Classroom Contracts

Lee Warren, Derek Bok Center

EXPLICIT CONTRACTS (often found in syllabi)

  • Weekly classroom topics
  • Reading assignments, when to read each piece
  • Writing assignments, dates due
  • Exams, dates
  • Rules about late papers, absences
  • Often, grading percentages

IMPLICIT CONTRACTS (often unspoken; many could be discussed)

  • Who talks in this classroom; when; how long; how do they get the floor?
  • Who sets the agenda, how shared is it?
  • Is this a place for competition or collaboration?
  • Is it safe to make mistakes, to fail?
  • What is success in this classroom? how is it measured? how is it achieved?
  • What are the boundaries between student and teacher? between student and student?
  • What levels of learning are featured: intellectual, emotional, experiential, ethical?
  • What styles of learning are emphasized: structured? open?
  • What is the big agenda? What is the story line of the course? What are the underlying questions?
  • What will be learned? Are students asked to learn facts, to think through problems?
  • Why is the professor doing what he/she is doing when he/she does it?