Published 13th June 2018

feedback on Writing

There are a number of ways to approach giving feedback on student writing. You can use correction codes, marking frameworks or correct everything. It almost seems as though there as many ways to approach writing feedback as there are teachers! If you are tired of your usual approaches, we have another idea for you.

Why this approach to giving feedback works

This approach is based on an idea used by examiners all over the world. When examiners are given pieces of writing to assess, they are given specific guidelines on how to do this. This is to ensure that different examiners marking the same piece of writing would give the same mark. This makes the marking of exams uniform no matter where the students or the examiner are from, their mood or their level. If this approach has been trusted by examining bodies all over the world for so long, you can be sure it is reliable and valid.

How this approach to giving feedback on writing works

Mark each piece of writing out of a possible twenty marks. Five marks each for overall effect, content, range of language and accuracy of language.

Here is the procedure:

  • First, read through the entire piece of writing once. Give a mark out of five for the overall effect of the writing on the reader. This includes appropriateness of style, formality and genre. Try not to focus on the mistakes as your read. However, bear in mind the general feeling you get when you read. Are you satisfied? Are you confused? Do the mistakes hinder your comprehension?
  • Next, read the piece of writing again. This time, make a mark next to each point or idea that is made. Make sure these points are relevant to the argument and to the topic. The extent to which the learner has covered all the necessary content points will determine their content mark.
  • Read it again. Underline any errors that have been made. This will inform the mark for accuracy. Do not correct them or make any notes on the errors yet.
  • Highlight any language which shows good range, in terms of both vocabulary and grammar. This will make up the mark for range.
  • In terms of corrections, you can choose one or two categories of errors to correct; for example, spelling errors and wrong vocabulary items. Don’t write corrections for these but make a note of which categories and which errors you have chosen. These are the corrections your student needs to make.
  • Hand the writing back and ask the students to do the corrections you made a note of. If possible, take the writing back in to check these corrections.

Assessing writing is not an easy task. There is no right way to do it so you might need to try out a few approaches to find which one suits you and your teaching situation.