Me, others and external factors

A responsibility pie chart (RPC) is a psychological tool that explains the role three factors (own actions, others’ actions and unpredictable factors) have on the outcome of a situation. It’s particularly useful in explaining negative situations, and in helping students to see that many parties have responsibility and to attribute responsibility beyond themselves. During this lesson, students use the RPC to understand the shared responsibility of different individuals (e.g. yourself, others and unpredictable factors) in influencing the outcomes of situations.

Year Level



60 minutes


  • In class activity
  • Online learning

SEL Competencies

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship skills

Learning Intention

Students will learn that many factors contribute to the outcome of a situation.

Key Outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • understand the responsibility pie chart
  • analyse the different factors that contribute to outcomes in a difficult situation
  • understand how their own behaviour contributes to outcomes in situations
  • explain the different factors that contribute to different outcomes in situations.
Activity 01

Case study: Friendships and responsibility 40 min

1. Explain to students that you will read out a case study.

2.Read the case study (either ‘Sam’s story’ or ‘Zoe/Ella’s story’):

  • Sam’s story: Sam’s mother saw him pack his best sunglasses for the school camp. They were a very expensive pair that he had bought with the money he earned from his part-time job. His mum suggested that he leave them at home in case they got stolen or broken at the camp, but Sam insisted on taking them. When he returned from camp, his mother was waiting for him in the ‘5 minutes only’ parking zone because it was raining. As soon as Sam got off the bus, she signalled to him to hurry so she wouldn’t be booked. He hurried over, laden down with his backpack, sleeping bag and pillow. As he ran up to the door of the car, his sunglasses fell out of his jacket pocket and dropped into the stormwater drain by the side of the road. Sam was devastated. His mother said, ‘I told you not to take them.’ OR
  • Zoe/Ella’s story: A group of Year 9 girls were chatting and laughing when Ella noticed that Zoe, another girl in the group, was taking photos of her with her mobile phone. Ella was angry that Zoe hadn’t asked her if that was okay and tried to grab Zoe’s phone to stop her. The phone was dropped and the screen broke. Both girls started to yell at each other and a teacher came to investigate.

3. Ask students to discuss:

  • How much of the responsibility is Sam/Ella’s (express in percentage terms)?
  • How much of the responsibility is Sam’s mum’s/Zoe’s?
  • How much is due to factors outside of their control?
  • How much is due to bad luck or circumstances?
  • Draw a pie chart showing each party’s percentage of responsibility.
  • Could anything have been done to change the outcome? Is this realistic?

Debrief: While taking responsibility is important, it’s also worth remembering that there are often factors outside of your control that can lead to an outcome. Sometimes, some steps can be taken to reduce the impact of those factors (e.g. Ella could have approached a teacher, or Sam could have chosen not to take his sunglasses on the trip), but sometimes the situation is outside of an individual's control. When bad things happen, remind students to reflect on the responsibility of other parties, and to acknowledge the role of back luck or circumstances and others in the outcome of the situation.