Academic confidence
and dyslexia at university
Academic confidence
and dyslexia at university
The ABC & Dx Profilers
Revised October 2023
The ABC and Dx Profilers
Introduction
Data in this study relating to academic confidence was collected through the Academic Behavioural Confidence Scale, originally developed by Sander & Sanders in the early 2000s to explore attitudes to study and study behaviours amongst students at university.
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The focus of the study was to explore the impact of dyslexianess on academic confidence. Dyslexianess emerged from an acknowledgement of the continuum nature of dyslexia, such that the syndrome encompasses a broad range of learning differences, preferences and study characteristics, mainly, but not exclusively related to the way in which individuals engage with literacy. To assess dyslexianess, it was necessary to devise and develop a new scale, the Dyslexia Index Profiler, which attempt to assess the impacts of many of the main characteristics of dyslexia on learning and study at university.
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Working versions of both the ABC Scale and the Dx Profiler are reproduced in full below, preceded by a more detailed description of each.
Academic Behavioural Confidence (ABC)
and the ABC Scale
Confidence is a robust dimensional characteristic of individual differences (Stankov, 2012) and academic confidence has been defined as the level of strong belief, firm trust, or sure expectation of responses to the demands of studying at university (Sander & Sanders, 2006a). Academic confidence has been linked to academic capability and ultimately, to academic achievement (de la Fuente, et.al., 2013).
In this study, academic confidence was gauged using the Academic Behavioural Confidence (ABC) Scale, a metric designed to explore and explain differences in the study behaviours and learning strategies of students at university through the lens of academic confidence (Sander and Sanders, 2003, 2006a, 2009). The ABC Scale draws from the Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) of Bandura, and particularly, the application of SCT to learning through the concept of selfefficacy (Bandura, 1997), considered as the parent construct of academic confidence (op cit, 2006a).
The Academic Behavioural Confidence Scale
The ABC Scale was developed for a study exploring university students' attitudes to some aspects of their academic studies (Sander & Sanders, 2003). Originally known as the Academic Confidence Scale, later revisions sharpened the focus onto academic behavioural confidence, defined as confidence in actions and plans in relation to academic study behaviour (Sander & Sanders, 2006b). From these revisions, the final, 24item, Likerttype, selfreport evaluator emerged, reproduced in full, below.
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Further revisions, notably through the application of dimension reduction processes which were searching for factor structures, identified seven scale items as likely to be redundant, hence reducing the ABC Scale to a 17item measure with the remaining scale items unchanged (Sander et.al., 2011).
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In this current study, a similar process of dimension reduction was applied to the local data. The outcome also indicated the likelihood of redundant scale items. Notable differences emerged between the scale items discarded in Sander's revision from the 24point to the 17point scale and scale items identified as likely redundant from the analysis of data in this study. This may suggest that researchers using the 24point ABC Scale to collect data might also wish to apply dimension reduction to outputs generated from the complete scale, rather than rely on the Sander & Sanders reduced 17item version. It is believed that this current study is the first to identify this nuance in data analysis of outputs from the ABC Scale in research projects.
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Thus, two alternative local ABC Scales emerged, one a 17point scale (coincidentally) and another with 21 scale items. Hence four distinct ABC Scale outputs were available as derived from the data collected in this study, all from the same set of original, 24 scale items completed by the project's respondents.
These four metrics were thus defined as:

ABC24  the original, Sander & Sanders 24item scale;

ABC17  the revised, Sander & Sanders 17item scale;

ABC17L  the locally derived 17item scale;

ABC21L  the locally derived 21item scale.
In this current study, the 5 anchorpoint Likert type scales used in the original, ABC24 Scale were adapted into continuous range scales (from 0 ≤ ABC ≤ 100), not least to address statistical analysis issues that would otherwise have emerged from applying continuous data analysis processes to discrete data, that is, as generated from fixed anchor points (Carifio & Perla, 2007). A respondent's overall ABC level was generated by calculating an unweighted mean average of scores for each of the scale items.
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Scale items declared as redundant in each of the three reduced scales are indicated in the full 24item scale below, and hence four distinct measures of Academic Behavioural Confidence are available on completion of the questionnaire.
The 24point ABC Scale
Scale items redundant in:

the ABC17 Scale

the ABC17L Scale

the ABC21L Scale
How confident are you that you will be able to ...
0% = not confident at all; 50% = undecided or neutral; 100% = very confident
Understanding ABC Scale outputs
In this study, Academic Behavioural Confidence (ABC) levels were determined for n=98 students with no declared dyslexia and n=68 students with an identified dyslexic learning difference.
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The project's aim was to determine whether or not identified dyslexia has an impact on academic confidence. The broad conclusions suggested that although many factors are likely to influence academic confidence at university, being identified as dyslexic is one of them. Significantly statistical differences in levels of ABC were revealed between the dyslexic and the nondyslexic group, as reported elsewhere in this thesis.
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To contextualize outputs generated from the ABC Scale Profiler above, levels for students in the nondyslexic group fell in the range 44 ≤ ABC24 ≤ 97 with the mean at 67.21, and median at 67.15. Corresponding levels for students in the dyslexic group were in the range 26 ≤ ABC24 ≤ 92 with the mean at 58.45, and median at 56.79.