• Question: What evidence is there for the degree to which marking of children's work in books influences their progress? Many schools put such an emphasis on marking that teachers have to spend an enormous amount of time on this. My feeling is that, while some marking can be helpful, its effectiveness is generally limited, so most of that expended time and energy is wasted. A marking-obsessed head teacher I worked under referred to the work of John Hattie to argue its importance; however, Hattie talks about the importance of feedback, a very broad term of which marking is just one part.

    Asked by jaymo to Yana, Sean, Richard, Paul, Mike, Matt D, Chris J, Anna R, Alice, Alex on 28 Feb 2018.
    • Photo: Mike Hobbiss

      Mike Hobbiss answered on 28 Feb 2018:


      A very important question, given the amount that marking contributes to teacher workload. As you rightly say, marking (i.e. written feedback to individuals) is really only quite a small sub-section of ‘feedback’ as a whole, which can include individualised verbal (or even non-verbal feedback), whole class feedback, teacher modelling of answers and so on.

      There’s actually a surprising lack of evidence about ‘marking’ as distinct from feedback, so your head’s assertion that it is well supported by evidence is a misreading. A very nice evidence based guide to marking research and its implications for school policy was put together by a teacher called Adam Boxer (for presentation to the head and board of governors at his school) and can be accessed here (https://achemicalorthodoxy.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/marking-review-for-sharing.pdf). I think this should hopefully answer a lot of your questions and provide you with a solid footing to push back against some of the claims/beliefs that often still perpetuate in senior management.

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