As a learner how important is self-belief and…

… what has it got to do with Learning Intelligence (LQ)?

diagram of LQ and SAAB

Those of you who follow this blog will know of my aim and passion for developing a global awareness of Learning Intelligence and how it can transform learning. Through my company, Advocating Creativity, workshops, keynote speeches and writing I aim to provide access to my ideas, insights, and strategies. The number of people showing an interest in LQ is growing[i]. There have been over 1300 views of the info-graphic defining LQ in the last 4 months. With nearly 10,000 views  of the blog since August 2013, (as of May 2016 this is now over 21,000)and with many comments, acknowledgements and questions being received, LQ is beginning to become part of the vocabulary of learning.

I am always looking for the science that sits behind the art of teaching and the desire to learn. At the end of August, as part of a comment I received about the article “Introducing Learning Intelligence”, ( ), a link to a paper was provided. The title of the paper was “Human Agency in Social Cognitive Theory” and was by Albert Bandura, Stamford University and appeared in the American Psychologist in September of 1989[ii]. My thanks to D Sharrock, who provided the link, and suggested that the article would help support the evidence base for why LQ is such a powerful learning concept. If you have read something that you think will support , or even challenge,  the concept of LQ please let me know.

I have found Bandura’ work does indeed underpin several key aspects of LQ and there are conclusions in Bandura’s paper that I believe also find themselves echoed in the work of, among others,  Carol Dweck . These include certain LQ related attitudes, attributes and behaviours (see diagram above) that enable the learner to manage their learning environment and exercise resilience. This post seeks to show how Bandura’s work supports the concept of LQ.

lQ graphic 6

People Can Change

Bandura argues people can change and that the more confident they are, the better their problem solving capabilities and analytical thinking the better they perform. I feel certain that many sports coaches would agree, as they would with the suggestion that where individuals visualise success they achieve better performances. Motivation is very much linked to self-belief and problem solving is very much a part of LQ. Knowing you can change and by doing so learn to manage your learning environment to meet your learning needs is the belief that sits behind LQ.

Self-Belief and Resilience

Self-belief also plays a part in resilience, getting back on the horse after falling off. Passion and a strong belief in what you are doing enables people to overcome many of life’s many problems. “It takes a resilient sense of efficacy to override the numerous dissuading impediments to significant accomplishments” (Bandura). People who believe in their ability to cope and overcome challenges tend not to dwell on their inabilities but instead look for ways of moving forward. This is important when we consider our “Learning Map” (what we believe we can and cannot learn). The learning map landscape is often defined by school based experiences and what is said to us by significant people in our lives (parents and peers). More about the learning map in another post.

Learning Map

Being able to re-define our learning map has the benefit of a long term impact on our ability to learn. “After perceived coping efficacy is strengthened to the max level, coping with previously intimidating tasks no longer elicits differential psychobiological reactions” (Bandura). We become imbibed with the belief that we can cope with what were possibly considered too risky or too demanding situations. This makes it more likely we will develop adaptive strategies. LQ requires creative and adaptive strategies to overcome learning limitations imposed by the learning environment rather than being impeded by them. As Bandura warns “Depressive rumination not only impairs ability to initiate and sustain adaptive activities, but it further diminishes perceptions of personal efficacy.” Believing you can do nothing about your situation is debilitating. Developing and being aware of LQ gives you the ability to do something about your situation.


Developing LQ is not only the responsibility of the learner. The responsibility for developing an LQ friendly learning environment in which learners can experience learning challenges and find ways of overcoming them is one that rests with the teacher. This is supported when we recognise  “People tend to avoid activities and situations they believe exceed their coping capabilities, but they readily undertake challenging activities and select social environments they judge themselves capable of handling” (Bandura). This emphasises the role of the teacher as a coach and mentor in supporting LQ development. It is also important to note that all learners need to face challenges in their learning but to do so without support is debilitating. This is just as important for those who are recognised in school as Gifted and Talented as those who have recognised learning challenges. “Development of resilient self-efficacy requires some experience in mastering difficulties through perseverant effort.” (Bandura) By successfully overcoming learning challenges we develop a broader set of skills, more informed attitudes, are more confident in our aptitudes and more in control of our behaviours.


The implications for developing LQ go way beyond school and can follow us into work and careers. As a teacher, I have recognised that we are inclined to seek environments in which we feel comfortable and safe and are less likely to take on challenges if we are limited by our self-efficacy. “Any factor that influences choice behaviour can profoundly affect the direction of personal development… long after the decisional determinant has rendered its inaugurating effect” (Bandura). We can still face self-belief issues long after we felt uncomfortable, challenged, or inadequate in any learning situation unless it is resolved. How many people avoid subjects studied in school well into adult life? Developing LQ is a way of overcoming these negative emotions, limiting self-beliefs and improving learning at any stage of our lives. LQ is the tool we have been looking for to promote the idea of “lifelong learning.”


Motivation is also considered and describes our requirement to extending what we believe we can achieve or attain in order to undertake a new challenge, especially if we consider there is a risk. We can see this in the work of Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development[iii]  where we consider what we can do, what we can do with help and what we as yet cannot do. What we imagine we can achieve is very important in motivation and an attribute of LQ is imagination. “The ability to envision the likely outcomes of prospective actions is another way in which anticipatory mechanisms regulate human motivation and action.” (Bandura).

Importance of LQ

Finally the reason why it is so important we promote and develop our LQ in our learning journey and as teachers we create an LQ friendly learning environment is supported by Bandura’s conclusions.

Given the same environmental conditions, persons who have developed skills for accomplishing many options and are adept at regulating their own motivation and behaviour are more successful in their pursuits than those who have limited means of personal agency.” (Bandura)

If you would like to be kept up to date with LQ and how to both promote and develop it then follow this blog. If you would like a more detailed introduction to both LQ and learn about practical school and classroom based approaches to developing LQ then contact me for an initial discussion at

Advocating Creativity 2014





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About AcEd

"4c3d" (AcEd) is the abbreviation for Advocating Creativity in education, a company I set up to challenge how we think about and deliver education. The blog champions my concept of Learning intelligence, how we manage our learning environment to meet our learning needs as well as detailing those needs: Power Belonging, Choice and Fun - PBCF. Kevin Hewitson 2019

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