Cultivating Confidence in Students to Excel Academically
Students who struggle academically may lack the self-confidence to continue to learn actively and get their point across during lesson. Educators have a huge influence on their students and hence there is an onus on them to instil confidence in the students and help them to feel confident enough to overcome any obstacles in their path to success despite any initial struggles.
When students possess more confidence in their ability, they will be more willing and ready to study and will put in more efforts to work harder as compared to when they doubt their academic ability due to struggles faced. Hence, self-confidence is extremely important in motivating students to excel academically.
Here are some tips that should be taught to students who struggle with their studies so as to provide them with a proper structure to follow when they are at a loss and also to enable them to regain confidence and guide them to the path of success. The tips can also be used by educators who use them to guide and encourage their students.
- Set the right goals
As students, be sure to set goals that are realistic and attainable and this is one way where you will be able to see growth and improvement as compared to setting an unrealistic goal that is too hard to reach. As educators, remember to guide your students in their goal settings and do not impose too high expectations on them, as it will only cause them to falter. Ensure that the goals are what the student wants to attain while also making sure that they are realistic. When learning is goal-oriented, there is more intrinsic motivation to be able to want to attain their goals and hence more confidence in pursuing the academics.
Practice makes perfect and that is often the case. When studying for quantitative subjects like mathematics, remember that practice is the key to success! But of course you practice when you understand the concepts behind questions and not blindly do questions without any understanding. For more qualitative subjects, one way to practice is to come up with a skeletal / point form answer for the question so as to test your understanding of the subject. For educators, remember to remind your students to practice for topics that they are unfamiliar with in order to familiarise themselves with the chapter.
- Use visual aids
If long chunky words don’t interest you and deter you from studying, use visual aids to help you study better! Research has shown that students study better with visual aids such as mind maps and flow charts. So students, sketch those mind maps out to better understand difficult concepts! Similarly when teaching, it is better for educators to use visual aids which capture the attention of their students. Do not include large chunks of works on your notes and presentation slides when teaching, as such chunks deter students from reading and understanding the content.
- Seek help
When in doubt, do not hesitate to seek help! It is better to clarify a misunderstanding or something that you do not know at the start. Your teachers and tutors will definitely make themselves available whenever possible. Educators, do not chide your students who seek help from you and instead help them to the best of your abilities when they approach you with questions! Questions are a sign that one is learning.
- Do not be afraid to make mistakes
A Japanese proverb goes, “fall down seven times and get up eight”. The meaning behind this is to not be discouraged by any mistakes and failures as it is bound to happen. Remember to always pick yourself after making a mistake and that making mistakes are normal and fine as no one is perfect. Educators should always remind their students of this and be there for students to reach to when students face a failure or a mistake.
More for the educators, remember to be a source of encouragement to your students and constantly praise them for whatever progress or good work that has been done! If constructive feedback or criticism needs to be given, it might be better to do it when one on one with the student so that he or she does not feel embarrassed in front of the class. Research about people management has also shown that the “Sandwich Method” works best when one wants to give constructive feedback. How the “Sandwich Method” works is that you begin your feedback with something good as the bread before going into the criticisms and finally ending with encouragement again. These various layers form the “sandwich”.
Enthusiasm is extremely important in facilitating interest and confidence in the subject. Try your best to be enthusiastic when learning and it really makes a difference rather than looking at the subject as one that is dreary and boring. The enthusiasm of the educators also matters as an enthusiastic teacher helps students to model after the teacher’s enthusiasm for the subject and hence gain confidence.
- Positive learning environment
Last but not least, a positive learning environment is extremely important! Find friends who are willing to help and not those who hate studying and form a study group! Such friends will definitely motivate you to work harder and can also be of aid when help is needed to understand a concept. For educator, a classroom that has a positive environment is one where students feel safe to express themselves and have the desire to learn. These develop confidence in the students.
Hopefully with all these tips, educators will be able to help students to cultivate confidence in order to excel academically and that students themselves will be able to orientate themselves into a structure, which enables them to gain confidence.
“Self-confidence is like a super power, once you believe in yourself, magic starts happening.”
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