Maths achievement has been thought to be interrelated with self-concept, interest, and effort. In a recent longitudinal study published in Contemporary Educational Psychology, researchers examined how these factors influence each other over time using a sample of Grade 8 (Year 9) pupils in China.
A total of 702 pupils in
Grade 8 from 14 classes in two public schools in East and South China completed
an assessment of their maths achievement, homework self-concept, interest and
effort at six weeks after the start of the school year and at the end of the
school year. The analysis showed that:
Reciprocal effects were found between maths self-concept
and achievement, effort and achievement, as well as interest and effort.
In particular, the authors found that higher
homework interest led to higher subsequent effort, and higher prior effort
could promote higher homework interest.
had no significant effect on subsequent interest, but prior interest led to
higher self-concept, possibly reflecting the positive homework attitude among
The authors suggest that the reciprocal effects indicated that simultaneously improving homework self-concept, interest, effort and maths achievement is a more effective approach. Specifically, attention should be paid to how homework interest and effort can be promoted more effectively.
Source: Reciprocal effects of
homework self-concept, interest, effort, and math achievement (October 2018), Contemporary Educational Psychology
A report from the Institute of Education Sciences has found that an intensive approach to providing support for using pupil data to inform teaching did not improve pupil achievement, perhaps because the approach did not change teachers’ use of data or their reported classroom practices.
For the study, researchers recruited 102 elementary
(primary) schools from 12 US districts. Schools were randomly assigned to
either a treatment or control group. Treatment schools received funding for a
half-time data coach of their choosing, as well as intensive professional
development for coaches and school leaders on helping teachers use pupil data
to inform their teaching. The control schools received no additional funding
for a data coach or professional development. Impacts on teacher and pupil
outcomes were measured after an 18-month
The results suggest that despite the additional resources,
teachers in the treatment schools did not increase how often they used data or
change their teaching practices in response to that data. Similar percentages
of teachers in treatment and control schools reported data-related activities,
such as analysing data to understand pupil needs. The intervention also had no
effect on pupil achievement. On average, pupils in treatment and control
schools had similar achievement in maths and English.
of support for using student data to inform teachers’ instruction (September
2019), Institute of Education Sciences,
US Department of Education. NCEE 2019-4008
Several studies have related the benefits of future planning to academic achievement, but not many have examined whether academic achievement also influences how pupils plan their future. Zhao and colleagues from Shandong Normal University conducted a longitudinal study to examine the relationship between Chinese middle school pupils’ academic achievement and future planning in educational and occupational domains.
The study included three
assessments six months apart from spring 2014 to spring 2015 in Shandong
Province in eastern China. A total of 775 pupils from sixth to eighth grade (Years
7–9) participated in the first assessment wave. The questionnaire measured pupils’
future explorations, commitments, and affects concerning future education and
occupations. Data on their academic achievement were collected from school
records of their scores in Chinese, English and maths. The relationships were
analysed with data collected at different times.
The analysis showed that:
were reciprocal relationships between academic achievement and pupils’ future
relationships were not seen between academic achievement and future planning in
the occupational domain.
relationship to achievement was more robust than that of exploration to
relationships were the same for both boys and girls.
The authors suggest that
understanding the importance of educational performance led middle school pupils
to invest more effort into improving achievement. The social status brought by
high academic achievement in Chinese society might also trigger positive
affects concerning future planning.
Source: Longitudinal relations between future planning and adolescents’ academic achievement in China (August 2019), Journal of Adolescence, Volume 75
The findings of an MDRC evaluation of a growth mindset intervention have suggested a positive impact on pupils’ academic performance.
To test whether a growth mindset intervention could improve pupils’ academic performance, the National Study of Learning Mindsets implemented a randomised controlled trial of a low-cost growth mindset intervention specifically designed for ninth grade (Year 10) pupils. A total of 11,888 pupils from 63 high schools across the US took part in the intervention, which included two 25-minute self-administered online training modules on the topic of brain development. Pupils in the intervention group were given modules about growth mindset and were asked to answer reflective questions in a survey. Instead of learning about the brain’s malleability, pupils in the control group learned about basic brain functions, and they were also asked to answer survey questions.
The results of the evaluation found a positive impact on pupils’
average grade point average (GPA) (effect size = +0.04), as well as their maths
GPA (effect size = +0.05). Other results from the evaluation suggest that:
The intervention changed pupils’ self-reported
mindset beliefs, their attitudes towards efforts and failure and their views on
Immediately after the intervention, students
were more likely to attempt more challenging academic tasks.
Pupils who were lower performing at pre-test benefited
more than their higher-performing peers.
Source: Using a growth mindset
intervention to help ninth-graders: An independent evaluation of the National
Study of Leaning Mindsets (November 2019), MDRC
French pupils from disadvantaged
areas demonstrate lower achievement than their more affluent peers. In an
effort to close this achievement gap, the French government issued a policy in
2017 reducing Year 2 class size in high-priority educational areas to no more
than 12 pupils, extending to Year 3 classes and priority educational areas in
2018. In order to provide evidence regarding the feasibility of such a policy,
researchers used data from a 2003 first-grade-class-size-reduction policy in
France to examine its carry-over effects into the second grade.
The 2003 study involved assigning classrooms
to either small (12 pupils/class n=100 classes) or large (20–25 pupils/class,
n=100 classes) class sizes. At the start of the 2002–03 school year, children
were pre-tested on pre-reading skills and matched. In post-tests at the end of
the school year, results favoured the small-class-size group on word reading
(ES = +0.14) and word spelling (ES = +0.22). These effects are very small in
light of the costs of halving class size.
The new study examined these pupils’ reading achievement at the end of Year 3, where the pupils formerly placed in smaller classrooms had been placed in full-sized classes again. Subjects were 1,264 pupils (663 in the intervention group and 601 in the control group) who had received both the initial testing in Year 2 and had test scores at the end of Year 3. Results showed that while both groups were equivalent at the start of Year 2, and by the end of the year the small-class-size group showed greater academic achievement than the control group, this gain diminished over the summer break and had completely disappeared by the end of Year 3. That is, there was no long-term impact of one year of reduced class size.
Reducing the number of
pupils in French first-grade classes: Is there evidence of contemporaneous and
carryover effects? (November 2018), International
Journal of Educational Research, Volume 96,
Researchers at the Institute of Education at University College London have conducted a study that looks at whether there are any educational advantages to attending private schools in the upper secondary years (Years 12 and 13).
Published in the Oxford
Review of Education, the study used data from the Centre for Longitudinal
Studies’ Next Steps cohort study and linked this to national pupil achievement
information between 2005 and 2009. The researchers followed a sample of 5,852 pupils
who attended a private or state school while doing their A-levels.
The profiles of the two groups of pupils
were very different – pupils arrived in private school sixth forms with
significantly higher prior attainment in GCSEs, and from households that had
twice the income of families whose children attended state school sixth form.
However, the researchers used the data available from Next Steps to allow for
socio-demographic characteristics and prior achievement. Allowing for these
characteristics, pupils at private schools outperformed those at state schools
in their total A-level score by eight percentile points. Private school pupils
also performed better on those subjects deemed to be more important to elite
The researchers suggest that the
reason for the difference may lie in the vastly superior resources per pupil in
private schools (three times the state school average), including smaller
pupil-teacher ratios (roughly half the state school average). However, they
caution that their results are not truly causal.
Source: Private schooling, subject choice, upper secondary
attainment and progression to university (November 2019), Oxford Review of Education