Session 331: Ideas to reduce marking

Thursday 1st December 2016

Following on from the recent UKEdChat poll, the session this week explored ideas to help reduce the marking burden on teachers.

We were keen to hear about strategies, ideas, or technologies that help you reduce your marking workload, and also to hear about the the marking requirements set out by different schools. The session asked the following questions:

  1. What do you find are the most arduous aspects of marking?
  2. Does the marking policy of your school help or hinder? Why?
  3. What innovative ways to marking have you found most effective?
  4. What strategies do you use to provide feedback and complete marking during lessons?
  5. What opportunities could there be available for using technology to reduce marking?
  6. To you, what are the 3 top main reasons for providing quality marking?
  7. Finally, what strategies do you find most effective in reducing marking from your workload?

Summary

The discussion began with suggestions for what is the hardest part of marking. Answers were varied, but making it meaningful and not just a hoop jumping exercise for the SLT. This was a common theme throughout the whole chat. The feeling of futility as the pupils do not benefit from your written comments, and the steer amount of time that marking takes were also mentioned many times.

In the next section of the chat participants almost universally said that marking hinders, rather than help the school, pupils and learning. If this is the case, why is the profession doing it, or at least doing it this way? This should be a call to arms for the profession to find a better way to give pupils insight into their learning and improve your next step planning. It was fascinating to see the different amounts of marking that teachers do, from a corner page tick every half term, to marking everything ‘markable’ every day.

Next participants discussed ways to improve/reduce marking. Instant marking where the teacher or peers mark a ongoing piece of work in the lesson was mentioned many times. Many UKEdChatters pointed out that marking and feedback doesn’t just be from the teacher and doesn’t have to be in a written form either. For many more ideas you should look through the archive.

The discussion moved on to focus on technology’s role in marking, and also feedback. Participant mentioned tools like kaizena.com and plickers.com for assessment, but there were very few suggestions for marking itself. Tools like gradeninja.com and gradecam.com work with multiple choice, but is it difficult to use technology for open question/answers and where interpreting the answer is important. clickview.co.uk and letsrecap.com were also mentioned.

The final two questions focus on the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ to ensure quality marking. Responses ranged from ‘Not possible, so don’t bother’ to making the process a ‘learning conversation’ to a brief discussion to the righteous colour of pen. If marking is a discussion, then like any discussion it is personal and different between each and every marker and the learner they seek to help. There isn’t necessarily a right way to mark (despite what your SLT/policy may say), but there are certainly wrong ways to do it. If marking is an exhausting, dispiriting and fruitless task, then something needs to change. Perhaps it’s time to take the red pen to your own marking regime.


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