Evaluation and Grading


Because grades often cause counterproductive anxiety for both students and teachers and because they distract us from the real work of learning, this course will employ a method known as contract grading.


Your final grade for this course will be based on two things:

  1. Your work in class according to the grading contract (pg. 6 and 7)
  2. The quality of the work you include in your final portfolio



Contract grading is intended to shift your focus productively: it assures you that, if you work hard and demonstrate the professionalism necessary to fulfill the contract, you will receive a grade above what the university considers an average grade. I hope this will permit you to concentrate less on your performance on the course and more on growing as a writer and thinker.


  • To qualify for a B (83%): You must follow the contract for the entire semester by fulfilling the behaviors, activities, and practices it necessitates. Only students who have fulfilled the contract can earn higher than a B.
  • For grades higher than a B: I will evaluate only the quality of the writing and the finished products overall in the final portfolio to determine your final grade in the course. To earn an A, your projects must be of exceptional quality – i.e. ready for publication in a genre-appropriate source (undergraduate science journal, etc.). A grades can only be earned by submitting A projects.
  • For grades lower than a B: You will earn a lower course grade for not fulfilling the contract. If you have breached the contract, but the work in your final portfolio demonstrates exceptional quality, your final grade may improve up to a B- at my discretion. You are responsible for being aware of and following the contract stipulations whether I comment on them or not at the time. I will help you remain aware by notifying you periodically of minor or major breaches of contract.


ENGL105 Grading Contract to Earn a “B” (83%)

  1. Attend class and be on time for class consistently; 3 tardies = 1 absence. Being more than 20 minutes late for class without prior approval counts as an absence. More than 2 absences (without prior approval) throughout the semester is a major breach of the contract.
  2. Complete every assignment thoroughly, thoughtfully, and punctually. I expect your best effort and attention to all reading, writing, and day-to-day activities in the course. Please note that absence does not excuse you from completing any missed assignments. It is your responsibility to figure out what assignments you have missed and to work out an appropriate timeline with me for making them up.
  3. Engage actively in all in-class exercises, writing workshops, and activities. Participate intensively and diligently with your working group; slouchers will not be tolerated. Collaborate with your classmates by offering consistently thoughtful questions, reactions, feedback, and discussion related to their work and ideas. By closely engaging with your peers’ work, both you and your classmates will grow as writers, and we will all learn and benefit from a collectively engaged community.
  4. Give thoughtful peer feedback during class workshops and work faithfully with your group on other collaborative tasks (e.g., sharing papers, commenting on drafts, peer editing, on-line discussion boards, answering peer questions).
  5. Sustain effort and investment on each draft of all assignments (at least 2-3 drafts on average).
  6. Make substantive revisions when the assignment is to revise–extending or changing the thinking or the organization–not just editing or touching up. While you do not have to make every change suggested by your readers, final drafts of your assignments should show growth from original drafts and evidence of your thoughtful engagement with peer and instructor feedback.
  7. Copy-edit successfully all final revisions of main assignments until they conform to the conventions of edited American English. While we will prioritize higher-order concerns (ideas) over lower-order ones (sentence-level cosmetic issues), your attention to detail reflects your level of professionalism. The same standard for print projects applies equally to multimedia projects.
  8. Attend 1 scheduled conference with me during each unit to discuss drafts at the end of each unit. Office hours are the primary way (as opposed to written comments) that you will get my feedback on your work, so come early and often, and feel free to meet with me at any stage of the writing process.
  9. Submit a complete final portfolio with an introductory cover letter and final versions of your unit projects.


Final letter grades are determined based on the following scale:

A (93-100)      A- (90-92)       B+ (87-89)      B (83-86)        B- (80-82)       C+ (77-79)

C (73-76)        C- (70-72)       D+ (67-69)      D (63-66)        D- (60-62)       F (below 60)


I will use traditional rounding to determine grades that fall between whole values. Any mixed number with a decimal value of five tenths or higher will round up to the next whole number. (For example, 92.5 will round up to an A as a 93, but 92.4 will not.)