The goal of this study was to explore the relationship between students’ perceptions of the link between personal effort and academic performance to promote effective pedagogy, contributing to the potential for increased retention/progression/graduation rates. Based on Treisman’s (2013) assertion that students do not connect hard work with success, the researchers hypothesized that students would fail to connect the level of effort (as measured by motivation, effort, attendance, attention/engagement, and reading the textbook) they invested in a course with performance in the course (as measured by expected course grade). A mixed-methods survey containing both quantitative and qualitative measures of effort was administered before and after the first graded course assignment in each class. Results supported our hypotheses, but not exactly as expected. Students connected hard work with success in the first administration of the survey; however, the link between personal effort and academic performance disappeared in the second administration of the survey. Qualitative findings were explored to further illuminate students’ phenomenological experiences in the classroom.

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