Comparing confidence and scores

Bridgette Russell researched the difference between math confidence and math scores

| Author: Hadlee Rinn | Media Contact: Kara Owens

Bridgette Russell, a graduate student studying Mathematics with a concentration in Education, explored the relationship between how people think they will perform in mathematics compared to how they actually perform.  

Russell’s study was inspired by two of her intermediate algebra students. One student was convinced they were not good at math, but consistently scored over 100% on coursework. Another student believed they would pass the course with no problems but received scores of around 30% on most exams. Russell wanted to investigate this to help students be more successful in mathematics.  

The goal of Russell's research was to learn about what factors impact undergraduate students in introductory math courses and find ways to help them develop the skills necessary to succeed in more advanced classes. For example, intermediate algebra has a high DFW rate, meaning many students receive a D, F, or withdraw from the course. By understanding what influences a student's perception of their skills, Russell hopes to decrease these DFW rates. 

In her findings, Russell discovered students do not always accurately predict their success or failure. Some people are overconfident and think they will perform higher than they do. While others are under confident and perform better than they think they will. A large part of Russell’s study was finding these inconsistencies and explanations such as having a growth or fixed mindset and other internal or external factors.  

This story is brought to you by the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

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