Opening the Didactic Contract: How Open Pedagogy Challenges Implicit Classroom Norms




McNally Carter, Kate

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Texas Digital Library


Open pedagogy has become a topic of burgeoning interest in higher education for its potential to enhance students’ learning, broaden their awareness of their participation in information and knowledge creation, and promote affordability of course content. Open pedagogy challenges the norms of traditional educational settings and the assumptive roles of the instructor and the students. What happens, though, when students come to the classroom with expectations about how the course will be structured? The didactic contract is a construct used in mathematics education that describes tacit classroom norms. It includes the set of behaviors expected by the students for their instructor, as well as the instructor’s expectations of their students. In a traditional didactic contract, the implicit role of the instructor is to facilitate the knowledge transfer of the content to the student; however, open pedagogy views students as co-creators of knowledge, which can complicate students’ expectations of their roles as learners. Much of the literature has focused on the success of open pedagogy in increasing student engagement, but is there a possibility that the shift in the didactic contract, or the expected norms of a course, can disrupt student engagement? In this presentation, I will discuss how the didactic contract is a useful construct for open pedagogy, and how we can use it to inform best practices around student agency and empower students to become active participants in their learning. We will explore how the terms of the didactic contact can be negotiated to mitigate student resistance by helping them understand the impact of open publishing for their work.


TCDL 2024 Session 8C, Thursday, 5/23/2024, 10:15 am to 11:15 am | Moderated by Karina Franco, University of Texas at San Antonio | Presentation | Scholarly Communications