upsetting to me. Imagine if, in response to mentions of sexism in the program, somebody said “100% participants who are women chose to register to compete… No one forced them to register. I know it sounds harsh, but that is the reality - they had a choice.”

Obviously punishing a student for being unable to find a second member by penalizing them in judging isn’t at the same level as punishing a student for being female by having them experience sexism, but the point I’m making is that (if we accept the hypothetical that there are students who cannot find a second member for their team) they aren’t making the choice of whether to be a single person team or not, they’re making the choice of whether to have a degraded robotics experience or no robotics experience, in the same way that a female participant isn’t choosing whether to be female or not, they’re choosing whether to have a degraded robotics experience or no robotics experience.

So the question is “does a single participant team deserve to have to “chose” between a degraded robotics experience and no experience because they couldn’t find a second team member/have some sort of neurodivergence that makes it so they’re better suited to being on a one person team/simply prefer to be on a one person team?” And, given my goal is “give as many students as possible the best robotics experience possible” I would say the answer is no. And if a team is able to demonstrate teamwork in spite of being a one person team, which I think there are plenty examples of how they can, then that should be recognized in the judging process.

There’s a vibe I get from a lot of your posts that the adults/RECF/VEX are just magnanimously providing students this robotics thing, and that any time they have a complaint they should instead just be oh so grateful that the adults have deigned to give them any robotics, and if they don’t like it then tough, leave. And it’s just so antithetical to how I see the idea of volunteering and what my role is in this whole program. I work for the students in the program, be it the high performing private team or the one person homeschool team or the public school team who only has a clawbot kit. And the goal is to make sure all of them have a great experience, and that there’s nothing that would make them have to “choose” whether to compete or not, because they’re all wholeheartedly and enthusiastically invested in the program.


Congratulations, RECF, by choosing disciplinary formalism over empathy you earned 1 bonus point in the category of Emerging Bureaucracy on the rubric!

Well done! :tada:


Since when do people have a choice? I’d think that most people who do notebooking, programming, driving, building, and CADing alone would like some help. It’s not like solo teams exist because one guy feels cocky and goes off on his own. they exist because not everyone feels the same way about stuff they do. VRC has a lot of veryyyy dedicated people, but significantly more not dedicated people. Especially in school orgs, you will be way more likely to be on a solo team, especially if you have a lot of teams (less selective admittance, and moderators will try to “balance” the teams).

Keep in mind, the teams they’re talking about aren’t just 1 person necessarily. They’re teams with 6 people who sit around on their phones and 1 person who hard carries. If no one does anything and the moderator doesn’t do anything about it, should the 1 person who carries just suck it up and not do anything? that’s just silly. If they’re willing to take up the challenge of doing it all let them.

GDC made a call that once again hurts the people that care about VRC the most. Like Sylvie said, I’m deeply disappointed but utterly unsurprised.


Just a correction, the discussion stems from a clarification made by the Committee on Judging - not the Game Design Committee. The GDC concerns itself primarily with the game play at tournaments and skills challenges. CoJ is focused primarily on Judged awards.


The game has always been a team sport, and it’s more difficult to coordinate with teammates. One line of the rubric gives recognition to teams that engage and utilize multiple students. It seems smart for a STEM program to encourage this.

I don’t doubt that there will be teams with multiple students who still earn a low score.


Encourage it, don’t force it on people. Not everyone on a team cares about robotics the same way as another, and anyone whose done VRC outside of a private org knows how awful moderation can be at times in getting rid of unmotivated people. Sure, it’s more difficult to coordinate with teammates, but I know people whose teammates literally say “I’m only here because my mom makes me”. You can’t make that work man.

Considering every VRC team has to have more than one person anyways…


I will be cheeky here - team implies more than one …

Google “definition of team” and top answer is:

a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport.


There is a senior girl in my club that can’t find another teammate.
She won excellence 2-3 times last season with her 1 partner, who graduated.
So she should be punished because nobody wants to be on a team with her because they have their own teams?
She doesn’t want to be by herself. She saw this and got super worried, and wants to give up now.

Luckily, two people joined robotics and our coach put them on her team.
I just wanted to say, it wasn’t her choice.


Pascal’s point wasn’t that it’s their choice to compete as a one-person team, but that it’s their choice to compete at all.

You actually touched on this when you mentioned that

Like every vex member, she has a choice as to whether or not to compete. If a few interview rubric points are the deciding factor, then so be it.


I guess I’ll have to be a little cheeky back :wink: - the Vex Game Manual “definition of team” is:

One or more Students make up a Team.

So, the ‘official’ document clearly states that only one student is required for VRC and that is still considered a team. If their intent is to force multi-member teams, why not just require 2 students (as VIQ does)? It seems petty to allow for single member teams and then remove them from being likely to get a large number of judged rewards solely based on that…

In a strong area at a high level, yes - that stance for the interview rubric and the evaluation of teamwork means a single member team will have a significantly more difficult time earning a judged award than a multi-member team for the sole reason that they only have 1 person on the team. When you have scores on multiple rubrics that are most or all 5 points in every category, a 1 makes a big difference.

The Judging Q&A is specific to the Team Interview & the question asks about the Team Interview Rubric point for ‘Teamwork, Communication, and Professionalism’… If the multi-member team with only 1 team member present can successfully show ‘teamwork’ with a single person (either with their notebook or through their description of activities), then IMHO a single member team should be able to do so as well.

100% - and having a manufactured issue that can be easily modified and still cover the spirit of the ‘teamwork’ requirement while acknowledging that Vex specifically allows for single member teams is frustrating.


Well, if vex are too stubborn, too lazy, or too inempathetic to extend their definition of teamwork to accomodate single student teams, then…

We shall embrace our vision of teamwork and gracious professionalism to help our single-person team friends innovate their way to the excellence in spite of vex soullessness.

According to vrc rules, Student is defined as a person born after certain date and earning credit towards a high school diploma, certificate, or other equivalent, including being home-schooled.

Furthermore, according to US Code

The term “person” is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2510(6) to mean any individual person as well as natural and legal entities.

Therefore, getting your dog or cat a Service Dog Certificate and teaching them home-school equivalent of the high school curriculum makes them elligible to attend competitions and to be not only your beloved soulmate but vrc legal team member.

And, if any of the judges refuse to treat them as such, I will consider it not only a discrimination based on the spoken (barked) language, but also a case of Speciesism.

:dog2: :cat2: :parrot: