Author: Deb Bullock | Published on 1 October 2022


Question: Are your learners more interested in marks and grades than understanding how they can improve? 

Answer: If so, try “comment-only” marking.  

Your comments are important. They tell learners about gaps in their learning. Although they want marks, your feedback is also key. Getting low marks without any explanation is very demotivating.

Next time you mark homework or tests:

  1. Focus on gaps – what learners don’t know or understand, or can’t do. E.g. they can’t remember the months of the year in English.
  2. Write comments on how learners can close the gap. E.g. Look at your notes and find the answer. Write it on a piece of paper. Put it in your pocket and read it every day. 
  3. Give learners time in class to read your comments and ask you questions. Circulate and speak with individual learners. 
  4. Tell them to write an action point. E.g. I’ll ask my friend to test me next week.
  5. Later, give learners time to discuss what they did with a partner.

Which class will you try comment-only marking with? When?


Reward: a thing given in recognition of service, effort, or achievement.

Gap: an empty space

Close the gap: fill the void

Circulate: Move around the classroom to check what learners are doing, and if they need any help.  

Demotivating: make (someone) less eager to work or study. 

Feedback: Information about how well a learner has done something.