Comparative Judgment


Rank order a given set of people, places, things, events, etc. using criteria that you develop.

Instructional Purpose

To develop an understanding of how a set of things can be compared and contrasted with each other. In addition, this pattern requires learners to think about values, both their own and those that apply to a specific context.




Can be applied to any set of entities which can reasonably be compared to each other against some standard, especially if the standard is one that requires learners to clarify their thinking. Example tasks might include ranking a list of cities for their quality of life, or U. S. Presidents for their leadership abilities, or books for their wisdom. This design may be particularly applicable to professional development activities (e.g., rank ordering web resources, books or lesson plans).


Don't use this to mechanically evaluate something that only requires the rote application of a procedure. For example, answering the question of which from a list of gas and electric clothes dryers would cost the least to operate over the course of a year requires simple number crunching.


For younger learners, you can scaffold this by providing at least some of the criteria that might be applied and leave the selection and weighting of those criteria for them to work out. For more adept learners, let them come up with both the criteria and the weightings.

If the perspectives to be taken on are relatively complex, you may want to jigsaw this. That is, at Step 2 in the Process, have learners with the same role work together to examine the items to be evaluated and help each other evaluate them from that single perspective before returning to the work group where consensus will be sought across all perspectives.

This Design Pattern was authored by Bernie Dodge