Confidence in Ability: The Non-Traditional University Student

Isabella Chaney

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Increasingly universities are required to develop widening participation strategies to encourage nontraditional students. This paper presents the findings of an exploratory study aimed at understanding the academic behavioural confidence level of non-traditional students. In this study the non-traditional student is identified as those older than 24 years of age at commencement of their studies [1], [2], [3]. The Academic Behavioural Confidence Scale (ABC) is employed to compare non-traditional and traditional students’ perception of their ability to cope with their studies at the point of entry. The scale employs 17 statements forming the four factors of verbalising, studying, attending and grades. The analysis highlights the older group has less confidence in three out of four of the factors. Being able to write and pass assessments at their first attempt is scored significantly lower for the non-traditional students, thus, an increased use of ‘trial’ assessments (formative) is suggested as a means of developing academic writing skills prior to undertaking summative assessments. Results from this study highlight further areas where academic and personal tutor support is needed for non-traditional students.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication11th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation, Seville, 12-14 November 2018
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2018


  • non-traditional
  • confidence
  • students

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