There are many ways teachers in higher education grade less or do not grade at all, and one of these methods is called “contract grading.” Contract grading is an alternative method of assessment that constitutes a student-teacher agreement for how to reach a course end grade, rather than end grades deriving from partial points or percentages accumulated throughout the term. Often times the terms of the contract are negotiated with students before the class begins. As a teacher of writing who has used contracts for 10 years, I wanted to make this page to offer instructors more resources for using/ evaluating grading contracts. The information here, I believe, is relevant for those who implement contract grading in their classrooms but is also relevant for anyone who wants to think critically about their own assessment practices. I am happy to Skype or email with anyone about contract grading, so please reach out if you have any questions. And I'd love to hear from you if you have additional suggestions for resource links.
RESOURCES FOR CONTRACT GRADING
Literature PDFs, Sample Syllabi
Professor Inoue's bank of online resources that includes sample syllabi, recent and older scholarship, and his JWA CFP for a special issue on contract grading! This is a really great space for the primary contract grading literature.
Short Essays & Presentations
Jesse Stommel, working in digital humanities and critical instructional design, has written about gradeless classrooms and the need for instructors to trust students. Find his essays here and follow him on Twitter @jessifer!
Summary of CG Literature
The scholarship on contract grading remains limited. For this project, I made an annotated bibliography to introduce folks to the primary books and articles and their arguments and contributions. I hope this helps you decide what might be useful for your purposes. [coming soon]
RESOURCES FOR ANTI-RACISM
Materials for Learning & Facilitating Dialogue
Contract grading should emerge from concerns about opportunity gaps for marginalized and underrepresented student groups. These materials are a good start for those who want to learn more about race, class, dis/ability and educational inequality. [coming soon]
Selected Slides from Campus Talks
This is a "typical" presentation I give when I visit departments and universities interested in contract grading. Learning about contract grading needs to happen in your own context to suit your specific needs and purposes, so this is merely a general overview for ideas.
A Heuristic to Compose & Revise
Developed from my dissertation research, this worksheet is a resource for understanding the many moving features of grading contracts and being intentional about their design.
CONTRACT GRADING VIDEOS & PODCASTS
Videos, Podcasts, Presentations
These resources, some theoretical and others instructional, are a great place to start if you are new to contract grading! Included here are WPA-GO's community call, conversations with scholars, and interviews with students.
Books, Articles, CFPs
These are common sources used in current conversations about contract grading. Keep in mind, contract grading has been used regularly in writing classes since the 60s.
Collecting Stories of Teachers in Higher Education Courses Who Use Contract Grading and Building Our Knowledge of Generic Features
CCC INTERCHANGES RESPONSE
Collaborating with Colleagues in an Exchange with "Dissonance and Desire" Authors, Rebecca Powell and Joyce Inman
Arguing for the Need to Study Grading Contracts Across Contexts to See the Various Ways They Live in Our Field and Writing Course [timeline]
What I Currently Do
1-1 OR SMALL GROUP MEETINGS
Happy to meet with you informally to discuss assessment, connect you to folks, share resources, or set up a grading contract. Connecting with other educators brings me joy.
CAMPUS VISITS & WORKSHOPS
Reach out if you would like me to visit your department and host a contract grading workshop or help you set up your own events, faculty courses, or professional development.
Assessment and contract grading scholarship would be more complete with you in it. I'd love to collaborate on a project or support you in getting your own research started.