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Navigational Self-Efficacy

Insights from the OUE Research Team

One of the wonderful (and challenging) things about Duke is the vast array of resources available to support students and help them explore their interests, clarify their values, and pursue their goals. This year, we developed a new measure to ask students about their sense of navigational self-efficacy—that is, their sense of confidence that they can successfully navigate the resource landscape at Duke. The good news is that a majority of respondents felt somewhat (31.3%) or very (53.2%) confident that they can navigate the support landscape at Duke, and also felt somewhat (28.8%) or very (54.8%) confident that they can navigate opportunities at Duke. On the other hand, between 1 in 6 and 1 in 7 respondents indicated that they were not at all confident in their ability to navigate the support and opportunity landscape. 

The Duke Undergraduate Check-In Study (DUCkI)* data show that students who report higher levels of navigational self-efficacy also report higher levels of enthusiasm and gusto for their academic work, lower levels of stress, higher levels of belonging, higher levels of institutional trust, and stronger connections to faculty and other adults on campus. We also find, not surprisingly, that students who report stronger efficacy in navigating resources also report connecting with more resources such as the AAC, ARC, Academic Guides program, GEO, Student–Faculty Engagement, and scholarship and fellowship programs. 

Self-efficacy is built through social learning and experience successfully performing a specific task. As we enter spring advising conversations, consider asking students about their experience navigating the landscape at Duke (e.g., How is it going finding the resources you need on campus?), as well as modeling how to navigate resources and how to find opportunities. These strategies represent two small ways to help develop students’ sense of navigational self-efficacy and to protect against inequitable access to knowledge, opportunities, and connection to important resources.