I'll be teaching a graduate-level mathematically oriented class with probably less than 20 students. I have to grade the students (our system doesn't allow for pass-fail grading), and while I don't want to be overly fussy about the grades (this is after all advanced level material and mostly Ph.D students), I would like to provide some incentive structure so students will do the classwork and hopefully learn something in the process.
One possibility is "coarse-resolution" grading where in each homework, the possible grades are +, 0, -, where + denotes having done about 75% or more of the work, 0 is between 50 and 75%, and - is below 50%.
At the end of the semester, the number of +/0/- determines the grade, with "mostly +" getting an A, "mostly 0" getting a B, and mostly - getting a C.
Is this likely to be effective ? Is there something else I should do ? I'm open to the idea of not grading at all and giving out dummy grades, but I do think that people who put in effort should be rewarded in some way.