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Topic: Summary-student responsibility part 3 of 4
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Posts: 133
Registered: 12/6/04
Summary-student responsibility part 3 of 4
Posted: Oct 24, 1995 7:55 PM
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Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 05:41:19 -0400
Subject: Re: Getting students to take responsibility

I applaud your collaborative strategies. Here are a few musings and ideas based
on similar initiatives at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor.

Your design of having students stand in front of the class to teach might make a
few people nervous about making a presentation, thus distracting them from
learning. One alternative approach I've tried is a jigsaw exercise. Here are
the steps: 1) Prepare an information sheet of terms and content that the
students are responsible for learning. (For instance the 3 different types of
business ownership: sole proprietorship, partnerships, corporations). 2)
Students in teams of 3 count off by threes (1-2-3). Team 1 gets the information
sheet on sole proprietorship, team 2 on partnerships, team 3 on corporations.
3) Teams (1-2-or 3) are responsible for helping each member understand the
information and devise a way to teach their original team members about the
concepts. 4) Students return to their orignial teams. Each person teaches
her/his component of the lesson. 5) There are many options for class at-large
follow-up such as questions, dioalogue, team quiz, a game of Jeopardy about the
topic, etc.

Contact Idahlynn Karre for her booklet _Busy, Noisy, and Powerfully
Effective: Cooperative Learning Tools in the College Classroom_ This
booklet has several collaborative exercises that work. Her address is:
Department of Speech Communicatoin
Univeristy of Northern Colorado
Greenley, Co 80639

Florida Community College at Jacksonville received a FIPSE grant to train over
150 teachers in cooperative learning. I believe they offer
training/information to interested educators. Sorry, I don't have the
telephone number. Have you applied any total quality tools to the process? I
have used quality problem solving and decision making tools with students in
actually designing course objectives and requirements. Students get input into
their learning while practicing useful tools. Quality tools such as the why
analysis, brainstorming, affinity diagram, decision tree, and nominal group
technique have worked brilliantly. David Langford and Robert Cornesky have
published some wonderful, useful videotapes and books on this process.

Are other people experimenting with these practices at your college? We have
created a group of interested faculty at Washtenaw who share strategies,
successes, and mistakes. It is a wonderful sounding board for questions similar
to yours.

Laura L. Bierema Washtenaw Community College P. O. Box D-1
Ann Arbor, MI 48184 (313) 973-3571
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 06:23:00 -0400
From: (terri laswell)
Subject: Re: Getting students to take responsibility

Ted and Others,
In our adult ed department we frequently make use of a critical or
problem-posing pedagogy as a means to help learners assume more
responsibility for their learning, as well as to help shape learning
situations that will honor their own experiences and encourage
critical perspectives. I had considered that perhaps this worked best
in courses where the content was non-technical, but you provided a
good example of group work within a highly technical context. That
was helpful to see.

What I have observed--both in myself and in other learners--is a
reluctance at times for learners to embrace such an approach. My
sense, and what I glean from reading, is that many of us have been so
culturized-socialized-institutionalized to believe that learning is a
largely passive activity (the fill-the-empty-head model) that it is
difficult and often extremely uncomfortable to assume a more active role. t's
as though we have somehow lost the ability to make meaning within a structured
environment; the instructor-as-expert perspective is far simpler than the work
and affect often involved in constructing knowledge for ourselves, and trusting
in our own experiences.

I observed a class last week, in which the instructor was developing a rubric
with the class to identify criteria for some papers due over
the next several weeks. This is a learner-centered process for
identifying characteristics of adequate, excellent, and outstanding
work (or whatever other categories of "quality" one would wish to
indicate). In part, this activity is done to help learners assume more
ownership or responsibility for their work, including the evaluation of their
work. Now, I would guess that every student in that room had a sense of what
constituted quality work, but few were willing to voice that sense. Having some
prior experience with this, the instructor worked patiently with them (it would
have been far easier for her to simply have listed her own criteria), and
ultimately a rubric was created that satisfied the class. Out-of-class
conversation indicated students were struggling with trying to "second guess"
what it was the instructor wanted them to say, rather than searching their own
experience with what they knew to be quality work.

