The Use of Learning Contracts

Learning contracts are contended to be an essential instrument for the effective and positive study experience both for students and instructors (Arino, Reuer, Mayer, & Jane, 2013). Learning contracts ought to be built by the student and examined by the instructor for productive criticism and adjustment proposals. A final draft of the learning contract ought to be signed by both the instructor and the student. Further, it serves as a layout for the independent study units and an instrument for future assessment. Its changes may get to be important as the learning background advances. Needless to mention, changed contracts ought to be affirmed and signed by both the instructor and the student. Thus, the aim of this review is a thorough study of the use of learning contracts in institutions as well as an examination of their effects on students’ performance.

Literature Review

There might be numerous reasons that instructors plan and create learning contracts with their students. However, the actual objective dependably includes a change in some part of a student’s performance at school. At times, learning contracts are created with the end goal to enhance the student’s conduct in class evaluating whether the student is purposely problematic or is effortlessly diverted by others (Arino, Reuer, Mayer, & Jane, 2013). In different cases, learning contracts are needed if an educator perceives that a student is not meeting their scholarly potential. Whatever the purpose behind the learning contract, one trademark is basic in all cases: the student cannot be let well enough alone for the way toward the arranging and making the agreement. It is vital to connect with the students and make them feel that the educator is enthusiastic about satisfying the plan. An ideal approach to finish this is to demonstrate the students that their worries are being considered and suited (Barnhardt & Ginns, 2016). Regardless of the possibility that the students feel to get involved in arranging the agreement, their worries must be consolidated into the final agreement.

As to the learning contracts usage there are many differences in the practice. For instance, the substance of learning contracts shifts generally (Ariño, Reuer, Mayer, & Jané, 2013), where students may pick a particular point to investigate, focus on a specific number of assignments and their due dates, or consent to an assessment technique and the grading rubric. The points and amount of assignments can be altered by the teacher in view of obvious prerequisites; rather, individualized decision inside the agreements is concentrated on the sort, timing and recurrence of learning practices. As per Brown (2013), the utilization of learning contracts with normal writings, errands, conveyance, and assignments is a proper application for early college students, where the learner’s level of comprehension in the subject is constrained.

Execution of learning contracts can likewise fluctuate as for when an agreement is offered, what students are focused on, and regardless of whether an interest is intentional. Unlike other numerous learning contract applications (Barnhardt & Ginns, 2016; Beaumont, O’Doherty, & Shannon, 2011), a few contracts are not offered before the start of the course; contrary to that, they are usually proposed roughly a third or half of the way through the semester. By halting to offer an agreement until the students receive a grade in the course, the students get the chance to succeed or fail, and then one can focus on the poor performers as the individuals who require help and may most significantly gain an improvement from signing the learning contract.

There are numerous cases of learning contract usage where all students are required to sign an agreement (Beaumont, O’Doherty, & Shannon, 2011; Kokotsaki, Menzies, & Wiggins, 2016; Ramli, Joseph, & Lee, 2013). Despite these, some studies concentrate on learning practices, not course parts or points, thus paying attention to those students who performed inadequately at the beginning of semester. The choice to just concentrate on the lower performing students is upheld by earlier research (Silver & Hochberg, 2013). Frank & Scharf (2013) indicate that ‘intercessions’ when students with a satisfactory performance in natural science exams boosted a scholastic performance in the succeeding exams. The creation of every learning contract is an intercession and agreement of a brilliant arrangement. Those students who performed at the lower levels have gained more from learning contracts than the individuals who performed well from the very beginning (Frank & Scharf, 2013).

To cultivate the inherent inspiration and advancement of self-adequacy as opposed to set a correctional tone, signing of the contracts can be made optional. This intentional nature was conceivable because the agreement is concentrated on the practices that were under a students’ deliberate control, instead of the parts of a course structure, which fundamentally should be resolved for each student. Goodman (2011) admited that learning contracts can serve as an approach to establishing a guided structure in his investigation of prizes and inspiration. He raised an issue that, once in a while, teachers’ objectives contrast with those of the students; so arranging learning contracts a teacher should assert the conditions to make both the educator’s objective conduct and the students’ real result (a decent evaluation) more likely. In this manner, practices and results would be commonly valuable to both the teacher and students. Hence, adjusted objectives like these can prompt an ‘intense learning’ (Ariño, Reuer, Mayer, & Jané, 2013) and an expanded self-adequacy.

