When Student Confidence Clicks
Self-Efficacy and Learning in HE

Project Summary
This project develops a teaching methodology to enhance Academic Self-Efficacy (ASE), defined as students’ confidence in their ability to accomplish specific academic tasks or attain specific academic goals. Our approach makes intense use of Student Response Systems (SRS), such as ‘clickers’, to create an interactive environment where students reflect on their academic skills while they progress in their learning experience. The methodology builds on a blend of teaching, assessment, and self-reflection components. It makes use of widely adopted teaching technologies, but it expands their potential with an innovative application to the formation of Academic Self-Efficacy beliefs.

Project Aims
Our aim is to develop a learning environment where:
■  Students can build their own confidence along with their learning experience.

■  Teachers can receive immediate feedback on student attainment and student confidence.
■  Students and teachers can engage in a dialogue on how to achieve learning objectives while enhancing academic self-beliefs.

We observe that the recent changes in regulation and funding in the HE sector are exerting constant pressure to increase the quality of the student learning and teaching experience. However, in the current climate of competition amongst HEIs, students are at high risk of being placed ‘at the heart of the system’ in a passive way: more as receivers of a service, rather than primary actors and confident owners of their learning experience. Our project responds to these concerns re-visiting the concept of ASE, and elevating it as pillar for retention, active engagement, attainment, and employability of the HE student population. A strength of our approach is its cost-efficiency, which assures easy implementation and long-standing impact that can be easily exported, beyond the Economics disciplines, across the HE sector.

Project Outcomes
■  A Lecturer’s Handbook detailing a teaching methodology that: (i) targets a large module of Level 1 undergraduate students, (ii) fosters student ASE beliefs, and (iii) embeds ASE within the learning environment along with other more traditional and subject-specific learning objectives.
■  An evidence-based analysis and evaluation of the ASE teaching methodology introduced in the Level 1 module of “Introductory Economics” at UEA.
■  An evidence-based analysis and evaluation of the role of SRS as student-teacher communication device within the module of “Introductory Economics” at UEA to: (i) promote frequent formative assessment, (ii) stimulate on-going student’s reflection on students’ academic ability, and (iii) generate an on-going feedback loop in response to attainment and ASE beliefs.

Impact to Practice and Policy
We envisage that our project will influence practice and policy in the HE sector: (i) in terms of priorities, and (ii) in terms of efficient use of resources. By focusing on the importance of raising ASE beliefs, we argue that
beyond the improvement of the learning environment, more effort should be invested in forming students into confident individuals, progressively autonomous at tackling academic tasks, in preparation for the transition to their future careers. This fundamental objective becomes even more important when targeting retention of students coming from a widening access background. In terms of resources, our project aims to show that HEIs can react to the current climate of austerity and increased competition by making more efficient use of technologies that they already own. To this extent, we argue that successful teaching innovations are not necessarily conveyed through expensive equipment, and that targeted investment in cognitive factors, such as ASE, can be a cost-efficient and effective way to generate sustainable impact.

Project Activities

Teaching Activities

Teaching activities will make intense use of SRS technologies, integrating them through a diverse set of teaching methods, such as lectures, seminars, and workshops. Each session will be based on an interactive environment where students will be confronted with revision questions, reasoning questions, and self-assessment and self-efficacy questions.
Questions measuring attainment and ASE will be blended, inviting the students to see these two factors as equally important goals and indicators of success. Students will be invited to reflect on their preparation, on their skills, and on their concerns. The feedback provided during each teaching session will be tailored to the response received from the students, encouraging a two-way dialogue. Feedback may convey specific clarifications, as well as more general suggestions to foster ASE.

Student Surveying Activities

At regular intervals, students will be administered online questionnaires and will be offered the opportunity to attend focus groups designed to measure: (i) their perception of their academic abilities, (ii) their confidence in their academic progress, and (iii) their perceived difficulties in tackling academic tasks.

Data Analysis
We aim to collect 3 different datasets: (i) a Teaching Activity Dataset, (ii) a Student Survey Dataset and (iii) a Student Records Dataset. The information contained in the Teaching Activity Dataset will facilitate the construction of measures of ASE that can be matched with attainment. The elaboration of the information gathered in the Student Survey Dataset will allow the construction of meaningful narratives to inform our reports.

The preparation and delivery of teaching activities and the process of data-collection and feedback to/from students will be on-going all along the teaching period: Oct-Dec 2013, and Feb-Jun 2014. Elaboration and data analysis will take place over Summer 2014. In September 2014 stakeholders in the sector will be invited to a Project Workshop. Toolkits and final reports will be available by December 2014. 

This project was supported through the HEA Teaching Development Grant scheme between October 2013 and October 2014.




 Project Resources
Links to all the resources currently available for the project.

 Project Workshop - 3 Sep 2014
Programme, contributions, links to presentations and demonstration videos.

  Project Dissemination Activities
List of conferences, seminars, workshops and publications related to the Project.

Fabio Aricò's webpage