“While intelligence as assessed by IQ tests is important in the early stages of developing mathematical competence, motivation and study skills play a more important role in students’ subsequent growth,” says researcher Kou Murayama, in a new long-term study exploring why students succeed in math.
Looking at the progress of 3,520 students as they matured from 5th to 10th grade, Murayama finds that self-confidence and good study habits are more important than inherent intelligence.
While IQ is often considered an important trait of a good student, other research finds that self-confidence is roughly twice as predictive of learning college chemistry than SAT Scores [PDF]. As a result of this latest research, Murayama recommends that schools should focus more on the psychology of learning as the content itself. Indeed, given that nearly half of students drop out of college, motivation is certainly an overlooked factor in our education system.