Educational Studies 29 (2-3):261-272 (2003)

The key objectives and targets of the Learning and Skills Council's corporate plan concerned with increasing participation in education, enhancing workforce training, and raising the achievement of young people and adults are all dependent upon breaking down the barriers and obstacles that stand in the way of facilitating meaningful learning and progression. However, even after the well-documented 'situational' and 'institutional' barriers have been overcome, what McGivney calls the 'dispositional' obstacles--linked to learners' attitudes, perceptions and motivations--still need to be addressed by tutors and mentors. A crucial aspect of such dispositions in the learner's confidence and its role as an inhibitor or facilitator of learning. Although widely used--most recently in the DfES publicity about adult literacy gains--the concept of 'confidence' is, in the main, little understood and tends to be used imprecisely and rhetorically. This paper will seek--through the examination of a range of studies involving confidence and cognate concepts, in addition to original research on students learning to teach in the post-school sector--to offer some suggestions for enhancing the management and support of learning in this important sphere of work
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DOI 10.1080/03055690303275
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