Action Contracts

The Action Contract

The Action Contract was developed by Maurice Gibbons, Peter Norman and Gary Phillips(1980) and is reprinted with the permission of the lead author. It provides a 10-step procedure for “teaching the skills of self-direction and for guiding ” students’ progress through their self-directed activities. It may result in a product, or it may not.

Extensive directions for school use of the Action Contract can be found in Gibbons'(1990) book, The Walkabout Papers.

Two copies of the form are provided. The first is annotated with explanations for the content of each frame (from Gibbons, 1990). The space provided is usually too small so expanding the Action Contract into a Journal is a good idea. To do this, just staple the contract to 3-5 sheets of blank lined paper. This can be kept in a folder.

Evaluation of an Action Contract is based on the comparison of performance or understanding before and after the contract. A “baseline” and standards for evaluating progress should be set before beginning. Once the contract is completed the student (with the teacher’s support) can compare their new level of performance or understanding with the four levels on the form: baseline, minimum, satisfactory and excellence. Together they determine the level the student has achieved. As students become more self-directed,responsibility for this determination can become more and more their responsibility.

Action Contract Form [pdf]
Sample Action Contract [pdf]