Situations for the Use and Non-Use of Learning Contracts

Table 1

Source: Kokotsaki, Menzies, & Wiggins (2016, p. 65)

This table shows that signing learning contracts are suitable for students since it increases the accessibility of knowledge and skills within the short time possible. It also encourages teamwork among the students as well as makes them collaborative. Besides, the learners are in direct contact with the instructor, thus they can ask him questions concerning the topics or subjects they do not understand. All these attributes play a significant role in improving the performance of the students. The implication is that it is advisable for students, together with their instructors and even parents, to embrace the use of learning contracts so as to make the teaching career more simplified and substantial as well as educate the best professionals for a better tomorrow.

Impacts on the Behavior and Academic Performance of the Students

At the point when the students start using a learning contract, they appear to be more personally involved in the particular instruction and the learning procedure is more self-coordinated then. The obligation the students get by taking part in the contracting procedure and in choosing the choices concerning their instruction regularly builds their inside inspiration (Choi, Hecht, Tafkov, & Towry, 2016). The agreement provides the student with the specific objectives ; it permits him to gain a fulfillment from meeting their set goals. Some students appreciate this strategy as they value the endeavors made by their instructor to perceive and oblige their individual needs. Besides, everybody involved in the learning contract preparation may benefit from the following advantages . Namely, the student may profit by working at an appropriate level, the instructor receives a fulfillment from student’s success and development, and customary diversions do not influence on classroom time arrangment(Hebert & Hauf, 2015). Furthermore, this procedure may likewise educate the student on some life abilities; for instance, they may take in the significance of setting objectives and moving in the direction of accomplishing them.


It is normal for students with a high potential sometimes to fail the meeting of expectations in the classroom. With numerous exercises going after a student’s available time, an achievement results from the commitment made. Goodman (2011) demonstrated that dedication is quite possible when the practices to which somebody is submitting are composed, made open, and deliberate. Further, Li (2016) recommended five systems for amplifying the responsibility: significance, regard, support, desires as well as an impact. The usage of learning contracts is fully trusted to strengthen these criteria and techniques. Both the student and educator mark the agreement, in this way it becomes public and written. The student signs it only if he or she needs to do so, and when there is no punishment for not signing it. The educator then gives the pertinence of the course material and helps the students to learn it. Shared student-teacher regard is shown through the procedure of exclusively making and focusing on the learning contract. Each student sets their desires for the exam review that is to follow and put it in writing, and the learning contract obviously engages them to take control of their learning practices to impact their review. Not satisfying contract prerequisites would not just break a self-guarantee, however, would likewise break a guarantee the student made to the educator when they both marked the learning contract. The demonstration of focusing on the learning contract has the potential to drive a good inspiration of the student (Remillard, Harris, & Agodini, 2014).


As a student develops into a grown-up learner, the measure of structure and the sorts of practices specified in the agreement ought to change. This line of thought supports the examination (Fedeli, Giampaolo, & Coryell, 2013; Lukas & Schöndube, 2010; Bailey, Barber, & Nelson, 2016) that agreement individualization is basic to guarantee the learning contract matches what the student requires. This is true, because students in various courses will be at various levels of improvement concerning a self-coordinated learning. Additionally, as the student becomes a grown-up learner, the learning contract could take into account more flexibility of decision (Bailie & Adamson, 2016), coupling an expansion in responsibility with the advantages of expanded natural inspiration.

