The EEF's review of the evidence on written marking

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.

What were the main findings that could help teachers and school leaders?

  • Careless mistakes should be marked differently to errors resulting from misunderstanding. The latter may be best addressed by providing hints or questions which lead pupils to underlying principles; the former by simply marking the mistake as incorrect, without giving the right answer.
  • Awarding grades for every piece of work may reduce the impact of marking, particularly if pupils become preoccupied with grades at the expense of a consideration of teachers’ formative comments.
  • The use of targets to make marking as specific and actionable as possible is likely to increase pupil progress.
  • Pupils are unlikely to benefit from marking unless some time is set aside to enable pupils to consider and respond to marking.
  • Some forms of marking, including acknowledgement marking, are unlikely to enhance pupil progress. A mantra might be that schools should mark less in terms of the number of pieces of work marked, but mark better.

For more information and to read the full report visit the EEF website.


key stage 1, key stage 2

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