BLOGS. The final frontier. These are the journals of fellow student, John Arsenault. An eight week journey of exploration to seek out new technologies for applications to the Adult Learner. To boldly go where most teenagers have gone before.
On a more serious note, although I have taken a few courses where this method of grading was offered, I have to admit that I never really put too much thought into the process until now. All I knew was that this method was very appealing to me, because it meant I could negotiate for the grade which was acceptable to me and allowed me more time to focus on my own teaching obligations.
As with everything else, there are pros and cons to any grading system we use. James B Wehrley listed a few advantages in his article ” Contract-Based Grading: Innovation In the Classroom Through Creative Grading ” to using this method of grading. He included student ownership, flexibility for students, a positive attitude towards the course or teacher and the elimination of late work or make up work, as a few advantages. I would tend to agree that these are all possible positive outcomes, however, as I try to imagine how my learners in the trades would respond to this method of grading, I am not totally convinced that I would see much improvement in their grades. Contrarily, I think for a few, if not the majority, their grades would actually decrease because they would undoubtedly take the easy way out and do the bare minimum.
Having said that, individuals which are motivated to excel, as is the case, I believe, with most adult learners, these points would probably encourage motivation and increase interest in learning.
There are a number of disadvantages also suggested in Wehrley’s article. One which was actually surprising to me at first, which after thinking about it a little is not so surprising, is the increased administration burden to the instructor. I thought that implementing this system should have actually made it easier for the instructor because he would already know what the student was expecting for a final grade anyway. However, the negotiation of contracts for each student, monitoring their progress and keeping track of each individual agreement would require great organizational skills and discipline and gets harder as the class size increases.
As I mentioned earlier, I like this system for myself as a student and therefore I will definitely explore any opportunities to implement it in my own classroom and see how my learners perform.