Motivation has been considered as a tool to control the force and diligence of learning practices (Stocum, 2013). Tragically, in most school situations, at least few students in various courses did not have any desire to be selected in the courses, and they are obviously not motivated. For instance, some had pronounced a non-specialized major and chose not to apply themselves to a designing course. Others agreed to take specialized courses, yet maybe the material was uninteresting to them, and they chose to put their time and exertion into other courses. These unmotivated students are simply like the numerous students who started with the inspiration to give a full attention to the course material and needed to learn and put forth a valiant effort to do this. Furthermore, Ramli, Joseph, & Lee (2013) also supported learning contracts in a school course by advertising them just to students who performed ineffectively on a pre-test. As a result, the students in his trial showed essentially better scores on the post-test after signing a learning contract.

Learning contracts are expected to be motivational for some reasons. To begin with, learning contracts may be helpful to the students that are purposely taking certain learning assignments under their control. For example, reading, looking for assistance from associates, and so on would be probably going to prompt a scholarly achievement, as opposed to waiting for some luck or possibility, and a strong connection which has appeared as a significant tool for self-efficacy creation (Choi, Hecht, Tafkov, & Towry, 2016). Self-adequacy is made more probable through the modified arrangement that every learning contract student creates together with the educator. This notion, also known as self-assurance, can also urge an inherent inspiration that can drive the student to invest more energy (Fedeli, Giampaolo, & Coryell, 2013; Goodman, 2011) and manage practices that have been working for them (Stocum, 2013). In other words, it is the most strong consideration guaranteeing a man’s accomplishment in life (Hebert & Hauf, 2015), and the more grounded the adequacy desires are, the higher the probability of achievement is (Fedeli, Giampaolo, & Coryell, 2013). Distinct statement that something is achievable, guaranteeing that is it clear and customized to the individual, having an earlier achievement , later on, can prompt a further stimuli for an accomplishment.

Second, an inspiration will be upgraded in a supportive environment (Stocum, 2013. For instance, Patel (2012) found that an associate gathering connection and student’s personal collaborations are the first and second best patrons to self-report scholarly and self-improvement in the school environment. Identified with a positive cooperation, Patel (2012) discovered that in many cases between the students and educators and after the execution of learning contracts a much better understanding was observed than before. Undoubtedly, educator’s duty can fortify the student’s responsibility (Lukas & Schöndube, 2010), which in turn will facilitate the improvement of the positive motivational potential. For instance, social work instruction students have demonstrated they ‘feel bound and committed by their mutual desires,’ and the learning contract spurred them to finish readings on time (Barnhardt & Ginns, 2016). Finally, educators believe that students choose to take part in practices that improve their learning not due to a feeling of commitment, but rather in light of the fact that they have known the advantages and want to become self-coordinated learners.


Students do not always show a profound mental need to be self-directed, bring assets from a past encounter into the learning circumstance, learn in a focused way, or appear to be self-propelled to realize, which Kearney (2013) depicts as the attributes of grown-up learners. Self-heading is a profoundly important aptitude that includes the capacity to learn autonomously and have a metacognitive capacity. An effective self-heading has a tendency to create a significant aspect of a development when transitioning from a young to grown-up learning (Demarzo & Sannikov, 2016). Self-directedness, however, is not easily achieved; numerous ‘students ought to be demonstrated to how they can become autonomous’ (Remillard, Harris, & Agodini, 2014). Most students are in such a transitional time of creating an obligation regarding their learning (Brown, 2013). In light of its mix of scholarly thoroughness with a huge number of outside obligations and impacts, the school environment can offer the abundant chances to provide the assistance for students to build up the sort of self-course required for fruitful grown-up learners. Of specific enthusiasm to the present study given that the learning contracts were utilized as a part of designing courses, Barnhardt and Ginns (2016) presumed that self-directedness is critical to creating successful learners.

