Intentionally Building Resilience: A Tasmania study

Year: 2016

Author: J-f, J-f, Fuller, Andrew, Pullen, Darren, Swabey, Karen, Peter, Andrew, , Wicking

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Resilience building is a complex and an intricate process within low SES school communities. Six primary schools in Tasmania took part in the study and used various school-based contextual programs, strategies, and techniques to foster resilience. A total of 934 primary aged students took part in the study in 2014 and 870 primary aged students took part in the study in 2015. All students completed a pre and post-Resilience Survey. Using pre-Resilience Survey data, each of the six schools developed their own contextual intervention or support program to either increase a deficit or foster an asset or strength concerning resilience. Programs implemented by several schools are discussed in terms of correlations to show how a program has come to contribute towards resilience. The current study found that students from low SES communities who were better connected in their school communities, that is those that were involved in outside school activities, and who believed that they were supported and had clear expectations (boundaries) expected of them felt a stronger in-school commitment to learning and identified strong social competencies. There was also an increase in student responding to identifying their strength/s and positive aspiration, due to hours a school devoted to teaching social and emotional wellbeing. Also, there is a significant contribution to an individual’s social-emotional wellbeing regarding the internal and external assets, which are enhanced by the schools’ use of resiliency and health literacy resources and teaching practices. A core finding of the study is that it counters the argument that one program fits or serves all aspects of resilience. Importantly, this study found that those schools who implemented a school-wide approach to dealing with resiliency and health literacy achieved better student outcomes regarding student social-emotional wellbeing than those schools which did not. Implications of the study are discussed.