Ways to Promote Student Responsibility for Learning

self-regulated learners
As noted in the Teaching Professor Blog post, student responsibility for learning can happen in three different arenas. First and foremost, students are responsible for their learning. Teachers can encourage and support learning endeavors in a variety of ways, but students must do the learning. Second, students should have responsibility for all those tasks that improve learning and develop learning skills—the kind of tasks teachers do so regularly that students have come to believe that they are teacher responsibilities. It’s the teachers’ job to tell them what’s important, review what they need to know and provide every assignment detail. However, doing for students what they should be doing on their own creates dependent learners. They’re unable to make decisions or don’t make very good ones, and they resist assuming responsibility for the very parts of the learning process that enable them to learn. Finally, there are responsibilities that students could share with teachers. Students could be given some say in how the class is run, how they will learn the content, and how that learning is assessed. Students can be involved in providing feedback and evaluating the work of their peers. Sharing responsibilities with students empowers them as learners. Teachers frequently talk with students about their responsibilities as learners, but telling students doesn’t usually garner the desired results. However, a number of faculty are using strategies, approaches, activities, and assignments designed in a way that they can’t be completed without students assuming some responsibility for learning. Here’s a collection of ideas with references for those that have been published.

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A collection of resources from across the disciplines

As noted in the Teaching Professor Blog post, student responsibility for learning can happen in three different arenas. First and foremost, students are responsible for their learning. Teachers can encourage and support learning endeavors in a variety of ways, but students must do the learning.

