Promote Student Responsibility for Learning

Decorative: A street sign with the word "Responsibiliy" on it


"Ways to Promote Student Responsibility for Learning" (online article) outlines a variety of "strategies, approaches, activities, and assignments designed in a way that they can’t be completed without students assuming some responsibility for learning." Some of these strategies are are included below:

1. Quizzes

  • "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."
  • Have "[s]tudents prepare questions which become a test bank shared online for review and study with some used on the exam."
  • Allow "[s]tudents write and answer their own test questions. They’re graded on the difficulty of their questions and the content of their answers."
  • Randomly select "[a] pair of ... students [to] help classmates answer quiz questions by writing content from the reading on the board before the quiz is distributed."
  • Assign "[a] take-home quiz ... several days before the topic will be discussed in class." Include "[o]ne prompt ... [that] provides a link to a recent article or video on the topic," so students "come to class prepared on the topic and with something to discuss."
  • Pass out "[c]ompleted short-answer [responses] ..., 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."
  • Use "[e]xam 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."
  • Have "students implemen[t] a variety of evidence-based study strategies as they prepare for an exam in another course. After the exam, students analyze the effectiveness of those strategies."

2. Participation

"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."

  • Use "[c]lickers ... [to] encourage reluctant participators ... [especially] formatively and not for grades."

3. Note-Taking 

"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."

  • Have "[s]tudents ... complet[e] a three-part note-restructuring assignment: they ... 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."
  • Each class, select a different student as "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."

4. Reflecting on Learning

"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, [have] 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."
  • Have "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."

Weimar, Maryellen. "Ways to Promote Student Responsibility for Learning." Faculty Focus Premium. 6 September 2017.