Since I left our class on Wednesday evening, I have been think about contract grading and what it is. When I first herd someone mention that they grade using a contract grading scheme he was talking about it in the context of someone who is unable to complete all requirements of the course but still want to gain the credit for the course. The teacher discussed how he entered into a grading contract which extended deadlines as well as relaxed some of the constraints of the course. Upon hearing I assumed that what a grading contract was an agreement between the teacher and learner stating what will be completed and when. The value of each assignment would be negotiated allowing more flexibility for the learner to concentrate on the things that he could accomplish given any complications.
Now for this class. We are entering into a learning contract for this class. For this contract we need to say what assignments we are planning to do to gain a mark that we are satisfied with. Where I get confused is that all assignments are given a mark where the only way to get 100 is to do all the assignments. The marks are not nogitiable and neither are the due dates. I feel that this is not any different from the standard grading system. Who is to stop me from saying that I will do all the assignments, but only do what I need to to gain a passing grade. Are there any reprocussions for not satisfying the contract. What if I only say that I will do only 80% of the assignments, but complete 95%. Is there encentives to go beyone the contract.
I must be missing something because as I understand it, this learning contract is no different then the standard grading scheme with the exception that it is called a grading contract.
This is my second U.P.E.I. course where the professor decided to use “Contract Grading”. I like the idea of “Contract Grading”, but it’s hard to determine how much work is required for each assignment and how much time will be required to complete each assignment. I like the fact that we can select a grade level goal at the beginning and have the option of lowering our grade level goal during the course if we don’t think the grade is obtainable for us.
For me, it would be easier if assignments were given a percentage and an exact due date on the course syllabus or if we could receive a copy of the grading spreadsheet. I’m finding trying to follow the course syllabus without the grading spreadsheet a little confusing. At this point, I’ll be striving to complete all the assignments.
I enjoyed our first class. I’m a hands on learner and I’m glad that we were able to jump right in and start without spending a lot of time on background information on system setups, networks and software programs. I don’t think it is necessary to know everything about something in order to utilize it fully and have it meet your needs. While I’ve owned several cars and drive one every day for years, I don’t know anything about their internal working or structure.
I’m interested to see what direction I can take our classroom project. My organization doesn’t utilize technology to its full capacity partially due to lack of resources and trained staff. I’m also very interested in the group document. If this document turns out well, it may be something that can be utilized by my workplace. Since I work in human resources, I will be looking for things that I can take back to my workplace. Since my organization is in the process of restructuring, I think it will be necessary for us to embrace technology and move away from paper documents in favour of electronic information.
On a personal note, I want to thank Wanda for bringing up the discussion regarding our class time. Having class from 6 – 9, works much better for me and enables me to balance family, work and class.
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!!!