Second, students should have responsibility for all those tasks that improve learning and develop learning skills—the kind of tasks teachers do so regularly that students have come to believe that they are teacher responsibilities. It’s the teachers’ job to tell them what’s important, review what they need to know and provide every assignment detail. However, doing for students what they should be doing on their own creates dependent learners. They’re unable to make decisions or don’t make very good ones, and they resist assuming responsibility for the very parts of the learning process that enable them to learn. Finally, there are responsibilities that students could share with teachers. Students could be given some say in how the class is run, how they will learn the content, and how that learning is assessed. Students can be involved in providing feedback and evaluating the work of their peers. Sharing responsibilities with students empowers them as learners. Teachers frequently talk with students about their responsibilities as learners, but telling students doesn’t usually garner the desired results. However, a number of faculty are using strategies, approaches, activities, and assignments designed in a way that they can’t be completed without students assuming some responsibility for learning. Here’s a collection of ideas with references for those that have been published. Student should have responsibility for all those learning related tasks that improve learning and develop learning skills. Articles on coming to class prepared and ready to learn: Many faculty use quizzing mechanisms to encourage preparation. Quizzes can be designed with features that increase the motivation to prepare. Reading groups can also get students to class ready to discuss. Rezaei, A. R., (2015). Frequent collaborative quiz taking and conceptual learning. Active Learning in Higher Education, 16 (3), 187-196. Deterding, A. L., (2010). A new kind of “space” for quizzes. The Teaching Professor, November, p. 3. Parrott, H. M. and Cherry, E., (2011). Using structured reading groups to facilitate deep learning. Teaching Sociology, 39 (4), 354-370. Reference: Stan, P. L. (2015). A quiz that promotes discussion and active learning in large classes. The Teaching Professor, March. Articles on accepting responsibility for how they prepared and how they performed on the test: “The test was too hard.” “The questions were tricky.” “I studied the wrong things.” In other words, the low grade is not my fault. Students need to confront how they performed in light of how they prepared.  The articles referenced here highlight approaches that encourage more accurate explanations of the results. Sebestam A. J. and Speth, E. B. (2017). How should I study for the exam? Self-regulated learning strategies and achievement in introductory biology. Cell Biology Education—Life Sciences Education, 16 (2), 1-12. http://www.lifescied.org/content/16/2/ar30.full Favero, T. G. and Hendricks, H., (2016). Student exam a (debriefing) promotes positive changes in exam preparation and learning. Advances in Physiology Education, 40 (3), 323-328. Steiner, H. H., (2016). The strategy project: Promoting self-regulated learning through an authentic assignment. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 28 (2), 271-282. Articles on why students should voluntarily participate Calling on students relieves them of the decision to participate. They need to learn to ask questions when they have them and to contribute to discussions when they have relevant knowledge or experiences. Graham, C. R., Tripp, T. R., Seawright, L., and Joeckel III, G. L., (2007). Empowering or compelling reluctant participators using audience response systems.” Active Learning in Higher Education, 8 (3), 233-258. Articles on why students should take notes: The research is clear. There is a process and product benefit from note-taking. Deciding what to write down, and putting it in your own words promotes learning. A set of notes then becomes a product that can be used for subsequent study. Here’s a couple of approaches that may convince students that their own notes are better than the teacher’s. Cohen, D., Kim, E., Tan, J., and Windelmes, M., (2013). A note-restructuring intervention increases students’ exam scores. College Teaching, 61 (3), 95-99. Maier, M. H., (2016). Rotating note taker. College Teaching, 64 (3), 148. Articles on getting students to take ownership for their development as learners: Many students haven’t thought a lot about how they learn, as compared with how others learn, or thought about how approaches to learning fit (or don’t fit) a given task. Student could share responsibility for various classroom management issues and decisions about their learning Articles on allowing students to share responsibility for developing the syllabus The extent of that responsibility should correspond with the level of the course, but even in beginning courses, students can be asked for recommendations and given choices about aspects of the course. Kaplan, D. M. and Renard, M. K., (2015). Negotiating your syllabus: Building a collaborative contract. Journal of Management Education, 39 (3), 400-421. Hudd, S. S., (2003). Syllabus under construction: Involving students in the creation of class assignments. Teaching Sociology, 31 (2), 195-202. Gibson, L., (2011). Self-directed learning: An exercise in student engagement. College Teaching, 59 (3), 95-101. Articles on how students could share responsibility for creating and maintaining the climate for learning in the course For most students it’s tougher to violate a policy or rule if they’ve had a hand in creating it. DiClementi, J. D. and Handelsman, M. M., 2005. Empowering students: Class-generated rules. Teaching of Psychology, 32 (1), 18-21. Articles on letting students make some of the decisions related to what and how they learn course content Typically, all students in the course learn the content the same way: they write papers, take exams, etc. Insights about learning result when students are make some choices about how they will learn the content. Roney, S. D., and Woods, D. R., (2003). Ideas to minimize exam anxiety.” Journal of Engineering Education, 92 (4), 249-256. Lewis, L. K., and Hayward, P. A., (2003). Choice-based learning: Student reactions in an undergraduate organizational communication course. Communication Education, 52 (2), 148-156. Articles on letting students could make some decisions about what they need to know and how their learning will be assessed If students write potential exam questions and some of those are used, they have a role in identifying what they need to know. Some teachers go further and involve students in assessment activities. Green, D. H., (1997). Student-generated exams: Testing and learning. Journal of Marketing Education, 19 (2), 43-53. Corrigan, H. and Craciun, G. (2013). Asking the right questions: Using student-written exams as an innovative approach to learning and evaluation. Marketing Education Review, 23 (1), 31-35. Articles on letting students share assessment responsibilities by evaluating their work. No, they don’t get to give themselves the grade they’d like to have, but rather they look at their work or performance and make an assessment of it against a clearly articulated set of standards. Krohn, K. R., Foster, L. N., McCleary, D. F., Aspiranti, K. B., Nalls, M. L., Quillivan, C. C., Taylor, C. M., and Williams, R. L., (2011). Reliability of students’ self-recorded participation in class discussion. Teaching of Psychology, 38 (1), 43-45. Articles on how students could share assessment responsibilities by assessing the work of their peers: Peer assessment can move beyond mutual back scratching to a place where the feedback benefits the recipient and the evaluator who offered it. Jhangiani, R. (2016). The impact of participating in a peer assessment activity on subsequent academic performance. Teaching of Psychology, 43 (3), 180-186.