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Labor-based Grading

(Adapted from Asao B. Inoue's Labor-Based Grading Contracts)

The default grade for the course is a “B”. In a nutshell, if you do all that is asked of you in the manner and spirit it is asked, if you work through the processes we establish and the work we assign ourselves in the labor instructions during the semester, if you do all the labor asked of you, then you’ll get a “B” course grade. It will not matter what I or your colleagues think of your writing, only that you are following the assignment's instructions and listening to our feedback compassionately. We may disagree or misunderstand your writing, but if you put in the labor, you are guaranteed a B course grade. If you miss class (do not participate fully), turn in assignments late, forget to do  assignments, or do not follow the labor instructions precisely, you will get a lower course grade (see the final breakdown grade table near the end of this contract).



You are guaranteed a course grade of “B” if you meet all of the following


1. Participation. You agree to fully participate in at least 88.6% (39 of

44) of our scheduled class sessions and their activities and assignments,

which means you will need to be present in class, as most activities

cannot be done before or after class and require your colleagues

to compete. So, you cannot miss more than 5 class sessions. Attendance in class does not always equate to participation.


NOTE: Assignments not turned in because of an absence, either ones assigned on the schedule or ones assigned on earlier days in class, will be late, missed, or ignored (depending on when you turn it in finally, see the Guidelines #4, #5, and #6 below).


Any absence due to a university-sponsored group activity (e.g., sporting event, band, another class field trip, etc.), military-related absences (e.g., deployment, work, duty, etc.), or documented, extenuating circumstance will be considered independently of the above attendance policy, as long as the student has FIRST provided written documentation as soon as they are aware of the days they will be absent. This will allow us to determine how they will meet assignments and our contract, despite being absent. Each of these circumstances will be determined on a case-by-case basis in consultation between the student and me (Ryan) in a manner that is fair to all parties involved.

2. Lateness. You agree to come on time or early to class. Walking into

class late 1-2 times in a semester is understandable.


3. Sharing and Collaboration. You agree to work cooperatively and

collegially in groups.


4. Late/Incomplete Work. You agree to turn in properly and on time all

work and assignments expected of you in the spirit they are assigned,

which means you’ll complete all of the labor instructions for each

assignment. During the semester, you may, however, turn in a few

assignments late. The exact number of those late assignments is stipulated

in the table on the last page of this contract. Late or incomplete work is defined as any work or document due that is turned in AFTER the due date/time BUT within 48 hours of the deadline. For example, if some work (say a written reflective piece) was due on Thursday, February 15 at 11:59 pm, that piece must be turned in by 11:59 pm on Saturday the 17th.


5. Missed Work. If you turn in late work AFTER the 48 hours stipulated

in Late/Incomplete Work, then it will be considered “missed work,”

which is a more serious mark against your grading contract. This is

due to the fact that all assignments are used in class when they are due,

so turning in something beyond 48 hours after it is due means it is assured

to be less useful.


6. Ignored Work. You agree not to ignore any work expected of you.

Ignored work is any work unaccounted for in the semester—that is,

I have no record of you doing it or turning it in. My sense is that

ignoring the work so crucial to one’s development as a learner in our

community is unacceptable, so accumulating any “ignored

work” will keep you from meeting our contract expectations (see table

in Breakdown of the Main Components Section).


7. All Work/Labor and writing needs to meet the following conditions:


Complete and On Time. You agree to turn in on time and in the

appropriate manner complete essays, writing, or other labor assigned

that meet all of our agreed upon expectations. (See Late/

Incomplete Work for details on late assignments). This means you’ll

be honest about completing labor that asks particular time commitments

of you (for example, “write for 20 minutes,” etc.).


Revisions. When the job is to revise your thinking and work,

you will reshape, extend, complicate, or substantially clarify your ideas—or relate your ideas to new things. You won’t just correct or touch up. Revisions must somehow respond to or consider seriously your colleagues’ assessments in order to be revisions.


Copy Editing. When the job is for the final publication of a draft, your work must be well copy edited—that is, you must spend significant time in your labor process to look just at spelling and grammar. It’s fine to get help in copy editing. (Copy editing doesn’t count on first drafts).



This system is better than regular grading for giving you a clear idea of what your final grade looks like at any moment. If you are doing everything as directed and turning things in on time (no matter what anyone says), you’re getting a B. As for participation in class, you’ll have to keep track of it, but you can check with me at any time. I’ll tell you what I have recorded.



The grade of B depends primarily on behavior and labor. Have you shown

responsible effort and consistency in our class? Have you done what was asked of you in the spirit it was asked? Higher grades than the default, the grades of B+, A-, and A, however, require more labor that helps or supports the class in its mutual discussions and examinations of rhetoric or the concepts of research, information literacy, and games. In order to raise your grade, you may complete as many of the following items of labor as you like (doing three gets you an A). Each item completed fully and in the appropriate manner will raise your final course grade by half a letter grade. The first item (Extra Writing Activities) may be done twice, each set counting as a separate labor.

