A great teaching tip saving time and still giving constructive feedback. It will save you hours of marking time.

Let’s be honest, if you are marking a piece of work, how many times do you write the same thing over and over again. That takes so much time, if only you could use a quicker way of doing this; well symbol marking just might be the way to do this and ensure the students do not just ignore the written advice, let’s have a look.


Before you mark, you might establish the criteria as to what makes for a good piece of work.  Turn these into improvements in case some are missing and make a list numbered say 1-9.  Then use whatever presentation software to make a list of these.  You can always add a few more if common errors occur as you go through the student’s work.  For example:


1)  Explain why the leaf has chloroplasts.


2)  You need 3 bullet points to get the most marks in this style of question.


These could be varied dependent on what marking scheme or criteria you need.


If a student is missing the first point, for example, all you need to do is write the number 1. You can use these criteria as strengths as well.  If they are completed, they are strengths, if they are missing, they are improvements.


Once you give the students their work back you show the improvements slide so that they can match their numbers, they have to note down the improvements linked the numbers onto their work. This means that the student will have to read and write the feedback then act on it right away. This saves hours of time; it does take a little time to set up and the students need to be trained that this is happening.


Students are surprisingly effective at doing this without you when just given a similar list for peer assessment – see our tips on this.