Blog on Contract Grading

Prior to our first class, I viewed all the links that Dave posted and found the words, contract grading. I said to myself, “Contract grading, what is contract grading?” So I did my usual thing, “google it” and that is where I found out a little bit more on the topic. Don’t dare tell anyone from my MBA program, especially my professors that I uttered those words, “google it”. Contract Grading is a form of grading which results from an instructor to student cooperation, and entails contracted number of assignments of specified quality that correspond to specific letter grades. I then sat back and tried to think about how contact grading would go over with my students. I thought it may be threatening to my students as they have just come out of high school and have relied on structured grading processes. In my Computerized Accounting course, students anxiety is already high when they began the course as they hear the word accounting and immediately, get anxious or nervous about what is to come. The course requires them to attend each lab session as they do not have access to QuickBooks at home so this freedom will not set them up for success in the final project that they have to complete which is worth 30% of their grade.

After reflecting upon Contract Grading I decided to take a look at what the academic literature stated on this. In our MBA program the words, Evidence Based Management (EBM) is drilled into our heads from the day we walk into orientation from the day we walk across the stage at graduation. EBM is using the best evidence in management decision making. It stems from evidence based medicine, to apply the scientific method to medical practice. Would you want a doctor operating on you if they did not take a look at all the research in to that medical procedure that you are having done prior to opening you up? The same thing should apply to everything, if there is no evidence to back it up, don’t use it. After some reading, I found that I am in control of my own grade and that I would be competition with myself to obtain a grade that is deemed satisfactory to me. I can see how this is effective for adult learners, I am in drivers seat of my own grade.

In an paper that I read it stated, “Contract grading affected student performance no differently than didthe conventional method of grading.This conclusion leads to the possibilitythat the study was over-designed to the extent that it can be argued that both groups received almost the same treatment therefore no differences could have been expected.” (Newcombe, 1974.)

Contract grading for me has just set my mind to what I am going to strive for and has motivated me to attain that grade. I am looking forward to learning more about technology and how to apply it in my classroom!!!


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4 thoughts on “Blog on Contract Grading

  1. Hey there,

    Nice to see you digging into the research. I’m not quite as convinced as you are regarding EBM, but it sure does have its place. I went straight to the research (see the blog post i wrote summarizing some of it) when i was designing the contract for this course. I’m also sensitive to the narrative experiences of trusted colleagues, which can sometimes complete the evidence picture. I have found that in the social sciences (and in medicine for that matter) that evidence is only as good as the researchers, the design, and, furthermore, some concepts are complex and resist many research methods.

    Thanks for getting your blog post up. Wonderful to have someone kick things off. See you Wednesday!

  2. I did a special needs class with Greg McKenna. Greg used contract grading and I think the class really like the concept. The only negative I found was that the time required to achieve a mark over 90% was extremely time consuming and seemed almost impossible to complete from a student’s view.

    No one in our class or in any of his classes up to ours opted to try for a grade above 90%. I’m not a fan of any grading system where there is no possibility of achieving 100%.

  3. It seems to me that one would need to strive for over the 75% mark and less than 100% to be anywhere near the ballpark. To reach for 75% only, risks not making it and to try for 100% seems like an impossibility given the time involved. As a rather obnoxious businessman used to say after a comment “Or am I wrong?” Of course no one dared to say, “Yes, you’re wrong. In my case you may make that call.

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