Centre for Teaching and Learning

Centre for Teaching and Learning
Centre for Teaching and Learning

Marking and Feedback

Tips in TA Feedback and Marking

“Nothing that we do to, or for, our students is more important than our assessment of their work and the feedback we give them on it. The results of our assessment influence our students for the rest of their lives and careers – fine if we get it right, but unthinkable if we get it wrong.”

 -Race, Brown and Smith (2005)

Key Points in Providing Feedback as TA’s

As  Teaching Assistants (TA’s) it is important to ensure that the feedback we provide, whether given formally, in writing, in response to a particular assignment or task, in the classroom, in personal tutorials or even in more informal meetings is effective. Therefore as TA’s, it is essential that the feedback we provide to students is easily understood and improves the future performance of students. Below are some key pointers to providing effective feedback!

  • Timely and Prompt- In order to be effective, feedback should occur at the appropriate point in the learning cycle. This is because if feedback is not prompt, students may lose the thread of what was required in the assessment and move on.
  • Constructive Feedback- In order for feedback to be constructive, it should focus on both positive encouragement as well as areas for improvement. This is essential for encouraging students, while correcting them at the same time.
  • Supportive of learning- Feedback should clarify to a student where they are in their learning in relation to intended learning outcomes, what remains to be achieved and be given indications on how to achieve those objectives.
  • Focussed -Student achievement should be the focus of feedback, not effort. Remember that it is the work that is being assessed, not the student!
  • Efficient -Feedback needs to be delivered in a way that is manageable to the student involved. For instance it may be impossible to arrange one on one tutorials with every student however using part of a lecture or seminar to review a recent assessment, and summarizing some of the strengths shown by the work as well as common mistakes or misunderstandings can be very productive and helpful to students.

Key Points to Consider in Marking Written Work

Marking written work for the first time can be time-consuming and nerve-wracking. The art of good marking is to approach it slowly and carefully, not rushing into hasty judgments and building in a series of checks on your accuracy and consistency. The following are a few pointers that can help you succeed in your marking.

  1. Be sure that you and your students know exactly what the expectations for the assignment are.
  2. Be sure students know the marking criteria are, and what they mean.
  3. Check whether the assignments will be second marked, check marked, or moderated; make sure that students know that any mark you may give is provisional and subject to the usual procedures of second marking and external examining
  4. Prior to actually marking, get an overall impression of standards by reading through assignments briefly to get a broad feel of the different ways in which students have responded and the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of the batch.
  5. Then take one assignment at a time, and mark against the criteria. For more problematic assignments, apply a ‘best fit’ principle - within which grade band does this assignment fit best? You can finalize the mark later.
  6. When assessing online, type your initial comments on a computer before you finalize your observations and put them online.
  7. Keep an organized record of your feedback. You may need to refer to your comments at a later date in order to assess and monitor the progress of your student as well as respond to marking complaints.
  8. Give yourself appropriate breaks to rest your eyes and brain.
  9. Give yourself time to look back and check that your approach to marking is consistent with the way in which you started marking (this is especially useful if you are marking over a few days).
  10. When you have finished your provisional marking, put the assignments in rank order, from best to worst according to the marks you have given. Compare assignments with similar marks – do they still seem similar? Adjust marks accordingly where you feel you need to do so.
  11. As noted in tips for feedback, make sure that when you give feedback you start with a positive, encouraging comment. Then give specific guidance about what the student could do next time to raise their grade.
  12. Ask students about strategies they can adopt to rectify any weaknesses. Also, suggest strategies that can help students improve
  13. End with a positive and encouraging comment. This should help prevent students from feeling negative about their marks.

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