A German paper that studied individual effort decisions in higher education found that the most talented students worked less hard and fewer hours than other learners.
Researchers analyzed more than 4,400 German undergraduates: they tested their performance, and asked them how hard they studied.
The aim of the paper was to “improve the understanding of human behavior and the decision-making of individuals concerning their willingness to provide effort.”
The study states that students are aware of the importance of effort on individual achievement and know the consequences for their economic future.
Students with greater ability reduce their effort levels because their performance is enough for them to obtain acceptable grades.
“Our theory can explain this intriguing result, as high-ability students seem to have strong incentives to reduce effort because their high abilities per se ensure relatively good educational achievement and thus a relatively high level of expected income.”
Another interesting finding is that students put in more effort if the labor market offers better prospects. In the absence of employment expectations, students slow down their work.
The researchers warned that more studies are required to implement measures on their findings and said that previous policies have tried to modify student effort levels, with no success.