Regionalism: Assessing Students' Academic Resilience Through Reading and Response Activities

Regionalism: Assessing Students' Academic Resilience Through Reading and Response Activities

Perry Jason Camacho Pangelinan (University of Guam, Guam), Royce Camacho (University of Guam, Guam) and Arline Leon Guerrero (University of Guam, Guam)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4036-7.ch014
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This chapter examined work produced by students identified as CHamoru in order to assess learning outcomes in the first-year seminar course at UOG. As part of the first-year seminar course curriculum, students are tasked to compose a resiliency essay, partially in response to Blaz' Nihi Ta Hasso, Remembrances of the Occupation Years in World War II. This chapter examined 56 students' responses to a survey on a regional publication, resiliency theme-based, completed as a required course assignment. Learning outcomes were assessed using both a rubric, designed by UOG faculty, and identification of authentic evidence in the form of emerging ideas to support rubric scores.
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The purpose of this chapter is to report on the impact of regional literature on student resiliency in higher education. The data presented here was gathered from first-year students at the University of Guam (UOG): a four-year, accredited, U.S. land grant institution in Guam. In the FY101 first year seminar course, freshman students are assigned to read a memoir by Ben Blaz (2006). After reading the memoir, students complete the in-class survey designed to solicit their perceptions about the memoir.

From the onset, the move to incorporate regional material into the first-year curriculum and collect student responses to the text (memoir) has been aimed at improving student retention, decreasing time to graduation, promoting a sense of belonging at the University, as well as acknowledging the growth of minority student enrollment in American higher education. This study looks at responses from students identified as CHamoru or members of the indigenous population of Guam and the surrounding Marianas region. Including regional and indigenous text into the course is designed to address the unique obstacles that students—especially indigenous students—face during their path to attaining a college degree. Using this also acknowledges a regional text as a source of the Western academic canon. It contributes to the catalog of Pacific-island literature and it is hoped to inspire further study of education in the region.

Resilience, or resiliency, is a psychological construct in which an individual can survive and succeed from stressful circumstances while building up protective skills to manage future hardship (Cassidy, 2016; Finamore, 2008). In displaying resilience, a person contemplates the ability to bounce back, to beat the odds and is deemed an asset in human characteristic terms (Cassidy, 2016): “Academic resilience contextualizes the resilience construct and reflects an increased likelihood of educational success despite adversity” (p. 1). Morales and Trotman (2011) also described academic resilience as:

the process and outcome of students who, despite coming from statistically “at-risk” backgrounds, do succeed academically. The academically resilient are essentially “the statistical elite.” They are the ones who succeed where educational achievement gap data insist, they should fail. As framed in this text, they are born and raised facing the infamous and ubiquitous stressors of ethnic minority and low socio-economic status (i.e., violence, sub-par public schools, rampant drug abuse, institutional racism, etc.). However, despite exposure to this myriad of social malady, they manage to ascend through the educational system and excel academically. (p. 1)

In a qualitative study by Morales and Trotman (2011), their interviews were documented concerning academically resilient students from several racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Their study sample consisted of 21 African American, 20 Hispanic, 5 Bi-Racial, 2 Haitian American, 1 Jamaican-American, and 1 Guyanese American. Their study highlighted that certain pre and post criteria be met when using academic resilience theories. The pre criteria were that each sample student whose parents’ educational backgrounds were at the high school level or below and who worked in low to semi-skilled jobs, and that each student self-identified as an ethnic minority. The post criteria were that by the time of the interview for the study, each student must have completed at least 30 college credits, in addition to having had at least a 3.0 great point average on a 4.0 scale. Morales and Trotman also argued:

The meeting of these pre (status where the student began) and post (what the student achieved) criteria define academic resilience as long as they correlate with established/statistical norms of “exceptional” academic achievement. Normally, resilience theory uses national statistical data to define what exceptional is. Basically, if the student’s academic outcome is significantly higher than what most from his/her starting point would be expected to achieve, then resilience is present. (p. 9)

Their study concluded that resilience calls for persistent and steady efforts: there must be a consistent drive within students to overcome their challenges as they arise. All students, including minority and first-generation students to achieve academic success and completion of a college degree, must endeavor to exhibit resiliency throughout their educational journey.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Growth Mindset: The concept that students understand their abilities can be developed.

Inafa’maolek: CHamoru term meaning, “to restore harmony” or “to make good.”

Regionalism: The term refers to the idea of encouraging academic resiliency and inspiring a sense of belonging in class through reading a regional literature that will ultimately lead to academic success.

CHamoru/Chamorro: The indigenous people of the Mariana Islands.

Academic Resilience: Ability to effectively deal with challenges, stress, or pressure ultimately leading to overall success in the academic environment.

Grit: Willingness to overcome disappointment, boredom, and loss to keep going.

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