Math 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 they influence each other over time using a sample of Grade 8 students in China.
702 students in Grade 8 from 14 classes in two public schools in East and South China completed an assessment of their math 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 math self-concept and achievement, effort and achievement, as well as interest and effort.
- In particular, the authors found that higher homework interest led to a higher subsequent effort, and higher prior effort could promote higher homework interest.
- Moreover, self-concept had no significant effect on subsequent interest, but prior interest led to higher self-concept, possibly reflecting the positive homework attitude among Chinese students.
The authors suggested that the reciprocal effects indicated that simultaneously improving homework self-concept, interest, effort, and math achievement is a more effective approach. Specifically, attention should be paid to how homework interest and effort can be promoted more effectively.