Table of Contents

Unit 2: Overarching Habits of Mind (MP1 and MP6)

2.2 Student Self-Efficacy and Perseverance (MP1)

Time to Read

Research makes clear the connection between effort and achievement —believing you can often makes it so. This belief can give students the resiliency to “pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and try all over again.”

Focus on Effectiveness:

The Sierpinski’s Triangle task in section 2.1 is thought to be accessible at many levels and appealing to many learners. However, will that always be the case? To get to a point where a student wants to make sense of a problem and will persevere in finding a solution, the student should believe that it is of value, it is of interest, and that he or she can be successful in doing it. The teacher should also believe the student can successfully do mathematics.


The Role of Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s ability to achieve a goal or a task. Students with high self-efficacy are likely to persist when faced with challenging tasks, whereas students with low self-efficacy are more likely to give up. The teachers’ belief in the efficacy of their students is the first step toward student success. 

The effort that a student makes to accomplish a task is strongly influenced by interest and context.

Interest can motivate students with low self-efficacy to see tasks through. 


  • Effort usually refers to whether a student tries hard, asks I think I can - I Know I Can!for help, and/or participates in class (Driscoll, 1999). Effort involves choice, is rooted in beliefs, and is influenced by feedback.
  • Interest is a cognitive and affective relationship between a student and a particular subject that varies depending on the type of interest being described. Interest can hold a student's attention, encourage effort, and support learning. It can also enhance strategic processing.