Student Responsibility for Learning

By Bacon, Charles S. | Adolescence, Spring 1993 | Go to article overview

Student Responsibility for Learning

Bacon, Charles S., Adolescence

Many teachers complain about the problem of getting students to be responsible for their own learning. If word of mouth is an indicator, this problem is serious and becoming more so. This paper presents the results of a study utilizing Morris's (1961) philosophical notion that a person may "be responsible" or "be held responsible." Students who are being responsible will do the work without constant reminders or prodding. Students who are being held responsible will do the work only when someone is somehow forcing them to do so. This distinction is discussed in more detail in Bacon (1991).

Others have described various aspects of "being responsible." Maslow (1976), for example, states that the self-actualized individual will take responsibility. He further states, "Each time one takes responsibility, this is an actualizing of the self". Rogers (1983) discusses results from his study of 75 juvenile delinquents (Rogers et al., 1948) in which he says, "I began to see the significance of inner autonomy. The individual who sees himself and his situation clearly and who freely takes responsibility for that self and for that situation is a very different person from the one who is simply in the grip of outside circumstances. This difference shows up clearly in important aspects of his behavior". Brown (1975) explains that, in confluent education, "What is sought here is a more intelligent use of mind so that individuals will not avoid taking responsibility for that large portion of their existence wherein potentially they could take responsibility.... As the student becomes more in touch with his interior and exterior reality, he can also take more and more responsibility for his own learning".

The present study was an effort to better understand student perspectives on responsibility for learning as suggested by the distinction between being responsible and being held responsible. Following Anderson and Prawat (1983), responsibility is viewed here as "... a complex concept involving a number of related issues, such as accountability and control.... Perception of control is an important factor in responding to one's own behavior as well. Individuals who feel in control are much more willing to accept responsibility for their own behavior. In the classroom, responsible behavior involves self-regulation and self-control by students". It is further contended that responsible persons are not satisfied following the path of least resistance. They will seek out challenges or, at the very least, will not back away from such challenges as they are presented.

The kinds of parameters applied in definitions of responsibility are discussed in the research on intrinsic motivation (e.g., Anderson & Prawat, 1983). For example, Lepper and Malone (1986) offer a way of organizing the various approaches to intrinsic motivation that seems heuristically useful for the present study. They discuss four theoretical orientations for looking at the concept of individual intrinsic motivation. Each represents the work of a number of scholars who have studied intrinsic motivation. These orientations are: humans as problem solvers, humans as information-processors, humans as voluntary actors, and the concept of fantasy. The notions of control and challenge are central to the first and third orientations. Working from an intrinsic motivation perspective, therefore, will enable us to study such central parameters of responsibility as control and challenge (for discussions of challenge, see Bandura & Schunk, 1981; Csikszentmihalyi, 1975, 1990; Deci, 1975, 1980; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Harter, 1978; Lepper & Greene, 1978; Weiner, 1980; White, 1959; for effort as an element of challenge, see Anderson & Prawat, 1983; Covington, 1984a, 1984b; Csikszentmihalyi, 1975, 1990; Harter, 1974; for control, see Condry, 1977; DeCharms, 1968; Deci, 1975, 1980; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Nuttin, 1973).

In this paper, an intrinsic motivation view of student responsibility for learning is used. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Student Responsibility for Learning


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.