“My work doesn’t need to be perfect as long as the effort is there”: A Case Study of Multilingual Student Perceptions of Labor-Based Grading Contracts in the First-Year Writing Classroom
Recent developments in the fields of both TESOL and Composition indicate a need for conceptualizing and developing assessment practices that support the needs of multilingual writers that are in line with the aims of justice-oriented pedagogies. One such specific pedagogical practice, assessment, has been proposed as an area of pedagogy in which to operationalize approaches that maintain and sustain justice in the multilingual composition classroom. Although contract grading, and more specifically labor-based grading contracts, have been at the center of such recent conversations, few investigations have centered multilingual students, asking how they perceive and understand such an assessment method in the classroom. To meet the challenge of determining how best to develop and operationalize assessment methodologies that support multilingual writers and meet the potentials for justice-oriented pedagogies, this study seeks to explore the following questions regarding student perceptions labor-based grading contracts and their use in multilingual composition: (a) How do multilingual students perceive and understand the use of labor-based grading contracts in a first-year writing classroom, and (b) In what ways might FYW instructors and programs be informed by multilingual students’ perceptions of and engagement with labor-based grading? To further examine these questions, participating students’ responses were collected over the course of the semester through surveys and written artifacts, analyzed using qualitative content analysis informed by grounded theory, and thematically discussed and organized in the following categories: (1) the personal benefits of using labor-based grading in the composition classroom, (2) perceived fairness as supported by the grading contract, (3) an improved sense of self-efficacy facilitated by labor-based grading contracts, and (4) student’s understood accountability in their own learning and participation in completing classroom related tasks. These themes were temporally examined to both determine how students’ perceptions and understandings of labor-based grading contracts changed over time and to identify how these themes changed throughout the semester. Theoretical and empirical frameworks from the fields of Composition and TESOL will be utilized to further integrate both fields and to inform multilingual writing pedagogies. Additionally, such findings are intended to explore potential implications for instructional and institutional decision-making regarding first-year writing classrooms and programs.
Sarah Henderson Lee
Date of Degree
Master of Arts (MA)
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Humanities and Social Sciences
Hosman, A. M. (2023). “My work doesn’t need to be perfect as long as the effort is there”: A case study of multilingual student perceptions of labor-based grading contracts in the first-year writing classroom [Master’s thesis, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/1295/
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.