My wife recently started her masters of social work at Portland State University. Her first major assignment was a paper connecting her bachelor's level experience and learning with what she has now begun at her master's level internship. The paper is a pass / fail assignment (as is the class).
The result I see is that she is less stressed during the writing of this paper than she has been with her entrance essay, scholarship essays or any of the other countless pieces of writing she needed to complete to get accepted to the university. The stakes were so much higher.
Since my wife is a member of the "new" or "knowledge class" (a term from one of her social work readings), she didn't cut corners on her paper. I'm wondering what balance I would have to strike to get my student's best work and also offer this nerve-liberating form of grading for papers or assignments. I could always ask students to revise specific pieces of a paper to get it to a passing grade, but at what point do students say "why bother, I'm never going to get it good enough for him to be happy." And I can think of a few students who would cut every corner they could - some of them did it last year. But then again, maybe they shouldn't have passed because of it.