A RhetNet SnapShot Reply:
THE GRADING VORTEX
Lynne's comments point up one of the functions of grades in traditional classrooms: to motivate students to work harder. The question for me isn't so much whether to grade or not grade (I try hard not to grade), but how to motivate students if the prop of grades isn't there.
I suspect that the non-graded classes that work do so because the instructors have found other, more compelling motivators. Paula's class sounds like a case in point: the students clearly were more interested in doing a good job at writing for their audience of Deans than they were in just writing to get an A. In those kinds of classes, grades seem superfluous or even silly.