What is a Learning Contract?

A learning contract is an agreement between the student and the teacher that enforces the importance of specific learning outcome indicators the student is required to understand. Learning Contracts are considered both a teaching strategy and an assessment tool that will encourage self-directed learning. Students want to learn because the curriculum outcome indicators become their own personal objectives – something they are responsible for in the classroom. Because the student takes initiative, the learning contract should be considered an effective teaching strategy. Students become intrinsically motivated and responsible for their own learning.

A Learning Contract may include such things as:

  1. What the student will learn.
  2. Time period for completion.
  3. How he/she will assess their own learning.
  4. How the teacher will assess their learning.

An Example of a Learning Contract:

Student Name:
Teacher Name:

Time Period of Contract:
Purpose of Contract:
I am planning to:
The reason I have decided to work on this is:
The main focus of my work will be:
Through my work I hope to discover:
I intend to obtain information and ideas from: (Check at least 5.)
interviews with resource people
art galleries
experimentation or exploration
community organizations
magazines or journals
audio recordings
encyclopaedias reproductions of art works
my own research (Explain.)
other sources such as the environment, imagination or personal experience. (List.)

The product of my work will be:
The learning skills I will be using in order to complete this work are: _
I will make these arrangements to share my work:
• who I will share it with
• when I will share it
• how I will share it
My work will be completed by
My work will be evaluated by
The important things that the evaluator(s) will be looking for are _
I will evaluate this work and my own learning by:

Signature Teacher Signature:

How to use a Learning Contract:

Teacher Assessment Before Beginning the Contract:
- Find out what the student knows about the topic - so you can teach them new topics. A KWL chart may be beneficial here.
- Often time’s teachers will pre-test their students about the basic knowledge in the course. This will also indicate what students know and need to know. It will give teachers a better understanding of what to instruct.
Student Assessment Before Beginning the Contract:

The KWL chart is a good way for students to assess what they already know and what they want to know.
- Pre-tests will bring to the attention of the student what they need to learn.

Teacher Assessment During the Contract:
- Have necessary checklists/anecdotal records on student behaviour and work habits during the unit.
- Continually conferencing with each student will ensure student success. By conferencing with students, the teacher will come to know what needs to be worked on or re-taught to students. They will also realize if they are moving to slow during the unit.
- Continue checking homework and assignments. Give students several dates where small parts of their major project is due. This way, you will know students are continually working on their project (and not leaving it until the day before it is due), and will also allow the teacher to see where students are struggling. Also, if the student does not do well on one of the sections, their mark will not drastically decrease as a result.
- Ensure that a part of their mark is dedicated to their behaviour in class as well as their work habits. This is a good way to help students stay on track.

Student Assessment During the Contract:

- Consistently having students fill out a self-evaluation will help students stay on task and know what they need to improve or work on in the future.

Teacher Assessment After the Contract Completion:

- Give an overall grade/mark for the completion of the contract.
- Give an overall grade/mark for the completion of the major project.
- Give feedback to student about their overall work habits and behaviour throughout the contract.

Student Assessment After the Contraction Completion:

- Self-Evaluation sheets should be filled out by each student as a part of their mark. This will solidify their involvement in their mark.
- You can also have students evaluate their own work, or peer work with easy to use rubrics.

Misconceptions about Learning Contracts
1. Learners are not always in the best position to judge what they need to learn.
The teachers needs to be intune with studens and their needs. The teachers needs to help the student develop their learning contract, and show them how to create their Learning Contract.

2. Learners simply don't know what they don't know.
Students need the teacher to pry into their prior knowledge and help determine what the student does or doesn't know. KWL`s would come in handy here.

3. Learners/Teachers may resist a new method of assessment.
In order to incorporate a learning contract into your classroom, you need to be open to it. You need to instruct your class that this is a new method, and attempt to conquer the fears of everyone in the group. Although this may be new to everyone, you are in it together, and student in put is crucial when developing a new learning project.

Assessing Learning Contract:

Rubrics - the big project.
Checklist - self assessment.
Checklist - peer assessment.

Useful Resources: