Grading Contract – Revised for Spring 2019


This course uses a form of grading called contract grading. There are no points or letter grades in this course, aside from the final letter grade you earn at the end. The premise of contract grading is that if you do the work required to earn a B, you will see enormous gains in your learning. Traditional grading systems encourage students to work for “points,” as if learning were a game whose goal was to get a certain grade. Contract grading redirects your focus on the process of learning.

To Pass

There are a few things I expect of everyone who passes my class. I expect you to attend class regularly (no more than 3 absences for the semester), complete all essays and most of your other work, and submit a passing essay at the end of the semester that shows your learning. You must meet the assignment deadlines within reason; it is not an option to just turn in your work at the very end. If you are missing classes and behind in your work, please stay in touch with me about your chances of passing the course.

To pass, I also expect you to possess enough fluency in English to comprehend college-level texts and to express yourself clearly in writing. I do allow and encourage you to revise essays that are not up to standard, and I’m happy to help you with these revisions. However, if after revising with my help, your work is still not meeting the standards, you will not pass the class.

To Earn a B

You will earn a B in this class if you:

1. Attend class regularly—not missing more than two classes over the course of the semester.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Perfect attendance means that you can skip the final exam.

2. Complete all of the assigned work with thoughtfulness, sincere effort, and attention to detail. If you wish to earn a B, I ask you to read the assigned readings with care, rather than skim reading at the last minute, and annotate your readings as you read.

3. Make substantive revisions when I ask you to, which might mean starting over, rereading course texts, or rethinking your argument—not just editing or touching up. Your revisions and your work overall should show improvement over the course of the semester.

4. Be Here Now during class, which means please do not use your phone or other electronic devices during class except for educational purposes.

As you can see from above, you earn the grade of B on the basis of what you do—on your conscientious effort and participation.

To Earn An A

To earn an A, I ask that you meet the requirements for an B AND:

1.  Meet with me in person after the first essay is handed back to discuss how you can make progress on your writing.

2. Participate in the large-group discussions on a regular basis.

3. Produce writing that I judge to be of high quality.

High quality writing can be many things, but some things I am looking for include:

*strong critical thinking, including the ability to understand and respond to other views

*writing that shows critical reading and careful rereading

*ideas that are uniquely your own, not just repeated from class discussions

*taking risks in your writing (trying a new technique or a more challenging approach)

*time spent revising/ attention to detail

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