Why do teachers assess effort? Why does it seems so completely subjective? Why do students with an “A+” commonly get a high effort grade when they really aren’t working very hard? Conversely, why do “C+” students get satisfactory effort grades when they are working harder than most others just to maintain their grade? Can the effort grade be truly independent of the achievement grade? How do effort and achievement grades overlap and affect each other? Do students know exactly how their effort grades are being assessed?
Obviously, I have several questions about effort grades. Ideally, I would have all students working to achieve the best effort grades they possibly can. I would also like to take as much subjectivity out of this grade as possible. I also want students to know how I am assessing their effort in my class. It is possible that understanding exactly what skills comprise good effort could help those C+ students work more efficiently and with better achievement results. And in the long run, in regards to work ethics, motivation and resilience, effort grades may even be more important than achievement grades anyhow.
Last year, Judy Van Alstyne and I created an “Effort Scale” (see image below) that we used with our classes last year. We don’t think it’s perfect, but it gives a place to start. We share it with our students, ask them for feedback so we can tweak it, and have them self assess.