HOW TO INVOLVE STUDENTS IN THEIR LEARNING PROCESS: LEARNING CONTRACTS
Reducing the high university dropout rate in Europe remains an important challenge, particularly in Spain. Ministers of Education of the twenty seven European countries have recently found that the reforms launched at Community level to improve the quality of education have not reached the desired results in many areas. It is therefore, necessary to put into action urgent proceedings to reduce the level of educational failure and increase the resources for education, two key aspects to avoid problems of social and economic exclusion in the future.
Why is it important to implement a new system for improving education of students in the subjects of "Advanced Medicinal Chemistry", fifth year of the Grade of Pharmacy? We are immersed in a context in which our students of the Degree in Pharmacy have low motivation towards chemical-based subjects; in addition, the basic chemical skills were earned in the first academic courses (Figure 1). When students faced the subjects for the first time, they thought they "can not" overcome them. Our goal is to change the message from "not possible" to "it is possible".
To achieve this, we need the involvement of students in their own education and they have to take responsibility for their own learning process. This goal was reached by linking the students to the target through a Learning Contract signed by teacher and student.
A learning contract is a working agreement between student and teacher concerning how student will get specific learning competences and objectives. The teaching team, in close collaboration with the students, designed a learning contract that included all the relevant issues for each part. The main topics are recorded below:
a. What the student will learn.
b. Respectful behavior
c. Active attitude towards the projects.
d. How the students will assess the targets.
e. Methods of evaluation.
f. Self evaluation.
Herein the authors will present the results of using a new learning contract as a methodological tool, which has allowed a dramatic reduction in the high university dropout rate compared with the results obtained in previous years (from over 30% to values close to 11%).
 LaVanguardia.es, 7 Marzo 2011. Vida. El abandono escolar en España es de los más altos de Europa y va a peor. Beatriz Navarro.
 Camacaro, P.R.: Abordaje conceptual de calidad de vida en el trabajo, en Contribuciones a las Ciencias Sociales, marzo 2010, www.eumed.net/rev/cccss/07/prc.htm
 Bruno D’Amore. Influencias del contrato didáctico y de sus cláusulas en las actividades matemáticas en la escuela primaria.
 Przesmycki, H. (2000): La pedagogía del contrato. El contrato didáctico en la educación. Barcelona, Grao.