Friday, October 26, 2012

Student Effort Matters in Student Achievement

UPDATE: The author of the blog cited below contacted me to let me know that her post was satire and not real. I wrote this post a week or two ago. I was so excited about something out there matching so well with reality that I completely fell for it. I could just delete this article and hope no one digs it up in the Internet Archives, but I'm going to let it stay. Though I credit my own teachers with some of my success as a student, I always understood that I had a significant role to play in my own success. Perhaps some researchers can conduct a real study on how student effort impacts academic achievement. 

As I stated in yesterday's post, teachers usually receive the blame for poor student performance. If a student doesn't show accute knowledge of a subject area and/or does not perform well on the standardized test, then many will blame the teacher. In many states, teachers evaluations will depend partially on students' performance on standardized tests. Diana Senechal, an education blogger, wrote about a recent study which shows how much of a positive impact student effort has on performance. As I know from my own educational experience, a teacher can teach her heart out, but if I do not do my part of the deal, then there will be minimal progress. I am sure that this research is meaningless to reformers, because they will simply reply that the teachers of students who don't study did not do a good job of motivating them to study. You can check out the whole article at Diana's website

Education policymakers have long assumed that students who learn more have been taught more effectively. A startling new study conducted by an international consortium of scholars at PeutĂȘtre University in Toronto has thrown this assumption into question. According to project director Pascal Feldspar, students who take a course in a subject—and study it—show more learning gains in the subject than students who do not. While gains varied slightly from one section of a course to the next, the starkest differences were between those who took a course and those who did not, and those who did the work and those who did not.
“It is too early to generalize the findings,” said Feldspar, “but we found, for instance, that students who took French for a year, and did their homework, showed significantly more learning gains in French by the end of the year than students who took no French.” The same applied to geometry, ancient history, piano, and Shakespeare. “We gave fifty students a test on Henry IV, Part 1,” he said, waving a copy of the play at us. “They were asked to identify a series of quotes, explain their meaning, and discuss their relation to the work as a whole. Before anyone had read Henry IV, performance on the test was uniformly poor. Then we split them up into an experimental group and a control group. At the end of the study, the members of the experimental group—the ones who studied the play—performed better than the control group by more than two standard deviations. Put simply, the more you study, the more you learn. Of course it’s more complicated than that, but that’s the idea.”


  1. Thank you for bringing up my article. It is satire, though the underlying meaning is serious.

    The piece is in my blog's "satire" cateogory and is tagged "satire." Also, there are quite a few hints that the study described in the piece isn't real.

    Many people assumed it was real. Maybe it's because the findings were refreshing. Like you, I wish policymakers would realize that students need to study in order to learn--and that this is their responsibility.

    1. Congratulations on being the first commenter on my blog, even if it is for a correction! :-)

      Wow. I missed the satire part. I came across your site through a link on another website and didn't really check it all out. I was so excited to see something that was so aligned with reality that I thought it was real. Though I credit my teachers for some of my success as a student, I have always understood that I had a role to play in my success as well. I wish the politicians would do the same thing.

      I'll update this post with a comment about your post being satire.