Triumphs Show 171: preparatory reading for A-level essays

Teaching History feature: celebrating and sharing success

By Matthew Springett, published 28th June 2018

Reading between the lessons: the importance of preparatory reading for A-level essays

The first question my A-level students always used to ask when receiving back an essay was, ‘What mark did I get?’ The second question I used to hope they would ask was ‘How could I improve my work?’

I stress ‘used to’ because increasingly I do not give marks when first returning students’ essays. Both empirical research and history teachers’ experience strongly suggest that if you provide a grade or level alongside comments then the learning gains for students are often the same as if you had not bothered writing feedback at all. Formative and summative assessment need to be separated...

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