Terri Deems
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Thu,
5 Oct 1995 09:19:23 AST
From: "Robert Lewis" <>
In responding to Ted Panitz's question, it seems to me that
efforts to help students take responsibility for their own learning
are thwarted somewhat by traditional evaluation systems. Ted's
example demonstrates this in his efforts to allay the student's
fears about evaluation of their teaching and his use of group
I've been using contract evaluation systems for years (25 or
more), and I've recently adopted portfolio systems. Both provide
high quality evaluation while involving students. Both make
formative evaluation "count" more and allow students to have more
control over the methods of measurement. Both systems seem to
students to be more responsive to effort, and permit teachers to
divert students away from surface processing toward deeper
processing of the content. Of the two I prefer contract, because
it allows me a better "lever" to induce students to try things they
might not otherwise attempt. I'll send my contract plan as an
example to anyone thinking about that system. I'd be interested
in seeing those from others on the list who are actively using
contracts or portfolios.
Part of my contract arrangement is a stipulation that for the
higher marks students must undertake a project designed to aid
the learning of others in the class. The project is unmarked,
but is subject to the reinforcements of others in the course, which
tends to keep quality high. The suggestions I make for this project
1) A test construction group which develops multiple choice items.
After editing by me, a practice test is made for all to use. I also
offer a "rationale sheet" which discusses why the keyed answer is right.
2) A "Devil's Advocates" group which attempts to develop knotty
questions to be raised in class. Questions may be asked of
the professor or the class.
3) Video production groups, charged with developing skits which
illuminate the class material. A very popular option, the resulting
videos often explain things much better than I could.
4) Poster production groups (or by individual), which clarify
5) A "planning group", which advises me of needed reteaching areas,
and suggests activities to complement the course.
Another part of my contract arrangement is the "quantity
requirement", which demands that all students write to me each
week. They may select from among several options, ranging from
"reaction reports" which have no specified content to "text
exercises" which require them discuss their success and reaction to
problems posed in the text. All messages now come to me by email,
and I read and respond to all. This provides a protected,
confidential channel for interaction between us. The advantages
for aiding involvement are obvious.
Naturally, all of this requires reasonably sized classes. I can keep up
with this load with classes of sixty fairly easily. Contract and portfolio
systems do create more work for the professor, but the payoff in student
involvement and responsibilitymakes it worth the effort.
Robert Lewis St.Thomas University Fredericton, N.B., Canada

Thu, 5 Oct 1995 07:05:08 -0600 (MDT)
From: bmarsh@lamar.ColoState.EDU (Barbara Marsh)
Subject: Re: Getting students to take responsibility

In response to students taking responsibility: may I refer you to pages 173-174
of Stephen Covey's book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I have found
his techniques to be very useful.
Date: Thu, 05 Oct 1995 09:18:50 -0500 (EST)
From: "Joan McMahon, University Teaching Initiative" <E7H5JOA@TOE.TOWSON.EDU>

I too have had success with "peer teachers." At both the graduate and
undergraduate level. At the graduate level, I use a book by Richard McCullough
(ASTD) on Planning Your Professional Devp in HRD. Here the students (indiv or
gp) go through a series of excises and then plan their own development plan. We
then negotiate it. Indiv with similar needs present what they are learning to
their peers. At the undergrad level, my hardest class is the first course in
their professioanl core. It is here that they confront several issues. The
teacher is not the fount of all learning; they have experience from othercourses
they can draw on and use; and they have to be responsible for their own
learning. Using electronic conferencing, students must present information
they have learned about a topic (what was the best source of information on
needs assessment?) Through CMC, they can share a wealth of information.

