The Development of Confidence

Project Number
OER 19/12 LJY

Project Duration
July 2012 - June 2015


This project will examine the development of confidence among secondary school students. It is designed in a way that will allow us to conduct longitudinal and intervention studies simultaneously. Confidence is a disposition that is related to the personality facets of Extraversion and Neuroticism/Anxiety. It is also related to aspects of self-beliefs (self-concept, self-efficacy, maths anxiety) and the self-monitoring component of metacognition. Large scale international studies show that students from Confucian Asian countries tend to score low on measures of confidence and self-beliefs. Nurturing of confidence has been one of the targets of Singapore's Ministry of Education policy in recent years. For the main study proposed herein, we plan to administer a battery of measures of confidence once every year over a three years period. The participants will be all students in three Secondary schools in Singapore (aged 12 to 16). This will allow for both cross-sectional and longitudinal assessments of changes in confidence. Parents will also be surveyed in order to assess the effects of childrearing attitudes and practices on confidence. In addition, half of the Sec 3 classes in one of the three schools will be selected for intervention, which will train the students in public speaking and presentation. The other half of the classes will be used as control. The training will consist of modified Toastmasters International procedures and it will be carried out in consulta tion with the performing arts teachers. We plan to conduct the intervention during the second year of the project and, if successful, apply for additional resources to scale it up. If participant schools endorse it, we will focus on low achieving students who will be included in the intervention. At the end of this project, we shall have an improved understanding of the course of development (i.e., longitudinal) and causal influences (through intervention studies) on confidence. The knowledge garnered from this project, in particular findings about the effects of the intervention, will allow for the introduction of confidence-building procedures into a wider curriculum in Singapore schools. In a society that values modesty, the training in tasks that require confidence will ensure that younger people have the knowledge and skills that will allow them to succeed in a globalized world.

Funding Source

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