Assessment 2023

This course uses “contract grading.” This means that you choose in advance the work you will do, and receive a relevant grade so long as you fulfil that contract. You will know throughout the semester exactly what your final grade will be, provided you do not break your contract.

It is quite possible to get a high grade in this course, and to have that grade guaranteed. It will take work–specifically, a lot of reading–but it is quite attainable, and will involve no surprises.

On the other hand, if you prefer to do the minimum (or somewhere in between the minimum and the maximum), you will still learn something, and nobody will be chasing you to ensure you do any more than you have contracted.

The four texts you have to read in order to pass this class are those by de la Parra, Borges, García Márquez, and Menchú. (Note that we will spend two weeks on García Márquez.) If you do not read these four, you will not pass the class. If you do, you will pass.

All the other texts are optional, but your grade will rise the more that you read.

How do you show that you have read them? You write and publish a blog post, of around 400-500 words (or with an embedded video blog of 5-10 minutes), and comment briefly on two blogs posts written by your classmates and peers. (More details here.)

You will also write an introductory blogpost (in week one), and a concluding blogpost (in week 13), reflecting on what you have learned.

The more books that you read (and so blogposts and comments that you write), the higher your grade will be, as follows:

Number of texts read / blogposts written Percentage Grade Final Letter Grade
4 (de la Parra, Borges, García Márquez, and Menchú) / 7 60-63 C
5 (the basic four plus one) / 8 64-67 C+
6 (the basic four plus two) / 9 68-71 B-
7 (the basic four plus three) / 10 72-75 B
8 (the basic four plus four) / 11 76-79 B+
9 (the basic four plus five) / 12 80-84 A-
10 (the basic four plus six) / 13 85-89 A
11 (the basic four plus seven) / 14 90-100 A+

You can choose which books you read and write on (after the basic four). For every optional week, you have two options to pick between. There is a guide to help you choose your own adventure here.

You tell me in advance how many and which books you plan to read. This is your contract. In return, if you fulfil that contract, I guarantee you the appropriate grade. Fill our your contract here (PDF).

Over the course of the semester, you are allowed to make one, and only one, revision of your contract (changing the choice of books, or the number of books, to get a higher or a lower grade). No changes are permitted after week six (February 16).

You also need to attend class for at least as many weeks as the number of books you are reading, plus a second week for García Márquez, as well as the first (introductory) and final (concluding) weeks. So for instance, if you choose to read seven books (for a B), you will need to attend class for 10 weeks (twice for García Márquez), including the introductory and concluding weeks. Attendance in the weeks you have contracted is compulsory. If you do not attend, you break your contract.

But after the introductory week, you only have to attend one class session per week. You are invited to come twice on weeks when we have two sessions on the same text (when we are reading one of the basic four: de la Parra, Borges, García Márquez, and Menchú; each session we will approach these books in different ways), but you do not have to do so.

You need to have watched the online video lecture (and any conversation videos) before you come to class.

There will be a short midterm and final exam. These will be used, however, merely to help determine your final grade within the parameters determined by the number of texts you have read. I.e. what exact grade you receive between 80 and 84 (if you read nine books, and so contract to get an A-) or between 72 and 75 (if you read seven books, and so contract for a B), and so on.

The midterm and final exam may also be used to help determine your grade if you fail to fulfil your contract.