Does live-marking have a place in the classroom? If so, how can it be managed and what impact can it have?
Watch and listen here to what I have to say about live-marking.
Teachers are bombarded with marking because it is central to their role, yet some teachers and schools yearn to mark every piece of work. Some parents also expect this, so it is clear that schools have a clear feedback policy communicated to students, parents and all colleagues so that marking is manageable and adds value.
We know that feedback is one of the most effective ways to improve learning, but we should recognise that not everything can be – or should be – marked.
For the last month, I’ve been ‘live-marking’ in all of my lessons and although this has many advantages in the classroom, it is a technique hard-taught and hard-earned.
Published in April 2016, a research paper by the University of Oxford and Education Endowment Foundation, consisting of a panel of 1,382 practising teachers from 1,012 schools in the maintained sector in England completed the survey. The executive summary said:
- The quality of existing evidence focused specifically on written marking is low.
- School leaders and teachers should aim to create an effective, sustainable and time-efficient marking policy.
- We still do not know what works! There is an urgent need for more studies so that teachers have better information about the most effective marking approaches.
The review examined existing British and international evidence on marking and is presented in seven sections, with further details of the research considered in each section:
- Pupil responses
- Creating a dialogue
- Frequency and speed.
For the purposes of this post and this research, I am sharing my views and strategies on ‘live-marking’ and looking at 3 of the above categories, corrections; creating a dialogue; frequency and speed.
The report says, “when marking a piece of work, it may feel logical and efficient to provide pupils with the right answer, in addition to indicating that their answer was incorrect.” For the past 18 months, we have been using the Yellow Box methodology to reduce workload and target corrections. This focused work ensures teachers and students focus on a specific area of the work, rather than the entire piece.
It also aims to encourage teachers avoid to provide the answer/corrections.
Creating a dialogue:
As a consequence of live-marking or use of the yellow box, immediately teachers can create a dialogue in and out of the classroom. For the past month, I’ve been using both strategies with students at my desk, or on my own marking books and then providing diagnostic (written) feedback in books with verbal instructions in class. More often than not, students respond to areas for improvement. This research continues: “setting aside class time for pupils to consider and respond to marking should not increase marking workloads unless teachers are required to mark responses.”
I’ll just repeat the statement again. We do not expect teachers to mark students re-drafted work or indicate where ‘verbal feedback‘ has been provided with a hand-stamp for observer evidence. Any school who asks their teachers to re-mark marked work is part of the workload and retention problem.
Frequency and speed:
Defined as how often pupils’ work is marked and how quickly the work is returned to the pupils are significant factors in teacher workload and expected levels of progress. Couple this with the demands to work through curriculum reforms and teach students so that they can be successful in their examinations of that subject, you can already start to gauge the conflict teachers face every week. Should I ask students to re-draft their work? Or should I move on and cover the curriculum?
A valid question raised in the study asks: is it beneficial to provide less detailed comments quickly, or to take the time necessary to provide more thorough feedback?
A small number of studies on the speed of marking have been conducted in the field of EFL teaching, but no high quality studies in schools were found. Education Endowment Foundation.
For the past month, I’ve been trying to do both. I have offered instant verbal feedback in class, then every second week some time with students at the front of the class, live-marking or peer-assessing work under a visualiser.
The research highlights that faster feedback is more valuable is consistent with studies of verbal feedback that indicate that learners find it easier to improve if their mistakes are corrected quickly. However, the lack of studies in schools suggests that this is an area where more research would be valuable.
Live Feedback in Lessons:
Looking at the data above, it is clear that many teachers are highlighting mistakes in students’ work and not correcting them, but there is still 40% of practice that needs to move. So, how could ‘live marking’ (or even avoiding correcting students’ work) reduce your workload and improve students’ outcomes? Here are my views on marking in lesson time:
How could ‘live marking’ reduce your workload and improve students’ outcomes?
Firstly, your classroom management must be secure before you attempt to mark with students in lessons. Secondly, students will need to be engaged and on-task whilst you can dedicate the time to work with individuals. Sadly, this post does not offer any solutions, but you can find suggestions here: 10 Marking and Feedback Strategies.
- Live marking reduces your marking workload outside of lesson hours.
- Highlighting where to improve and not correcting the work places the onus on the student.
- Diagnostic feedback closes in on specific areas to improve and offers instant feedback for the student.
- You can only work with one or a small group of students at a time.
- Be conscious of time spent and level of detail.
- Curriculum coverage may suffer if acting on feedback, specifically re-drafting work outweighs building knowledge and skills.
- A marked improvement? A review of the evidence on written marking, Education Endowment Foundation (April 2016)