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Effort Print or save as PDF

How is it defined?

Student effort refers to how hard a student tries to succeed in school. Students’ effort and their interest and motivation in school subjects are closely related. They are core attributes of self-efficacy, which pertains to students’ personal judgements of their ability to attain particular goals (Zimmerman, 2000).

The Learning Bar’s framework on student engagement includes measures of social, institutional, and intellectual engagement. Intellectual engagement refers to students having a serious emotional and cognitive investment in their learning (Dunleavy, Milton, & Willms, 2012). Effort is a key component of intellectual engagement; students who are intellectually engaged are interested in what is being taught at school, they are motivated to learn, and they exert considerable effort in their school subjects.

Why is it important?

  • Students with high levels of self-efficacy tend to have superior academic results (Schunk, 1985).
  • Teachers can influence students’ effort through the ways they structure learning opportunities for students (Miller & Meece, 1997).
  • Levels of intellectual engagement vary substantially across schools (Dunleavy, Milton, & Willms, 2012).

How do we measure it?

In Tell Them From Me, in both the primary and secondary school questionnaires, students respond to Likert questions regarding their effort at school. The data are scaled on a 10-point scale, and students with a score greater than or equal to 6 (i.e., slightly higher than neutral) are considered to be ‘trying hard to succeed’. The results are reported as ‘the percentage of students who are trying hard to succeed’



Dunleavy, J., Milton, P., & Willms, J. D. (2012). Trends in Intellectual Engagement. What did you do in School Today? Research Series Report Number Three. Toronto: Canadian Education Association.

Miller, S. D., & Meece, J. L. (1997). Enhancing elementary students’ motivation to read and write: A classroom intervention study. The Journal of Educational Research, 90(5), 286–299.

Schunk, D. H. (1985). Self-efficacy and classroom learning. Psychology in the Schools, 22, 208–223.

Zimmerman, B. J. (2000). Self-efficacy: An essential motive to learn. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 82-91.