In both cases, my job is learning manager (foreign to most of them and TERRIBLY
uncomfortable at first, to say nothing of resentful and hostile). At the end of
the semester, the reflections from both groups deals with empowerment,
self-esteem, and new skills in life-long learning
Dr. Joan McMahon Professor, Health Science (and HRD)
Towson State University Towson, MD. 21204
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 1995 10:47:02 AST
From: "Russ Hunt" <>
Subject: Re: Getting students to take responsibility
In support of what Bob Lewis says,
> it seems to me that efforts to help students take responsibility
> for their own learning are thwarted somewhat by traditional
> evaluation systems.

The _Harvard Education Letter_, in a recent issue (I'm moving my
office and unable to find the issue, but their email address is, did a wonderful job of presenting some important
ways in which traditional evaluation not only undermines students'
responsibility but has other deleterious effects on learning. This is an issue
we really do need to address as a
profession, I think. Institutional pressures for grading and "product
labeling" are centered in universities.

Russell A. Hunt HOMEPAGE: www.StThomasU
Department of English .ca/faculty/hunt.htm
St. Thomas University EMAIL:
Fredericton, New Brunswick_ FAX: (506) 450-9615
E3B 5G3 CANADA / PHONE: (506) 363-3891
Date: Thu, 05 Oct 95 10:34:33 EDT
From: Bruce Wagner <BWAGNER@VM.TEMPLE.EDU>
To: all you guys discussing student responsibility <pod@lists.acs.ohio-

That so many even discuss this key issue in learning must say something very
positive about developments in higher education. My response to students who
seem to be all too passive about their education has been to ask them directly
what they want to achieve in our course. I do it through an open ended
questionnaire which I ask them to complete three times during the term, and
which we all refer to as we reach hard places during the course. I found that
students were taking my course because they "were told to." (It is a
requirement.) As I begin to ask them to figure what they want (aside from what
I want from them) I find that their growth, their involvement, their
collaborative efforts all become better focused and much more active. What has
pleased me most is that they say (both in the 3rd questionnaire and in person)
that they appreciate the dynamic of what has happened.

Bruce Wagner Learning Center Russell Conwell Center
Temple University Philadelphia

Date: Thu, 5 Oct 1995 11:55:08 -0600 (CST)
From: "jacqueline ann mintz" <>
Subject: RE: Getting students to take responsibility: Now, Literature

I have recently completed a semester of a shared teaching experience with a
group of undergraduates studying the drama in a Comparative Literature course. I
will be giving a presentation on the nitty-gritty, including a videotape of the
students teaching and all the self-and mutual evaluation materials they wrote at
the ISETA (International Society for Exploring Teaching Alternatives)conference
next week. In brief, my approach differed, not only by discipline from Ted's,
but in that I integrated into the syllabus and in teaching from the beginning,
preparation for the requirement, agreed upon by all those who chose to take the
course: that they would work in small groups to choose and then teach a play.
Based on what they had experienced as modeled by me, and through various
teaching and learning strategies, as well as their own interests and particular
strengths, they chose the plays, sorted out what would be done in class, how and
by whom, according to what their goals were for the other students to learn and
take away from their teaching. They had
a full month after the arrival of their texts to prepare. Assessment of the
whole course, including midsemester evaluations, and of each of the steps in
their projects followed. The students helped write these forms and evaluated
themselves and each other. My evaluation was one among the whole group in each
appropriate category. The play presentations led to a individual final papers
in which the chosen play figured prominently, though not necessarily
exclusively. I graded those papers. Evaluations for the projects were
integrated into the final evaluation for the course. All but one student said
that the project was educationally valuable, enjoyable and would recommend doing
it again. The single dissenter said s/he was indifferent. Students did a very
good job and, in sharing orally what they learned, said they experienced the
frustrations of time and coverage, choices to be made, etc. that we, as
long-time teachers struggle with always. I felt very gratified to learn that we
had a new level of understanding we might not otherwise have reached about
teaching and learning. The course all together received the highest evaluations
I have gotten to date. This was a freshmam/sophomore seminar course of 14
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 06:22:12 -0500 (CDT)
From: mike theall <>

