Evidence on Marking

A Marked Improvement? 

Marking plays a central role in teacher's work, yet there is very little evidence on which strategies are most effective.

For the EEF's latest report, A Marked Improvement, researchers at the Department for Education at the University of Oxford reviewed existing research to find out how teachers can use their time more effectively to improve their pupil’s learning. They found a significant disparity between the enormous amount of effort teachers invest in marking and the research available to tell them which marking approaches are the most effective.

Although the report highlights a critical lack of evidence on written marking, a number of findings emerge that could help teachers to create a more effective marking strategy. 

This review summarises what we can conclude from the evidence – and clarifies the areas where we simply do not yet know enough. It also identifies a number of key questions that schools should consider when developing their marking strategies, including considerations around workload and the trade-offs teachers face in adopting different approaches.

New £2m fund dedicated to trial marking approaches 

There is an urgent need for more studies on written marking so that teachers have better information about the most effective marking approaches. The review has identified a number of areas where further research would be particularly beneficial, including:

  • Testing the impact of marking policies which are primarily based on formative comments and which rarely award grades
  • Investigating the most effective ways to use class time for pupils to respond to marking
  • Comparing the effectiveness of selective marking that focuses on a particular aspect of a piece of work to thorough approaches that focus on spelling and grammar, in addition to subject-specific content
  • Testing the impact of dialogic and triple marking approaches to determine whether the benefits of such approaches justify the time invested.

Since its launch in 2011, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has funded over 120 projects in English schools,working with over 6,500 schools and 700,000 pupils. Included within this programme of research are a number of studies testing ways to improve the quality and impact of feedback in the classroom.However, to date no projects have looked specifically at written marking. As part of the publication of this review, the EEF is calling on the research community to join forces with schools to fill these gaps and is ear-marking £2m to fund new trials which will lead to practical and useful knowledge for teachers in such a critical area of teaching practice. The new funding will be available immediately.

  1. Updated: 28th April, 2016

    Marking Review

    5 MB pdf - EEF_Marking_Review_April_2016.pdf

    A Marked Improvement examines the evidence on written marking provides.

The existing evidence on all types of Feedback,  is summarised in The Teaching and Learning Toolkit, a summary of educational research containing nearly 10,000 studies, produced in conjunction with The Sutton Trust and Durham University. A link is available below: