According to a recent study published in the journal Child Development, one’s motivation and one’s study habits are much more important factors in determining one’s success in mathematics than IQ. Researchers at the University of Bielefeld and the University of Munich found that, although IQ is an important predictor of success when it comces to the earliest stages of mathematical competence, after this stage, one’s study habits and self-motivation are much more important than natural aptitude.
Murayama and colleagues looked at six annual waves of data from a German longitudinal study assessing math ability 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 math achievement over five years.
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.