Your 'experiment' sounds interesting and productive. A number of things you did
fit well into the 'taking responsibility' theme. First, of course, are the
aspects of collaborative learning which you built into the exercise. Second, by
structuring the work as you did, you kept clear, the fact that each student was
still responsible for some work (as opposed to some amorphous assignment wherein
such was not clear). You removed a large part of the anxiety factor by not
grading at first and by spreading the workout in the exam. You might find a lot
of interesting and highly relevant insights inthe work of Raymond Perry and
colleagues at the U of Manitoba. Ray has been doing a lot of research in
motivation/attribution and related areas and generally refers to his interest as
"perceived control in the college classroom". Ray will be giving an invited
address at AERA next April on this topic. He was awarded the Wilbert J.
McKeachie Career Achievement award by the AERA Special Interest Group in Faculty
Evaluation and Development at the 1995 AERA meeting. The address is given by the
recipient at the next meeting.) Since AERA is in New York next April, you might
be able to make it for the address. Ray's phone # is 204-474-8309 (or 474-6211
or 269-9137) if you want to reach him.
What you did, in effect, was to provide the students with a greater degree of
control over the 'where', 'how', 'when' the work was done as well as a greater
direct degree of responsibility for the material through having to 'teach' it to
peers. Sounds like it worked pretty well.

Sender: NEW-LIST - New List Announcements <NEW-LIST@VM1.NODAK.EDU>
Subject: NEW: L-ACLRNG - Active and Collaborative Learning

L-ACLRNG on LISTSERV@PSUVM.PSU.EDU - Active and Collaborative Learning

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The Colloquy - Over 150 Penn State Faculty and students, along with secondary
school teachers from across the state, meet at Penn State to explore how Penn
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Because of the continue growing interest in the series, plans are currently
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If there is any information you may be able to contribute or if you
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Owner: LeeAnn Pannebaker <LAH5@OAS.PSU.EDU>
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 10:14:58 -0500 (EST)
From: "Dr. Jimmie Williamson" <WILLIAMSON@A1.SUM.TEC.SC.US>

I read with great interest your discussion of how to get students
to accept responsibility for their own learning. While I am not a "content"
instructor, (I am a Dean of Student Affairs) I have more than a passing
interest in this concept. My interest stems from an anecdotal story whichI will
need to relate so that you can understand my response - please bear with me.

In the Spring of 1992, I was serving as Registrar and Interim
Dean of Students at another community/technical college in South Carolina. We
had just adopted the CPTs (College Board Placement Instrument) and it did such a
great job of placing our students that the numbers in Developmental Studies
doubled - from 300 to 600 in one term. During one of the infamous
"administrative retreats" I was left on campus to "man the shop". The
coordinator of Developmental Studies had mentioned to me earlier that she was
having discipline related problems in various classes and that the student
lounge was overflowing with loud, boisterous noise that needed to be contained.
To make a lo-o-ong story short, we got word from the students
that a gang (or posse) was coming on campus to settle the score. I took the
threat seriously and immediately called the Sheriff's office; the gang did show
up and were scared away by the police. I thought everything was okay, but later
that day, the gang returned. Luckily, no one was hurt and the Sheriff's office
responded quickly to our requests. I finally found the President and VP's and
informed them that I was closing thecampus that day at 2:30 (this was a Friday
afternoon) - they agreed. Monday morning brought a huge discussion about what
we could do. In short, it was decided that we needed to begin teaching
self-responsibility (which translated into responsibility for one's learning).
Out of necessity, I met with two other colleagues, a Speech teacher and
a developmental studies reading/math instructor. We developed a course that we
put in place during the Summer of 1992 (as a pilot). The course was written on
the developmental studies level and focused on goal-setting, self-esteem,
developing purpose and basic study skills. We could not find a book that would
address these issues inclusively or at the level we needed so we wrote our own!
The book has "evolved" over the years and the good news is that Allyn and Bacon
has picked the book up for publication and it will be available to colleges and
universities in early 1997/late 1996.
We use a variety of techniques in the course and do pre-and post-assessment
using an instrument we developed (perception of self as student)as well as the
Cooper-Smith Self-Esteem Inventory (the Speech instructor is very interested in
self-esteem and how personal responsibility comes from positive self-esteem).
Our research, over time, has indicated that students have significant gains in
self-esteem and their view of "how to be a good student".

