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Five promising programmes to support students’ academic resilience

All students face challenges of some kind, and academic resilience plays an important role in overcoming these set-backs. This blog highlights five practices and programmes that teach and nurture students’ academic resilience.

Five promising programmes to support students’ academic resilience
Image courtesy of Simon Minter

What is resillience?

Resilience describes the process of positive adaptation in the face of considerable adversity in life. In the school context, academic resilience allows students to manage a variety of challenges, from a poor grade on an exam to chronic economic instability.

This blog highlights five practices and programmes that teach and nurture students’ academic resilience. The selection of promising practices is based on an extensive literature review from a policy paper called Academic Buoyancy and Resilience for Diverse Students Around the World, which was commissioned by the IB Research department and conducted by Inflexion in 2020.

There are many resilience-building programmes across the globe. Any programme, including those featured in this blog, should be carefully adapted to fit the local cultural context and unique needs of students.

1. The Mood Meter

The Mood Meter is a simple tool used in the RULER Programme, which was designed by researchers at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. The RULER Programme helps schools to explicitly teach K-12 students to recognize, understand and manage emotions in learning.

The Mood Meter is a four-quadrant grid that includes the type of emotion on the X-axis, from unpleasant to pleasant, and the level of intensity on the Y-axis, from low- to high-energy (Nathanson et al., 2016). Asking students of all ages to describe how they are feeling at different times in the day can become an easy routine to build self-awareness and understanding of their emotions. Research demonstrates that RULER can enhance students’ social and emotional competencies and academic achievement.

2. Math Anxiety Monsters

“With this technique, students imagine their math anxiety as a sculptural monster and describe how they can overcome their anxiety”

Mathematics anxiety can become a devastating reality for students during childhood and into adolescence and adulthood. Just the anticipation of doing mathematics can cause anxiety in some people (Lyons & Beilock, 2012).

Math Anxiety Monsters is a programme for middle years students, which incorporates arts integration and reflective writing techniques. The programme uses the metaphorical and artistic process of imagining anxiety as a monster. With this technique, students imagine their math anxiety as a sculptural monster and describe how they can overcome their anxiety when facing challenging mathematical problems in the future.

3. The Compassionate Schools Project

The Compassionate Schools Project is being implemented in K–5 elementary schools across a large urban U.S. school district. The focus of the Compassionate Schools Project is to develop students’ social and emotional learning skills, such as empathy and emotional regulation, through a variety of formats, from mindfulness breathing practices to managing conflict. Taught and practiced systematically across entire schools, the programme uses a curriculum to teach students to self-reflect and self-assess how they respond to challenges throughout the school day.

4. The School-to-Jobs Curriculum

“Evaluations of STJ show positive effects on doing homework, class disruptiveness, academic grades, initiative-taking and risk of depression two years later”

Research suggests that envisioning our future self and what we want to become can be the key to unlocking the purpose and drive behind the actions we take today. The school-to-jobs (STJ) curriculum was designed for middle years and secondary school students to support the development of confidence, goals, strategies and a vision for a successful future self in school and beyond (Oyserman, 2015)1. In this programme, students improve self-concept, social competence and optimism through a 10-lesson curriculum. The STJ intervention includes mapping out potential setbacks to reaching the future self and identifying strategies to overcome these challenges. Evaluations of STJ show positive effects on doing homework, class disruptiveness, academic grades, initiative-taking and risk of depression two years later (Oyserman & Destin, 2010).

5. Mindfulness Education Programme

The central aim of mindfulness is to bring one’s focused attention to the present without judgement about thoughts and feelings that pass through the mind. The Mindfulness Education (ME) Programme uses a 10-lesson curriculum to target skills that can be applied both in and outside the classroom.

In the programme, teachers receive training on mindfulness education and implement lessons during their class periods. Mindfulness exercises are practiced briefly (three to five minutes) several times a day with affirmations and visualizations that help to generate optimism and positive emotion. The ME Programme, which was implemented in Canada with students in grades four through seven, demonstrated increased optimism, general self-concept in school and social competence.

[1] The curriculum has been published as a complete and comprehensive guide for educators or youth professionals in Pathways to Success Through Identity-Based Motivation (Oyserman, 2015).

Want to learn more? Click on the buttons below to read the research. All IB research can be found at ibo.org/research. Have questions? We’d love to hear from you! Contact us at research@ibo.org.

References:

Lyons, I. M., & Beilock, S. L. (2012). Mathematics anxiety: Separating the math from the anxiety. Cerebral Cortex, 22(9), 2102–2110. https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhr289

Nathanson, L., Rivers, S. E., Flynn, L. M., & Brackett, M. A. (2016). Creating emotionally intelligent schools with RULER. Emotion Review, 8(4), 305–310. https://doi.org/10.1177/1754073916650495

Oyserman, D. (2015). Pathways to success through identity-based motivation. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Oyserman, D., & Destin, M. (2010). Identity-based motivation: Implications for intervention. The Counseling Psychologist, 38(7), 1001–1043.

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