Overconfident, underperforming

Don’t Think Too Highly of Yourself, warns Mark Bauerlein on the Education Next blog.  Contrary to the prevailing wisdom, he writes, “higher confidence does not go with better math scores.”   The Brown Center’s How Well Are American Students Learning? report used TIMSS data to compare eighth-grade students in different countries.

“Countries with more confident students who enjoy the subject matter–and with teachers who strive to make mathematics relevant to students’ daily lives–do not do as well as countries that rank lower on indices of confidence, enjoyment, and relevance.”

. . .  U.S. students rated themselves much more highly than did students in Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Chinese Taipei, but they scored well behind that insecure group.  While 93 percent of U.S. eighth-graders failed to achieve an advanced score on the test, only 5 percent of them “disagreed a lot” with the statement that they “do well in math.”

A new report in the September issue of Learning and Individual Difference compares 15-year-olds’ reading skills in 34 countries, Bauerlein writes.  Students who lacked confidence in their skills tended to perform better than their classmates, while the overconfident performed worse.

Overconfidence “can be a sign not of prior superior achievement, but of inferior achievement, a defense mechanism against poor performance and skill level,” Bauerlein writes.

Via 11D, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry make fun of self-esteem on the not-Oprah Show.

And see the self-esteem section of It ain’t necessarily so.

About Joanne