Academic confidence
and dyslexia at university
Academic confidence
and dyslexia at university
The ABC Profiler
Revised October 2023
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 24item to the 17item scale, and scale items identified as likely redundant from the analysis of data in this study. This may indicate that researchers using the 24item ABC Scale to collect data might also wish to apply dimension reduction to outputs generated from the complete scale, rather than rely on the stock, Sander & Sanders reduced 17item version as an alternative for data output comparisons. 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 17item 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 n=166 respondents.
These four metrics were thus:

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 scale item ≤ 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 below.
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 being identified as dyslexic is likely to negatively influence academic confidence at university. Significantly statistical differences in levels of ABC were revealed between the dyslexic and the nondyslexic group, as reported elsewhere in this thesis. It is acknowledged that being identified with dyslexia may be one of several factors that may affect academic confidence at university.
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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 fell in the range 26 ≤ ABC24 ≤ 92 with the mean at 58.45, and median at 56.79.
Expected Academic Behavioural Confidence
Although no claims are made to suggest that levels of dyslexianess, Dx, (as gauged through the Dyslexia Index Profiler) can predict corresponding levels of ABC, a tentative multiple regression analysis of the data collected in this study suggested that it may be at least possible to indicate an expected level of ABC based on a measured level of Dx.
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More work is to be conducted in this area of the study, not least to complete further regression analyses on the original data to complement the single analysis conducted so far, which used outputs from the Dx20 version of the Dx Profiler to generate expected levels of ABC for all of the four scales used in this study.
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Hence, the Dx20 output generated from the Dx Profiler (here) can be used as the test statistic to generate expected ABC outputs below.
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It must be added that at this stage in the research, these outputs are for interest only rather than of any immediate scientific value. At a later date, this aspect of the study will be fully reported.