Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Letters to Lucilius (circa 64)

Developing a Strong Sense of Competence

Competence and University Studies

The feeling of being competent to successfully face a situation plays a fundamental role in my affective reactions, motivation, commitment and perseverance when confronted with a difficult situation. It influences my goals, the value I attach to the attainment of these goals and my expectations of success. It influences, for example, my orientation towards a field of study, my course selections, my expectations in terms of results, my anticipation of difficulties and my level of anxiety in the face of possible failure. It influences my initial motivation, intellectual effort and the strategies that I employ to attain the desired results.

However, my sense of competence is affected by circumstantial and variable factors such as my physical health and psychological availability. In addition, it is affected by more constant factors inherent to my personality that include my past experiences in similar situations, the causes that I believe to be the source of my failures and successes, my conceptions of university learning and my beliefs regarding the particular field of knowledge concerned.

Many factors that determine my perception of situations and sense of competence generally escape my attention and conscious control. My emotional reactions are controlled by memories and representations that are deeply buried in my memory and are more or less accessible to introspection. My fear triggers negative and defeatist thoughts, pessimistic or catastrophic images and scenarios and internal self-depreciating dialogue that prompts feelings of guilt, undermines my self-confidence and increases my feelings of vulnerability. Needless to say, the part of my attention devoted to controlling these thoughts, which has mobilized a good part of my working memory potential, is detrimental to my processing of information related to the situation at hand.

Fortunately, I can develop my abilities to learn and, by the same token, enhance my sense of competence to successfully overcome the challenges and requirements of university programs. Therefore, it is in my best interest to make an accurate as possible estimation of the skills required for, and set forth by, my chosen program of study. I must consider the development of these skills as one of the goals of my learning process in parallel with the acquisition of specific knowledge in the field that I chose to study. It is important, particularly during the first semester, that I give myself the time to adjust to university studies and to develop my abilities to learn.

Some advantages inherent to developing a strong sense of competence:

  • Increasing my self-confidence.
  • Reducing my stress related to studies and exams.
  • Developing my ambition and taste for challenges.
  • Developing a strong motivation to study.
  • Increasing my level of perseverance when facing difficulties.

Developing my Study Skill Competencies

There is no limit to my capacity to develop the way I learn. I can always increase my cognitive efficiency: to learn better, faster, more efficiently with less effort and more fun.

I can always increase the quality of my learning far beyond exam requirements and develop a solid background in my field of study, which will prove useful for my professional development.

Above all, I can improve my capacity to think and solve, by myself or as part of a team, problems inherent to my field of study and do so, with originality and creativity thus contributing to the collective development.

How can I develop my study skill competency?

  • By referring to this guide based on my needs, strengths and weaknesses.
  • By taking the time to observe my attitudes and study habits.
  • By evaluating their effectiveness in terms of pleasure, time, effort, stress, results, quality of learning, comprehension, retention and the development of my professional competence.
  • By comparing my strategies, methods and tricks with those used by other students, in particular successful students.
  • By seeking advice from professors, tutors and services offered by the university (library, linguistic services, computer, learning assistance, modules, etc.)
  • By consulting specialized literature or writings on the subjects of improving higher education learning skills, brain function, problem-solving and creativity.

Web design by Mimi Cummins.