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Personal Responsibility

Updated on October 17, 2015

Defined as, ‘having a capacity for moral decisions and therefore accountable’ responsibility is being accountable for one’s actions and decisions’ ( 2012.) However, personal responsibility takes this one-step further and making it personal, a way of living. Knowing what responsibility and doing what is responsible are two different things, and therein lays the definition of personal responsibility. To me, personal responsibility is not only knowing what the right thing to do is, but also following through on that knowledge. Alternatively, as Geoff Thompson said, “Words, without action, are like wheels without traction”. ( 2012.)

Personal responsibility, is not only, as Dr. Kimberly Alyn states, accepting responsibility for your actions, but it is also doing what you can to keep from making those mistakes again. (Alyn, K. 2010.) It is also knowing where your ethics lie and what you consider morally right (or wrong); this will help you if you are ever faced with a conflict of ethics.

It is also knowing what your goals are, and having steps to make those goals. (Haskins, R. n.d.)Responsibility, without follow through, is like any other action in which there is no action – worthless. You might want to be an ethical person, but if you make no steps towards that you will never succeed – or, to coin a phrase, knowing might be half the battle, but action is the rest.

How does this apply to me, in regards to my schooling? There are five steps that are essential in regards to being responsible in school; read assignments, books, and my syllabus religiously, submit assignments in a timely manner, be honest in all I say and do, participate with my class, and communicate with my teacher and fellow students. However, knowing I need to do this and actually doing it is two different things. To succeed at being responsible I must plan to be responsible, because knowing is only half the battle.

I will read all my assignments, books religiously. I will also read my syllabus weekly, which actually lends itself to the first part of this goal. By making sure I’ve read my syllabus I will know what is expected of me, and can follow through on that expectation. Furthermore, I must set aside daily time to read through my assignments.

I will submit my assignments in a timely manner; this is a goal that is closely tied in with the first goal – to do this I must read my syllabus so that I know when my assignments are due. Furthermore, I have a goal to have all my assignments ready a day early in case of unforeseen circumstances (after all – I live in unforeseen circumstances central).

Honesty is an important goal in regards to being responsible in all things, not just in school. In regards to school this means, however, making sure to credit everyone in regards to their own work, not taking credit for effort placed by others, etc. It’s also a matter of telling the truth when communicating with my learning team and teacher.

Participation is especially difficult in an online environment, and my major weak point. I rarely can think of eight substantial things to say in a class a week. In a sit down class this isn’t an issue, because my teacher knows I’m participating by eye contact and my responses to the aforementioned teacher. The main step to participating on a regular basis is forcing me to put aside time, also, to read everyone’s posts so that I can respond to them in a positive, substantial way.

Communication is always a good skill to have, but communication in an online community is entirely different from communication in real life. In real life, you have facial cues, body language, and tone of voice to aid in communication – this is not possible in an online environment. This is why mirroring is so important when online – in other words repeating back what you heard so that you’re sure that what you heard is what was said. In communication, there is not just the sending there is the receiving, and it is in the receiving that most people struggle – this is even more so in an online community so therefore is a place that should have extra emphasis and care.

In conclusion, by not only planning on being responsible, but by having a plan in action to follow through on this plan, I will increase my chances of succeeding; I will not only talk the talk, but also I will walk the walk.


Alyn, K. (2010). Reigniting responsibility: personal responsibility is becoming more and more scarce in our society. Firehouse, 35(6), 76-78. (2012.) Retrieved 8 July 2012 from

Haskins, R. (n.d.). The sequence of personal responsibility . Retrieved from (2012.) Retrieved 8 July 2012 from


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