Learning Agreements

This Tuesday Tip is sent on behalf of joshuah whittinghill, Information Technology Consultant in the Technology & Learning Program 

Hello faculty,

Whether we plan it or not, building community is part of what we do as faculty. Not only is community being built, but it is crucial to students, as they find successes through connections they make with their peers as well as with us. 

As education evolves, so do our experiences, abilities, and resources. This week’s Tuesday Tip is another opportunity to highlight engagement. One way to increase engagement for students, as well as ourselves, is to examine accountability. Have you ever asked yourself, “How do I hold myself accountable? How do I ensure students are holding themselves accountable?”   

How do you create individual and collective accountability in your courses? According to accountability theory, it is common for members of a group (i.e. college classes) to develop a need to justify one’s behaviors to others, which causes one to consider and feel accountable for the process by which decisions and judgments have been reached. One way to cultivate accountability is by using learning agreements in your courses.  

Learning agreements enhance students’ education by helping them understand the importance of adhering to their own best practices and goals.

Learning agreements have also shown to:

  • Create individual and group accountability
  • Enhance students’ investment in their education
  • Develop personal and community connections to collective successes
  • Develop a guide for student to content engagement 
  • Build community

As the instructor, you can share two agreements you feel would be useful for the course, then ask students to add their agreements. Often creating course agreements is often useful to do the first week of the term, followed up during the second week with time for everyone to review and agree on agreements to that time.

In order to maximize course learning agreements, it is important that everyone has access to them, that the document can be amended during the semester. As the instructor, it is important to revisit them weekly during a class meeting, announcement, email, or text. Revisiting them can be resharing the link to your course learning agreement document, highlighting one or two agreements each week in a message or during class time.

Here is a Google doc with instructions to create a shared and editable document so all members of the course have access and can contribute.

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