The Education Endowment Foundation has published a new review of the evidence on written marking. Researchers from Oxford University found that there were very few robust studies – too few to conduct a formal systematic review or to make definitive recommendations. Based on the limited evidence, the review makes the following tentative suggestions:
- Careless mistakes should be marked differently to errors resulting from misunderstanding. The latter may be best addressed by providing hints or questions which lead pupils to underlying principles; the former by simply marking the mistake as incorrect, without giving the right answer.
- Awarding grades for every piece of work may reduce the impact of marking, particularly if pupils become preoccupied with grades at the expense of a consideration of teachers’ formative comments.
- The use of targets to make marking as specific and actionable as possible is likely to increase pupil progress.
- Pupils are unlikely to benefit from marking unless some time is set aside to enable pupils to consider and respond to marking.
- Some forms of marking, including acknowledgement marking, are unlikely to enhance pupil progress. Schools should mark less in terms of the number of pieces of work marked, but mark better.
The researchers argue that there is an urgent need for more studies so that teachers have better information about the most effective marking approaches.
Source: Elliott, V.F., Baird, J-A., Hopfenbeck, T.N., Ingram, J, Thompson, I., Usher, N., Zantout, M., Richardson, J., Coleman, R. (2016) A marked improvement? A review of the evidence on written marking. UK: Education Endowment Foundation.