Sherry St. Clair
Creating Meaningful Project-Based Learning Team Contracts
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
Team contracts are a staple in any good project-based learning experience. When written correctly and implemented effectively, team contracts provide an invaluable support for both teachers and students. They not only provide an avenue for students to take ownership of their learning but they also build real-life skills such as coordinating with others, communication, people management, and negotiation, all skills noted as needed in the World Economic Forum’s “The Future of Jobs” report. Below are some tips to utilize when creating team contracts.
Outline the Criteria for Success.
The first part of a contract should include the behavior expected of all students in a group. Although this is not an all-inclusive list, below are a few items teachers may want to include in this section of the contract
All group members should be on time.
All group members should bring required materials to their group meetings.
Technology should be used for instructional purposes only.
Group members should actively listen to each other.
All group members are responsible for the success of the group.
Group members will fulfill their group obligations on time.
Outline Group Roles
Each person in a group should have a role and understand the responsibilities of that role. A Group Leader/Manager can lead the group and help manage their engagement. A Recorder can keep records of what the group accomplishes each day and ensure the group stays on track for successful completion of the project. A Questioner can find the answers of any questions the group may encounter. A Researcher may look information up online and/or in other resource materials. These are just some of the possible roles. What’s important is everyone has a role and a reason to stay actively engaged.
In this section of the contract, group members should agree upon small check-in points and due dates to ensure the group’s final product is completed on time. In this section, the teacher may want to include space where they can check off completion of those smaller steps as well. This helps the teacher ensure the group is meeting the goals and on track to complete the final project in a timely manner.
Outline Steps to Take During Team Challenges.
Team challenges should be anticipated and can be greatly reduced if team members understand what should be done during these challenges. In this section of the contract, consider the items that frequently interrupt group progress and provide some guidelines to maneuver through these hurdles. Below are a few things to consider:
How will students handle conflict in the group?
What if the group is completely overwhelmed by the complexity of the project?
What if someone isn’t completing his or her part of the assignment?
What if one person is trying to take over the entire project?
What if a member is absent multiple days?
Helping students understand these are all normal parts of collaborative work and providing them with steps to take when this occurs will help with the management of issues in the class.
During the project, teachers may want to periodically remind students of the contract and ask them to reflect on how well they are following the items listed in the contract. Utilizing these team contracts will ensure students have a structure for controlling their own learning and an opportunity to effectively collaborate in project-based learning experiences.
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