Contract Grading Blog #4

I took a course a couple of years ago that used a grading contract. It was pretty cut and dry:

You do this much and you get a 70% to 80%.

You do this much, plus some other stuff and you get between a 80% and 90%.

You do this much, plus some other stuff, with the addition of an additional bucket load more, you receive between 90% and 100%.

It was the summertime and to me, a grade is just a number so I decided for middle of the road. I thought it was a cool way of doing things and was pleased with the end result.

Today’s contract negotiations were quite different than my previous learning contract due to the flexibility of the assignments and the given weight of each. I am glad that we all got together and made some decisions. Like many others in the class, I require some specific goals/targets before starting any project. Today’s class helped solidify most of those things for me, with the exception of the complex explainer. For some reason I still cant wrap my head around that one, but that’s OK because I will make up for it somewhere else in my contract.

The reading mentioned “student buy in” and in my opinion, this is huge. It is something that I focus on in my classroom. I am flexible with most things and enjoy facilitating student learning. This approach allows me to give students some say in how we approach a project or course. It has been my experience that when students “buy into” the idea, whatever the topic may be, the end result is far greater than if I was to lead the group. I must admit that it has not always worked out that way, but when it works out, its a great experience for everyone involved.

I feel that with greater flexibility comes greater challenges. Today’s class was a good example of a group of students hashing it out trying to create something that worked well for everyone. I actually thought it went rather well. I think my good night sleep was a contributing factor.

2 thoughts on “Contract Grading Blog #4”

  1. I had to giggle at your description of your previous course. If you read my post, I’m assuming we were talking about the same class and if so, our approaches were vastly different.

    I think it’s a good point you brought up about “buy in” being key. In my line of work we call it “building rapport”, but it’s basically the same thing. Largely it boils down to the human element of relateability. (< I'm not sure that's a word, but I'm going with it.) It's a huge plus if teachers or in my case youth workers can relate to their students. We all remember boring teachers whose class we dreaded. Luckily for us I don't find our Ed/CAE courses like that at all.

    However I'm with you on the troubles deciphering what to do for the complex problem stuff. But that'll have to take a back seat til next week.


  2. I agree for sure that greater flexibility brings greater challenges. I’m sure the challenges are better dealt with if, as you say, the students buy in to the concept of contract grading. And I would say the instructor has to buy in as well because I can’t imagine trying to mediate this type of thing unless you firmly believed in it.

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