Grademark: Friend or foe of academic literacy?


  • Caroline Henderson-Brooks University of Western Sydney


academic literacy, student assessment, online marking


Universities are turning more towards on line marking systems, for example Grademark, which are marketed as improving student writing and which provide suites of comment banks oriented at academic literacy. This is an opportune time for academic literacy educators to engage with these newly acquired resources in order to develop student writing at all linguistic levels. To begin a conversation, this article examines a small sample of student essays, which were written in a context where students who failed on their first attempt could resubmit their work after academic literacy intervention and re-writing. The graded essays provide an opportunity to observe how tutors engage with comment banks and general comments, and how students engage with feedback. They also reveal which linguistic strata are the most important for improving grades. The article shows that tutors’ Grademark comments on students’ first submissions are predominantly aimed at low level linguistic accuracy categories. It also shows that addressing linguistic higher order categories of structure and organisation moves student grades from fails to passes or credits. I then discuss ways to work collaboratively with discipline based academics to use Grademark feedback effectively for improving student writing. Specifically, I consider creating comment banks to address higher order language issues since addressing these issues is shown to immediately raise student grades, and creating resources for use before assessments to prevent many of the language accuracy errors.

Author Biography

Caroline Henderson-Brooks, University of Western Sydney

Dr Caroline Henderson-Brooks BSc BA (Hons) PhD Learning Adviser (Academic Literacy) Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education)




How to Cite

Henderson-Brooks, C. (2016). Grademark: Friend or foe of academic literacy?. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 10(1), A179-A190. Retrieved from