Extra Writing Activities (2 total or 4 total): At particular times in the

semester, you will be able to complete extra writing assignments beyond the major and shortstack assignments. You must complete a total of two of these extra ones in order for this to count as enough extra labor for the course grade bump. Each extra response is due the day we have scheduled to discuss those readings.


• Labor Journal Essay (2 total): At weeks 7 and 14, you may write an

essay that looks back at your labor journal entries as a record of your

labors toward learning in this class. This essay will be about 3-4 pages

long and be written directly to me (Ryan), but the class likely will read

them too in order to learn from your own discussion of your learning.


• A Bigger Project (1 total): For each project we do, you can opt to do more

labor on it at each phase of invention, research, drafting, and revision.

This mostly means more research and sources incorporated into the

culminating artifact, and the related documents that help you build

your drafts, such as our annotated bibliographies, which we will do

before the project is drafted.


• A Tutorial or Curation of Resources (1 total): In addition to the scholarly research we’ll undertake this semester, we’ll also be learning a lot together about the various tools we’ll use. Labor that benefits the class and our mutual learning of rhetoric, language diversity, and academic writing certainly warrants a higher reward. For this, you might develop a tutorial for a particular platform in order to help newcomers get quickly acclimated or a curated collection of resources on a particular platform from a variety of source types and genres. The main elements of your labor will be to produce: (1) a 1-2 page handout (can be digital) for the class’s benefit in our writing and thinking; (2) some outline for our in-class activity that introduces your handout; and (3) a short reflective essay to me (Ryan) of about 1-2 pages (300-600 words) on what you learned in the process of doing this labor and what you feel the class stands to gain from the lesson you offered us.


Thus, for every item you complete on the above list, your contracted grade

will improve by half a letter grade.


So if you meet the conditions for a B-contract, then your grade can improve in the following ways:

• 1 item completed = course grade of B+

• 2 items completed = course grade of A-

• 3 items completed = course grade of A


If you are working toward a C-contract or lower, the same movement

up the grade latter applies by completing 1-3 items on the list above. You may

even do more than three items and continue to raise your grade per item.

Your course grade, then, equates to a C, C+, B-, B, respectively.



Below is a table that shows the main components that affect your successful

compliance with our contract.


                  # non-Partic Days      # of Late Assigns.       # of Missed Assigns.         #of Ignored Assigns.

     A             5                       5                           1                               0

     B             5                       5                           1                               0

     C             6                       6                          2                               0

     F             7+                      7+                         3+                             1+




I (Ryan), as the administrator of our contract, will decide in

consultation with the student whether a gimme is warranted in any case. The

student must come to me (Ryan House) as soon as possible, usually before the student is unable to meet the contract (before breaching the contract), in order that they and I can make fair and equitable arrangements, ones that will be fair and equitable to all in the class and still meet the university’s regulations on attendance, conduct, and workload in classes. You may use a gimme for any reason, but only once in the semester. Please keep in mind that the contract is a public, social contract, one agreed upon through group discussion and negotiation, so my job is to make sure that whatever agreement we come to about a plea will not be unfair to others in class. A gimmie/plea does not allow you to ignore any work expected of everyone in the class. A plea is NOT an “out clause” for anyone who happens to not fulfill the contract in some way; it is for rare and unusual circumstances out of the control of the student.


Exemplary labor.

If by our final meeting, you miss no classes (participate in all activities), have no late, missed, or ignored assignments, and do not use a gimme, then you will earn an extra half letter grade (equal to one item on the advanced contract) to your final course grade. This rule is meant to reward those students who engage in all the labor of the course in the fullest spirit asked of them and demonstrate themselves to be exemplary class citizens.


By staying in this course and attending class, you accept this contract and

agree to abide by it. I (Ryan) also agree to abide by the contract, and administer it fairly and equitably.

Class Policies: Grading Contract
Class Policies: Other



Students should maintain professionalism in any and all communications made to the instructor and/or fellow students. I reserve the right to request revision of any email that lacks a proper salutation, correct grammar and punctuation, professional tone, or proper signature before addressing any questions or concerns it may have posed.



Accommodations and services are determined by the ARC counselor and the student through an interactive, individual process with consideration given to the disability documentation, past history, functional limitations, and student self-report.


Accommodations are listed on the Accommodation Plan which the student is expected to share with each instructor. It is recommended that the student meet with each instructor during their office hours to share the accommodation plan and discuss the accommodations needed for each class. The accommodation plan is updated each semester.


Academic Integrity:

UWM expects each student to be honest in academic performance. Failure to do so may result in discipline under rules published by the Board of Regents (UWS 14) and the UWM implementation provisions (Faculty Document 1686). Academic misconduct is an act in which a student seeks to claim credit for the work or efforts of another without authorization or citation, uses unauthorized materials or fabricated data in any academic exercise, forges or falsifies academic documents or records, intentionally impedes or damages the academic work of others, engages in conduct aimed at making false representation of a student’s academic performance, or assists other students in any of these acts. The most common forms of academic dishonesty are cheating and plagiarism.

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