Reimagining the Grading Contract to “Ungrade” with Prof. Eidum

Reimagining the Grading Contract to “Ungrade” with Prof. Eidum

We are thankful this week on Progressive Pedagogy to have Professor Jennifer Eidum (EYE-dum), Assistant Professor of English at Elon University, North Carolina share her collected resources on reimagining the grading contract to move towards “ungrading.” Professor Eidum’s teaching focuses on first-year writing, teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), and sociolinguistics. She uses ungrading in all her courses but has found this practice to be particularly helpful in first-year writing courses. She has published and presented research on integrative and experiential learning, faculty involvement in residential learning communities, and pedagogies supporting language diversity. Professor Eidum grew up in Montana and has lived in several cities abroad, including Aberystwyth, Wales, UK; Pervomais’k, Ukraine (as a Peace Corps Volunteer); and Budapest, Hungary.

Professor Eidum writes: “For me, student learning is my priority. I would say I’ve been a successful teacher if every student in my class earns an A: that means they’ve engaged with the class in a way that they are excited to participate and work to the best of their ability to master the essential class materials. By positioning myself as a coach in the classroom, my focus is on how to help the students who are in my class develop the knowledge, skills, and ability to use resources to meet the expectations of the class. Working together, we can find creative solutions that end with students’ success. This has revolutionized my attitude to teaching: I rarely resent students or dread grading. In addition, my classroom has become more antiracist and equitable, rewarding ideas, innovation, and commitment over performing academia.

The most innovative pedagogical change I’ve made in recent years has been moving away from standard grades to grading contracts/ungrading. I’d like to share a grading chart that I developed that enables me to focus on the knowledge and skills that 1) a student needs to pass the class, and separately, 2) are hallmarks of excellent students. This chart has helped me to prioritize the parts of my class that really matter and let go of the things that don’t. The chart also serves as a form of grading contract which has shifted my role in the class from judge to coach.”

Professor Eidum’s Collected Resources

Resources on contract grading (intended for first-year writing contexts, but relevant to all)

For thinking on antiracist curriculum, demystifying and democratizing your curriculum: “Anti-racist pedagogy: from faculty’s self-reflection to organizing within and beyond the classroom” by Kyoko Kishimoto

For thinking about incremental change: “Pedagogical Too-Muchness: A Feminist Approach to Community-Based Learning, Multi-Modal Composition, Social Justice Education, And More” by Beth Godbee


Featured photo via Prof. Eidum.