Sunday, July 14, 2013

Responsibility vs Accountability

by Barbara Bray

Lately the word "responsibility" has been used interchangeably with the word "accountability" when it comes to teachers, teaching, and learning. Oh my! Why is it that teachers are held accountable for what learners are to learn? If teachers are accountable for what their learners are learning, are learners only learning for their teachers or a grade, not for themselves? Where does intrinsic motivation factor in the equation? Evaluations of teachers are often based on learner performance and data, so teachers feel not only accountable but responsible for what their learners learn. Doesn't this seem backwards? 
by  flickingerbrad 

When learners take responsibility to write something they are interested in for an audience of their peers like this learner from Yukon Public Schools, they are motivated to write, read each others work, and want to learn and do more. 

Responsibility means a moral obligation and something taken upon one's self.

Most of the teachers we know feel wholly and morally responsible for their learners. That's why most of us went into the profession: to make a difference. Yet is it up to us for learners to learn the content?

Accountability is more of a social contract or social obligation. Accountability can be measurable. If teachers are accountable for their learners' learning, then why would learners feel responsible for their own learning? 

If these are the correct definitions then "accountability" refers to making, keeping, and managing agreements and expectations where "responsibility" is the feeling of ownership. So that's it! That's what we've been talking about. Being responsible for our own learning. Maybe this also means that each learner needs to be held accountable for what they learn by taking responsibility for their own learning. Okay - so maybe we confused you, but this is what we mean when we talk about personalizing learning. Teachers usually feel a responsibility to create an environment that engages and motivates learners to want to learn.
As for the journey of life; at some point you will realize that YOU are the driver and you will drive!” Life, the Truth, and Being Free
So we went back and read Dave Truss' blog post: Personalization and Responsibility where he wrote that educators openly sharing in learning communities create an environment where teachers are learners, and they model what they want from learners. He referred to the last sentence in our report that details the Personalization vs Differentiation vs Individualization chart when learners and teachers reflect on their own learning and must communicate it to others, they are intensifying their understanding about a topic, their learning strengths, and the areas in which they need to develop further.
On this same post, Dave shared that Andy Hargreaves stated in The Fourth Way where we should be focusing more on responsibility with teaching and learning at the top of the pyramid

Barbara McCombs, PhD, from the University of Denver, states in her research Developing Responsible and Autonomous Learners: A Key to Motivating Students that motivation is related to whether or not learners have opportunities to be autonomous and to make important academic choices. Having choices allows children to feel that they have control or ownership over their own learning. This, in turn, helps them develop a sense of responsibility and self-motivation.
When learners feel a sense of ownership, they want to engage in academic tasks and persist in learning. If teachers and learners are learners first, then responsibility comes with being a learner. Learners of all ages become responsible for their learning when they own and drive their learning.

So what is it? Teachers and learners need to be accountable for their own learning by taking responsibility for their learning. What do you see as the difference between accountability and responsibility?

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