Motivation, study habits—not IQ—determine growth in math achievement

Dec 20, 2012

It's not how smart students are but how motivated they are and how they study that determines their growth in math achievement. That's the main finding of a new study that appears in the journal Child Development.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Munich and the University of Bielefeld.

"While intelligence as assessed by is important in the early stages of developing mathematical competence, motivation and study skills play a more important role in students' subsequent growth," according to Kou Murayama, of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (who was at the University of Munich when he led the study).

Murayama and colleagues looked at six annual waves of data from a German assessing in 3,520 students in grades 5 to 10. They investigated how students' motivation, study skills, and intelligence jointly predicted long-term growth in their over five years.

Intelligence was strongly linked to students' math achievement, but only in the initial development of competence in the subject. Motivation and study skills turned out to be more important factors in terms of students' growth (their learning curve or ability to learn) in math. Students who felt competent; were intrinsically motivated; used skills like summarizing, explaining, and making connections to other materials; and avoided rote learning showed more growth in math achievement than those who didn't. In contrast, students' intelligence had no relation to growth in math achievement.

"Our study suggests that students' competencies to learn in math involve factors that can be nurtured by education," explained Murayama. "Educational programs focusing on students' motivation and study skills could be an important way to advance their competency in math as well as in other subjects."

Explore further: Ask yourself: Will you help the environment?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Teacher influence persists in early grades

Jul 27, 2011

Having consistently good teachers in elementary school appears to be as important for student achievement as small class sizes, according to new research by a Michigan State University education scholar.

Recommended for you

Male-biased tweeting

12 hours ago

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

Developing nations ride a motorcycle boom

13 hours ago

Asia's rapidly developing economies should prepare for a full-throttle increase in motorcycle numbers as average incomes increase, a new study from The Australian National University has found.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

zslewis
1 / 5 (1) Dec 20, 2012
froth and foam are the workings of the mind.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 20, 2012
Rigorously defined is the ability to do work. Physics
Not defined at all is the ability to learn. Psychology.

Time to join the hard sciences. Pretend IQ is debunked. Now what?

More news stories

Male-biased tweeting

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

Not just the poor live hand-to-mouth

When the economy hits the skids, government stimulus checks to the poor sometimes follow. Stimulus programs—such as those in 2001, 2008 and 2009—are designed to boost the economy quickly by getting cash ...

Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

Archaeologists and Native Americans are clashing over Indian remains and artifacts that were excavated during a construction project in the San Francisco Bay Area, but then reburied at an undisclosed location.