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Accounting for confidence

Just how important is self-efficacy when it comes to learning accounting?

Very important, says University of Otago accounting teaching fellow, Nicola Beatson, who won 2017's three-minute thesis competition with her talk “Confidence Matters”.

Beatson's PhD study on the role of self-efficacy in accounting education is showing behaviour is crucial – self-efficacy is a better predictor of passing than prior learning at high school.

Her research has identified three types of self-efficacy with certain tasks which influence a student's self-efficacy beliefs: confidence to achieve academic success, confidence to ask for help and confidence to be organised.

She says all three factors can impact on student learning.

She is hoping this will inform teaching. “I care about the students, but I have 600 students in Semester 1 and 400 in Semester 2 that I have to help learn accounting, while getting them into the right headspace at the same time. It's a challenge we all face as teachers.”

She is also hoping these findings will make a difference to the pass rates of accounting students.

“Accounting and Information Systems is a core paper, but has a bad rap for being dull – I don't want that to affect students' belief in whether they can learn.”

Her own approach to teaching has already changed. “Armed with the understanding of what can influence self-efficacy beliefs in my students, I am now more careful to convey to them that they are capable of doing what I asked and I believe they can do it.

"It's only one aspect, but if it helps a student learn and believe in themselves, then it is worth it.”

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