While we know that confidence plays a key role in determining a student’s success, how do we define confidence?  What does a confident student look like?

In The Confident Student, 8th edition, author Carol C. Kanar identifies 14 traits of confident students. Do you see these traits in your students?

  1. Flexible – They have an open mind and are adaptable to change.
  2. Self-motivated – They know what they want and strive to achieve it.
  3. Intellectual risk taker – They think for themselves, critically and creatively.
  4. Enthusiastic – They remain optimistic and energetic.
  5. Responsible – They “own” and are accountable for their actions.
  6. Self-managed – They have the discipline to prioritize tasks and meet obligations.
  7. Involved – They are active learners, aware that learning is within their power to control.
  8. Focused – They stay on task until a job is completed.
  9. Committed – They are willing to do whatever it takes to improve performance.
  10. Pragmatic – They try different strategies to see what works.
  11. Persistent – They go for their goals and don’t give up when faced with setbacks.
  12. Empathetic – They identify with others’ feelings and motives.
  13. Emotionally intelligent – They control their feelings rather than allowing their feelings to control them.
  14. Future-oriented – They look toward the future with confidence spurred on by their achievements.

How to Use this List

Instructors may wish to share this list with their students. In discussing each trait, ask students to think of examples from their own lives that exemplify the trait. Which traits do they already possess? Which ones do they want to work on?

Then ask students to make a plan for how they might “boost” certain traits. For example, if students lack the ability to stay focused, they might make a plan to study in the library without distractions. Or if they want to become more empathetic, they might choose to become involved in a cause on campus.

Instructors may also want to remind students that lacking confidence at times is a natural feeling, and that confidence takes time to develop. For more about this topic, see “How to Boost College Students’ Confidence,” Part 1 of this series.

Reference: Kanar, Carol C. 2014. The Confident Student, Eighth Edition. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

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