Nav: Home

Parents with degrees give their children significant advantage in maths

May 20, 2020

Children of parents with a degree are almost a year of schooling ahead in maths by the age 11 than peers whose parents have just GCSEs, a new study by the University of Sussex has discovered.

Greater parental education is the strongest predictor of maths attainment and faster future growth for children moving into secondary school even after adjusting for their intelligence (IQ), research by University of Sussex psychologists published today by the Royal Society reveals

The study also showed that:

Boys achieve significantly higher grades in maths at age 11 but this gap did not grow through secondary school. Academics believe the gap at 11 could be explained by girls' increasing maths anxiety and decreasing enjoyment of the subject at this age.

Statistically significant but very weak evidence that pupils with higher emotional symptoms in early childhood had lower maths attainment when they were older.

The study's authors recommend that strategies focusing on improving parental education could be a very effective method of increasing attainment in children.

Danielle Evans, researcher in achievement in mathematics at the University of Sussex, said:

"Our study shows that increased maths growth was significantly predicted by higher IQ, higher socioeconomic status and greater parental education, suggesting that children with greater intelligence and higher socioeconomic status progress at a quicker rate across the transition to secondary education compared with their peers. While this finding is not unexpected, it demonstrates the importance of parents within their child's education and suggests that having higher-educated parents may potentially 'buffer' the negative impacts of the transition to secondary education on children's attainment."

Dr Darya Garsina, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Sussex, said:

"Recent campaigns launched by the BBC in collaboration with the National Numeracy Charity focusing on promoting adult education and maths training is a step in the right direction but much more work is needed to overcome the extent of poor numeracy in the UK and the negative effects associated with underachievement in maths."

The study examined working memory and internalizing symptoms as predictors of children's maths attainment trajectories across the transition to secondary education through analysis of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) involving almost 9,000 children born between 1 April 1991 and 31 December 1992.

The study focuses on the transition from primary to secondary education because of the reported declines in academic achievement and maths specifically during the move from primary to secondary schools - it is reported that more than a third of children do not show any progress in maths during the transition year.

The study's authors believe higher-educated parents support the transition to secondary education in different ways that lessen the negative impact of the transition on maths attainment including their own positive attitudes towards education, involvement with school activities or helping with homework in a supportive environment.

The authors had hypothesised that emotional temperament in early childhood could be a very early indicator of poor maths attainment later on in adolescence but later concluded that it was not possible to predict later problems with underattainment in maths using emotional difficulties early on in childhood.

The study's authors say additional research is needed to further uncover the relationship of memory during a task (working memory) and internalizing symptoms such as anxiety on attainment, using more time-appropriate measures.

Andy Field, Professor of Quantitative Methods at the University of Sussex, said:

"The current state of maths attainment and performance of children and adults in the UK is particularly alarming with almost half of all working-age adults in the UK having the maths skills expected of primary-school children. Poor maths attainment in childhood persist well into adulthood and can be associated with several negative outcomes such as poorer employment prospects, greater likelihood of homelessness, poorer health outcomes and mental health difficulties such as depression. The ability to identify predictors of maths attainment as early as possible in childhood could have life-changing consequences."

University of Sussex

Related Memory Articles:

Memory of the Venus flytrap
In a study to be published in Nature Plants, a graduate student Mr.
Memory protein
When UC Santa Barbara materials scientist Omar Saleh and graduate student Ian Morgan sought to understand the mechanical behaviors of disordered proteins in the lab, they expected that after being stretched, one particular model protein would snap back instantaneously, like a rubber band.
Previously claimed memory boosting font 'Sans Forgetica' does not actually boost memory
It was previously claimed that the font Sans Forgetica could enhance people's memory for information, however researchers from the University of Warwick and the University of Waikato, New Zealand, have found after carrying out numerous experiments that the font does not enhance memory.
Memory boost with just one look
HRL Laboratories, LLC, researchers have published results showing that targeted transcranial electrical stimulation during slow-wave sleep can improve metamemories of specific episodes by 20% after only one viewing of the episode, compared to controls.
VR is not suited to visual memory?!
Toyohashi university of technology researcher and a research team at Tokyo Denki University have found that virtual reality (VR) may interfere with visual memory.
The genetic signature of memory
Despite their importance in memory, the human cortex and subcortex display a distinct collection of 'gene signatures.' The work recently published in eNeuro increases our understanding of how the brain creates memories and identifies potential genes for further investigation.
How long does memory last? For shape memory alloys, the longer the better
Scientists captured live action details of the phase transitions of shape memory alloys, giving them a better idea how to improve their properties for applications.
A NEAT discovery about memory
UAB researchers say over expression of NEAT1, an noncoding RNA, appears to diminish the ability of older brains to form memories.
Molecular memory can be used to increase the memory capacity of hard disks
Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä have taken part in an international British-Finnish-Chinese collaboration where the first molecule capable of remembering the direction of a magnetic above liquid nitrogen temperatures has been prepared and characterized.
Memory transferred between snails
Memories can be transferred between organisms by extracting ribonucleic acid (RNA) from a trained animal and injecting it into an untrained animal, as demonstrated in a study of sea snails published in eNeuro.
More Memory News and Memory Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.