Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Lisa Melonçon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Norbert Elliot, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carl Herndl, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jessica Nastal, Ph.D.


antiracist, assessment, first-year composition, grading contract, linguistic diversity, multilingual


This descriptive, exploratory study’s purpose is to determine the effects of labor-based grading contracts on students whose historical exclusion results in their current day underrepresentation in higher education. A key component of this study is the emphasis on the student’s own perceptions and feelings about the use of labor-based grading contracts. Using a purposive sample of multilingual First-Year Composition (FYC) sections at an R1 university, I investigated the variables of labor-based grading contracts: demographics and written language characteristics, student motivation, ecological variables (i.e., perceptions of grading contracts), and academic performance measures. Research questions include: 1) How do labor-based grading contracts affect students’ motivation and attitudes toward writing? 2) How do labor-based grading contracts affect student perceptions of instructor feedback? and 3) How do students perform on academic performance measures in an FYC class that uses labor-based grading contracts? Using a mixed-methods approach, I collected data from six multilingual sections of FYC that included three sections using labor-based grading contracts and three sections using traditional assessment procedures, to provide comparison. Findings included that while the majority of students had positive reactions to labor-based grading contracts, a significant minority did not. While the small sample size (n = 114) precludes generalizability, this research provides an important heuristic for researchers and WPAs considering the adoption of labor-based grading contracts in their local settings. I conclude with five implications: labor-based grading contracts need to be implemented with an awareness of students’ affect, have positive effects on students’ reception of instructor feedback, may have harmful consequences for students of color, require teacher training and support, and can be implemented without an explicitly antiracist curriculum.