“Self-esteem is not an internal quality fed by easy success and diminished by failure. It is a positive way of experiencing yourself when you are fully engaged and are using your ability to the utmost in pursuit of something of value.” – Dr. Carol Dweck, Stanford University, Mindfulness

“…to do poorly in school is evidence of inability, and reason to despair of one’s worth”  – Dr. Martin Covington

“They were very tough times because I was really wondering if I was ever going to make it.” – Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary


Dr. Ben Burden was psychologist at the University of Exeter who was a pioneer in the exploration of self-concept and self-esteem in students with dyslexia. After interviewing hundreds of dyslexic primary and secondary school children about their school experiences, he found out that self-efficacy or a belief in one’s ability to succeed was just as important if not more important than early  identification and school remediation in terms of eventual life success.

Our book, The Dyslexic Advantage provided a breakthrough for many people because the positive side of dyslexia is not shared enough with the people who need it most.

Here some tips for fostering self-efficacy and self-esteem in students with LD.

1. Accurate perception of one’s strengths and weaknesses as a learner.
2. Strong belief in self-efficacy (I can do this).
3. Strong internal locus of control (I can control my life and am not controlled by my environment or fate).
4. General self-esteem (I’m ok as a person)
5. Positive attitude about a subject or topic
6. Intent to do well
7. view of success or failure as linked more to effort than fixed ability

Ways to Develop Students’ Self-Efficacy

1. Find Something New That Interests the Student that Can Help Develop a Record of Success
2. Persuasive feedback from a teacher or parent. “You can do this.”
3. Cognitive training to help student feel prepared to complete task.
4. Teacher does not over-help, but rather lets student work independently, allowing the student (as well as the rest of the class know) that she / he is prepared to help if needed.
5. Performance feedback: “You’re doing better.”
6. Have a Peer model how to correctly solve example problems.
7. Encourage student to talk aloud while solving problems.
8. Set a realizable ‘near’-goal.
9. Attributional feedback: “That’s correct. You’ve been working really hard.”
10. Rewards for success can promote task performance and self-efficacy.

Teachers: The Fine Line About ‘Helping’

The first instinct of a teacher is to help a student, especially if they are struggling, but it is a fine line to balance on the part of the teacher. If a teacher gives too much assistance to achieve success, the student may interpret this as the teacher viewing them as incompetent. The key is to match task difficulty to the learners’ instructional and independent levels. This will allow the student to struggle through work, link it to prior knowledge, become more motivated, and experience more successes

What Increasing Self-Efficacy in Myself? 

What the short video below.

Brief Recap: The 4 Ways of Increasing Self-Efficacy as described by Bandura are: 1. Performance Accomplishments. 2. Vicarious Experiences. 3. Verbal Persuasion. 4. Physiological States.

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.dyslexicadvantage.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Student-Voices-Executive-Summary.pdf.pdf”]


Dyslexia | Dyslexic Advantage