STUDY ALERT: What No Child Left Behind Leaves Behind + Bonus

January 12, 2012 in Study Alerts

TITLE: What No Child Left Behind Leaves Behind: The Roles of IQ and Self-Control in Predicting Standardized Achievement Test Scores and Report Card Grades

AUTHORS: Angela L. Duckworth, Patrick D. Quinn, Eli Tsukayama


The increasing prominence of standardized testing to assess student learning motivated the current investigation. We propose that standardized achievement test scores assess competencies determined more by intelligence than by self-control, whereas report card grades assess competencies determined more by self-control than by intelligence. In particular, we suggest that intelligence helps students learn and solve problems independent of formal instruction, whereas self-control helps students study, complete homework, and behave positively in the classroom. Two longitudinal, prospective studies of middle school students support predictions from this model. In both samples, IQ predicted changes in standardized achievement test scores over time better than did self-control, whereas self-control predicted changes in report card grades over time better than did IQ. As expected, the effect of self-control on changes in report card grades was mediated in Study 2 by teacher ratings of homework completion and classroom conduct. In a third study, ratings of middle school teachers about the content and purpose of standardized achievement tests and report card grades were consistent with the proposed model. Implications for pedagogy and public policy are discussed.

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TITLE: The significance of self-control

AUTHOR: Angela L. Duckworth


Self-control is among the most widely studied constructs in the social sciences. For instance, more than 3% of peer-reviewed psychology articles in the past year were referenced by the key word “self-control” or closely related terms. The report by Moffitt et al. (1) in PNAS substantially advances this growing literature by demonstrating robust predictive associations between childhood self-control and a wide range of consequential life outcomes in a large, nationally representative sample of New Zealanders.

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TITLE: A meta-analysis of the convergent validity of self-control measures

AUTHORS: Angela Lee Duckworth ⇑, Margaret L. Kern


There is extraordinary diversity in how the construct of self-control is operationalized in research studies. We meta-analytically examined evidence of convergent validity among executive function, delay of gratification, and self- and informant-report questionnaire measures of self-control. Overall, measures demonstrated moderate convergence (rrandom = .27 [95% CI = .24, .30]; rfixed = .34 [.33, .35], k = 282 samples, N = 33,564 participants), although there was substantial heterogeneity in the observed correlations. Correlations within and across types of self-control measures were strongest for informant-report questionnaires and weakest for executive function tasks. Questionnaires assessing sensation seeking impulses could be distinguished from questionnaires assessing processes of impulse regulation. We conclude that self-control is a coherent but multidimensional construct best assessed using multiple methods.

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