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.
- Allow students to use notes taken on the reading during the quiz and in some conditions use those notes to collaborate with other students on quiz questions.
Rezaei, A. R., (2015). Frequent collaborative quiz taking and conceptual learning. Active Learning in Higher Education, 16
- A pair of randomly selected students help classmates answer quiz questions by writing content from the reading on the board before the quiz is distributed.
Deterding, A. L., (2010). A new kind of “space” for quizzes. The Teaching Professor, November,
- Students are assigned to reading groups and rotate through a set of different roles, each with different responsibilities.
Parrott, H. M. and Cherry, E., (2011). Using structured reading groups to facilitate deep learning. Teaching Sociology, 39
- A take home quiz is assigned several days before the topic will be discussed in class. One prompt has students provide a link to a recent article or video on the topic. They come to class prepared on the topic and with something to discuss.
Reference: Stan, P. L. (2015). A quiz that promotes discussion and active learning in large classes. The Teaching Professor,
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.
- Exam wrappers – The returned test has a wrapper with questions related to time spent studying, study strategies used, errors made on the test and plans for subsequent test preparation. Grades aren’t recorded until the test is returned with the questions answered. The open-access article below contains a great set of exam wrapper questions.
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
- Students conduct an analysis of their graded exam and generate a set of “findings” with implications for the next exam. The findings are discussed with the professor.
Favero, T. G. and Hendricks, H., (2016). Student exam a (debriefing) promotes positive changes in exam preparation and learning. Advances in Physiology Education, 40
- An assignment in a first-year seminar course has students implementing a variety of evidence-based study strategies as they prepare for an exam in another course. After the exam, student analyze the effectiveness of those strategies.
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
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.
- If students are regularly called on, schedule “volunteer” days when only those who volunteer to participate will be recognized.
- Give students a choice: do they want to be called on or volunteer. Award more participation credit to those who select to participate voluntarily, provided they contribute on a regular basis.
- Clickers have been shown to encourage reluctant participators. They do so more effectively when they are used formatively and not for grades.
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
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.
- Students in a social psychology research methods course completed a three-part note-restructuring assignment: they had to summarize the main point of the lecture in 30 words or less, describe one detail from the class in 150 words, and type a reorganized version of their notes. When they did these three things, they scored equivalent to a full grade higher on exam questions covering that content
Cohen, D., Kim, E., Tan, J., and Windelmes, M., (2013). A note-restructuring intervention increases students’ exam scores. College Teaching, 61
- Each day a different student is the “assigned” note-taker whose notes from that class session are posted online. Other students are still responsible for taking their own notes but they have a second set, taken by someone whose notes will be graded by the teacher and seen by everyone.
Maier, M. H., (2016). Rotating note taker. College Teaching, 64
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.
- At the beginning of the course, students write a description of how they learn and identify the specific skills they plan to use in the course. They review and revise the description after the first exam or paper and again near the end of the course.
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
- In a course for majors, students identify one learning skill necessary in their intended profession that they don’t currently have or need to develop further. They propose how they plan to develop that skill in this course, and then assess its development near the end of the course
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.
- The syllabus is presented to students as an “initial offer.” Students are encouraged to negotiate the details with the instructor.
Kaplan, D. M. and Renard, M. K., (2015). Negotiating your syllabus: Building a collaborative contract. Journal of Management Education, 39
- In this course for majors, students are given a syllabus that outlines course content. They propose a set of possible assignments.
Hudd, S. S., (2003). Syllabus under construction: Involving students in the creation of class assignments. Teaching Sociology, 31
- In this upper division course, students are given 50 possible course objectives and 22 potential assignments. They design the course with the proviso that it must fit the published course description.
Gibson, L., (2011). Self-directed learning: An exercise in student engagement. College Teaching, 59
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.
- Students were given the areas where policies were needed (late arrival/early departures, deadlines, sleeping in class, use of cell phones, etc.) and then asked to develop them.
DiClementi, J. D. and Handelsman, M. M., 2005. Empowering students: Class-generated rules. Teaching of Psychology, 32
Articles on letting students make some of the decisions related to what and how they learn course content
- In groups, students are asked to identify teacher behaviors that make it difficult to learn. The teacher generates a list of those most frequently mentioned and pledges to work to avoid those behaviors. The teacher generates a list of student behaviors that make it difficult to teach well and asks if students will commit to avoiding those.
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.
- Let students determine the weight (within an instructor determined range) of two major course grades. In this case it reduced exam anxiety.
Roney, S. D., and Woods, D. R., (2003). Ideas to minimize exam anxiety.” Journal of Engineering Education
- Students selected two of 10 different assignments for 50% of their grade. Analyzed student reactions to being given this choice.
Lewis, L. K., and Hayward, P. A., (2003). Choice-based learning: Student reactions in an undergraduate organizational communication course. Communication Education
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.
- Students prepare questions which become a test bank shared online for review and study with some used on the exam.
Green, D. H., (1997). Student-generated exams: Testing and learning. Journal of Marketing Education
- Students write and answer their own test questions. They’re graded on the difficulty of their questions and the content of their answers.
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
Articles on letting students share assessment responsibilities by evaluating their work.
- Involve students in the development of a rubric that will be used to evaluate an assignment or activity. For example, have students identify the components of an effective discussion and then use that rubric to offer feedback on a class discussion.
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.
- Using an empirically investigated method, students recorded and described their contributions to discussion. Results showed students did not over-report their participation.
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
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.
- Completed short-answer quizzes are passed out, identified by number but not name, with a grading rubric. Each student grades two quizzes. If the quiz grades are the same, the grade counts, unless the student who took the quiz disagrees with the grade. If the grades are different or the student objects to the grade, the teacher grades the quiz.
Jhangiani, R. (2016). The impact of participating in a peer assessment activity on subsequent academic performance. Teaching of Psychology, 43
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