The discipline problems at that institution seemed to improve -
at least from the developmental studies crowd. We think that the book has
wonderful potential and were thrilled that Allyn and Bacon thought so as well.
Please post all of your other "techniques" to the net so that we may all share
the knowledge.

James C. Williamson, Ph.D. Dean of Student Affairs Central Carolina Technical
College Sumter, South Carolina 29150
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 15:41:52 -0400
From: Merili Geller <Mer512@AOL.COM>
Sender: The Learning Styles Theory and Research List <EDSTYLE@SJUVM.STJOHNS.EDU>

It is alot easier to include children in this kind of learning if it has
started at a young age. I teach kindergarten and have even had this kind of
organization with pre-kindergarten children. When they walk into the room they
must turn over a card with their name and picture on it. they are therefore
responsible for taking the attendance. They have centers that they go "work'" in
and a chart to keep track of where they have been. They have folders to place
their work into.All of this is the responsibility as is cleaning and
maintaining the classroom. Parents are amazed at children who won't do a thing
at home and how organized and helpful they are in class.It
is very important to maske the children responsible for themselves as much as
possible. It helps build feelings of self worth. When I have tried to get
this cooperation from children who were older, 5th or 6th grade, they were
totally overwhelmed because they had never been treated this way before.
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 14:03:57 -0400
From: Anne Banks Pidduck <apidduck@WATDRAGON.UWATERLOO.CA>
Sender: "Forum for Teaching & Learning in Higher Educ." <STLHE-

I led a session at the last STLHE conference titled THINKING FOR THEMSELVES.
There was HUGE interest in activating the students to take responsibility for
their own learning in whatever ways possible. (Keep in mind, however, that the
students may not always be so enthusiastic! :') )
The discussion centred on:

Clarity of Purpose Letting the students know what you are doing
Participation Attendance, In-class Discussion, Quizzes
Group Work Projects, Presentations, More Discussion
Evaluation Writing, Essays, Student input for Exams

All of you should consider, however, whether this active approach will work for
*you* or *your students*. Many teachers are uncomfortable enabling their
students and many students would rather memorize and regurgitate. Other
considerations are size of class (12 versus 254) and subject matter (math versus
psych). We can get the students involved in any of these classes, but the
specific strategies will generally have to be different.
Anne Banks Pidduck Computer Science Department
University of Waterloo
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 20:07:55 -0400

I received your message- obviously. I am teaching an intro computer class and I
tried something a bit different. I arranged 5 tables and had a piece of
equipment on each table. I then made groups of 5 and had them sit at the
tables. The people in the group were expected to interact- the first would turn
to the person on the left, introduce themselves, and ask that person a question
about the piece of equipment sitting on the table. The group could discuss the
answer, the person who was on the left repeated the scenario- introduced
themself, asked the question to the person on the left. This continued until all
people in the groups had participated. Then I moved the groups to the next table
down the line. I really liked the results.

The students became aquainted with one another, the information was shared, and
common questions were defined and answered. I would think you could do the same
using manipulatives. I also teach a basic math class and have just received
some manipulatives that I had on order. I plan on using this strategy for my
math class. How about giving it a go?
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 20:37:25 -0400
From: "Nancy C. Zare" <>

Dear Adult Educators:
For an undergraduate class this term, I have asked students to
determine their own term assignment. Due this Sunday (class meets
4 week-ends per term), they are preparing a "contract" stating what
their learning objective/s is/are and how they plan to fulfill it/them.
I gave several ideas in the syllabus including journal, report,
presentation, art work, etc. We talked extensively last class about what it
means for them as adults to take responsibility for their own learning. I have
provided assigned readings and suggested topics for each session. However, I
start the class by making a joint agenda of items/topics to discuss. We often
assign timelines to them and priorities. I find this works very well with adult
Nancy Zare Springfield College School of Human Services
Sp[ringfield, Mass.
Date: Sat, 07 Oct 1995 01:05:19 -0400

> What sorts of things do you do to get the students actively involved in the
process of learning math?

