Marking Assessments – Do We Need to Change Our Mind-set?

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Challenges Facing Vet in Australia

Over the years, many of my colleagues have had a whine about marking.  They enjoy the training but they see marking as an unpleasant chore.

I’m wondering if this is because it’s just seen as “compliance paperwork”, whereas I view marking as one of the best opportunities we can have to deliver training.

Many learners now undertake online courses.  I prefer to call these remote learners because “online” seems to suggest a lack of trainer support.  All of my TAE students are remote learners.  This means they are usually on their own.  They have the learning and assessment resources and I have also recorded videos for them to watch, but that’s not enough.  They need personal interaction with their trainer and assessor.

They know they can call me or email me at any time, but the main way that I can provide training to them is with feedback on their assessments.  If they get it wrong, I can type hints, tips, ideas – provide guidance.  If the assessment is right the first time, the task still goes back with additional comments.  These comments are the kinds of things I would say if the training was face-to-face in a workshop.

What’s interesting is that students always take notice of the extra comments.  They often email me back about it, and it starts a further discussion.  In a previous post, I talked about how students tend to skim over learning material.  On the other hand, they don’t skim over comments in their assessments, because they relate directly to what they were doing at the time.

Therefore, I believe marking assessments is a brilliant way to enhance training.

I also think it’s just as relevant when you are marking assessments from group training.  Group training is always my preference but often it’s not practicable.  Where we can deliver group training, we can facilitate discussion, observe directly.  Further, the students learn from one another as well as from the training.

Nevertheless, when you are training a group, you are relating to the group as a whole.  Of course, you provide individual tuition and support within the group, but this has to be balanced with keeping an eye on everyone and not concentrating on just one person.

When marking their assessments, however, you can provide individual training that relates directly to the needs of each student.

The other thing I like to do on the feedback form when marking a task satisfactory is to describe what was done.  This sounds a bit odd, but when performing a complex task, the student can get lost in the detail.  Once the task is completed satisfactorily, I might say something like:

Well done John.  You have downloaded and analysed the requirements of a qualification in your own area of expertise, identified the characteristics and needs of your learner group, interpreted the packaging rules and then packaged a qualification contextualised to the needs of your clients.

They read this and think:

Wow, did I do all that?

It reminds them of the big picture.

And, of course, documenting detailed feedback ensures that the assessment judgement meets audit requirements and can be validated.

Published 16 December 2019

What do you think?

Join the discussion of this and other Challenges at the VET PD Group – Community of Practice.

About the Author:

Sandy Welton is Instructional Designer and Principal of Welton Resources.

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