The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Psychological Contract in School

Trond Lekang, Nord university (Norway)

Njål Vidar Traavik, Nord university (Norway)

Gisle Heimly, Nord university (Norway)


In this article, we present how a joint psychological contract was negotiated with students at three high schools in a region of Norway. Traditionally, it can be argued that the student-teacher role is characterised by one-way communication where the learner is a passive recipient of knowledge, even though listening and mental processing of a lecture can be activity in itself (Regan, 2012). Psychological contracts are perceptions and implicit expectations teacher and students have of each other to the gap between the formal contract (the laws and education laws of the school) and working conditions included reducing conditions and noise, shaping behavior and providing students with meaningful lessons and teachers good relationships (Van de Ven, 2007). Rousseau (1995) emphasizes the subjective element of the psychological contract consisting of subjective perceptions of mutual obligations and promises. Teachers face different expectations related to the quality of their learning environment. While some face an expectation of good results and achievements, other teachers are greeted by an emphasis on well-being and good relationships. It can create an uncertain basis for relationship building, and can lead to conflicts. Breaches of expectations can have a major impact on the employees' working environment and the pupils' learning environment. 

The researchers conducted qualitative interviews with 3 teachers and about the expectations they have as teachers of their students, what expectations the students have of them as teachers and what expectations the students have of each other. 

The teachers' experiences and challenges associated with not establishing a psychological contract were that they were not able to communicate their expectations to the students to any great extent. This led to the students becoming insecure as they were not aware of the teachers' expectations of them, or understood the teachers' change in reaction patterns. The intention of the teachers is to establish a good dialogue that steers towards clarifying goals and expectations, clarifying the individual student's role in the professional learning community, as well as creating appropriate rules of the game. The findings show that the students have a high degree of relational expectations of the teacher, expect structure and predictability in the instruction and expect relevance between the education and the goals of the education. 

Keywords: psychological contract, teacher-student relationships, role expectations 


[1] Regan, J.-A. (2012). The role of students and lecturers in higher education. Journal of Educational Philosophy, 46(1), 14–24. Retrieved 10/01/24 from

[2] Rousseau, D. M. (1995). Psychological contracts in organizations. Understand written and unwritten agreements. Newbury Park, CA: Bur. 

[3] van de Ven, C. (2007). The Psychic Contract: A Big Deal! The Hague, The Netherlands: Behavioral Sciences Service Centre, Netherlands Ministry of Defence, NATO Research and Technology Organisation (RTO-TR-HFM-107, Chapter 3E). 


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