Academic Resiliency and First-Year College Students

In fall 2013, Skyfactor piloted a set of questions aimed at measuring academic resiliency to the Mapworks survey. Following the pilot, a four-question resiliency scale was added to the Mapworks surveys. This note uses the questions in that scale to explore this conceptĀ in first-year college students using a national dataset of nearly 148,000 first-year students from 128 colleges and universities in the United States.

Key Questions

    1. What is academic resiliency?
    2. How prevalent is this resiliency in first-year students?
    3. What are the characteristics of students who show high resiliency academically?
    4. How is resiliency related to key outcomes?

Nearly all high resiliency students identified as a person who attends class compared to only 57% of low resiliency students.

Defining Academic Resiliency

Three concepts capture the true essence of resiliency: focus, effort, and recovery. Can I focus on what I need to do, particularly long-term? Am I willing to put forth the effort to be successful? When I hit a setback, how do I recover from it? Academic resiliency applies these concepts to an academic setting. Academic resiliency is the willingness to work harder in the face of educational difficulty and the ability to adapt to academic challenges as they arise in order to achieve goals. The application to academics specifically is important because, like other concepts such as confidence or self-efficacy, a person may have resiliency in one aspect in his or her life but lack it in another.

Prevalence of Academic Resiliency

Figure 1 in the attached research note displays the percentage of students responding not at all (1 or 2 on a seven-point scale), moderately (3-5), and extremely (6-7) on questions in the academic resiliency scale. Student responses for the overall academic resiliency factor are divided nearly in half between high (56%), and moderate (43%) academic resiliency with a small skew toward high academic resiliency; only a marginal number of students reported having low academic resiliency (1%).

To access all the data in this robust research note, just fill out the form to the right. Interested in learning more about first-year student characteristics? Check out our blog, “The Anatomy of First-Term Student Academic Struggles: Five Key Take-Aways.”