I call these "group quizzes". Place at least as many problems as you have
coop groups on the chalkboards. These problems generally reflect the previous
night's homework.
Tell the class, "In twenty minutes, one of you is going to do one of these
problems for your group's grade. You don't know which problem you'll do or who
from your group will do it."
Don't you think that'll put a little peer pressure on everyone to master
theproblems? You bet it does. And if you play it right the kids don't feel much
anxiety about doing it. And if you really want to see the fur fly, do it in
relays giving each kid about 1/2 minute at the board, before being replaced by a
fellow group member.
It's amusing as hell to watch. Kids love it. Especially when you call
"free-for-all" and the kids at the desks can yell the answer to their
colleague at the board. It makes you happy to be a teacher.
Your resident Saxonista,
Date: Sat, 07 Oct 1995 12:19:13 -0400 (EDT)
From: Carlton Severance <>

I've been letting my students use their portfolios on many (but
not all) exams. Result: Some very nice portfolios, well-organized and
stuffed full of useful information, easy to access, etc. Students with
"science anxiety" are able to mellow out and function, and allstudents
have the satisfying feeling that they have gotten away with something. What
they've gotten away with is organizing information so that it's useful to them,
a far more real-world situation than the hardcore closed book test environment
in which many of them have languished til now.
I teach chemistry (and other sciences) at a small private
secondary school in New York.
Carl Severance
The Beekman School 220 E. 50th St. New York, NY 10022
Date: Thu, 05 Oct 1995 10:36:45 -0600
From: pat schutz <pschutz@MESA5.MESA.COLORADO.EDU>
Sender: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals

In my experience, there are few situations that can validate my effort and time
as a teacher, like the positive results of a group learning situation. I read
your account of just such a situation in your developmental classes, with great
interest and empathy. You obviously have a good grip on what it takes to
organize, maintain, and measure a productive group learning activity.

It's the MEASUREMENT of information assimilation part of group
learning strategies that always seems be most challenging for me.
Sometimes I devise a customized method, such as you did in your classes, and
other times I revert to the individualized grading methods in order to be as
fair as possible to each student. Other times, I insist from the beginning of
the course that certain activities (term papers, homework assignments etc.)
will be "group/team activities" and as such, will be graded based upon the
aggregate performance of the team as a unit. "Strive for synergy, or settle for
mediocrity with your least active member", is one of my battle cries. In the
final analysis, every student's course grade is based mostly upon individual
tests and individual assessments of his/her performance.

You asked for other ideas to promote participation:

I have recently begun to vary my normal method by which I create teams in the
classroom. From time to time, the teams that I create at the beginning of the
semester will exhibit some negative behaviors as the course progresses.
Groupthink, ostracization of members, suboptimization of group capabilities are
a few of the more easily recognizable behaviors that show up on occasion.

In order to maximize the potential for each group to succeed, the RAM was born.
Introducing a RAM into each group each time there is a team activitiy, causes
the groups to become just a little less cohesive and just a bit more
intellectually energetic. The RAM, or Random Alternative Member position is
filled by a student who will join a team which is different from his/her own,
and will only be a member of the new team for one class period.

Once the teams have been well established and have had enough interaction to
become cohesive, the RAM concept is introduced. The RAM has specific duties
that s/he must perform in the new team. For the RAM to make a significant
contribution to the new team, s/he must attempt to act as a Devil's Advocate for
unorthodox/creative solutions, an outside expert, and a champion of diverse
The result is usually a reduction in the negative behaviors caused by
severe cohesiveness, and among other things, a heightened awareness of the
potential rewards for the encouragement of diverse thought.

Pat Schutz Mesa State College

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