Developing Resilience through Experiences: El Camino Al Exito

Developing Resilience through Experiences: El Camino Al Exito

Jennifer L. Penland (Sul Ross State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0897-7.ch015
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Abstract

The principal focus of this chapter is resiliency theory, as an expanding ideology attempting to provide supportive resources with suggestions for how education practitioners might function, as positive social change agents in organizations and institutions. Elemental to current transformational and remedial trends under construction in organizations and institutions, education practitioners are increasingly responsible for distressed student populations. Scholars from various disciplines have contributed to the current state of this ideological reformulation, titled resiliency theory, while research investigations presently continue to unfold and develop. Data were gathered electronically from First Year Seminar instructors during the 2015 school year from faculty questionnaires with eight questions focusing on the following areas: engaging topics, successful instructional strategies and benefits of FYS courses. Findings suggested: 1) strengthened positive external support systems, such as mentoring and experiential learning programs, 2) increased personalized academic learning environments, and 3) affirmation of the “value” in higher education.
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Introduction

Although resiliency theory, as anything, is not without its provocateurs, scrutinizers, and naysayers, I am merely suggesting that any country’s state house begins in the school house. To engender sustainable systems, I am suggesting that just such a capacity-building framework offers a beginning for shifting paradigms of thought to reinvigorate basic ideological principles in justification for this academic proposition: resiliency theory. The theory’s capacity for cultivating increased academic resilience motivating distressed students populations is also suggested—by Henderson, Benard, as others—on various levels by varying degrees (Henderson, 2007; Benard, 2004). To make this case, particularly for education practitioners, I focused on:

  • 1.

    External (environmental) assets motivating resilience,

  • 2.

    Internal (social) assets accommodating resilience including the “value” and

  • 3.

    Strategies encouraging resilience (Constantine, Benard and Diaz, 1999).

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Background

Any country’s sociological, economic, political and ecological sustainability is suspended somewhere between qualitative and quantitative measurement values demonstrated in that country’s plethoric contexts: environmental, and yet social; and certainly its value demonstrations associated with education; and, therefore, its future and current populaces, as stalwarts for sustainable, eco-national practices. As Sookham writes, “the extent and intensity in which [natural resources are] being used for development is much faster than the biosphere can replenish,” which reminds us of the natural fragility of natural resources worldwide (Sookham, 2013; Sutcliffe et al., 2008; Wackernagel, et al., 2002). However, sustainability is ever in need of many things, but it certainly demands “engagement, enthusiasm, and commitment” even on this level (Gallup, 2013). How will students approach this issue, if they are disengaged, unmotivated, and without resilient mechanisms to confront upcoming—and therefore perceived insurmountable—obstacles?

Based on a 2013 Gallup Survey, an engagement study, it reports 63% of the total survey population are not engaged with another 24% of respondents indicating they are “actively disengaged” in organizations—wherever they may be and regardless of whichever skill proficiencies were in demand for those organizations (Crabtree, 2013; Gallup, 2013). Crabtree reports 142 countries were involved in the 2013 survey directed toward unearthing those who are “psychologically committed.” Hence, when do students, as future, global citizens, learn to be “psychologically committed” to their state house, if they are not training for participatory citizenship in the school house (Crabtree, 2013)?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Student Motivation: Intrinsic motivators include fascination with the subject, a sense of its relevance to life and the world, a sense of accomplishment in mastering it, and a sense of calling to it. Extrinsic motivators include parental expectations, expectations of other trusted role models, earning potential of a course of study, and grades (which keep scholarships coming).

Experiential Learning: Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience, and is more specifically defined as “learning through reflection on doing”. Experiential learning theory suggests that all learning is created by grasping and transforming experiences.

Mentoring: Mentoring is an individual action accomplished by usually older, always a more experienced person, who helps and guides another individual s development. This guidance is not done for personal gain.

Resiliency Theory: The term resilience has been used to label three different types of phenomena: individuals who have experienced traumatic events but have been able to recover well; a resilience-based approach to youth development is based upon the principle that all people have the ability to overcome.

Internships: An internship is a pre-professional experience that provides an opportunity to gain relevant knowledge and skills prior to starting out in a particular career field. Internships involve working in your expected career field, either during a semester or over the duration of academic coursework.

First Year Seminars: First-year seminars are designed and structured for incoming first-year students with no prior college experience. First-Year Seminars introduce students to academic inquiry and the modes of expression that lie at the heart of a liberal arts education.

Teaching Strategies: There are a variety of teaching strategies that instructors can use to improve student learning. They include, among other, active learning, collaborative/cooperative learning; experiential learning; inquiry-guided learning; interdisciplinary learning; learner-centered learning; service learning and problem-based learning.

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