As a follow-up to ‘Ten Ways to Improve your Marking’, here are ‘Five Things Your Students Want From Your Marking’.
Regular readers will have noted my school’s current preoccupation with marking.
In our endless search for the perfect formula, we have been quizzing our students on what they think about it all. If you are feeling brave, then I would whole-heartedly recommend getting some student feedback about your marking. It is illuminating to say the least!
We have picked our students’ brains in three ways: using Rate my Feedback sheets in class (students mark your marking out of ten, then write two stars and a wish about your feedback); conducting a year group wide Google survey; and filming students discuss our marking with no teachers present.
The latter was, in parts soul-destroying (there will always be one student who says ‘Oh she never marks my work’, even though you have spent hours every week checking their writing), and in parts it was extremely gratifying. But it was definitely worthwhile.
Here is what I learned:
- Regularity is good. Students (well, most of them) do notice when you mark their work regularly and it makes a difference to them. They feel like their work is being valued and their appreciate a quick response to their assessments.
- Don’t write too much. To quote: ‘I hate it when they write a paragraph’. My students want me to write in short sections, preferably bulletpoints.
- Motivate students. Some of the nicest feedback I received was about the short, positive comments that I had written, such as ‘Yes! You can do it!’ or ‘Go you!’. These comments took me no time to write but my students were grateful for these personal affirmations of their effort.
- Give examples. Providing practical targets and spending time in class improving work is all very well, but my students almost all asked me for more examples of HOW to improve their work. This has led to me, providing students with sentence starters to help them get going with their improvements. E.g. ‘Now you need to re-write paragraph 3, adding in an analysis of an individual word. For example, ‘The word ‘…’ suggests…’
- Speak to them about it. As well, as reading my feedback, strangely, my students seem to want to speak to me as well. Some students need more hand holding than others and just want me to read through my feedback with them. Of course, we can’t do this for every student very time, but it is worth checking with your students if they think this is something that they need, so you can target them in class. After all, there is not point putting in the hours after class, if that one student can’t get anything from it.
The main message that I got from this was: keep marking regularly but don’t write as much. Now, that sounds like a perfect formula to me!
Naomi Hursthouse has been teaching in West Sussex for ten years. She has worked as an Advanced Skills Teacher, a Gifted and Talented Coordinator, AQA examiner and is currently the Head of English at Ormiston Six Villages Academy.