May 3, 2024

How to Stop Caring about Grades

In 30 seconds...

  • Traditional grading methods are no longer sufficient
  • Embrace alternative methods like:
    • Specification Grading
    • Contract Grading
    • Ungrading
  • Allow for student autonomy and prioritize the learning process
  • Reduce your grading workload

Considering the significance of grades in our educational system, it's hard to deny their importance. They serve as benchmarks for our achievements, motivating us to strive for success in both our academic and professional lives. 

Traditional Grading Systems

But lately, there's been a growing realization that the traditional grading system might not be cutting it.

In computer science education (CSEd), there's a noticeable shift happening. Educators are moving away from old-school grading methods and embracing new, more inclusive approaches. 

Why? Well, it's all about making computing education accessible, engaging, and inclusive to everyone.

Motivation for Change

So, what's driving this change? It's a mix of factors, really. There's a desire to make learning more accessible and engaging, to reduce dropout rates, and to make well-rounded programmers with a mix of both hard and soft skills.

And let's be honest, the conventional grading model simply falls short in facilitating these goals.

That's where alternative grading methods come in. Let's take a look at three of them: specification grading, contract grading, and ungrading.

Each of these approaches challenges the traditional way of assessing students, shedding light on their benefits for both educators and learners.

Specification and contract grading, lay out clear criteria for success and give students the autonomy to choose assignments that align with their interests and goals. It's all about empowering students to take ownership of their learning journey.

Ungrading prioritizes the learning process over final outcomes. Instead of focusing solely on grades, students focus on self-reflection, skill development, and project-based learning. 

It's about creating a supportive and inclusive classroom environment where experimentation and growth are celebrated.

Overall, the adoption of these alternative grading methods in CSEd is leading to a more engaging, equitable, and effective education system. 


By prioritizing mastery, autonomy, and creativity, these approaches are fostering a deeper understanding of concepts and practical skills. 

They're also promoting critical thinking, innovation, and inclusivity, catering to diverse learning styles and needs, while saving you time with grading!

So, if you're an educator, why not give these alternative methodologies a try? 

By prioritizing motivation and reducing stress among students, you might just discover a renewed focus on the essence of education—fostering growth, curiosity, and lifelong learning. 

After all, grades are just one small part of a much richer educational experience.

Want more tips for reducing time spent on grading?


Brian Harrington, Abdalaziz Galal, Rohita Nalluri, Faiza Nasiha, and Anagha Vadarevu. 2024. Specifications and Contract Grading in Computer Science Education. In Proceedings of the 55th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education V. 1 (SIGCSE 2024).

Gillian Smith. 2024. Pairing Ungrading with Project-Based Learning in CS1 for Inherently Flexible Course Design. . In Proceedings of the 55th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education V. 1 (SIGCSE 2024).

Kendra Hare

Kendra Hare

Marketing Specialist
Meet Kendra, a whiskey and coffee aficionado, whose rich background in higher education infuses a unique blend of experiences and perspectives. As our marketing specialist, she ensures CodeGrade's mission reaches and impacts a wide audience.

Continue reading

Embracing a New Era: Harnessing Generative AI for Computer Science Education

Discover the transformative impact of Generative AI (Gen AI) on computer science education. Explore innovative tools and methodologies reshaping learning experiences and preparing learners for an AI-centric future. Uncover benefits, challenges, and evolving practices at the intersection of technology and pedagogy.

Coding Quizzes are here!

Discover the latest addition to CodeGrade: coding quizzes! Elevate your learning experience with dynamic assessments seamlessly integrated with AutoTest V2. Engaging, clear, and user-friendly. Learn more now!

Coding Quizzes are here!

Transforming CS Education: Innovative Strategies for Curriculum Enhancement

Discover how Experiential Learning Theory transforms traditional teaching methods and improves computer science curriculum for optimal student engagement and success.

CodeGrade Announces Partnership with Pearson to Transform Coding Education

Today, CodeGrade announced a partnership with Pearson to deliver an enhanced technology for educators to better serve students.

Sign up to our newsletter

See how CodeGrade can transform your courses today!