Faculty Teaching Excellence Program




Diane Sieber, President's Teaching Scholar and Professor of Engineering & Applied Sciences

Research indicates that effective online educational design involves some form of establishing rules of engagement; these are the social norms, which comprise the social attitudes of approval and disapproval that emerge within a given culture. I suggest that establishing such norms for in-class interaction is equally important; my classes have been collectively writing social contracts for over 15 years. Although students “volunteer” to be in a classroom, they have not generally chosen their classmates, nor have they self-organized to form an optimal learning community. Collaboratively negotiating, writing and voting on a class contract can help students to coalesce as a community efficiently and early and can shift the enforcement of social norms (such as appropriate use of digital devices in the classroom, interaction etiquette and other classroom behaviors) from the authority-bearing instructor to classroom peers by mutual agreement. Students suggest that having a strong sense of consensual community helps them to learn better from each other and from their instructors. This interactive presentation introduces the idea of the social contract and the process of composing and voting on a social contract—both on paper and online through collaborative applications. It provides examples of real functioning student social contracts as well as of student assessment of the contracts’ impact on their learning. This session will generate discussion about the challenges that faculty face as we attempt to shape a classroom culture and address students’ distraction by digital devices.

Wednesday September 14, 3:00 - 4:30 pm

This event will be held in ATLAS 200.

University of Colorado at Boulder CU Home CU Search CU A to Z Campus Map