Factors that influence academic performance


The academic performance of primary school students is a topic of interest and concern for researchers, teachers and families alike. This stage can have a significant impact on the development of students, and can influence their educational trajectory in the long term. For this reason, it is essential to understand the variables that influence academic performance.

Academic performance is closely linked to motivation, and both feed off each other : motivated students tend to perform better and, in turn, good performance is followed by motivation.

But the question of how to encourage students to work hard and get good grades does not have a clear answer. One of the key questions is whether we should give rewards to children who get good grades.

The debate in the academic community

What does the research say about the pros and cons of these incentives? There are authors and studies that support that rewards are an effective way to motivate students, since they give them a tangible incentive to work hard. In contrast, there are other writers who argue that rewards can lead students to focus too much on short-term results, rather than their long-term love of learning and knowledge.

As early as 1985, some studies indicated that both extrinsic reinforcements and rewards can have a negative effect on intrinsic motivation, which is the natural desire to learn and improve for the pleasure of doing so. Therefore, it is important to balance both sides of the scale.

Other factors

As the decades go by, different factors that affect performance have been investigated:

  1. The teaching style of teachers, and how it affects student motivation, is positively associated with academic performance in mathematics in primary school students.
  2. Socioeconomic level continues to be one of the main predictors of academic performance in primary education, and the gap between students of different socioeconomic levels continues to be a major concern in education.
  3. Individual, family and school factors , such as gender, are also determining factors. From the studies cited, it is analyzed and appreciated how girls can have superior academic performance in areas such as reading and writing, while boys tend to have superior performance in mathematics and science. Parental support , their involvement in education and the creation of a learning environment at home have been proven to improve student academic performance.
  4. Cognitive abilities, specifically memory and attention .
  5. The quality of the school environment , including factors such as the quality of teaching, the infrastructure and resources of the school.
  6. Study time has also been linked to academic performance, as students who put in more hours tend to do better.

Individual differences and contexts

To improve academic performance in primary education, it is essential to adopt a multidimensional and systematic approach that takes into account various factors. For example, personalized education that integrates and embraces individual student differences should be considered. Assume that students have concrete and different learning styles, cognitive abilities and special needs.

In addition, it is a priority to highlight contextual factors, such as the family, socioeconomic and cultural environment in which students develop, since they are absolutely relevant for student learning.

In this sense, effective educational policies and programs can be designed that address the specific needs of each student and promote their academic success: implement differentiated teaching strategies that adapt to the different learning styles of students. At the same time, it would be good to empower and offer additional resources and supports to those students who face particular challenges.

In short, establishing a systematic approach that involves the entire educational community, fostering collaboration and communication between these actors, as well as providing professional development opportunities for teachers.

In conclusion, a multidimensional and systematic approach is essential to achieve quality primary education and improve academic performance. By considering students’ individual and contextual differences, and by involving all relevant stakeholders, enriching educational environments can be created that promote academic success for all from the earliest years of school.

Author Bio: Maria Gloria Gallego Jimenez is aProfessor of Education Degrees at CEU San Pablo University