Connect : January 2014

Fostering Academic Resilience

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by Dr. Shade Vivien Adeyemi

ABSTRACT

This paper looks into fostering academic resilience among secondary school students through a class-peer mentoring technique. The technique is based on motivating students to engage in learning programmes useful in complimenting areas of academic weakness and strength. Class-peer mentoring technique will enhance social skills, study habits, and academic interest, thereby fostering resiliency. Factors that influence academic resilience are highlighted, and recommendations are given to adolescents and youth mentors, educational stakeholders, teachers, counselors, non-governmental organizations, and private educational investors.

Introduction

Adeyemi.Figure1Underachievement, especially among students in Nigerian public schools, is abysmal. It has become a problem with no major basis or foundation for its existence. This is because it does not create a balance with the fact that in staffing, a lot of qualified teachers exist in Nigeria’s public schools, as qualifications of these teachers range from the National College of Education Certificates (NCE), First degrees, Masters, and even Doctors of Philosophy (Ph.D).

In view of these qualifications, various questions arise. Why is it that examination records over time (especially Senior Secondary School Examinations) show a higher rate of underachievement among students in public schools unlike their peers in the privately owned schools? Aside from this, why is it that poor academic performances are mostly reported in specific core subjects, such as English language, Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry for students in public schools?

To respond to these queries, many psycho-sociological factors need to be considered because the influence of psycho-sociological factors cannot be overemphasized in academic achievement and academic resilience (Caffo & Belaise, 2003; Olaogun, 2005; Adeyemo, 2007). For instance, the society, as a psycho-sociological factor, is like an umbrella factor determining the level of influence the other factors will have on a student. A society with an unstable socio-economic situation will leave a lot of families with consistent worries and fears of how best to survive and meet their daily needs.

The Nigerian society is greatly affected by this factor, and, in essence, academic resilience among students wanes among Nigerian students, leading to poor academic performance. This is resulting from the fact that more Nigerians than average battle with financial insecurity and unemployment, making a huge number of children beneficiary of public education. Unfortunately, the form of education received in such schools leaves a lot for concern as the schools are besieged with inadequate school infrastructures and teaching and learning resources.

Adeyemi.Figure2As such, students have to make do with what is available and sometimes are tasked by the school to source for teaching and learning materials in order to facilitate learning. This, then, gives rise to another psycho-sociological factor, the family (Ceballo, Dahl, Aretakis, & Ramirez, 2001). The family is the main socializing agent of a child, and as stated earlier; a lot of students in public schools come from low-income homes or large families.

To this end, when the students are tasked to provide teaching and learning resources, a lot of parents are unable to provide them. This, in itself, is very discouraging for the student who is faced with the problem of being queried at school for not providing said resources and whose parents may either be aggressive or nonchalant when asked. For these students, emotional inadequacy and fear of possible academic failure sets in. This is why it has become germane to examine academic resilience in students and foster its development through class-peer mentoring among students in public schools.

Academic resilience is the drive that enables a student faced with educational challenges belief there is a possibility to overcome the difficulty. To cite Richardson (2002), academic resilience among students connotes strength, flexibility, a capacity for mastery, and resumption of normal functioning after excessive stresses that challenge individuals’ coping skills. Also, it means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences (APA Health Center, 2004). There are lots of educational challenges which make the development of academic resilience very germane, including students’ truancy, drop out, rebelliousness, delinquency, or absence of self-efficacy. It is with this understanding of challenges faced in public schools by students that this paper is essential in providing an understanding why fostering its development is essential.

To date, different strategies have been utilized to enhance students’ academic performance, but limited strategies cater to fostering academic resilience in students. There are books and guides that examine and proffer solutions on improving academic performance. However, the majority of these books do not consider fostering academic resilience among students from low-income homes and with inadequate or no teaching and learning aids to motivate learning and improve academic performance. This, therefore, is a major reason why the class-peer mentoring technique is introduced in this paper to foster academic resilience among public school students.

The class-peer mentoring technique is based on students’ classroom interaction. The goal and objective of this technique is to improve academic performance among students by encouraging their classmates to provide supports and assistance necessary in fostering academic resilience. In class-peer mentoring, each student involved makes an objective analysis of his/her area of academic deficiency and selects a class member who is performing greatly in the said area as a peer mentoring friend.

The processes under class-peer mentoring include instruction, mentoring, regulation, understanding, review, evaluation of learning, and performance. However, in class-peer mentoring, the situation is symbiotic as the person selected as a peer-mentoring friend should equally have an area of academic need to compliment the partner. This means that class-peer mentoring technique is a complimentary role for partners with the aim of fostering academic resilience and understanding and developing self-worth and efficacy, which are important in improving a student’s academic performance.

