Inclusive Marking of Written Work Guidelines for Staff

Inclusivity is a core value at UAL. The Inclusive Marking Guidelines have been developed to support inclusivity in assessment. Staff are asked to review the guidelines ahead of each assessment round, noting the highlighted points especially.

Getting ready to mark:

  • Re-read the assignment brief and learning outcomes
  • Carefully re-read the UAL Assessment Criteria
  • In support of consistent marking, if possible, discuss your understanding of the brief and learning outcomes with colleagues marking the same unit or request guidance from the Unit Leader

While marking:

  • Be clear which criteria you are marking against, eg when focusing on language and communication, be careful not to let other considerations influence your judgement
  • Focus on finding content to reward
  • Actively accept spelling, grammar or other language mistakes that do not significantly impede communication unless the brief states that formally accurate language is a requirement
  • Avoid imposing your own idea of ‘correct English’ on student work – be aware of your own personal preferences

Communicating your feedback:

  • Give balanced, constructive feedback, including ideas for improvement
  • Set comments explicitly against the learning outcomes and relevant assessment criteria
  • Differentiate between feedback on content and feedback for presentation, including accuracy of language
  • Set a minimum and maximum in terms of the amount of feedback and aim for consistency in volume of your comments across a cohort
  • Use clear, accessible English
  • If handwriting, ensure your comments are easily legible

Rationale for this approach

In the inclusive and international context in which we work today, effective communication is a more appropriate objective than native English language speaker norms. It is inappropriate to penalise students for use of language if communication is not impeded and a particular variety is not required by the brief. Note that native English speakers are the minority of those speaking English in the world today by an estimated ratio of 1 to 3, Crystal (2003).

Supporting Success

The following guidance is in order to support success when setting written assignments. Further guidance can be found in the AEM Toolbox, in particular in the sections ‘Creating Inclusive Briefs’, ‘Supporting Attainment with Unit Design’ and ‘Reducing referrals’.

Communicating written assignments and your expectations to students:

  • Use terms consistently eg ‘assessment’ criteria’ (not ‘marking’ criteria)
  • Review UAL Assessment Criteria with your cohort and relate them to the brief
  • Give guidance about how students can evidence meeting the learning outcomes for the brief and give opportunities for discussion
  • Be clear about what you mean by eg an essay, a report, etc – share your assumptions and/or subject area approaches and standards
  • Be precise about your expectations eg of style, structure (nb use of headings and sub-headings), engagement with literature and referencing, and explain why if there is a particular need eg academic writing conventions support consistency of approach, objectivity and comparability
  • Make clear your expectations and attitudes to spelling, grammar and choice of language (eg use of first person (I), formal/informal tone)
  • If relevant in your subject area or disciplinary context, give examples of how other students have used their own voices in similar work and explain why this is important to do
  • If using examples of previous work, give a range or stronger and weaker in order to build understanding of what makes a difference

Encouraging use of resources and support:

  • List and discuss relevant resources or facilities available eg software or technology
  • Recommend that students start developing text early and seek support from student services (Language Development, Academic Support, Libraries, Disability Service), and peers as well as course tutors
  • Advise students to explain what you have told them about your expectations when they seek input from any student services – this in order to minimise risk of conflicting advice being given

Crystal, D. (2003). English as a Global Language (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press