Self-Learning Contracts

Develop a learning contract after taking the GAPtest.

PERSONAL STRATEGIES

The goal of learning strategies is to encourage and guide individuals in increasing awareness and knowledge in areas where they score lowest in the GAPtest. Individual interest in learning may be enhanced if test takers can relate their GAPtest score to personal experience. Recall the incident with my Bangladeshi acquaintance which sparked the idea for this test (in the online manual).

A personal strategy should be divided into three categories: attitudinal, cognitive, and experiential. An attitudinal strategy means recognizing where one falls short in global awareness and developing an “I don’t know, but I want to know” attitude when confronted by a new subject area. A cognitive learning strategy might be to purchase a pocket atlas and refer to it often, Alternatively, it might be to regularly read Internet on-line publications such as CNN Interactive and the Christian Science Monitor. The ideal experiential strategy, of course, is a trip, internship, or study abroad experience.

The basic process in developing a personal strategy involves the following:

  1. Specifying a learning goal
  2. Identifying specific actions to take and aims to be accomplished
  3. Encountering people, places, and things of other cultures
  4. Integrating other areas of training
  5. Providing for accountability

Learning Strategy Contract.

Develop a learning strategy contract and have participants fill it out during class or as an overnight assignment. Ask overseasbound trainees for a forwarding address. Six to twelve months later, mail a copy of their learning contract to them and ask for a report. For residential college classes, schedule periodic reports. Some participants may wish to choose a cultural mentor to guide their learning. A cultural mentor is a knowledgeable person who is native to a targeted region or very well informed about a context area and who guides the learning process. These meetings may be informal or formal in nature. A formal meeting may also include remuneration and/or be a part of formal in-country language study.

SAMPLE LEARNING STRATEGY CONTRACT

Name:

My GAP scores (Please attach a copy of your profiles from the GAPtest):

GOALS

One year from today I would like to know more about (region) and (context area). In order to improve my knowledge I plan to do the following:

1. Find a cultural mentor and plan regular meetings. (List the name of your mentor and time of meetings)

2. Expand my cognitive knowledge through reading and study:

  • Watch foreign film
  • Enroll in a school course or seminar
  • Subscribe to and read a weekly (publication)
  • Read a travel book about
  • Read a novel by a native author
  • Read a book in the context area of

3. Maintain a personal learning journal with observations and reflections about my new interest.         Date started:

4. Gain firsthand experience by:

5. Pursue social interaction with a person or persons from:

6. Plan a trip to:

  • Visit local museums and cultural centers
  • Study a foreign language
  • Learn a new art form and its relationship to one of the life contexts of

My first report is due:

Signed

Date

Follow-up.

Throughout the training period or semester, monitor the individual strategies designed by the participants. You can ask for periodic written and oral reports. As mentioned earlier, in a long-term education program you may wish to retest to evaluate improvement.

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