It started with a lunch over the summer. A colleague told me that he was using learning contracts in his classes. I remembered learning contracts from Carl Rogerâ€™s book Freedom to Learn. So I was persuaded to use learning contracts in my Christian Scripture class. My colleague warned me that completely unstructured learning contracts befuddled our students. So I wrote a basic contract for minimal competence. A student who wanted a superior grade needs to develop additional learning activities and rubrics. I was surprised the like Lake Wobegon everyone wanted to be above average.
Increasingly I believe there is a circle of learning from reflection on active learning to assessment and continued active learning. Somehow I would like to improve how I give them direction on learning contracts, assessment rubrics. I continue to explore ways to improve our understanding of this circle. I had the students in this class write a beginning essay that described their learning style. That was a good idea but I read them too late in the semester for maximum effect. Nonetheless, I think I will have students write an essay that describes their learning style and challenges in reading Christian Scriptures.
I also asked the students to write a self assessment at the end of the semester. These were sometimes self aggrandized defense of their stellar performance. However, more often than not the students reflected honestly on where they accomplished what they wanted to and where they fell short. Next semester I will give them more precise instructions on how they might structure such an essay. I want them to re-read their learning style essay and their learning contract as the background for their self-assessment.
I continue to have students in Scriptures 2 have the option of creating video podcasts. I would like to find some aids to help them construct a better video podcast. They used Flip cameras as well as more expensive equipment but I think if I could get them more exposed to the good work on digital story telling that would serve them and the class better.
Luckily there is still next semester to work on these things and students are resilient they learn even as we are learning about learning.