What are Learning Contracts ?
Learning contracts provide a method of individualizing instruction and developing student responsibility. They permit individual pacing so that students may learn at the rate at which they are able to master the material. Learning contracts can be designed so that students function at the academic levels most suitable to them and work with resource materials containing concepts and knowledge that are appropriate to their abilities and experiences. Although this method focuses on the individual, learning contracts also provide an opportunity for students to work in small groups. The teacher may select this approach for some students to support them as they learn to work independently.
When a student is first beginning to use learning contracts, the teacher provides learning objectives, identifies a choice of resources, and sets some basic time parameters for the project. As students become more experienced with learning contracts, the teacher may choose to involve them in setting the learning objectives. Learning contracts usually require that students demonstrate the new learning in some meaningful way, but students are provided choice in the selection of a method or activity.
Learning contracts can be highly motivating for students. As they become skillful in making appropriate choices and as they begin to assume more responsibility for their own learning, they become increasingly independent, learn to use resources to their advantage, and take pride in their ability to teach themselves and share their new learning with others.