One way to support and facilitate flexible learning is for the student and the lecturer to develop a learning contract. As stated in my previous post, adult learners are self motivated, learning best when course structure is individualised to the needs of the learner. Knowles described this type of learning as androgogical learning, where the learner takes responsibility for their own learning and the teacher is a facilitator, providing resources, guidance and support. Knowles developed the idea of learning contracts to support this self directed individualised process (Jarvis, Holford & Griffin, 2003).
When forming a learning contract Knowles recommended the following steps
- diagnose your learning needs
- specify your learning objectives
- specify learning resources and strategies
- specify evidence of accomplishments
- specify how the evidence will be validated
- review your contract with consultants
- carry out the contract
- evaluate your learning
(Jarvis et al., 2003, pg 107)
Learning contracts can be developed in partnership between the lecturer and the student. Learning contracts also call on Kolb’s four stage learning cycle. (See also my previous post) . In this instance the student can be provided with a learning objective, they can then observe and reflect on this within the learning contract. The student can then enter stage three of the learning cycle with abstract conceptualisation when they identify applicability to their learning and professional requirements. Stage four would occur when the learning that has occurred to this point is carried forward into practice, and the cycle continues once more.
When considering a flexible option for midwifery education this would seem to form a good basis for learning for students. The partnership that is required between the student and lecturer models the midwife woman partnership that is the basis of the midwifery profession in New Zealand (Stewart, 2004).
Jarvis, P., Holford, J., Griffin, C. (2003). The theory and practice of learning. New York: Routledge.
Stewart, M. (2004). Pregnancy, birth and maternity care. Feminist perspectives. London: Elsevier.
Image: New York Daily, where is our contract. Anthony Topper’s photos at flickr.com