Labor-Based Grading Contracts: Building Equity and Inclusion in the Compassionate Writing Classroom

  • first-year composition, antiracism, culture, writing to engage, social justice, Pedagogy, writing assessment, labor-based contract grading

By Asao B. Inoue
Copy edited by Don Donahue. Designed by Mike Palmquist.

CoverIn Labor-Based Grading Contracts, Asao B. Inoue argues for the use of labor-based grading contracts along with compassionate practices to determine course grades as a way to do social justice work with students. He frames this practice by considering how Freirean problem-posing led him to experiment with grading contracts and explore the literature on grading contracts. Inoue offers a robust Marxian theory of labor that considers Hannah Arendt's theory of labor-work-action and Barbara Adam's concept of "timescapes." The heart of the book details the theoretical and practical ways labor-based grading contracts can be used and assessed for effectiveness in classrooms and programs. Inoue concludes the book by moving outside the classroom, considering how assessing writing in the socially just ways he offers in the book may provide a way to address the violence and discord seen in the world today.

Table of Contents

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Front Matter

Introduction. Laboring Toward Grading Contracts and the Inner Dikes

Chapter 1. Problematizing Grading and the White Habitus of the Writing Classroom

Chapter 2. How I Came to Labor-Based Grading Contracts

Chapter 3. What is Labor in Labor-Based Grading Contracts?

Chapter 4. What Labor-Based Grading Contracts Look Like

Chapter 5. Why I Use a Charter for Compassion with My Contract

Chapter 6. What Concerns Are There of Labor-Based Grading Contracts?

Chapter 7. How Effective Can Labor-Based Grading Contracts Be?

Coda. Assessing English So That People Stop Killing Each Other

Works Cited

Appendix A. Grading Contract for First Year Writing

Appendix B. Sample Charter for Compassion

Appendix C. Sample Labor Log

Appendix D. Labor Instructions for Drafting Your Personal Narrative

About the Author

Asao B. Inoue is Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, Director of University Writing and the Writing Center, a past member of the Executive Board of Council of Writing Program Administrators and the 2019 Chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication. Among his articles and chapters on writing assessment and race, his article, "Theorizing Failure in U.S. Writing Assessments" in Research in the Teaching of English, won the 2014 CWPA Outstanding Scholarship Award. His co-edited collection, Race and Writing Assessment (2012), won the 2014 CCCC Outstanding Book Award. His book, Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing for a Socially Just Future (WAC Clearinghouse/Parlor Press, 2015) won the 2017 CCCC Outstanding Book Award for a monograph and the 2015 CWPA Outstanding Book Award. In November 2016, he co-edited a special issue of College English on writing assessment as social justice.

Publication Information: Inoue, Asao B. (2019). Labor-Based Grading Contracts: Building Equity and Inclusion in the Compassionate Writing Classroom. The WAC Clearinghouse; University Press of Colorado.

Web Publication Date: January 4, 2019
Print Publication Date: September 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64215-021-6 (PDF) | 978-1-64215-022-3 (ePub) | 978-1-60732-925-1 (pbk.)
DOI: 10.37514/PER-B.2019.0216.0

Contact Information:
Asao B. Inoue:


Review by Shane A. Wood, University of Southern Mississippi, 2020.

Perspectives on Writing

Series Editors: Susan H. McLeod, University of California, Santa Barbara; Rich Rice, Texas Tech University

Acrobat Reader DownloadThis book is available in whole and in part in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). It is also available in a low-cost print edition from our publishing partner, the University Press of Colorado.

Copyright © 2019 Asao B. Inoue. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License. 354 pages, with notes, illustrations, and bibliographies. This book is available in print from University Press of Colorado as well as from any online or brick-and-mortar bookstore. Available in digital format for no charge on this page at the WAC Clearinghouse. You may view this book. You may print personal copies of this book. You may link to this page. You may not reproduce this book on another website.