This class uses contract grading, which is a different grading system than traditional holistic grading methods you are likely familiar with.
Instead of assigning a grade for each assignment based on a rubric and then totaling those grades at the end of the semester, I assign semester grades based on the total amount of work you do over the semester. The more work you do, the higher the grade.
Contract grading is based on the theory that the more work you do, the better writer you will become. Contract grading thus privileges effort and labor over ideas of quality.
Therefore I’ll assign you a semester grade based on the quantity NOT the quality of your work. There are several pros and cons to this style of grading:
• Protection for students: Since I am only grading based on the amount of work you’ve done, I can’t punish you for writing something I disagree with. This lets you take risks with your writing that you might not feel comfortable taking otherwise. You can also tackle more ambitious assignments, knowing that if you fail, you won’t be punished.
• Clearer standards: Since you know how much work it takes to get each grade, you won’t be surprised based on my assessment of your work.
• Level playing field: Since only the total amount of work you do determines your grade, everyone is on the same playing field. I won’t reward or punish students based on what they learned or didn’t learn before entering the class. I am only grading based on how much work you do in this class.
• Focus on improvement: Since you are graded on the work you put in, not the finished product, the focus is on improving as a writer. The more you writer, the better you are likely to get.
• Freedom to do less: Since the work you do determines your grade, you are free to do less work for a lower grade and focus on activities that matter more to you. For instance if you only need a B for this class, you can feel comfortable doing less and focusing more on other classes or your job while still knowing you will still get the grade you need.
• Less effort: Without the threat of a low grade on individual assignments, some students might not try as hard as they would in a traditional, rubric-based grading system.
Each grade (A, B, C, and D) will be awarded according to a prearranged contract. The contract for each grade lists the amount of work you must complete.
The contracts are non-negotiable. You cannot mix and match different assignments to create your own contract. You either do all the work on the contract, or you don’t, in which case you earn a lower grade. The lower grade will be the highest contract you have done all the work for.
As long as you do all the work, however, you’ll earn the grade you have contracted for.
I am aware that some students might not put in maximum effort without the threat of a bad grade. Therefore each assignment will be assessed on a pass / fail basis. If it passes, it will count toward the contract. If it fails, it will not.
To pass each assignment, the work must:
• Be on time
• Meet the minimum word count
• Be original work
• Follow the assignment prompt
• Attempt to apply lessons from class
• Respond to previous feedback (If applicable)
I will not negotiate on the first three points. If an assignment is late, short, or includes unoriginal work (plagiarism), I will not count it.
If I feel the work does not respond to the prompt or that it does not attempt to apply our lessons or respond to previous feedback, I will give you a chance to point to specific areas in the assignment where you address the prompt or apply lessons or show how you responded to feedback. If you can’t, the work will not count towards your final grade.
All students must write and sign a contract listing the grade contracted for, the amount of work necessary for each grade, and the stipulations of each grade. Each contract must be signed and approved by me as well. I will not assign grades without completed contracts.
If students break the signed contract, whether through late work, plagiarized work, too short work, or any of the other stipulations, I will assign students the highest grade of the contract they completed in its entirety, not counting the unaccepted work.
In return for your effort, I promise to give you frequent written feedback and be available to answer your questions in office hours.