Red Pen Stigma

Remember when you were a kid, and it was time to get your exam back? This was a much anticipated event in my life as a younger student. I always wanted to see less red ink on my paper, meaning I did well on my assignment, quiz, or test. I hated the negative emotions I felt when my paper was slashed with red writing. I felt like a failure, but it also pushed me to do better the next time. The red ink-induced feeling that arose in me was confirmed by a study showing teachers that grade with red pen versus blue pen can not only upset students, but disrupt student learning and investment in the course. 


Another study in 2008 published in the European Journal of Social Psychology  suggested that teachers grading in red pen tend to identify even more issues on student assignments, marking them negatively compared to grading in blue ink. Thus, even picking up a red pen compared to another color can lead to more negative marks. Before teaching my first classroom of students in 2011, I had already learned about the implications of pen color when grading. My favorite pens to grade with became the assorted Paper Mate Flair pens. I rarely ever used red pen and honestly only did so when I lost the other ones, which occurred once or twice. 

So what are your thoughts? Ban red pens or keep them? Tell me your views on it. 

Check out these other articles regarding the effects of colors on performance:

Blue or Red? Exploring the Effect of Color on Cognitive Task Performances


Colors May Affect Performance, Study Suggests


Effect of Colors: Blue Boosts Creativity, While Red Enhances Attention to Detail

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