Four practical underpinnings of academic resilience

The ability to try, fail then try again is an important one for our students to master but can be difficult to instil, with many students preferring the instant gratification of first time success or lacking the skills to respond to failure positively and proactively. In order to help students of any age develop their academic resilience, we can support them in developing four skills: communication, problem solving, independence and self-motivation.

Good communication skills are vital for all students, and especially important when it comes to help seeking. Having the skills and the confidence to frame our concerns and ask for support where we’ve failed to understand means that we are more likely to see failure as something that can be readily overcome rather than an insurmountable obstacle.

Problem Solving
Likewise, having the flexibility to tackle a problem from a variety of viewpoints, drawing on a range of resources, makes us more likely to see solutions than problems. Students with good problem solving skills often see difficult concepts as a challenge to be overcome; they have the means to attempt to overcome such challenges and often relish the opportunity to be academically stretched in this way.

The student who has good problem solving skills will be more academically resilient than their peers. Where these skills extend to embracing and overcoming challenges unaided or with little help, students are more resilient still. Autonomous learners who have the confidence and means to tackle questions independently will often take the opportunity to extend learning far beyond the classroom and develop a real love of learning which pervades almost everything they do.

Finally, students who are able to motivate themselves, rather than needing to rely on extrinsic rewards or teacher guided activity, become more flexible learners. Where learning is a motivation in and of itself, students are more likely to be able to respond positively to learning experiences which do not result directly in success.

Having an understanding of the basic characteristics of resilient learners can help to inform the way we approach many tasks within our day to day classroom practice.

Questions you could consider in your teaching include:

  • How can I develop the communication skills of my less able learners?
  • How can I model positive communication and problem solving skills?
  • Do I pose challenges to my students or just provide solutions?
  • How can I challenge my most able students?
  • How can I increase the opportunities my students have for independent learning?
  • Is independent, self-motivated learning rewarded in our classroom?
  • Do I give extrinsic rewards, what purpose do they serve?
  • How can I support students in finding the intrinsic rewards in learning?

You might also be interested in:

Developing Resilience and Coping Skills in Your Students
Positive Wellbeing: Building Resilience
Being an Effective Mentor, Getting the Best out of Your Students

Blog Posts
Five Ideas for Promoting Body Confidence and Self-Esteem in your Pupils
6 Activities to Improve Students’ Self-Esteem

Around the web
Academic resilience resources from Young Minds