Competence, persistence, and success: The positive psychology of behavioral skill instruction

Brian K. Martens, Joseph C. Witt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Early school failure is a critical factor in the development of peer rejection and antisocial behavior in children. This paper describes three sets of instructional strategies that have been shown to promote high levels of academic competence by arranging frequent opportunities for correct skill practice: (a) teaching children at their instructional level and monitoring progress, (b) teaching children differently as their skills improve, and (c) rewarding success and setting goals. Research is reviewed showing that practicing skills to high levels of fluency leads to retention and endurance, the emergence of new forms of a skill, and creative problem solving. The motivation of children to complete academic tasks through the strategic use of reinforcement is discussed, as are the implications of these strategies for encouraging children to be persistent, self-motivated, life-long learners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-30
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology in the Schools
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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