Mathematics confidence, interest, and performance: Examining gender patterns and reciprocal relations

Colleen M. Ganley, Sarah Theule Lubienski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999, this study explores gender-related patterns in math attitudes and achievement. Following 7040 students from 3rd to 8th grades, we examined gender differences in math confidence, interest, and performance and examined relations among these variables over time. Results indicate that gender differences in math confidence are larger than disparities in interest and achievement in elementary school. Structural equation models show that math performance is a consistent predictor of later confidence and interest, and there is some evidence for a reciprocal relation between confidence and performance in middle school. Relations were generally similar for boys and girls. Results raise questions about the notion that early gender differences in math interest are a driver of disparities in later math outcomes and instead suggest that math interventions for girls should begin early and include attention to math confidence, in addition to achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-193
Number of pages12
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Gender differences
  • Math achievement
  • Math confidence
  • Math interest
  • Reciprocal relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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