Marking. Is it all about going through the motions?


Marking is something teachers kind of dread.  It takes hours and usually there is little pay off.  However, on the other end are students who wait with anticipation for any feedback or comment.  How to reconcile these two opposing forces?

This dilema and “round peg into a square hole” dichotomy became clear to me when I recently showed my students the clip below.  It’s from a new TV series – Mr. D (and yes, I was a Mr. D. in a school just like this guy!) premiering in Canada.

I teach a core course in the Bachelor of Ed program – Education and Schooling. A broad overview course dealing with topics like “Becoming a Teacher”,  “History of Education”,  “The law and schooling”, “Philosophy of Education”,  “Social Perspectives” and “Critical Issues in Education”.  I enjoy it and I beyond the specific curriculum objectives, have the overall objective of lighting a fire inside my students and getting them to think critically about every day issues in education. Thus, the Mr. D. clip.

I asked my students ” Based on this tv series clip, what do you think it says about how society views teachers?”  I was surprised when many said that it shows teachers as “Realists”.  Watch and decide for yourself.

My students also talked about how they feel when they put a lot of work into something and the professor/teacher doesn’t spend any time actually reading it and giving feedback. This comment hit home. I just got a load of assignments to mark – a pile of them! I’ll be spending the next week wading through them (but happily for the most part!).

What all this really says to me is that we have to stop giving “useless” assignments. Really and truly. Assignments that mean for students “just get it done” and for teachers, “just get the marking done”.

What does this video say to you? What issues does it raise for you? I’ll be interested to see if this new series develops in a way to portrait teachers as lazy blockheads or in a vein of showing the “realistic” side of our profession.

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* need some reading on assessment? See my page on all things to do with assessment.



Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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2 Responses

  1. I thinking grading/marking papers is something that teachers dread because of the process they use. I expect they are using a process similar to your photo in this post with piles of files and papers.

    One way to drastically minimize this process is to require students to have a Google Account and use Google Docs for creation, sharing and marking of all files (papers). Maybe it doesn’t work in every scenario, but I can’t think of many where it wouldn’t work.

    It works perfectly and my students like it. And, I save lots of time and trees too! :)

  2. Dominik says:

    Nice point professor, but I guess in such a text it’s natural to find that students prefer a friendly relationship to one that’s boring and has academic means only.

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