Grouping Classes by Skill Affects Students’ Confidence, Study Says

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. impair / ɪmˈpɛər / (v) – to weaken something

    Lack of sleep may impair one’s ability to think clearly.

  2. considerably / kənˈsɪd ər ə bli / (adv) – a large amount, size, or extent

    After taking several classes, my cousin’s piano skills have considerably improved.

  3. broaden / ˈbrɔd n / (v) – to make something greater in size, degree, etc.

    They need to broaden their understanding of different social issues.

  4. impede / ɪmˈpid / (v) – to delay the improvement, movement, or progress of someone/something

    Lack of funding is impeding the scientists’ research.  

  5. absenteeism / ˌæb sənˈti ɪz əm / (n) – the habit of being absent from school, work, etc.

    The employee was fired because of frequent absenteeism.


Read the text below.

A new study found that grouping classes by ability is impairing students’ self-confidence.

A group of researchers from the United Kingdom surveyed more than 9,000 adolescent students who were grouped in classes according to their ability. The researchers monitored these groups over a span of two academic school years. They focused on the students’ performance and experiences in English and math classes.

Findings showed that students displayed considerably higher self-confidence in English or math if they were part of a group regarded as top-ranking in terms of skill. The study also found that for math, the self-confidence gap between students in the top and bottom groups broadened over time.

The researchers believe that their findings provide evidence of the relationship between grouping classes by skill and students’ self-confidence. Doctor Rebecca Taylor, an education expert who was not involved in the study, agreed with the results. She said that grouping students by skill may affect their relationship with schooling, as well as how they see their futures.

However, the researchers acknowledged that further study is needed to identify other factors that may impede students’ self-confidence in learning such as absenteeism.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree that grouping classes by ability can impact a student’s confidence? Why or why not?
• What other factors do you think can impede students’ self-confidence in learning (e.g. academic environment, interest in a subject)? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Who do you think can help children become more confident in learning (e.g. teachers, parents)? Discuss.
• What are possible ways to improve students’ self-confidence in learning? Discuss.