Assessing Confidence and Certainty of Students in an Undergraduate Linear Algebra Course

Michael Preheim, Josef Dorfmeister, Ethan Snow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Knowledge assessments in undergraduate STEM education commonly evaluate response correctness to determine learner proficiency. However, simultaneous evaluation of learner metacognition more accurately assesses the multiple dimensions of knowledge and has been shown to increase assessment validity and reliability. Motivation for researching these multidimensional methods has primarily been to identify guesswork and misinformation by evaluating the alignment of response correctness with the learner’s certainty that their provided response is correct. Learner confidence before assessment, however, has not been thoroughly investigated either alone or in conjunction with certainty for use in performance evaluation, especially at the undergraduate level. The objective of this study is to investigate the efficacy for assessing pre-assessment confidence and post-response certainty in relation to response correctness for students in an undergraduate linear algebra course. Due to the subjective nature of self-reflection, certainty was found to be more aligned with correctness than confidence. Though confidence and certainty levels were reported with similar overall averages, 32% of students demonstrated misaligned confidence and certainty. This study demonstrates the usefulness of a novel assessment method and presents insights that may inform teaching methods, improve examination structure, and identify concerning student behaviors early for corrective intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-180
Number of pages22
JournalJournal for STEM Education Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Confidence and certainty
  • Knowledge assessment
  • Mathematics education
  • Metacognition
  • STEM education
  • Undergraduate linear algebra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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