Color-Coded Marking: Using Vibrant Feedback to Enhance ELL Engagement


Social science research suggests that using a red pen for essay marking evokes a negative student response. Beyond the choice of marking color, ELL students are often overwhelmed by the assorted scribbles, circles and slashes that teachers apply to the written essay in an effort to illuminate and correct syntactic and semantic errors. The use of a color-coded marking matrix allows teachers to easily indicate the problem areas, and prompts students to interact with their text on a visual level to make recommended corrections independently. The matrix is a discrete set of grammatical and lexical elements; each assigned its own color. By highlighting the mistake, either manually or electronically, the teacher is able to give the student a visual depiction of areas of writing weakness. Simply correcting the student error does not ensure that future mistakes of the same kind will not occur. At a glance, a student can assess her writing weaknesses by color prevalence and can actually track her progress in subsequent writing activities by comparison. In addition to the color-coded writing elements in the matrix, students can use corresponding columns for translations as well as hints for mediating the particular error. Teachers and students agree upon the colors that denote the elements, and the matrix legend is co-created by the class for the term. Rather than marking being seen as the endpoint of a learning experience, color-coded marking introduces greater student empowerment and self-correction for maximum ELL engagement and retention.

Author Information
Theresa Storke, Abu Dhabi Education Council, UAE

Paper Information
Conference: IICLL2015
Stream: Innovative language teaching and learning methodologies

This paper is part of the IICLL2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon