Grade Contracts

Assignments and Grading

Assignments and weights:

Grading for this course follows an individualized contract style in which you contract with the instructor for what assignments will comprise your final grade. Some of your contract is made up of mandatory assignments — participation, worth 10%, and the contract itself, worth 5%. So, you need to choose what to do with 85% of your grade. This can be spread out among the following assignments in any combination you like. Choose from the list of optional assignments to build your grades in the class. Some of the assignments have fixed weights that cannot be changed (the exams and journals). Some of the contracts have variable weights that depend on how much work you want to do (the papers). You can make any combination of assignments to count toward your 85%.

Due dates and deadlines:

You must also decide what day your assignments are due, with the exception of the midterm, final, journals, and participation, which are all set on the syllabus.  Participation is tallied on the last day of class. All other assignments can be turned in on dates that you choose as long as you meet certain benchmarks. You must have 30% of your grade turned in by midterm (stated on the syllabus). This benchmark includes the contract (5%), so you must turn in assignments worth an additional 25% by the midterm. The second benchmark is two-thirds of the way through class (stated on the syllabus). You must have completed 60% of your grade by this date, so you must submit another 30% worth of assignments by this date. All work except for the final is due on the last day of class.

 

Mandatory Assignments

 

Participation and Attendance: Mandatory (weight 10%)

Attendance Policy: This class is based on a collaborative learning style in which attendance and participation are essential to the learning process. While attendance is not mandatory for the class, it certainly will affect your performance in the class. Roll will be called each class period to document your attendance. When final grades are calculated, attendance will become a factor in final decisions about borderline grades. It is your responsibility to make sure that you are on the roll book for the days that you attend

Participation: Throughout the term there will be several in-class exercises, brief writing assignments, and homework assignments. These participations will be graded on a pass-fail basis only. You will receive participation points for each exercise in which you participate. Your participation grade will be equal to whatever percentage you earned of the total possible participation points. Participation points will vary based on the nature of the assignment. While most assignments are worth one or two points, some are worth more.

Make-up Participation: Should you have a documented excused absence (as defined by school policy), you are entitled to make up lost participation points. To makeup the absence, you must write a one-page essay that reviews and analyzes one text in light of one concept we have learned in class. Texts can include films, books, fashion shows, malls, buildings, events, etc. Participations from unexcused absences cannot be made up. Makeup assignments must be approved by the instructor and must be completed within one week of the absence.

 

Contract: Mandatory (weight 5%)

You are required to turn in a completed contract specifying which variable assignments you would like to include in your portfolio and how much weight you want the assignments to be worth. Your contract grade will be dropped by one letter grade for each day it is late. You must turn in THREE copies of this contract for approval by the instructor. Once your contract is approved, you will keep one copy, the instructor will keep one copy, and one will be a working copy that you will accompany each assignment you submit. This copy will be returned to you when each assignment is graded and returned. This working copy of your contract must accompany your portfolio at the end of the semester. Your contract must be approved by the instructor. Any changes in the contract must also be approved by the instructor. You can change your contract ONCE during the semester. Note that this is a PASS FAIL ASSIGNMENT. You earn an automatic 92% for turning the contract in on time and complete. You earn an automatic 0 if you fail to meet this deadline.

 

Optional Assignments

 

Exams weight 25%) Exams are worth 25 percent each. Exam weights may not be modified. This option can be used for a midterm and/or final exam.

 

Journals (weight 15%) Your journal should include two entries per week reflecting on the issues we discuss in class. Each entry should discuss at least one class concept, which must be defined using the textbook definition and then your own words, and which must be related to something in your life. Journal entries which fail to do this will not be graded. Journal entries that are not relevant to the class will not be graded. To keep parity among students, each entry must be at least 150 words (about one handwritten page or 2/3 typed page). Journals will be graded purely on a quantitative basis: 24 = 92%; 23-21 = 85%; 20-18 = 75%; 17-15 = 65%; less than 15 = 0%. All journals must be turned in on the last day of class.

 

Essays

There are five types of essays you can write: critical, interview, autobiography, field experience, or self-improvement. The following essay assignments have variable weights depending on the page length of the assignment:
3 pages=10%; 5 pages=15%; 7 pages=20%; 10 pages=25%; 15 pages=30%. One page = 250 words.

Note: Each essay must incorporate at least 3 quotes/citations from course readings.

 

Critical Essay (Book Review; Scholarly Journal Article Review; Film Review; Television Series Review; Performance Review; Analysis of Current Event; etc.)

1. Select, read, analyze, and evaluate a text that is relevant to interpersonal communication and the issues discussed in class. Your text must be approved by your instructor. Your text may be fiction or non-fiction.

2. Write an essay (typed) in which you

a. Introduce the text by arguing for its relevance or appropriateness to the class and justifying its importance for analysis. Include a clear thesis.

b. Briefly summarize and describe the basic content of the text.

c. Analyze and critique the text in light of at least three of the critical concepts, themes, or issues we learned in class. Be sure that you

(i). Define and explain the concept that you use by quoting the textbook. Include a citation for your quote.

(ii). Explain the meaning of each concept in your own words.

3. Provide sufficient examples from your selected text to illustrate your points. Explain how your examples illustrate your concept. d. Conclude by summarizing your main points, and providing your recommendation, assessment, or judgment about the text.

Interview (You may only do one interview.)

Select a person who is willing to interview with you and arrange time(s) to meet. You must select someone who comes from a substantially different background than yours (i.e., different ethnicity, sexual orientation, race, or generation [your grandparents’s age]). Your interviewee must be approved by the instructor. Before the interview, construct a list of questions designed to evoke the person’s life experiences, world view, self-concept, and understanding of their identity as it relates to communication concepts discussed in class. Be sure to tape record AND take notes during the interview. After the interview, review your notes and your tape. Then create a narrative that discusses

(1) the history of your interviewer’s experiences with communication that reflect some of the key issues we have discussed in class, and

(2) your reflections on the experience. Your essay should include:

A. A clear thesis and introduction

B. A brief description of the person to give your audience a sense of who she is.

C. At least three relevant class concepts, issues or themes. Be sure that you

(i). Define and explain the concept that you use by quoting the textbook. Include a citation for your quote.

(ii). Explain the meaning of each concept in your own words.

(iii). Provide sufficient examples from your selected text to illustrate your points. Explain how your examples illustrate your concept.

D. A clear conclusion that includes a summary of your main points.

E. Attach to the back of your assignment your list of questions for your interview.

Communication Autobiography (you may only do one autobiography)

Write a compelling, interesting, relevant autobiography that shares your understanding of your identity as it is affected by communication patterns in your life. In your essay be sure to include:

A. A clear thesis and introduction

B. At least three relevant class concepts, issues or themes. Be sure that you

1. Define and explain the concept that you use by quoting the textbook. Include a citation for your quote.

2. Explain the meaning of each concept in your own words.

3. Provide sufficient examples from your selected text to illustrate your points. Explain how your examples illustrate your concept.

C. A clear conclusion that includes summarizes your narrative.

Field Experience (max. 5 pages) (you may only do one field experience)

Initiate a conversation with someone who is a complete stranger. The conversation should be at least 15-20 minutes and should be someone who speaks your native language fluently. Once you have had your conversation, write a paper that explains what you have observed during your conversation. Your paper should

(1) explain clearly where you were and with whom you spoke;

(2) describe the conversation fully;

(3) relate your observations during the conversation to the class lectures, discussions, and/or readings. In your essay you must include:

A. A clear thesis and introduction

B. A description of your interaction.

C. At least three relevant class concepts, issues or themes. Be sure that you

(i). Define and explain the concept that you use by quoting the textbook. Include a citation for your quote.

(ii). Explain the meaning of each concept in your own words

(iii). Provide sufficient examples from your selected text to illustrate your points. Explain how your examples illustrate your concept.

D. A clear conclusion that includes a summary of your main points.

Self Improvement Paper (max. 5 pages) (you may only do one self improvement paper)

Define and identify something about yourself that you wish to change. This should be an interpersonal behavior or skill you wish to improve upon and should be accompanied by a logical plan for altering this behavior. In your paper, you must include:

A. A clear thesis and introduction

B. At least three things to improve based on relevant class concepts, issues or themes. Be sure that you

1. Define and explain the concept that you use by quoting the textbook. Include a citation for your quote.

2. Explain the meaning of each concept in your own words

3. Provide sufficient examples from your selected text to illustrate your points. Explain how your examples illustrate your concept.

D. A step-by-step plan for how you intend to improve.

E. A clear conclusion that includes a summary of your main points.

Grading Criteria for All Written Assignments:

1. Ability to draw concepts from the reading material into your essay.

2. Ability to demonstrate understanding of concepts from course readings, lectures and discussions.

3. Significance and appropriateness of concepts chosen for discussion in the essays.

4. Fit between concepts and illustrations.

5. Specificity and amount of support material from readings, lectures and discussions to illustrate the concepts.

6. Thoughtfulness and insightfulness of arguments.

7. Coherence–ability to organize ideas and create an argument.

8. Writing mechanics.

 

Creative Project

A creative project is anything that is not a written paper. It is something that brings out your creativity and allows you to express yourself. The nature of the creative project and its weight are to be determined in consultation with instructor. For this assignment, you must include a written prospectus (due at least 30 days before your project is due) that

(a) describes the project in detail,

(b) includes a rationale for the project and its relevance to the issues and content of the course,

(c) details the criteria you want used in evaluating your grade for the project, (d) explains three course concepts and defines them using the textbook definition (be sure that you cite the page number) and then in your own words, and

(e) explains how each concept is illustrated in your project.

Creative projects can be group or individual. They must include a class presentation component presented on the last day of class. Examples of creative projects include performances, videos, mix-tape autobiographies, web pages, etc.

 

 

 

GRADE CONTRACT


 

Name  ____________________________________________

 

ID#   ____________________________________________

 

Your Signature:  _______________________________________________

 

Instructor Signature: __________________________________________

 

Assignment Weight Due Date Grade
1. Contract 5% (See syllabus) __________
2. Participation and attendance 10% (Last day of class) __________
3.______________________________ __________ __________ __________
4.______________________________ __________ __________ __________
5.______________________________ __________ __________ __________
6.______________________________ __________ __________ __________
7.______________________________ __________ __________ __________
Total: 100%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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