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Motivation and Math Skills as Determinants of First-Year Performance in Economics


  • Ivo J. M. Arnold
  • Jerry T. Straten


The importance of math skills for study success in economics has been widely researched. This article adds to the literature by combining information on students’ math skills and their motivation. The authors are thus able to present a rich picture of why students succeed in their study of economics and to confirm previous findings that deficient math preparation bodes ill for first-year study success in economics. However, the authors also find that within the population of math-deficient students, motivation matters. Applying factor analysis to a survey of students at Erasmus School of Economics, the authors identify four motivational factors; among these, intrinsic motivation is most strongly related to first-year study success. The authors also show that intrinsic motivation may help to overcome inadequate preparatory math education.

Suggested Citation

  • Ivo J. M. Arnold & Jerry T. Straten, 2012. "Motivation and Math Skills as Determinants of First-Year Performance in Economics," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(1), pages 33-47, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jeduce:v:43:y:2012:i:1:p:33-47
    DOI: 10.1080/00220485.2012.636709

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard Sabot & John Wakeman-Linn, 1991. "Determinants of Performance in Introductory Courses in Economics and Seven Other Disciplines," Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education DP-7, Department of Economics, Williams College.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jaime Andrés Sarmiento Espinel & Adriana Carolina Silva Arias, 2014. "La formación del economista en Colombia," REVISTA FACULTAD DE CIENCIAS ECONÓMICAS, UNIVERSIDAD MILITAR NUEVA GRANADA, vol. 0(1), pages 231-262, June.
    2. Sam Allgood & William B. Walstad & John J. Siegfried, 2015. "Research on Teaching Economics to Undergraduates," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 53(2), pages 285-325, June.
    3. repec:ebl:ecbull:eb-17-00163 is not listed on IDEAS

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