The Learning Renaissance

Feedback and the folly of book marking for teachers and students alike

Thanks to Jon Tait for this little insight into a debate that has been going on for generations in education.

When I started teaching, I had an expectation, developed from my own experience as a student, that marking student books was  key aspect of my role.

I developed a standardised way of doing my ticks, and, being left-handed, it amused my students that my ticks seemed so ill-formed! Some doubted my professionalism insofar as my training had not encompassed how to form ticks properly!

I fear that the quality of my ticks was the only thing that engaged my students. The volume of feedback in the form of questions, clarifications, suggestions and praise seemed to pass them by, particularly when for classes that I saw only once a week, the feedback was seven days behind the completed work. Furthermore, I hardly gave them time to digest and revise their work before moving on to a new topic.

At best, what was intended to be formative comments, ended up being summative or irrelevant. My comments were not moving the learning of my students forward!

Few things irritated me more as a teacher than taking home a few piles of marking which would haunt me all evening, or over the weekend.

Both students and I were working in a completely irrational way when dealing with marking. We were conforming to the expectations of others such as parents and the Headteacher (This was a time when headteacher would often call for samples of books to check the quality and consistency of marking).

This is not meant to be an article on better ways of assessment, simply a suggestion that if you are still marking student books in the manner I did, and calling it effective assessment… time to think again!

You may wish to consult  Ian Grove-Stephenson, whose Yacapaca company have been addressing the efficiency and effectiveness of teacher marking and assessment for some time.

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About educationalist04

I'm convinced we can, as a species, do much better than this if we set our minds to being much more positive and productive towards our fellow humans. The solution is learning - creating independent and autonomous learners who can problem solve, innovate and create a better more equitable and sustainable world.

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