Learning contracts 3

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  • 1. Learning Contracts Doing2Learn
  • 2. What is a learning contract? A learning contract is a short agreement in writing between a learner and facilitator. It outlines what is expected to be learned in a specific period and the method of assessing that learning. Although it is a fairly formal, written agreement it need not be complex. It should outline:  What the learner will learn  How the learning will be accomplished  How the learning will be assessed Through learning contracts, learners are encouraged to take more responsibility for their own learning. They are encouraged to be involved in creating and implementing this learning and to evaluate their own progress
  • 3. Introducing Learning Contracts A learning contract is a way of structuring a learning experience. There are various types of learning contracts for different purposes. Whatever the type and format, they can be described as an agreement between learner and tutor or facilitator which specifies:     What the learner needs to learn or be able to do objectives How they will go about learning and who will help/support What the learner can produce to show that learning has been successful – evidence of learning How and by whom will the learning be assessed – how will we evaluate the evidence
  • 4. Making a contract Drawing up a learning contract can be an effective and creative activity. It will force you as tutor and learner to have a constructive discussion about learning outcomes and how they can be achieved.
  • 5. Types of learning contract Learning contracts can be seen as lying along a continuum with fully self-directed at one end and fully prescribed at the other. In a fully self-directed learning contract, the learner might draft the entire contract and then negotiate and agree the contents with the tutor. At the other end of the continuum the objectives and criteria for achieving the objectives will be pre-specified. Note: The learner and project facilitator together will negotiate the means of achieving the objectives in this project.
  • 6. Drawing up the contract We will now look at the steps involved. Don’t be daunted– the key to it is getting the learner involved and with both of you not feeling too wary if you don’t get the contract right. It can always be renegotiated!     What does the learner need to learn/achieve? Achieving the objectives Providing the evidence Assessing the evidence
  • 7. What does the learner need to learn/achieve 1. With a prescribed contract, the learning outcomes or objectives will have been specified. These then become the basis for the learning contract. 2. With a self-directed contract learners set their own objectives. It is a negotiated agreement so you may have to strike some balance between what learners feel they need to do and what the project requires them to do. note: It is important that there is agreement between the learner and project facilitator of the content of the contract before it is signed
  • 8. Achieving the objectives  This might involve directing learners to specific books, journals, articles, case studies, videos, websites as well as to specific people e.g. fellow trainees or other professionals for talking to them or watching activities related to learning in question note: Learners should also work out ways to achieve the objectives. It is a partnership
  • 9. Providing the evidence    Personal reflection and analysis by the learner/group on events relevant to the objectives is a useful way of identifying learning. Such reflection should not just be a descriptive account of what has taken place but show lessons learned, weaknesses identified or improved etc. In other instances a demonstration of an activity undertaken to an appropriate person (via the website) is also appropriate. Recorded discussions with facilitators and other learners, a presentation at a project session or at the learning weekend will also be used to provide evidence of learning Tutor and learner should be in agreement on the evidence to be produced.
  • 10. Assessing the evidence  The learning evidence needs to be assessed either informally or, if certification is required, formally. Well defined objectives will help at this stage. Write measurable objectives note: Learners should also work out ways to achieve the objectives. It is a partnership
  • 11. Assessing the evidence  Checklists can be used to assess performance. Assessments for a learning contract can range from simple informal peer assessment to formal assessment according to the standards set by your / another organisation note: The learning contracts should not only specify how the evidence will be assessed, but also mention who should be doing the assessing.
  • 12. Examples in Practice  Learning Contracts need not be complex. One side of A4 will suffice – with room for objectives, activities and resources, evidence, assessment methods and the target date….see example attached
  • 13. Practical Tips      Don’t be intimidated by the term learning contract, the emphasis is on learning not contract…its to get people involved and to have ownership of their learning Get the learner to do a SWOT analysis Make sure objectives are achievable within timescale set Encourage learners to work out their own way to achieve objectives but facilitate and mentor and offer pointers to resources Encourage reflection on progress through asking themselves: “ what did I learn from that, what was hard/easy / why / what am I worried about / what did I waste time on / how could I do things better?
  • 14. Practical Tips    Evidence of learning that could be produced could be: a solution to a problem, a presentation, a demonstration, a case study, comments from an observer, record of work undertaken (includes digital record), a self assessment, peer assessment etc When negotiating the contract lay emphasis on building an existing experience rather than focus on inadequacies or problems. Use the group, learning is a collaborative process not an isolating one.