Navigation auf


Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development

Zoom Talk by Prof. Dr. Jonas Radl

Effort and dynamics of educational inequality: Evidence from a laboratory study among primary school children

May 20, 2022, 10:00 h

Vorschaubild Jonas Radl

Effort is often seen as one of the main pillars of academic achievement. In this paper, our aim is to study the impact of students’ effort on school-ing and educational inequalities. Using an inno-vative research design, effort is captured through two measures: students’ own cognitive effort and teacher-perceived effort. Following the literature, we expect that both measures will be positively associated with school grades. Moreover, we in-vestigate two potential mechanisms that might contribute to the reproduction of inequalities through effort, derived from Compensatory Ad-vantage theory and Cultural Reproduction the-ory, respectively.
Data stems from a lab experiment carried out with 380 5th grade students from primary schools in the metropolitan area of Madrid, Spain, during the school year 2019/2020. Students carried out three real-effort tasks adopted from economics and psychology (i.e. the Simon, AX and Slider tasks). We estimate a hierarchical two-level linear probability model with random inter-cept and random effort slope to account for the heterogeneity between school classes.
Results show that both measures of effort are positively and significantly associated with higher grades in math and Spanish. Notably, the effect size is larger for teacher-perceived effort than for student effort measured in the lab. Fur-thermore, our findings reveal differential benefits of (perceived) effort by social background. While much is known about how structural circum-stances shape individual achievement, the study contributes novel insights into the processes via which effort translates into educational out-comes.


Flyer (PDF, 231 KB)