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Journal Article

Using a Learning Contract to Introduce Undergraduates to Research Projects  pp121-130

Zelma Bone

© Nov 2014 Volume 12 Issue 2, ECRM 2014, Editor: Ann Brown, pp75 - 167

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Abstract

Abstract: Many undergraduate Business programs aim to orient students to the research through a single‑subject focussed on research design and conceptualisation. The focus of this paper is to case study a learning contract as it guides undergraduate stu dents through a research project in a non‑research methods subject and to determine the value of this process. The learning contract is a negotiated process between the learner and the academic supervisor. It is often the students first foray into resear ch so the staged guidelines provide supportive training wheels and a detailed recipe to follow. The process can be challenging for both parties as it is a scaffolded assessment with close monitoring and regular feedback. The contract has three distinc t stages. The contract proposal is the first step and is where the student can choose their focus for project by articulating a learning goal and justifying why this goal is important. This is followed by the second stage of the contract which includes a literature review, reflections on readings and a detailed methodology. The final component is the learning in action (describing what they did), analysis and evaluation of their findings and a reflection on their learning. The many advantages of this as sessment are it can be used in a variety of situations and with a diversity of learners; puts the students into the centre of the learning process; students can choose a learning goal that is relevant to their situation; and it can stimulate deep approach es to learning. The learning contract approach to completing a research project also develops the students abilities in aspects of (mainly) qualitative research design and reflective practice. This paper draws on the authors 20 year experience of intr oducing students to research by using an assessment method that has gained positive feedback, strong student performance and high student progression.

 

Keywords: Keywords: Learning Contracts, Methodologies, Reflection, Assessment and Evaluation

 

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