April 23, 2013
Use learning contracts to encourage students to take responsibility for their learning
Create learning contracts for students in your courses with the following two purposes:
For first course assignment, ask students to create a draft of a learning contract in which the student establishes a learning goal to accomplish in your course during the term. Students should also describe the support they hope to receive from you (their instructor) and from their peers (their classmates) to help them attain this goal.
The learning contract format contains the following elements:
A statement of the learning goal that meets the following criteria:
The student should describe each of the following in his/her learning contract:
During the first class session, include an activity in which students learn to write a learning goal using Bloom´s taxonomy (see the CUTLA web site for information on Bloom’s: http://uwf.edu/cutla/assessstudent.cfm and http://uwf.edu/cutla/writingslo.cfm). During the second class session, students should give one another feedback on their learning contracts and make adjustments to eliminate actions and expectations that are not reasonable. Ask students to submit their final draft at the end of class or post it in eLearning by the end of the week.
During the term, ask students to complete a self-assessment exercise two or three times before the end of the term. In this activity, the students should evaluate their progress toward achieving their learning goals by responding to closed and open ended questions.
Suggestions for self-assessment questions:
Distribute the self-assessment to students through e-mail as a Google Form, which will enable you to collect responses in an Excel spreadsheet. Summarize the students’ responses during class to facilitate a group discussion on how the class is progressing and how students feel about their learning progress. The learning contract activity engages students in the course content and helps instructors identify aspects of the class that students perceive to help and hinder their learning. The self-assessments help students become aware of the relation between their activities and effort and their level of success in attaining their learning goals.
This tip is based on a teaching strategy submitted to the Teaching Issues Writing Consortium by Anabella Martinez, Professor of the Education Department and Director of the Centro for Teaching Excellence (CEDU), Universidad del Norte (Barranquilla, Colombia).
WKU Writer’s Consortium
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