The role of cognitive and non-cognitive factors in mathematics achievement: The importance of the quality of the student-teacher relationship in middle school
There is increasing evidence that several factors, including both cognitive and non-cognitive ones, play an important role in mathematics achievement. Relatively little is known about how socio-emotional features and the quality of the student-teacher relationship correlate with mathematics achievement among adolescents in transition to middle school. The aim of the present study is to examine the role of cognitive factors (general cognitive abilities), non-cognitive factors (math anxiety and
... (math anxiety and self-esteem), and the quality of the student-teacher relationship on mathematics achievement. A large sample of Italian sixth graders was evaluated upon entering middle school. The results showed that general cognitive ability was the best predictor of mathematics achievement. As regards non-cognitive factors, the level of math anxiety was effective in predicting mathematics achievement, after controlling for other measures including self-esteem and the quality of the student-teacher relationship. In particular, we found that the quality of the student-teacher relationship had an indirect influence on mathematics achievement through the mediation of math anxiety. Our findings seem to indicate that the quality of the student-teacher relationship may be related to mathematics achievement, through its effects on math anxiety. This may have important implications for practitioners and educators, as we can suggest that interventions devoted to improving the quality of the student-teacher relationship may play a positive role in both preventing math anxiety and promoting mathematics learning.