Children’s Intuitive Theories of Academic Performance

Melis Muradoglu, Andrei Cimpian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How do children reason about academic performance across development? A classic view suggests children’s intuitive theories in this domain undergo qualitative changes. According to this view, older children and adults consider both effort and skill as sources of performance (i.e., a “performance = effort + skill” theory), but younger children can only consider effort (i.e., a “performance = effort” theory). Results from two studies (N = 240 children aged 4–9) contradict the claim of theory change, suggesting instead that children as young as 4 operate with an intuitive theory of academic performance that incorporates both effort and skill as explanatory concepts. This work reveals that children’s understanding of academic performance is more continuous across development than previously assumed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e902-e918
JournalChild development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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