Conceptions of effort among students, teachers and parents within an English secondary school

Andrew Stables, Kyoko Murakami, Shona McIntosh, Susan Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (SciVal)


‘Effort’ and ‘ability’ (understood as potential, intelligence or achievement) are concepts widely used in the everyday language of schooling in Britain but each term lacks clear definition of its use in the school context. Meanwhile, the assessment of effort, alongside that of achievement, remains widespread. This article reports on an exploratory case study of conceptions of effort among three major actors in an English secondary school. Qualitative and quantitative data from questionnaires and interviews with teachers, students and parents at an English comprehensive school were collected. Analysis reveals that understandings of ‘effort’ are not uniform. Rather, ‘effort’ is a shorthand term, which can be used variably, therefore can be construed as a tool of negotiation, or a form of investment in a set of aims distinctive to each group or individual case. There is a strong case for more sustained research into the operationalizing of such key concepts in schools and other professional and workplace settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-648
Number of pages23
JournalResearch Papers in Education
Issue number5
Early online date13 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Taylor & Francis.


  • ability
  • effort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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