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Does Interest Matter? The Relationship Between Academic Interest and Achievement in Mathematics

Olaf Koller, Jurgen Baumert, Kat Schnabel 

November 2001, Volume 32, Issue 5, Page 448

A total of n = 602 students (59.5% female) from academically selected schools in Germany were tested at three time points--end of Grade 7, end of Grade 10, and middle of Grade 12--in order to investigate the relationships between academic interest and achievement in mathematics. In addition, sex differences in achievement, interest, and course selection were analyzed. At the end of Grade 10, students opted for either a basic or an advanced mathematics course. Data analyses revealed sex  differences in favor of boys in mathematics achievement, interest, and opting for an advanced mathematics course. Further analyses by means of structural equation modeling show that interest had no significant effect on learning from Grade 7 to Grade 10, but did affect course selection--that is, highly interested students were more likely to choose an advanced course. Furthermore, interest at the end of Grade 10 had a direct and an indirect effect (via course selection) on achievement in upper secondary  school. In addition, results suggest that, at least from Grade 7 to Grade 10, achievement affected interest--that is, high achievers expressed more interest than low achievers. The findings underline the importance of interest for academic choices and  for self-regulated learning when the instructional setting is less structured.

Grade 7
Grade 10
Grade 12
Calculus and Higher Level Mathematics
Math Coordinator / Coach
Survey Studies
Student Work
Professional Development / Teacher Education