Research shows how much mathematical skills matter

Posted on Tuesday, 5/8/2013 5:20 pm

A strong foundation in mathematics is essential to any student's long-term academic success. Those who doubt the validity of this statement need only look at the Common Core State Standards, which place a focus on mathematics, as well as English language arts.

As if an understanding of mathematics were not important enough already, new research from the University of Edinburgh in the U.K. reveals that students' mathematical knowledge is linked to their eventual job performance.

In the study, the results of which appear in the Association for Psychological Science journal "Psychological Science," researchers looked at data from more than 17,000 people over a period of about 50 years. This allowed them to see how important mathematical skills truly were in the grand scheme of things. As it turns out, they are quite vital.

Those who possessed higher mathematical skills at the age of 7 were also more likely to earn higher incomes and hold better jobs when they were adults.

"These findings imply that basic childhood skills, independent of how smart you are, how long you stay in school, or the social class you started off in, will be important throughout your life," said Stuart Ritchie and Timothy Bates, the psychological scientists who worked on the study.

As mathematics have been proven to play a major role in students' success long after they leave school, it is important for teachers to do what they can to make sure their pupils understand the various mathematical concepts they are exposed to. If students are struggling with any aspects of mathematics, student software or online educational resources, like the videos available on Khan Academy's website, may be able to help.

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