Contract Grading & Peer Evaluation

Evaluation Method:

You determine your grade for this course by fulfilling a contract that spells out in advance the requirements as well as the penalties for not fulfilling the terms of your contract.

Peer evaluation comes in when students charged with leading a unit assess how well their classmates fulfill the assignment they give them.   All assignments are graded as either Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U). In rare instances, students may assign a grade of Exceptional (S+) if they feel the work really excels well beyond expectations. Peer leaders for the given unit will work with the other students in PUB802 giving feedback to each student and working to achieve an “S” grade.   If  student fails to submit an assignment or does not submit a satisfactory revision after being given careful feedback, the peer leader will record a “U” grade for that assignment.   (The same method will work on assignments graded by the professor.)

Every student will be in a position of peer-grader (working two students at a time) once this semester.  Giving and receiving feedback is one of the ways in which we learn together, and it is also one of the most valuable life skills you can take away from this course.

CONTRACT GRADING:

The advantage of contract grading is that you, the student, decide how much work you wish to do this semester; if you complete that work on time and satisfactorily, you will receive the grade for which you contracted.  This means planning ahead, thinking about all of your obligations and responsibilities this semester and also determining what grade you want or need in this course.   The advantage of contract grading to the professor is no special pleading on the students part. If you complete the work you contracted for, you get the grade. Done. I respect the student who only needs a C, who has other obligations that preclude doing all of the requirements to earn an A in the course, and who contracts for the C and carries out the contract perfectly.   (This is another one of those major life skills:  taking responsibility for your own workflow.)

GRADE CALCULATING:

On January 15 (our second class session), each student will sign, with a classmate as a witness, a contract for a grade.  I will countersign and we will each keep a copy of your contract. In addition, the assignments will be entered into canvas for you to keep track of what your recorded grades have been. All requirements and penalties for each grade are spelled out below.

There are only two grades for any assignment (well, technically three).  Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory. Satisfactory is full credit.  Unsatisfactory (poor quality, late, or not submitted) is no credit.  At the end of the course, we tally.   If you fail to do a contracted assignment or your peers do not deem your work satisfactory, you will receive the grade penalty spelled out in the contract. Exceptional grades should be, as the name suggests, exceptional, but the instructor will consider boosting the final mark above the contracted letter for students who have received exceptional grades.

Peers (details below) who are in charge of leading a class unit will determine if the assignment they choose choose (blog post or similar) are satisfactory.  If not, they will give extensive and thoughtful feedback for improvement with the aim of collaborating toward Satisfactory work.   The goal is for everyone to produce satisfactory work, and the peer leaders will work with students to achieve that goal.

COMPONENTS OF YOUR GRADE:

(1) CLASS ATTENDANCE/PARTICIPATION (includes reading/viewing/listening to all assignments)

Class attendance is required.   If you contract for an A in the course, you may miss at most one class (and the corresponding blog post) without an official (doctor or pre-approved) excuse.

Penalty:  If you have more than one unexcused absences, your grade for the entire class automatically will drop 0.5.  If you miss two classes, it will drop 1.0, and so on.

Excused absence requires a doctors note or equivalent. If you are missing for a non-medical/emergency reason, you have to have approval in advance and, at that time, state your plan for making up the missed work. You are still responsible for the readings and filing the weekly assignment.

(2) PARTICIPATION IN ONLINE ANNOTATIONS

In this course we will use an online annotation tool, Hypothes.is. This tool serves several purposes, most of which help you learn. At the very least, they will shine a light on how each of you does critical reading. (We will talk about this more in class).

To participate online, install the Hypothes.is Chrome Extension or bookmarklet and join this group. Then start making annotations (you’re encouraged to add tags as appropriate).

Penalty: If you miss or make unsatisfactory annotations more than two weeks over the course of the semester, your grade will automatically drop by 0.5.  If you miss or make unsatisfactory annotations four weeks over the course of the semester, it will drop by 1.0, and so on.

Good participation (both online and in-class) includes (but is not limited to): inserting new ideas for discussion, responding to other’s ideas, posing questions, highlighting interesting passages, explaining a tricky concept, offering an informed opinion, and bringing in additional resources.

(3) WEEKLY BLOG OR EQUIVALENT WRITING OR OTHER-MEDIA ASSIGNMENT, 400-500 words

Think of this as an evolving research paper.  It has the same importance and weight and seriousness.   It will be on our class WordPress site, visible to all (although you may choose to password protect your post with a password we will agree upon as a class). There will be a comments section where you will receive public feedback from the professor, any of the other students, and the two or three students leading and assessing that particular unit.