Adeyemi.Figure3a

Moreover, class-peer mentoring is an interpersonal process with the positive base of assisting students develop appropriate social skills and pro-social behaviour. This means that the technique gives students a sense of oneness and confidence that academic challenges can be overcome through consistent studying and academic diligence. Students who engage in class-peer mentoring will find it easy to interact with classmates and teachers during classroom teaching. The feeling that we are in this together and can share from one another’s knowledge improves students’ self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-identity in the school community. Thus, classroom teaching is made easy for the teachers when students are ready and willing to go above board to succeed academically notwithstanding the various challenges they are exposed to and that can pose as hindrance. 

Formation under Class-peer Mentoring

Homogeneity: Students to be paired together must be in same class or grade level, must be taking similar subjects and have similar syllabi for learning.

Interest: The students must be willing to spare and create time for studying and participating in the learning process in order to develop the needed academic resilience that would lead to improve academic performance. That is, peer-mentoring partners must both be active participants.

Knowledge: Students must be genuinely knowledgeable as to the importance of having a partner. They should view each other as having individual inadequacy with a full resolve of setting up partnership to build and develop a better base to overcome their weakness in a subject. Thus, the basis of class-peer mentoring technique is to build strength into each other’s weakness.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Class-peer mentoring has been considered here as a technique for fostering academic resilience in public school students. The major crux of the technique is that students with academic resilience would be better able to handle academic challenges resulting from society and the family’s socio-economic status. Having considered this, the following recommendations are raised.

Adeyemi.Figure4Educational stakeholders and teachers should not see students in public schools as scapegoats to bear the brunt of their conflicts regarding poor budgeting and implementation of educational policies. Doing this will stretch the coping capabilities of students and lead to poor academic performance and disinterest in academic pursuits. Thus, it is of import for people interested in the educational pursuits of students as well as teachers to encourage class-peer mentoring technique among students to enable them engage in after school academic work practice.

Students, too, should realize that knowledge and understanding come with challenges, and the motivation to overcome such challenges is what grants success. In view of this, they should maintain good study habits, be willing to share and assist one another, be patient, be diligent in their academic work, and sometimes learn to make do with what is available and useful.

In addition, parents should assist their children/wards in their educational pursuits constructively. They should encourage and allow them develop adequate study time to go over textbooks and class work in the home. Moreover, because most of the class-peer mentoring activities would be done in the home, parents should always try to monitor and supervise the students’ work and equally give supports to reinforce the learning efforts.

The government at the federal, state, and local levels should appropriately and effectively implement educational policies, as this is the only way to build interest in the Nigerian educational sector among parents, teachers, and students. Appropriate budgeting should be given to the educational sector so that adequate infrastructure and facilities that can enhance teaching and learning can occur. In addition to this, effective implementation of government policies will facilitate improvement in quality of education and academic performance of students within schools.

Also, school counselors should develop strategic skills that will enhance good interpersonal relationship among counselors, the students, and other staff members within the school community. It is when this is in place that the counseling service can be fully utilized by people in the school community.

In the same vein, mentors, investors, and non-governmental organizations should see that scholarship giving extends to other students who are not in the “A” category. They should try to build a system that appreciates the efforts of academically resilient students even though they may not necessarily be the best students. This would reinforce the students’ efforts to perform better. Moreover, it will enhance such students’ self-esteem and self-efficacy and give them a sense of acceptance and belonging in the society.

REFERENCES

Adeyemo, D.A. (2007). Moderating Influence of Emotional Intelligence on the link between self-efficacy and Achievement of University students. Psychology and Developing Society, 19(2), 199–213.

APA, Health Center. (2004). The road to resilience: Fostering resilience among children in difficult life circumstances. (Prepared by Yitzhak Berman).

Caffo, E., & Belaise, C. (2003, July) Psychological aspects of traumatic injury in children andadolescents. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clinic, 12(3), 493-535.

Ceballo, Dahl, T., Arekakis, M., & Ramirez, C. (2001). Inner-city children’s exposure to community violence: How much do parents know? Journal of Marriage and the Family, 63(4), 927–941.

Olaogun, O. (2005). Single parenthood as a predictor to adolescents academic achievement [Unpublished PGDE Research project]. Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijaagun.

Richardson, G.E. (2002). The metatheory of resilience and resiliency. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58(3), 307 – 321.


Shade Vivien Adeyemi

Dr. Adeyemi

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Dr. Shade Vivian Adeyemi is a lecturer and the coordinator of the Counselling Centre in Michael Otedola College of Primary Education, Noforija – Epe, Lagos State, Nigeria. She has a Ph.D. in Counselling Psychology from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. She is passionate about behavior change among youth and adolescents. As the coordinator of Michael Otedola College of Primary Education Counselling centre, she encourages youth in the college and motivates them to become worthy ambassadors of their homes and country. Aside from this, she engages in training programmes for indigent adolescents in public schools.