Stimulating Learning Ownership to Engineering Students via Learning Contract

  •  Riza Atiq Abdullah O. K. Rahmat    
  •  Normah Abdul Aziz    


The internet has changed students’ learning habits and opened up a vast source of knowledge from all over the world. With strong motivation students are now able to quickly learn on their own and gain a vast amount of knowledge. However, most academic staff still think that they are the main source of knowledge and the student would not be able to gain sufficient knowledge without classroom instruction. This paper describes the notion of a learning contract and how an experiment using learning contracts with a group of undergraduate civil engineering students resulted in improved learning and at the same time developed their soft skills. The experiment was administered on 30 final year students who were enrolled in the Sustainable Urban Planning course. Discussion was held at the beginning of the semester to determine firstly, how the course should be delivered and secondly, how to ensure that students achieve the learning objectives as agreed between lecturer and student. Based on discussions between lecturer and students a decision was made to reduce the hours of lectures and to increase case-based learning and problem-based learning. It was agreed in the final learning contract to have 12 hours of lectures, 3 individual assignments, a case study and one large group project in the form of problem-based learning to encourage immersive-collaborative learning. Students’ performances were measured using rubrics and their satisfaction was gauged via a centralised online survey. The results were compared with those of the two previous cohorts and were found to be encouraging. The achievement of the four course learning outcomes improved between 6 to 12% and student satisfaction increased 7%. These results indicate that transferring the ownership of learning to students through a learning contract encouraged the development of self motivation and eventually helped them to focus their learning activities towards the attainment of the learning outcomes of their course.

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