Departmental Papers (Psychology)

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Book Chapter

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Handbook of Temperament

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Some students fare better than others, even when researchers control for family background, school curriculum, and teacher quality. Variance in academic performance that persists when situational variables are held constant suggests that whether students fail or thrive depends on not only circumstance but also relatively stable individual differences in how children respond to circumstance. More academically talented children, for instance, generally outperform their less able peers. Indeed, general intelligence, defined as the "ability to understand complex ideas, to adapt effectively to the environment, to learn from experience, to engage in various forms of reasoning, to overcome obstacles by taking thought" (Neisser et a!., 1996, p. 77), has a monotonic, positive relationship with academic performance, even at the extreme right-tail of the population (Gottfredson, 2004; Lubinski, 2009). Much less is known about how traits unrelated to general intelligence influence academic outcomes. This chapter addresses several related questions: What insights can be gleaned from historical interest in the role of temperament in the classroom? What does recent empirical research say about the specific dimensions of temperament most important to successful academic performance? In particular, which aspects of temperament most strongly influence school readiness, academic achievement, and educational attainment? What factors mediate and moderate associations between temperament and academic outcomes? What progress has been made in deliberately cultivating aspects of temperament that matter most to success in school? And, finally, for researchers keenly interested in better understanding how and why temperament influences academic success, in which direction does future progress lie?



Date Posted: 19 June 2017