Date of Award

Summer 8-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Michelle Fowler-Amato

Committee Member

Kristi M. Costello

Committee Member

Kevin E. DePew


Drawing on qualitative methods, I engaged in a practitioner inquiry (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009) to investigate the use of contract grading to promote educational freedom (hooks, 2009; Love, 2020) in the post-secondary writing classroom. In addition, I explored the potential of this practice in the secondary English language arts setting.

To better understand the perspectives of both post-secondary writing instructors and secondary English teachers on the use of grading contracts, I conducted focus groups and engaged in artifact analysis (Billups, 2019). Results showed that post-secondary instructors who utilized grading contracts in their classroom saw changes primarily in their students’ engagement and communication compared to what they experienced when engaging in traditional grading practices. While secondary teachers appreciated the transparency that grading contracts promoted, they believed that any changes to their current grading practices would not deter their students from seeking motivation from grades, but rather would leave them feeling uneasy in their attempts to navigate a new system. Using the data derived from these results, I provided commentary on the necessity of professional learning within this conversation, as well as a discussion of future research that is necessary to better understand the potential of ungrading in the secondary English language arts class.


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