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Building upon reasonable goal setting, students are more likely to persevere when their goals are realistic. Perseverance is defined as “steady persistence in a course of action” . . ., “despite obstacles”. (dictionary.com) According to Rieff, Gerber and Ginsburg (1997), persistence is “desire turned into action” (177). For example, if you want to improve your grades, follow through with actions that will bring that desire to life, such as completing the course readings, going to class, and meeting with the TA on a regular basis. In order to persevere on a task, the first step is having the desire to complete it.
Many students with disabilities develop a strong work ethic that helps them to persevere. They recognize that they need to put in more time and effort into studying and accomplishing other academic tasks than their peers and accept that this will help them to accomplish their goals and be successful.
So, what helps you to be persistent or persevere through something that may be difficult in your academic or personal life? Visualizing or thinking about a positive outcome can help. “Finishing this assignment will help me to prepare for the exam next week.” Considering why you are doing the task can also help in persevering through it. “Organizing my desk now will make it easier for me to spread out my history materials when I study for the test later today.”
Sometimes what you have to study is not very interesting. During these times, it may help to have a reward built in when you complete an assignment or finish reading a chapter. These rewards should be things that are motivating to you such as: working out, checking your email (watch your time on this so you don’t end up surfing the net for hours), watching a TV program or listening to music, talking with a friend, etc. The BIG CAUTION with rewards is to enjoy them for a fixed period of time, after which you return to studying. Sometimes it is very hard to get back to doing what you need to do so have a time limit in mind for your reward.
Having people support and encourage you can also help you to persevere. Knowing people are supportive of you and are “in your corner” can help you to persevere to achieve your goals.
*Reiff, Henry B., Paul J. Gerber and Rick Ginsberg (1997). Exceeding Expectations: Successful Adults with Learning Disabilities. Austin, Texas: PRO-ED, Inc.