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 first-year 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.


‘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.













Are you confident about working with decimals







Are you confident about working with percentages







Are you confident about working with fractions







Are you confident about working with ratios







Are you confident about working with numbers







Are you confident about working with statistics







Are you confident about working with graphs







Are you confident about working with charts







Are you confident with a calculator







Are you confident about your reading skills?







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







Are you confident in the use of punctuation and grammar?







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







Are you confident about your spelling?







Can you find information easily by reading?







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







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







Are you confident about taking notes in lectures?







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







Do you enjoy writing?







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







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







Are you confident using computers for databases







Are you confident using computers for accessing library catalogues and stock







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







Are you confident using computers for statistics







Are you confident using computers for spreadsheets







Do you consider yourself well organised?







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







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







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







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







Do you complete tasks before your friends?







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







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







Are you confident using computers for word processing







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







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







Are you confident using computers for email







Do you join in class or group discussions?







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







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







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