"The instructional strategy of reinforcing effort enhances students' understanding of the relationship between effort and achievement by addressing their attitudes and beliefs about learning" (McREL, 2007). Students do not realize how important it is for them to look at their efforts and evaluate them. Reinforcing effort is as important as reinforcing behavior. The exercise that was discussed using a spreadsheet is something that I will be starting to set up for my students this week. I was in awe of how that could work in any grade that was taught. I currently am an inclusion EIP (early intervention program) teacher in a 4th grade classroom, and this is the most unmotivated group of children I have ever had to deal with. This teacher and I continuously find ourselves brainstorming to find out what to do next, what is going on....question after question after question.
The section of the book that dealt with reinforcing effort is something that all too often teachers don't think about as often as they should. We get so caught up in teaching and making sure we cover the curriculum, that we forget to reward those that at least have made the effort to try, just may not have "succeeded." Unfortunately, we have to say that they didn't succeed based on test scores/grades, but we can't say that they succeeded if they have bad scores even if their effort was outstanding. Which sounds a little backwards, but I have to say that it's hard to teach students about the importance of effort, if the effort doesn't bring the success and good scores. I see the defeatist attitude quite a bit in the classroom that I am in, and when that is the attitude in half of the class, it's very hard to change the beliefs and make a connection between effort and achievement. Behaviorist learning theory is reinforcing the positive behavior and not the punishment and that goes hand in hand with the reinforcing effort section of this book.