Regular grading is a problem for many reasons--but most of all because it so often harms the climate for teaching and learning. In this essay we describe and explain a contract grading system that we have found extremely beneficial to teaching and learning. It's a hybrid system. Students are guaranteed a B if they do all the things laid out in the contract. The teacher gives evaluative feedback as usual, but no teacher judgment can endanger the guaranteed grade. Grades higher than B, however, depend on teacher judgments of writing quality. The central leverage lies in designing a set of activities that--if engaged in over fourteen weeks--will get all students to improve enough to deserve a B.
Elbow, Peter, "A Unilateral Grading Contract to Improve Learning and Teaching [co-written with Jane Danielewicz]" (2008). English Department Faculty Publication Series. 3.