Experience Marking – Part 1

Back at it after the Christmas holidays and my first real trial at marking students work. Just before the holiday I sat with a mentor who showed me how they mark the BTEC work and we did one together going through it step by step, today I sat going though my small pile of allocated students alone using the one we did as a guide along with the assessment criteria from the BTEC handbook/ website.

I found that the marking became easier once I had done a couple; as a problem with Art and Design is that it can be quite unclear on if the student had really achieved the evidence to fulfil the criteria. I found that a couple students had but not quite (in my opinion) shown evidence of for example ‘compare ideas and concepts in art and design work’ the first marker for a Pass on one of the Units. It was sometimes difficult to gauge if that student had really done enough to achieve that mark as the marking was simply a yes or no on achievement for various points to achieve a Pass, Merit or Distinction (broken down into Pass 1, 2, 3, 4 etc.) but the more I did the easier it was to spot and understand if the evidence was there or not, comparing the evidence of one student against another.

Taking this on board it was still sometimes difficult to mark the work, but it was also a slow process. I started with reading the marking criteria so I knew what to be looking out for, then I sat and read through the students full work (sketchbooks and everything) returning to the criteria after to fill it in. Sometimes it was very clear if a student had or had not fulfilled the criteria but the next issue was the notes that had to be written. Because work is double marked and for the feedback to the students I was told it is very important to give notes and feedback on how the student had or had not fulfilled the criteria but without giving away if they haven’t,  what they need to do to achieve it (that’s for the verbal feedback) as this is a summative assessment and as teachers we should help students in their learning, rather than just tell them what it is that needs doing which I found difficult as I sometimes thought how can I tell them what they need to do without being too vague.

Something that concerned me was the feeling that I was being fair to the students, and I think that comes from always having those students say how certain teachers are strict with their marking then others but after looking through the assessment criteria more and after giving it ago I found that it is really down to the evidence. Making sure that I could clearly say yes there is evidence or not the evidence is not there / not enough was the important thing to clearly get into my head deciding that pushing the student to be better is what matters so if I was unsure that a marking criteria hadn’t been met then mark it as a no rather than a yes as the student wouldn’t then be able to learn, I just have to make sure my feedback is clear and helpful so they see this.

I have told my students to treat their work like it is being marked by people that do not have a clue what they are doing (in terms of Art and Design that is) and to literally spell out everything they are thinking and doing in their sketch books to prove they have done something and it is this which makes it easier to mark, where students have headed the pages ‘development ideas’ rather than just plain sketches randomly in the books (as they rarely run chronologically to the design process like they should).

Going through the work made it clear why it is so important to double mark, due to the ambiguous nature of the marking criteria and also helped me see where students were failing the most (typically written work, which isn’t surprising but disappointing as I’ve been trying to work with the students on this) so I can go into the next project with this in mind.

The next step is the double mark and then I have to give the students their feedback, then comes the re-mark so watch this space for updates.


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