Connecting Across Generations

Resources to inform and assist instructors who teach across generations

Definition

“Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means "bouncing back" from difficult experiences. Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. People commonly demonstrate resilience. Being resilient does not mean that a person doesn't experience difficulty or distress. Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.”  [American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx]

With Georgia Tech’s strong academic reputation and emphasis on student success, it is not surprising students face many academic challenges. It is common for students to experience setbacks, stress and variable pressures.  Their ability to recover quickly from difficulties or adversity can be challenged. Resilience is a valuable attribute to one’s success.  In this section you will find tips and resources for encouraging students to take intellectual risks and strengthen their own resilience.  
By Onlysilence (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

“Research suggests that while [many] factors may make students vulnerable and more at-risk to leaving school before degree attainment, some students employ an innate coping mechanism that gives them the resilience necessary to experience academic success. Resilient students may experience the same stressful experiences as less-resilient students, however, they have protective mechanisms in place to deal with these difficulties and thrive” (Miremadi, 2015). 

Action Strategies that Foster Resilience

Experts recommend the following strategies to help develop resilience;

a. Help Students Develop Problem-Solving Skills (Cherry, 2017)

Research suggests that people who are able come up with solutions to a problem are better able to cope with problems than those who cannot. Whenever you encounter a new challenge, make a quick list of some of the potential ways you could solve the problem. Experiment with different strategies and focus on developing a logical way to work through common problems. By practicing your problem-solving skills on a regular basis, you will be better prepared to cope when a serious challenge emerges.

b. Help Students Establish Goals and Use Manageable Steps to Achieve Them (Cherry, 2017)

Resilient people are able to view situations in a realistic way and then set reasonable goals to deal with the problem. When you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by a situation, take a step back to simply assess what is before you. Brainstorm possible solutions, and then break them down into manageable steps.  Dividing big assignments or jobs into small tasks will give them the confidence to get started and the resilience to persevere.

c. Help Students to Learn from Failure/Work to Normalize Failure & Struggle (Willis, 2017)

When you incorporate opportunities for students to experience mistakes as an expected part of learning, you build their resilience to setbacks. Through class discussions, your own mistakes, and building pupils’ knowledge of their brain’s programming, your students will gain the competence, optimism and understanding to persevere – and even make progress – through failure. When students make mistakes, explain that these are not failures: they are opportunities for the brain to build a bridge that will bring them success in future.

Other ways to help students see mistakes in a new light include:

  • Discussing common errors made by previous students
  • Pointing out your own mistakes and acknowledging how you felt at the time
  • Inviting your class to share their past mistakes and recognizing they lived through them and can see them with the perspective of time and even humor now.

d. Help Students to Find Personal Meaning to Build Persistence (Willis, 2017)

Students will engage more if they have to use the facts or procedures as tools for participating in personally relevant tasks. One way to ensure this is by including appealing (or meaningful) activities throughout the study unit.

e. Teach a growth mindset- Promote reflection, promote risk-taking and promote belonging. (http://www.success.gatech.edu/building-grit-and-resilience)

A Quick Look at Stories of Resilience

Reading/References

Resilience - Grit:The Power of Passion and Perseverance