Last week, I wrote about a new study the reinforces what most teachers have experienced — that student motivation is the key to academic growth, not IQ (see Is This The Most Important Research Study Of 2012? Maybe).

TIME Magazine has just published an article on the same study, and it appears that they spoke directly to the researchers. Here’s an excerpt:

“Students with high IQ have high math achievement and students with low IQ have low math achievement,” Murayama says. “But IQ does not predict any growth in math achievement. It determines the starting point.”

So the children who improved in math over the years were disproportionately those who said they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with statements such as, “When doing math, the harder I try, the better I perform,” or “I invest a lot of effort in math, because I am interested in the subject”– even if they had not started out as high-achieving students. In contrast, kids who said they were motivated purely by the desire to get good grades saw no greater improvement over the average. As for study strategies, those who said they tried to forge connections between mathematical ideas typically improved faster than kids who employed more cursory rote-learning techniques.