Why Effort Matters

The Elements of Effective Effort

To understand why effort matters, let's look at the elements of effective effort.

Be Focused
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Know the purpose of the task and what your goal is. See the end result and keep the goal clear and visible. Benchmarks and mini-benchmarks can help. Effort Matters.

Be a Time Manager
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Many student don not know they are wasting time until its been wasted. This is why the skill of time management is so challenging. Managing time is crucial to organization, planning, and executing.  The fundamentals of effective effort involve knowing what time looks and feels like, and how to track it and manage it. 

Be Resourceful
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‘Working smarter not harder’  - means using the right tools for the right assignment. Growing into an effective learner comes about through trial and error with finding out what works and finding out what does not work. It also comes with building tools that work for you – this is being resourceful.  This is a challenging concept to learn for students because it comes through effort and struggle.  You may need to struggle and grapple with various strategies in order to discover what works for you and most importantly, what does not. The resources that work for you will go onto your effective effort tool belt. 

Be Open to Feedback
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You need to know how to use effective feedback to guide you through the learning process. Knowing when to ask for feedback and who to ask feedback from is a metacognitive process that takes practice and support. Being willing to make mistakes and being willing to admit ‘I don’t know what I am doing and I need help’, is an important skill of an effective learner. 

Be Committed and Persistent
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Surpassing your current comfort zone as a learner, takes perseverance. You know you have crossed out of your comfort zone when you feel uncomfortable or you feel like you want to quit and give up. This is when perseverance is critical to effective effort.  

The key to Effective Effort is to develop a growth mindset. Mindsets are formed by your beliefs. Those with a fixed mindset believe that traits are given and not much can change that. However, a person with a growth mindset believes that traits can be developed and improved through dedication and effort.

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Success is no longer defined by preset skills or attributes; it's defined by your mindset.


Carol Dweck, a renowned researcher on achievement and success, uses this diagram to illustrate the difference between the two mindsets. Teaching clients how to manage a growth mindset is critical to executive function skill development.