Done for Intro to Psychology
IQ And Mathematical Learning
In the article Motivation, Not IQ, Matters Most for Learning New Math Skills, psychologists study math abilities and habits of thirty-five hundred German students from the fifth to tenth grade. Students’ mathematical abilities were evaluated each year using standardized testing. In addition to this students were given an IQ test and surveys that questioned about their attitudes toward math. As the title of this report suggests they found that IQ was not the main determining factor in how well the student’s math abilities grew. Instead IQ was found to be a predictor of initial math skill and studying and motivation where found to be predictors of growth in mathematical abilities. These findings came as a surprise to the researchers who predicted that intelligence measured by IQ would be a strong predictor of mathematical abilities. This article encompasses the main findings of the researchers into a summarization of their findings. This research in this study is credible and believable but the article leaves out some essential information about the findings that could strengthen or weaken the researcher’s argument and allow the reader to develop their own opinion. In this study the independent variable is the student’s IQ and the dependent variable is the student’s mathematical scores/abilities. IQ tests have long been used as a system to measure the intelligence of the testee. Standardized mathematical testing is an accurate method of measuring mathematical abilities because it objectively scores each student’s mathematical knowledge in the same way. Due to the standardized nature of the IQ and math tests the student’s scores can be used to compare each other with without causing error. In order to solidify these findings and rule out possible sources of error researchers interviewed students to determine their attitudes and behaviors about math. Specifically they asked to see if the students had a genuine interest in math and what strategies they used to learn to improve their mathematical abilities. This strengthens the researcher’s findings because it helps them rule out outside factors affecting the standardized findings. It would make sense that students with a genuine interest in math would score better than students who did not like math. Depending on these correlations this could help explain or disprove the theory that IQ is not related to math scores. The sampling size of thirty-five hundred is large enough where sampling error can be ruled out as a potential source of error. A larger sampling size is always better and would minimize any sampling error further, however the current sampling size is sufficient. One problem with the sample though is that it is entirely taken from students from Germany. This weakens the findings because cultural differences cannot be ruled out as a potential source of error. These findings also may be a reflection on the schooling systems in Germany. In order to overcome these shortcomings a larger sample of students could be used that sourced its participants from countries across the world.
In order to fully understand these relationships a complete listing of all of the study’s data and findings would need to be provided. This article requires the reader to accept the judgment of the writer, Laura Blue, as fact. At the very least tables and graphs could have been provided in order to help the reader make a personal conclusion about the validity of this research. Independent review, which was not mentioned in this article, could also have helped strengthen the claims of the researchers and the validity of the author’s summarization.
This article does not relate itself to any prior psychological theories within its writings. Despite this, this article relates back to theories of intelligence. It could be argued from these findings that theories of multiple intelligences have more merit than theories of one intelligence. This can be argued because it was found that the IQ test scores were not a good predictor of the ability to learn mathematical skills. Behaviorist could argue that this study reinforces that operant conditioning works. This viewpoint would look at working hard as a behavior that is positively reinforced with good grades.
A cognitive psychologist can argue that the reward of getting a good grade can serve as an intrinsic or extrinsic motivator for doing well on the tests. A student who genuinely is interested in learning math would be intrinsically motivated and a student who works hard for the grade would be extrinsically motivated. The researchers were able to determine which students where extrinsically and intrinsically motivated based on the questions they answered in the survey. Psychologists would also argue that these findings reinforce theories of multiple intelligences. This can be argued because IQ was found to not be a predictor of mathematical learning. If there was only one form of intelligence than the IQ test should predict success in all types of skills. This helps to prove that there must be multiple types of intelligence by showing that there is more to learning math than general intelligence. This also helps to invalidate the IQ test as an accurate method of determining someone’s intelligence. Someone may have a high IQ but be less smart than someone of equal age because the lower IQ person was more motivated and thus tried harder to learn. Robert Sternberg would argue the students good at math have high analytic intelligence and Howard Gardner would argue they have high logical-mathematical intelligence. These findings would also debunk Sir Francis Galton’s belief that intelligence is strictly determined by biological capacity. The researchers in this study hypothesized that IQ would be a good predictor of people’s abilities to learn and grow. Instead the findings went against this and suggested that hard work and effort had more to do with the growth of mathematical abilities than IQ. This raises questions about the validity of the IQ test as a test of intelligence. The IQ test is not completely invalidated by this research as it was found that IQ was a good determinant of the starting point of student’s mathematical abilities. The findings of this study reinforce the truth in the old saying that, “there is no substitution for hard work”. Because the IQ test was not able to measure all intelligences into one test, this supports that there are other factors that affect people’s abilities to learn and grow.
This article was published online by TIME; TIME is widely considered to be a reputable source of news information. The article itself falls short on fully covering the findings of the research. Instead the article gives just enough information to let the reader know what the main findings of the study are. This is fine unless someone wants to look into the article in depth and analyze the data. For example someone wanting to know how student’s interest in math affected the outcomes of the student’s mathematical tests would not be able to determine this from the article. This article does not let the reader form their own opinions instead TIME’s Laura Blue tells you what happened and expects you to take her words as fact.
This article is believable in that hard work would help a student learn math more than having a higher IQ. This finding reinforces the nurture viewpoint in the nature vs. nurture argument. Despite having the general findings in the article, the claims cannot fully be evaluated without providing more information. There are too many external variables that could have affected the outcome of this study. For example students who grow up in abusive environments may have a hard time completing school work and thus the abusive environment could be causing error in the findings. This example is an extreme, but in order to be one-hundred percent certain that the study’s findings are true complete data must be provided to account for every variable. Because gathering all of this data to such extreme detail would be very difficult, the research should be deemed sufficient and accurate.
Motivation, Not IQ, Matters Most for Learning New Math Skills makes a compelling case that it is truly motivation that effects students study behaviors and thus leads to long term improvement in mathematical abilities. The standardized testing and surveys are good measures of student performance and reasoning. They help the researchers draw strong accurate conclusions about what affects the student’s ability to learn. The article may fall short on providing details of the data but it still presents a strong argument backed with solid data.