The Role of Effort in High School Students’ Academic Development: A Longitudinal Perspective in Mathematics and English
Our school systems typically measure success in terms of academic achievement, rather than student learning and growth. How can we encourage students to try their best if their efforts are not rewarded by this systemic success measure? This PhD, proposes a multidimensional model of student effort, to investigate the factors influencing and mitigating against effort in high school. In completing this PhD, it is anticipated that student effort can be reliably targeted to nurture students’ growth, develop intrinsic motivation for learning and help students fulfil their academic potential. It will help to shift the systemic ‘success-focus’ away from an exclusive emphasis on outcomes of learning, towards the more important processes of learning.
Robin has taught mathematics and been a senior leader in secondary schools for over 20 years in the UK, Thailand and Australia, receiving a special commendation in 2000 at the UK national teaching awards. In Australia, he has also been a professional learning consultant for the Mathematical Association of NSW, running professional development for mathematics teachers across the state. In addition to being a UNSW PhD candidate and Research Assistant, Robin is an educational consultant, advising schools on best practice in implementing data-driven student growth strategies. His PhD research is an investigation into the optimisation of high-school students’ effort, building on his work as a practitioner on the measurement and tracking of student effort to improve intrinsic motivation for learning. He was awarded 'most innovative PhD research in NSW' by the NSW Institute of Educational Research in 2021.
1. May 2021 - NSW Institute for Educational Research Award: “Most Innovative HDR Research in NSW” , for his 3-minute thesis pitch. This was a state-wide inter-university competition, where universities were invited to enter their best HDR research. Robin’s research was judged by a panel to outperform nominees from five NSW universities. The panel comprised experts in educational policy, practice, and academia.
2. July 2017 - Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) Excellence in Professional Practice Conference 2017 (Gold Coast) - Outstanding Session Award - Tracking and Visualising Student Effort: A Practical Analytics Tool for Student Engagement – Case Studies of Practice.
3. May 2000 UK National Teaching Awards: Outstanding Secondary School Teacher - Special Commendation- Robin was one of four regional finalists (Southeast of England) in the UK National Teacher of the Year Awards. Specially commended at a ceremony in the Café Royal, London in the Outstanding Secondary School Teacher category.
Robin has been awarded an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship towards his PhD Research.
Martin, A.J., Collie, R.J., & Nagy, R.P. (2021). Students who are more adaptable do best in remote learning – and it’s a skill we can teach. In ‘The Conversation’, August, https://theconversation.com/students-who-are-more-adaptable-do-best-in-remote-learning-and-its-a-skill-we-can-teach-165003
Martin, A.J., Collie, R.J., & Nagy, R.P. (2021) UNSW Mediarelease: https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/social-affairs/helping-students-adapt-online-learning-sets-them-success
Nagy, R.P. (2019, December 7). The epic failure at the root of Australia’s maths problem. ABC News.https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-07/the-demise-of-australian-mathematics-teachers-students/11768644