Effective Marking Technique for Teachers

Marking might be defined quite literally as leaving ink marks on the page to respond to work done by a learner. Added to the ink marking has traditionally been the process of grading and commenting. Marking in its broadest sense is about responding to the learning experience of learners through feeding back.

Knowledge bank

In recent years the traditional view of marking as a process of checking work for correctness and correcting issues has changed. Notably, the work of Black and Wiliam has challenged the value of ticks, grades and general platitudes (or in some cases, derision) applied to work by teachers.

Black and Wiliam explored the potential for marking to be truly developmental and challenged the value of summative grading and response in the learning process.

Lovatt, Smith and Wise (2005) suggest that the term marking be replaced by responding and in their book outline a large bank of strategies for learner and teacher responding.

Ask yourself

  1. In what ways are you currently making use of the process of formative feedback in lessons?
  2. How could you further develop the culture of peer-to-peer formative feedback in your classrooms?
  3. How are you using formative approaches to enhance learning and develop higher-level thinking skills?
  4. How could you further develop a 'smarter not harder' ethos, through more learner-centred approaches to marking, while at the same time developing learner reflection?

To do list

  • Develop a protocol for feedback in your lessons, use it yourself and scaffold opportunities for learners to use it with themselves and one another.
  • Study the excellent Assessment for Learning publication Working Inside the Black Box (Black & Wiliam 2002) which provides advice and strategies for developing formative assessment further.
  • Find out what your learners currently find most helpful in terms of marking. Find out what they would find useful in helping them to develop ideas. Devise a short questionnaire to support your research and use it periodically to see how you are doing.
  • Share good ideas on formative assessment with colleagues to build your strategy bank.