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: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

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

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

11 hours ago

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

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

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...