Blogs must be completed within a week of the class session in which they were assigned.  All students are required to read the blogs by their classmates on a regular basis and are encouraged to comment in writing as well as in class discussion.   Blogs are substantive, should use secondary sources where appropriate, and can use video, sound, images, animation as well as text.

Penalty: If you are late and/or miss more than two blogs over the course of the semester, your grade will automatically drop by 0.5.  If you miss or are late for four, it will drop by 1.0 and so on.

(4) COLLABORATIVE, PEER-LED UNIT ON A SELECTED TOPIC
Students will work in teams of two and will be responsible for a unit of work that will occupy us for one, or sometimes (when there is a visitor or an event) two class sessions. Typically, students will make a presentation, guide a reading, and lead us in an exercise that helps us explore the chosen topic. NO TALKING HEADS PLEASE! Think of ways to make your presentation as interactive, engaged, thoughtful, and inspiring as possible.

Prof. Alperin will lead the first unit.

For peer-led sessions:

Begin by settling on a reading assignment for the class.  You may consult with Prof. Alperin who may already have some suggested readings for your chosen topic, or you can identify articles, websites, videos, podcasts, or anything else.  All readings must be posted on the course syllabus a week in advance of your class. You can expect all your classmates to read and annotate your chosen readings by the time they come into the classroom.

You will construct a class presentation that is as interactive as you can make it.
You will also make some kind of writing/other media assignment, a 400-500 word blog or some equivalent. This could be a question prompt, a topic to be explored, or any other assignment.

You will be responsible for reading all of the blogs (or the alternative assignments) by your peers and writing substantive feedback on each one, viewable by all in the class.
You will file the S or U grade for each students work with the instructor.  If a student receives a U, it is your responsibility to offer constructive feedback and an opportunity for the student to turn that into a Satisfactory piece of work.

After or before your session, post your lesson plan on the  public syllabus to document what you did as a peer leader and to serve as a model to others who might be following this class and learning from what we learn, as we learn.

You will fulfill your contract only if you do all of these.  Penalty:   Failure to do so will result in an automatic 0.5 deduction from the total course grade.

(5) PUBLIC CONTRIBUTION TO KNOWLEDGE   
Each student is required to make one substantive contributions to a significant public resource such as Wikipedia.  Another option is to write out a detailed comment on a major blog or media outlet. If you would like your public contribution go in a different direction, please talk to the instructor to confirm acceptability.  You will also reblog on the class website.

Wikipedia is one of the most successful crowd-sourced projects of all time. It is a terrific resource, but it could be better at being inclusive (to put it nicely). Get first-hand experience at making a significant contribution to a topic of your choice (preferably related to the course content). Make edits/additions to a page on Wikipedia and then summarize the page in a short presentation in class.

Penalty:  Failure to make this public contributions will result in an automatic 0.5 deduction from the total course grade.

(6) FINAL ESSAY REFLECTION ON YOUR LEARNING

Each student will write a final essay (approximately 500-750 words) that outlines their experience in the course, and the ways in which their thinking about the roles of technologies in publishing, and in our lives, has changed as a result. Students can focus on a single takeaway, on several, or discuss the course as a whole. The takeaway need not be about a specific piece of knowledge, but rather about the experience as a whole.

Penalty:  Failure to make this public contributions will result in an automatic 0.5 deduction from the total course grade.

CONTRACT:   By signing this contract for an A in PUB802, I agree to all of the terms above.
Your name:  ____________________________   Signature: _________________________
Date:_______________________________
Witness name:_____________________________   Witness Signature:
Date:
Co-signed by Professor Juan Pablo Alperin __________________________
Date:______________________


CONTRACT:   By signing this contract for an B in PUB802, I agree to all of the terms above. You may miss up to 2 classes and miss annotating up to 4 times. Item 6 does not need to be turned in.
Your name:  ____________________________   Signature: _________________________
Date:_______________________________
Witness name:_____________________________   Witness Signature:
Date:
Co-signed by Professor Juan Pablo Alperin __________________________
Date:______________________


CONTRACT:   By signing this contract for an C in PUB802, I agree to all of the terms above. You may miss up to 3 classes and miss annotating up to 6 times.

Your name:  ____________________________   Signature: _________________________
Date:_______________________________
Witness name:_____________________________   Witness Signature:
Date:
Co-signed by Professor Juan Pablo Alperin __________________________
Date:______________________


This explanation of contract grading is based on the following work:

Davidson, Cathy. 2015, August 16. Getting Started 6: Contract Grading and Peer Review. HASTAC. Available at https://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2015/08/16/getting-started-6-contract-grading-and-peer-review