From John Ray's shorter notes

January 06, 2015

Is this the ultimate dumbing down of education?  Has educational success now become just a popularity contest?

If "niceness" gets you better grades than intelligence, it seems so.

A recent academic paper says personality is more important than IQ to educational success.  And since the criterion of academic success was GPA I can believe it.  GPAs these days are not a strong indicator of academic ability.  They could well be influenced by "niceness".  Teachers tend to give higher marks to  students whom they like.  And, as we know, GPAs are not a strong indicator of success in later years.  IQ was in the past by far the best predictor of academic success but most of those findings go back to an era where education had not yet been "dumbed down".

Another problem is that high IQ students often find schoolwork boring so treat it cursorily, which is not a good way to get high marks, meaning that GPA marks may not adequately represent ability.

Leftists have always derided IQ because it is one of those pesky inborn differences that obstruct their dream of making everybody equal.  It seems that they have now gone beyond derision and are actively making IQ irrelevant.  Below is a popular summary of the paper followed by the journal abstract.

According to a new review of the link between personality and academic achievement, personality is a better way to predict success at school than intelligence as it's usually measured, by traditional standardized tests. Arthur Poropat, of Griffith University in Australia, compared measurements of what psychologists call the "big five" personality traits — openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism — to academic scores, and found that the students who were rated higher in openness and conscientiousness tended to receive better grades.

"In practical terms, the amount of effort students are prepared to put in, and where that effort is focused, is at least as important as whether the students are smart,” Poropat said in the release accompanying the paper, which was published in Learning and Individual Differences. "And a student with the most helpful personality will score a full grade higher than an average student in this regard."

It makes intuitive sense that both conscientiousness and openness would result in higher grades; it doesn't really matter how smart you are if you can't manage to turn your homework in on time, for one. And another word for openness is curiosity, another obviously necessary factor in learning. Still, it's an interesting way to think about academic achievement for anyone who grew up believing they did well in school simply because they were "smart."



Other-rated personality and academic performance: Evidence and implications

By Arthur E. Poropat


Considerable gaps remain in teachers' and students' understanding of factors contributing to learning and educational outcomes, including personality. Consequently, current knowledge about personality within educational settings was reviewed, especially its relationships with learning activities and academic performance. Personality dimensions have previously been shown to be related to learning strategies and activities, and to be reliably correlated with academic performance. However, personality is typically self-rated, introducing methodological disadvantages associated with informational and social desirability biases. A meta-analysis of other-rated personality demonstrated substantially higher correlations of academic performance with all of the dimensions of the Five-Factor Model of personality, which were not accounted for by associations with intelligence. The combined association of academic performance with all of the Five-Factor Model dimensions was one of the largest so far reported in education. The findings have implications for personality measurement. Teachers are able to assess students' personalities to match educational activities to student dispositions, while students' development of learning capacities can be facilitated by feedback on how their personalities are linked with effective learning.


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