The Influence of Personality on HE Students’ Confidence in their Academic Abilities
Briony D. Pulford & Harjit Sohal
University of Leicester
The Individual Learning Profile
Participants, Materials and Procedure
To investigate the dimensionality of the ILP, the responses of 3003 firstyear undergraduate students were collected in large group testing sessions in their first week at a large British university. Students’ perceived academic strengths and weaknesses were assessed using the Individual Learning Profile (ILP) questionnaire. The 43 items are designed to measure perceived abilities in: Speaking and Listening (6 items), Reading and Researching (6 items), Writing (6 items), Time management (6 items), Numeracy Skills (8 items) and IT Skills (11 items). Students indicated to what extent each question/statement was descriptive of their academic competence on the scale 1 ‘Never’, 2 ‘Sometimes’, 3 ‘Mostly’, 4 ‘Always’. To date, there are no published factor structure or reliability reports of this scale.
Results
‘Numeracy Skills’, (Factor 1) eight items asking about confidence working with numbers, fractions, decimals etc., explained 7.7% of the variance. The new 12–item factor (2) ‘Reading and Writing’ accounted for 24.6% of the variance, covering ability to read and understand, and to express oneself accurately in writing. Five items based on advanced levels of computer literacy, ‘Hard IT Skills’ such as using databases, PowerPoint, and spreadsheets, explained 9.3% of the variance (Factor 3). There were six items measuring ‘Time Management’, the ability to hand in work on time, use a timetable to plan work and leaving time to proofread work etc. that accounted for 5.4% of variance in scores (Factor 4). A more general level of computer knowledge, use of the Internet, email and Word, was reflected in the 5–item factor ‘Easy IT Skills’ which only explained 2.9% of the variance (Factor 5). Four items accounting for 4.1% of variance in the scores covered ‘Speaking’, which asked about the ability to join into group discussions, give a talk, and ask questions in class (Factor 6). The final ILP scale thus comprised only 40 items while three items that did not load onto any of the above 6 factors were not used in subsequent analyses. The Cronbach’s alpha (α) coefficients of these six factors are .93, .88, .87, .80, .74, .74, respectively.

Factors 


1 
2 
3 
4 
5 
6 
Are you confident about working with decimals 
.854 





Are you confident about working with percentages 
.849 





Are you confident about working with fractions 
.836 





Are you confident about working with ratios 
.802 





Are you confident about working with numbers 
.794 





Are you confident about working with statistics 
.722 





Are you confident about working with graphs 
.685 





Are you confident about working with charts 
.680 





Are you confident with a calculator 






Are you confident about your reading skills? 

.742 




Are you able to read fast and understand what you are reading? 

.741 




Are you confident in the use of punctuation and grammar? 

.691 




Are you able to make sense of a text on first reading? 

.675 




Are you confident about your spelling? 

.674 




Can you find information easily by reading? 

.651 




Can you get your own ideas onto paper easily, and find the right words? 

.582 




Can you put information into your own words without copying big chunks? 

.548 




Are you confident about taking notes in lectures? 

.539 




Are you confident about using a dictionary and/or thesaurus? 

.535 




Do you enjoy writing? 

.497 




Do you find it easy to explain what you mean (e.g. find the right words)? 

.468 




Do you feel confident about using a library/learning centre? 






Are you confident using computers for databases 


.801 



Are you confident using computers for accessing library catalogues and stock 


.772 



Are you confident using computers for presentations (e.g. PowerPoint) 


.760 



Are you confident using computers for statistics 


.759 



Are you confident using computers for spreadsheets 


.571 



Do you consider yourself well organised? 



.714 


Do you work to deadlines or hand work in on time? 



.675 


Do you use a diary/timetable to help you plan your work? 



.646 


Do you leave time to check and/or proof read your work? 



.602 


Do you know when you study best (e.g. early morning, evening etc)? 



.592 


Do you complete tasks before your friends? 



.541 


Can you listen and concentrate for long periods (e.g. in a lecture)? 






Have you used computers to support your studies or at work? 




.709 

Are you confident using computers for word processing 




.688 

Do you have access to a computer outside of the university? 




.626 

Are you confident using computers for internet information (the Web) 




.620 

Are you confident using computers for email 




.609 

Do you join in class or group discussions? 





.773 
Are you confident about talking to people you don’t know? 





.756 
Do you feel comfortable giving a ‘talk’ or presentation to a group? 





.736 
Do you ask questions when you don’t understand something? 





.552 