What Role Does Confidence Play in Learning? Students Share Their Thoughts

Confidence in Learning
Confidence, Research

Article Summary

  • While confidence no doubt plays a role in student outcomes, what exactly drives their confidence?
  • According to one study, respondents who felt confident throughout their courses displayed consistent improvement in their learning outcomes.
  • To uncover what drives confidence, we asked students across the country to rank their motivators according to what moved their confidence needles most as students.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Like you, we want to know what makes students tick. Confidence for one, plays a big part. But what exactly drives learner confidence? What lessons can instructors learn from students’ own experience—and which strategies, tactics and teaching tools can they use to boost student confidence?

To find out, we went directly to the source, asking almost 3,000 students from around the country for their input on the role confidence plays in their learning.

The Correlation Between Confidence and Learning Outcomes

It’s clear that confidence matters. Whether professional, educational or interpersonal, navigating these spaces confidently leads to better results. But in the academic arena where success is often measured with grades, what does the data say about confidence?

Unsurprisingly, data supports the idea that confident learners thrive—still, there are some caveats. According to one study that measured the role confidence played in learning outcomes across a three-year period, respondents who felt confident throughout their courses displayed consistent improvement in their learning outcomes.

Knowing confidence in course concepts and lessons yields better learning outcomes, what do students believe instills this confidence?

Top Five Confidence Drivers According to Students

To uncover what drives confidence, we decided to do our own research—and asked students across the country between the ages of 18 and 64 to rank their motivators according to what moved their confidence needles most as students. The results?

  1. Grades
  2. Understanding the materials
  3. Employment prospects
  4. Relationships with teachers
  5. Relationships with peers

When asked which factors drove confidence in the classroom, respondents had this to say:

  1. Notifications of deadlines and when assignments are due
  2. Personalized instructor feedback
  3. Content provided or published by instructors
  4. Mobile study tools
  5. Instructor to student collaboration and communication tools

The Takeaway

Given all this data, how can instructors do more of what boosts student confidence with the end result of improving learning outcomes?

One quick win for educators is increasing tailored communication between themselves and their students. Whether it’s personalized coursework or digital study tools students can use on-the-go, when students feel they’re receiving personal attention from their instructors, they’re more likely to work confidently toward concept mastery and improved outcomes.

Want Even More Insights into Student Confidence?

Check out our ebook, The View from the Student’s Seat: Learners Weigh In. In it, we explore other catalysts of student confidence. Exploring what makes students confident in and out of the class as well as the role digital learning plays in bolstering student confidence.