A contract is a written agreement between a student
and a teacher [or parents] that is directed toward changing the
youngster's behavior. It is a motivational device in which you agree
to provide a reward to the student if s/he completes a designated
task or displays a certain behavior. The selected behavior is usually
one that is exhibited less frequently than you would desire. Therefore,
you offer an incentive to the student to increase the occurrence
of that behavior. The contract outlines time or amount constraints,
the reinforcer to be administered, and any other necessary conditions.
examples of contracts
Most contracts are positively oriented. That is,
they reward success, but offer no consequences for failure. However,
some do include penalty clauses to punish the student if s/he fails
to meet stated expectations. Here are some examples of contracts:
Room 226 Contract
During the week of: ________________________________________
I will: _____________________________________________________
If I do this, I will receive: ___________________________________
We agree to the above terms.
The following is an agreement between ___________________________________
The terms of the agreement are as follows:
The student will _________________________________________________________________________.
In return, the teacher will _________________________________________________________________.
The following conditions apply:
This contract is rendered null and void if the
student fails to achieve the designated goal. The contract will
be reviewed on: (date)
How to Use Contracting
1. Arrange a meeting with the selected student.
2. Discuss your concern about academic or behavioral
performance and make it known that you are willing to make a deal
in order to help him/her improve.
3. Explain contracting and give a few examples. Tell how movie
stars, sports heroes, and persons in other professions of interest
to the student are involved with contracts.
4. Be sure that the student understands the concept of contracts
by asking him/her to give an example of a contract.
5. Inform the student of which behaviors you would be willing to
reward. You might also wish to ask the student which behaviors s/he
feels need to be improved.
6. Have the student tell you for which activities or items s/he
is willing to work.
7. Negotiate the ratio of task to reinforcement and agree upon
the amounts. Decide what must be done to receive the reinforcement.
8. Decide on the achievement level to be met by the student (e.g.,
80 percent correct, less than three talk-outs per day). In order
to ensure motivation and success, you may initially wish to start
with the student's criteria at an easily achievable level and renegotiate
later for a higher level of performance.
9. Determine the amount of time allotted to complete the task.
10. Determine who will monitor and evaluate the student's performance.
(The teacher usually does this.)
11. Determine how and when the reinforcement will be awarded.
12. Set a date for renegotiation of the contract. This future discussion
allows dissatisfied parties to state grievances and close loopholes.
13. Read the contract with the student and sign your names if both
are in agreement.
14. Have a witness read and sign the contract. Obtaining a witness
who is perceived positively by the student may be a good motivational
15. Have all parties shake hands and congratulate each other.
Activities and Discussion Questions
1. Find a partner and assign her or him the role
of the student. You, as the teacher, lead the contract development
meeting by following the steps outlined above. If you do not have
a specific task or behavior in mind, use the following situations:
a. Sarup is regularly truant. When she does attend your class she
refuses to do any work.
b. Brian rarely does his homework.
c. Robin dislikes remedial reading instruction. He will not bring
a book to the tutoring sessions as requested and complains if you
ask him to go to the library and choose one. When asked to read
orally in a small group, he places his head on the table and rests
2. Write three different contract forms, one for
primary grades, one for intermediate grades, and one for high school
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