how to mark student errors

Earlier in the quarter, I had a tough time marking errors. Sometimes I wouldn’t mark any in student work; other times, I would mark a lot. Sometimes I would only mark those that I saw were consistant errors. When I was reviewed, Lisa Ede noticed that I was inconsistant, and she made a powerful insight: With the way I was marking student mechanical errors, it made it appear that if there wasn’t a mark, there wasn’t an error.

I had some resistance to using checkmarks in the margins to mark error, as was discussed last quarter in Wr 511 (and suggested in an article we read). Why did I have this resistance? I was scared – it’s a sacrifice of power; it’s an assumption that the students can find the errors if I only mark that there is an error.

But last night, as I graded the portfolios for the analysis paper for my Wednesday night class, I tried it. I didn’t mark anything except by marking it with a checkmark in the margin (exception: One student consistantly used affect and affective instead of effect and effective, to which I wrote an explanation). And you know what? I feel the best about it that I’ve ever felt. The paper isn’t littered with my pencil marks, I could make a checkmark instead of focusing on whether or not to make a comment or correction, and the students can do some thinking when they revise, or ask about the error if they cannot find it (I am assuming some students will revise).

This entry was posted in Teaching Composition, Writing 511 Teaching Writing (Fall 2005). Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to how to mark student errors

  1. Lisa Ede says:

    Way cool!


  2. Kristen says:

    I started using the check method of editing a few years ago in my advanced comp. classes and the result seemed to be students more engaged in their own editing and rewriting. I hope you find the same result!

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