Marking assessments – do we need to change our mind-set?

Challenges facing VET

Over the years, many of my colleagues have had a whinge 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 on-line courses.  I prefer to call these remote learners, because “on-line” 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/assessor.

They know they can call me or email at any time, but the main way that I can provide training to them is with the feedback on their assessments.  If they get it wrong, I can type hints, tips, ideas – provide guidance.  If the assessment is right 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.

(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.

About this series 

There are many challenges facing VET.  One of them is the need for the industry’s own voice to be shared in a way that adds more light than heat.

This article is one in a series that will seek to explore some of those challenges.   The full series is available from HERE.

Invitation to Contribute

Contributions from others that explore issues and ideas in a polite and non-inflammatory manner are welcome, and may be sent to

Full attribution and relevant links will be provided for contributors.

Spread the love