The latest NAPLAN results found that students are making significant gains in some domains and year levels for the first time in many years.
However, some experts say students also need to master more than just maths, sciences and literacy in schools. School leaders and teachers have also been highlighting the importance of students collaborating, engaging with diverse teams and bouncing back from failure as key skills.
In an article published in The Conversation, University of Sydney Associate Professor Carolyn MacCann, University of New South Wales Associate Professor Amirali Minbashian and University of Oxford research associate Kit Double wrote that EQ can make a big difference in lifting student outcomes.
The authors’ research – a meta-analysis of over 150 studies published in the American Psychological Association – found that emotional intelligence “has a small to moderate association with academic performance,” with higher EQ students ending up with better academic performance.
What’s more, a student’s EQ level was found to have a greater connection with their course grade than their performance in standardised testing.
This is also more evident when it comes to skills-based tasks, such as managing emotions or reading non-verbal cues. The authors note that of all skills related to EQ, a student’s ability to understand and manage their own emotions is crucial for better academic performance.
Being able to understand both one’s own and other people’s emotions account for 12% of differences in academic performance while managing emotions makes a 7% difference.
This makes EQ just as important as the students’ IQ, which represents a 15% difference in academic performance, the authors argue.
Where EQ matters the most
Despite noting the lack of evidence for causal direction, the study’s authors still believe that students with higher EQ can better manage negative emotions such as anxiety.
These students can also make better social connections, making it easier for them to seek help when needed. Having a higher EQ also gives students an advantage in certain subjects, such as in humanities which require comprehension of motivations and emotions of characters.
A student’s EQ levels, meanwhile, were found to not have as much effect when it comes to more technical subjects like maths and science.