Closing the gaps and creating GRIT – smarter feedback and a culture of redrafting
Formative marking is the buzz term of the decade but what does it actually look like in good practice? It’s taken me a long process of refinement to finally reach a point where I feel sure that my marking is truly formative and enables students to make the most progress in their learning. In the highly discursive subjects of English and Sociology, this truly matters.
I’ve come a long way from comments such as ‘You need to write in more detail’ and ‘Improve your spellings’ to where my marking is today. My marking of any extended piece of writing or essay centres on three rules:
1. Highlighting something very specific that the student has done well
2. Setting a first target for improvement that’s specific to the topic
3. Setting a second target for improvement that’s a transferable skill for future essays/extended writing, no matter what the topic.
For example, in recent feedback to a Year 12 Sociology student on an essay assessing government policies implemented to create an education market and raise standards, I set her two clear targets :
AO1 (knowledge and understanding of this specific topic): To include two more recent policies created to raise standards.
AO2 (interpretation, application, analysis and evaluation skills transferable to any essay topic): To ensure that each point of your argument is evaluated for both strengths and weaknesses where possible, and that evaluation occurs throughout your essay, not just at the end.
There are also a host of ways in which I could make the marking quicker, for example, having a bank of statements ready for the second target (the transferable skill one) which I can select from and stick on their work. Or a feedback sheet which has a checklist of all the knowledge for that topic, as well as a list of the transferable skills, that I can tick/cross as appropriate. In fact, with my A level classes I have begun attaching a copy of the mark scheme for the essay question to the back of the essay, highlighting in green the areas they met and in orange the areas they didn’t. This, along with my written targets, gives them the clearest idea of how to improve in their redraft.