Learning Agreements in 'Traditional' Academia

It's been a while - life intervening once more - moved house, Machiavellian work fun, amongst other travails - but the person-centred approach keeps moving me forward and is at the core of all that I do. Of great note is the BAPCA conference I attended, about which I shall blog soon. However, for now, I just want to make mention of a fantastic book about (what I prefer to call) Learning Agreements, which I'm finding might just prove to be the central practical tool in person-centred education.

Malcolm Knowles
So, it's Malcolm Knowles (he of 'andragogy' reknown) and the full reference of the book is Knowles, M. S. (1986). Using learning contracts, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco). Why is it so good? Well, I've read quite a few others (and I will post my bibliography here once I've completed this work) but this one bases itself on Kolb's ideas of learning from experience, so helps the reader by presenting examples of 'contracts', describing its use in independent study, undergraduate and graduate academic and professional school courses, clinical placements and internships, continual professional and management development, and total degree programmes - so it is adaptable to a wide variety of situations!

I think the really helpful section for me is the section on 'Academic Classrooms' which takes account of the realities of negotiating person-centred learning in the context of the constraints of institutional traditions, policies, rules, regulations and academic standards - these 'contracts' "tend to involve more control by the instructors and less freedom for learners to take the initiative" and yet being a way of "involving learners in taking some degree of responsibility for planning and carrying out their own learning..." (113)


  1. This could be interesting for the library too.
    Thank you Bill.

  2. You're welcome and thanks for stopping by!



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