Modern Training

The Importance of Confidence Based Learning

Posted on: February 28, 2014Updated on: October 5, 2023By: Axonify Team

How would you feel if you knew your doctor had guessed at many of the answers on her certification exam?

Would you be ok with employees who know your plant safety practices, but aren’t confident enough to act when a problem arises?  What about your sales representative who is assertively selling the product incorrectly?

One of the most important questions you need to ask yourself is this:  How can you be sure that your employees understand what they need to know, so they can apply what they’ve learned quickly, confidently and reliably?

“Test them,” you answer.  But current testing methods aren’t enough:  employees often get the answer correct through sheer luck.  This doesn’t uncover those who are uncertain, who “think” they know the answer, but don’t want to put it to the test in a real situation. Or those who are oblivious to the fact that they don’t have the correct knowledge.

What’s more appropriate is a way to not only test employees on how much they know, but also how confident they are in their knowledge.  Fortunately, there is a methodology for this, that’s backed up by research proving its effectiveness.

Confidence Based Learning

Much of this research was pioneered by Dr. James Bruno, a Professor of Education at UCLA.   His research focused on the link between knowledge, confidence and behavior; and concluded that it’s the fusion of knowledge and confidence that leads to appropriate behavior, and empowers people to act.  People who are confidently correct take actions that are productive.  But it’s the reverse that’s particularly alarming:  individuals who are confident about misinformation will take action with negative or even dangerous results, and people who have little confidence in their knowledge can be paralyzed at critical times.

Dr. Bruno’s research led to the creation of the Confidence-Based Learning Methodology, a 2-dimensional assessment in which each question generates a metric for correctness plus confidence. This assessment model identifies what people know, and how confident they are about their knowledge.  It helps organizations identify more closely what areas of learning the employee should focus on, to achieve true mastery of knowledge and skills.

confidence based learning

  • Masters – Employees who know the facts and are not afraid to use them.
  • Doubters – Individuals who know their facts, but may not have the confidence to act without hesitation.
  • Misinformed – People who confidently believe incorrect information.
  • Uninformed – People who have not yet acquired all of the knowledge they need, but know they don’t know it yet.

Incorporating Confidence Based Learning Into Your Organization

In many cases, eLearning lends itself well as a medium to help measure employee confidence; therefore, you would need to start by selecting eLearning software that has Confidence Based Learning functionally integrated into its solution. This requires a learning system that heavily leverages retrieval practices (the important act of quickly learning a concept, being tested on recall, quickly refreshing the knowledge, being tested on recall again).

Once you’ve established a simple confidence rating system (e.g. Low, Medium and High), you will need to ensure that this system is then present during each learning session that is delivered to your employees.

When your employees go through a session and are asked to select their confidence level when answering a question, they will naturally consider their answers more deliberately. If they indicate medium or low confidence and find their answer is correct, their confidence is improved. If they indicate high confidence and find their answer is incorrect, they’re forced to re-evaluate what they know: not something easily forgotten! Not only does this approach take the guesswork out of their answers, but also it elicits an emotional response, which has been proven to increase long-term retention of their learning.

Does Confidence Matter? You Bet!

By creating a connection between knowledge and confidence, people are better able to gauge their confidence in how well they understand the subject matter. Confidence Based Learning takes your employees from Uninformed to Mastery, and from Paralysis to Informed Action. It helps people retain the information they learn, improves their confidence in themselves, and improves job performance.

Written by Laura Martin

Axonify Team

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