The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2007 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

PERCEIVED BENEFITS OF THE USE OF LEARNING CONTRACTS TO GUIDE CLINICAL EDUCATION IN RESPIRATORY CARE STUDENTS

K. J. Rye1, 2



Background: In an attempt to guide the learning process toward self-direction in the clinical learning environment, we implemented the use of the learning contract. The literature has focused on the definition and characteristics of the use of learning contracts while attempting to build an argument that their use increases student motivation for learning and fosters the skills of self-directed learning. If that is true, then it is imperative to explore our students’ views regarding a clinical course that is based on the learning contract methodology.

Methods: A learning contract was implemented as a learning tool in Clinical Practicum IV of the Cardio-Respiratory Care Program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. An action research approach was utilized in this study. Data were collected from surveys that were administered anonymously at the end of the course and after the assignment of clinical grades. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data. The mean and standard deviation (SD) of each item were calculated.

Results:
Participants in the study were twenty-four (24) senior students enrolled in the respiratory care course. Twenty-one (21) students returned the surveys (88%). Participants were overall quite optimistic regarding the use of the learning contract. They generally agreed that they could use the learning contract with confidence. Findings of this study further suggest that students generally agreed that there was an increase in students’ autonomy and motivation in scholarship with the use of a learning contract. The mean of the items ranged from 1.29 to 1.81.The SD ranged from 0 to 1.1. The Experience: Clinical learning contracts were designed to provide students with the opportunity to focus on any identified areas of unsatisfactory or desired practice. The learning contract specified how the learner would acquire the knowledge and attitudes relevant to their selected learning experience. The clinical learning contract was subsequently utilized both as a learning tool and as evidence of a student’s development throughout their clinical experience.

Conclusions: Contract learning is considered favorable to students’ knowledge and skill acquisition and has the prospective to be incorporated into the clinical education of respiratory care students.

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