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Goals revisited

Commitment is clearly related to setting goals. However it is much more than that. Setting the goal is perhaps the easy bit. Meeting them is much harder. The complexity of actually delivering a desired behaviour is well illustrated by the theory of reasoned action developed by Fishbein and Ajzen (1977). They described a complex decision making process that is common to us all. First they said you need to consider
someone's attitude to the behaviour—do they value it? Second, they discussed subjective norms. These relate to your perceptions of the views of significant others. Finally, consider if you have control over the behaviours you want to exhibit. Clearly this reasoning process is more than commitment. All aspects of mental toughness play a part. Where commitment is dominant is at the final stage. Fishbein and Ajzen differentiated between intention to behave and the behaviour itself. It is easier to think you should finish that essay than it is to actually do it. Commitment really operates between the intention and the behaviour—basically making it happen. This has obvious implication for students as regards their study habits and staff members as regards their career development and general health and wellbeing.

The trait of conscientiousness

Conscientiousness has been linked to a myriad of positive outcomes across educational, health, and personnel psychology. It is a broad trait covering a number of aspects. Some of these are: orderliness, responsibility, conscientiousness, perseverance, conventionality, fussiness, tidiness, responsibility, and scrupulousness. Commitment encompasses this broad church, providing a simple and straightforward overarching entity. The commitment scale therefore offers an excellent tool with which to both explain and predict classroom behaviours.


Confidence is a notoriously fuzzy term. It is widely discussed but rarely fully understood. From our initial research it became obvious that confidence was the “missing” component of mental toughness. It was clearly apparent from our applied work that clients felt their performance issues were down to a lack of confidence. Clearly we believe that this sort of attribution would be overly simplistic but it was also clear that confidence had a significant role. Using statistical models we found there were two distinct elements of confidence: confidence in abilities and interpersonal confidence.

For students confidence is key. Believing you can do something is important. However, belief needs to be backed up by real ability and excellent teaching. Lack of confidence is a potential killer. It prevents people developing to their full potential. Much of the classroom
experience is dominated by relationships with other people. Students with high levels of interpersonal confidence can form better relationships and are more comfortable talking to classmates and teachers.

Most educators recognise that teaching has a clear performance element. It is important that a teacher is comfortable communicating with others. Anxiety cripples creativity and spontaneity, reducing the efficacy of the message. In addition, confidence is at the core of good networking skills. A solid and vibrant network is a huge resource for the professional educator.

The confident individual has little need for external validation. All of us like positive feedback but individuals who are low on confidence need it. The confident person can accept they have good days and bad days and their view of themselves is not based on this day-to-day variation. Basically they believe they are ok really, but sometimes get it wrong.

As previously mentioned we believe there are two distinct aspects of confidence.

Confidence in abilities

Low scores

High scores

Low self belief

Not confident that they know their subject matter even when they do

Produce minimal responses when asked

Will be reluctant to ask questions “in case it makes me look stupid”

Inner belief missing—need others to build that

Unsure whether they have grasped a subject or not—feel they are still missing something

Can be inhibited by competence or excellence in others—feel they don't measure up

May underestimate their own capabilities

Can believe they are right … even when they are wrong

Little or no need for external validation

Happy to ask questions

Happy to provide full responses to questions and in exams

See critical feedback as feedback (no more and no less)

See competence and excellence in others as a motivator “ I can aspire to that”

Happy to draw in their experiences into what they do

Interpersonal confidence

Low scores

High scores

Easily intimidated. Won't express themselves in class/ debate even when they know they are right

Won't ask questions—low engagement

Will accept criticism and ridicule even when not warranted

Will back down quickly when challenged

Will have difficulty dealing with assertive people

Not good with negative situations Can be shy or self-effacing

Will seek to avoid risk or making mistakes

Will miss out on opportunities

Will stand their ground Will face down criticism etc

Will easily engage in class and group activity

Will use this quality to argue down others more knowledgeable

Can be aggressive

Not easily embarrassed Comfortable with negative

situations—can deal with the fall out

Comfortable working in a group and making a contribution

More likely to be involved in lots of things “wont be shy coming forward”

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