How can I Introduce Student Accountability in Class to Enhance Student Performance?

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Developing a system of student accountability helps students take responsibility for their own learning.Do your students give excuses for their poor performance in class? Are excuses like “there was no sufficient time to prepare,” “the questions were too tough,” “the material was not taught in class,” etc. often used in your class? Student accountability is an important trait to develop in your students. It helps them take responsibility for their actions, learning, and helps improve academic performance and achievements.

Introducing student accountability in the classroom

It may not be easy initially to instill this behavior in your students, but with your constant support, students may slowly learn to develop it. Here are some ideas to achieve student accountability in your classroom:

  • Explain the concept

What is student accountability? Few students understand the need to take responsibility for their actions. Therefore, it is essential that you frame rules at the beginning of the year on the actions that are acceptable and unacceptable in the classroom. Unacceptable behavior should have a prescribed consequence (like a time-out) that should be followed closely. The student then decides whether he/she performs the acceptable/ unacceptable task. Understanding this crucial concept will help students take responsibility for their actions.

  • Rules are rules

Be firm with your rules. It is often observed that leniency only encourages students to break rules. When a teacher bends the rules for someone in class, others will expect the same treatment. Failure to comply will lead to complaints of favoritism that adversely affect the dynamics of the class. Thus, following your rules is a good way to instill accountability in your students.

  • Create a positive environment

Be positive, non judgmental and supportive to the students. Since your students are trying to change their behavior, there may be slip ups initially. Remind the student that every action has a consequence and that it was their choice to face the punishment. You may also have a group system in which students remind and support each other.

  • Teacher-Student-Parent

Inform parents of the game plan. At times, incorrect or imprecise information is conveyed to the parents. To prevent this and generalize student accountability even outside the class environment, parents should be kept in the loop. If a student misbehaves or fails to turn in the work on time, you can ask the child to call and inform the parents in your presence. Such practices will reduce the incidence of mistakes from occurring and increase the practice of taking responsibility.

  • Follow a plan

Help your students develop a plan to achieve their goals. Instruct them to draw a triangle. At the tip of the triangle, write the goal that needs to be achieved (i.e. improving performance, submitting assignments on time). On the base, write down the steps necessary to achieve the goals. This gives them the opportunity to formulate their own goals and strategies. Writing them down serves as a reminder to the students on their committed to their goals and teachers may encourage them to sign the work and also get it signed by their parents. A copy of this is maintained by both the staff and parents to help the student achieve his/her goals. After two weeks, teachers and students can review the goals to see how much was attained, discuss whether the goals were realistic, figure out changes to the plan or set new goals. Such practices will help students to be proactive in their learning.

  • Keep an achievement chart

Another way to instill student accountability is to encourage students to evaluate their own work, performance and participation in class. Create an achievement chart that records the various activities and behaviors in class (for example: active involvement in class, academic performance in tests, timely submission of assignments, achievement of goals, etc.). This chart is to be scored by the student daily on a three point scale of 0, 1, and 2 where 2 is good, 1 is average and 0 is bad. At the end of each week, the student adds the score and makes a chart which is a record of their learning. The chart demonstrates how well each student has achieved their objectives of learning and which areas needs more work and effort.

Thus, by teaching students to be accountable for their work and take responsibility for maintaining a level of academic performance, we are encouraging them to be in charge of their own success.

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