A few behavioral qualities have been connected with a self-coordinated learning, the recognizable proof of which permits formative endeavors to be more focused on, expanding the probability of behavioral change (Bailie & Adamson, 2016). For instance, at the point when contrasting the high-accomplishing secondary school students with other lower achievers, Demarzo and Sannikov (2016) indicated that 93% of the subjects taught could accurately be characterized into the high accomplishing or low accomplishing bunch, especially by their self-control practices. For example, objective setting, self-assessing, organizing, looking for data, and looking for social help are all indications of self-directed learning. While somewhat unbending in nature, learning contracts are intended to create self-directedness through ingraining the self-coordinating practices in students. For instance, students are expressly urged to take an advantage of the capability of associate educating and also educator tutoring during the available time. Moreover, learning contracts empower the finishing assignments and course readings, creating the time administration and prioritization aptitudes, and utilizing self-assessing aptitudes to arrange beneficial office hour sessions.

Learning contracts are considered to be of great importance to the learning environment by permitting different learning styles to get an individualized preparing because of their adequacy inside little gatherings of learners. Different advantages of learning contracts incorporate the advancement of dynamic learning, self-reflection, and teacher-student association to improve the learning needs of the students. Dynamic learning, however, takes into consideration student’s engagement with enhanced inspiration by effectively including the students in their comprehension how to profit more from the learning procedure (Lukas & Schöndube, 2010). Self-reflection permits the learner to rationally handle the encounters or information for deeper and longer enduring learning. The instructor-learner connection fabricates positive connections. Furthermore, the joining of learning contracts takes into consideration learner’s self-responsibility to urge student’s inventiveness and to educate them as equipped future professional experts (Jayatilleke & Mackie, 2013).

SLCs are successfully executed in numerous instructive train settings. They change in contrast with normal contracts that are unbending in their adaptability to address the issues of the student at the specific setting. These contracts or formal assertions take into consideration joint efforts, open interchanges, regard, and responsibility between the instructor and the learner to meet the student’s objectives in gaining information, qualities, and abilities (Bailie & Adamson, 2016).

SLCs promote the individualization, autonomy, and the help with the long lasting learning aptitudes in instructive encounters (Li, 2016). The organization connected with SLC encourages a domain that advances dynamic cooperation of self-coordinated learning and ought to be consolidated as an indispensable part of the preparation program. These contracts also consider the illumination of desires, support of student-focused learning, and expanded inspiration by permitting the learners to play a dynamic part in setting objectives that are important and crucial to them. The benefits provided incorporate an expansion in self-sufficiency, certainty, inspiration, and learning. Picked up or refined from self-directed learning encounters abilities give the learners the aptitude for a fruitful work in future workplaces (Li, 2016).

Concerns About the Students Learning Contracts

Reservations about the contracts highlight the instability inside a few regions of the instructive group. These concerns include and emotional strain for students and contracting for a grade. Learner’s nervousness and disappointment happens when they are not orientated to the SLC (Ramli, Joseph, & Lee, 2013). This additional anxiety may upset the part of the SLC that may influence the coordinated effort and learn process. Different concerns incorporate the absence of objective setting as a need that might be tended to from the instructor by including a polished skill objective for the setting. Another issue with the SLC is the obliged time to reexamine and renegotiate the contract (Kearney, 2013). It benefits the learner in recognizing new objectives after the achievement of the others, provided that the length of motivation is set and its meeting will obviously be gainful. Social and cultural hindrances are different contemplations of resistance with the transaction of the agreement. Besides, some contrasts in dialect and culture may cause various misunderstandings, so the arrangement procedure is as insolent when examining with the instructor or the individualization to concentrate on the individual as opposed to filling in as a group. Regardless of these worries, the information of SLC concerns permits both the instructor and the student to know about the constraints connected with SLC and to recognize the best approach inside the particular learning environment (Patel, 2012).


In summary, the SLCs take into account the learners that act naturally coordinated and assume liability for their learning. The partnerships that come about because of these contracts promotes the well-organized efforts between both the learner and the instructor to take into consideration a securing of information, qualities, and abilities including a strengthening of the learner’s performance. In spite of the absence of sufficient literature as to the utilization of learning contracts in pharmaceutical training, they can make a try in the experiential setting. Future researches are expected to make clear improvements on defining the part of contracts in this type of training and their effect in vocational goals and objectives. If this is done, the future of the teaching career will be brighter than at present times.

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