How to reduce your marking load whilst increasing the impact of feedback.

Uncategorized Oct 19, 2020
Marking must be one of the universally most dreaded part of a teacher’s job. So many hours have been spent at home and on the weekends tediously marking a seemingly never-ending pile of student assessments and homework, and painstakingly writing meaningful, individual feedback for each student. 
Whilst assessment is a necessary part of teaching, unfortunately studies have shown that most feedback given by teachers on assessment tasks do not make much of an impact on student learning. If you are lucky, students may read your written feedback but will not implement it in any way. Often, by the time they get the feedback (as it may take you a week or two to mark), they have well and truly moved onto the next topic, therefore your feedback is not really relevant anymore. 
What is really important is that you are providing regular, informal assessment so that students can implement your feedback to make improvements BEFORE a formal/ summative assessment.However, this informal assessment doesn’t always have to be provided by you, and it doesn’t have to take up much (if any) of your time outside of the classroom. 
  • Use more self-assessment and peer-assessment. Key to this is providing students with clear learning intentions and success criteria that is written using language that students understand. The teacher should also model how to mark it with the whole class and talk them through the thinking process. You could even get students to use different coloured pens for self/ peer/ teacher feedback so that it is clear who has marked it. 
  • When walking around the classroom giving individual verbal feedback, ask the students to make notes as you talk, or record you using their laptop/ iPad/ phone, if they have one. 
  • Use plenaries as a form of student self-assessment. This is also helpful to you to determine if something needs to be re-taught or developed further. Even something simple such as thumbs down if they need more help, thumbs sideways if they think they know it, and thumbs up if they feel like they could teach someone else. You could have them do this with their heads down/ eyes closed if you think their response would be affected by their worries about what others might think of them. This only takes 5 seconds and provides you with much needed feedback, so that you can make a decision about what the next step should be. 
  • Use technology to your advantage by utilising fun quizzes such as Kahoot, Quizlet, Quizziz etc. These can generate reports so that you can see how each individual student is understanding the content. 
  • Consider using strategies such as project based learning or flipped learning, as this will give you more time during class to sit individually with students and go over their work, rather than collecting it and taking it home with you. 
And then when it comes to formal/ summative assessment: 
  • Limit the amount of formal/ summative you do per term. Two is plenty. 
  • If you are conducting a large project, break down the marking into smaller chunks spread out over the course of the project so that you aren’t left with a huge pile of marking at the end. For eg. If you are marking the planning stage of the project, have a deadline by which students must have completed it and mark it straight away. This also provides you with an opportunity to provide important feedback regarding their project that students can implement immediately to make improvements. 
  • Use symbols - for eg. rather than writing ‘you need to explain this further’, use a plus sign. Provide students with a legend/ key that they can put somewhere prominent, and display this clearly in your classroom (and your virtual learning spaces if you use them) so that they become familiar with them. 
  • Don’t procrastinate - I know, it is so difficult to get excited about that pile of papers on your desk, but if you keep putting it off the problem will just get worse. Set yourself a challenge to have the assessments back to your students within a certain amount of time. 
  • Know what time of day/ environment etc you are the most efficient with your marking. It helps if you can set aside a solid 1-2 hours of uninterrupted time. For me, it is early in the morning - I am much more focused then and get through it sooo much faster. If I try to do it in the afternoon/ evening after a tiring day, it will take me 10 times longer. 
  • If when reviewing students work you notice common errors/ areas for improvement, rather than individually commenting on these, go over it as a class and have students make the corrections themselves. Or, you could type up a page of general feedback and suggestions for improvement to hand out to everyone, maybe highlighting certain points for individual students. 
  • Rather than writing annotations throughout as well as an overall comment, get the student to write the overall comment based on your annotations. This provides students with more of an opportunity to understand and process your feedback .
  • With test/ exam papers, provide the marking key to your students, and go through it with the whole class, getting students to correct their responses, rather than you writing out the correct answers. 


Do you have any other tips for reducing your marking load or increasing the impact of your feedback? Let me know! Likewise, let me know how you go if you implement any of these strategies. 

You can email me at [email protected], or message me on Facebook or Instagram

Want more tips on how to manage your workload? This is something that we cover in depth within Stage 2 of the Transformational Teachers Success Path. You can learn more about this here

I also have free templates that you can use to help organise your assessment schedule in the Freebies Vault.


All the best, 

Kelly :) 


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