How can I support my students to understand and develop academic resilience and self-care skills?
Academic resilience is the “ability to tackle significant and adverse challenges that could negatively affect a student’s academic progress” (Martin & Marsh, 2006). Watch this 2-minute video by Will Shankley from Manchester’s Department of Sociology to understand what academic resilience is and how to learn and grow from challenging times in the learning journey. We can all learn better if we develop our own academic resilience, so find out more about how you and your students can work together to bounce back better!
All staff should be familiar with the wellbeing support available to students within the university – you can find the up-to-date staff guide on what types of support is available to students here so that you can direct them confidently and effectively to the most appropriate help should they come to you at a time of need: a staff guide to student support at CCCU.
Take 2 minutes to show students that you care about wellbeing and mental health by embedding a link on the Welcome Page of your module Blackboard to introduce your students to a useful and up-to-date mental health toolkit compiled by experts: Mind’s Student mental health hub provides a wealth or guidance, tools and tips to help students look after themselves, be aware of the state of their mental health and reach out for support. Alternatively or in addition you could embed the page from the charity Student Minds which provides excellent guidance and support from students who are struggling, students who are anxious that a friend is struggling, parents of a student who is struggling and clear directions to 24/7 urgent support helplines.
Encourage students to use their calendars to help to establish a work/life balance and to plan breaks from study throughout the year but especially during busy revision/study times. Encourage students to do activities that re-energise them e.g., a walk, run, favourite songs, breathing exercise, chat with a friend. The charity Mind provides a useful explanation of how physical activity can alleviate low mood and anxiety. Students who need a bit of extra motivation and support to help them to stick with a new physical activity programme may find CCCU’s free six-week StudyFit scheme especially helpful in aiding them to step away from work and get active.
Be aware of the main sources of stress and healthy outlets for stress for yourself and encourage your students to do likewise e.g., the ‘stress bucket’ analogy is illustrated nicely in this 3-minute video:
Staff preparing for conversations with students around referral and reassessment will likely find Carole Dweck’s work around Fixed and Growth Mindsets helpful: here, Dweck gives a 10-minute talk on developing a Growth Mindset. Staff awareness of Growth Mindset theory can also help us to frame our feedback form a Growth Mindset perspective and to model academic resilience by sharing with students examples of mistakes we’ve made and setbacks that we’ve overcome in our own studies and professional lives. Students struggling with perfectionism and self-critcism may also find Paul Gilbert’s Mindful Compassion (2013) helpful.
Paul Gilbert's The Compassionate Mind Foundation has made a range of free audio resources including meditations available to support staff and students to develop greater compassion for themselves and others.
These 4 free 1-minute videos produced by the Charlie Waller Trust in partnership with the University of Edinburgh are designed to help academics and Personal Academic Students in conversation with students who are struggling.
'How robust is this concept of 'Academic Resilience'?', 'how do we measure it?' and 'what's the data on whether this really matters?' - I hear some of you ask - good questions! In 2016, Simon Cassidy from the University of Salford published a paper which you may be interested to read - he proposed and has done preliminary research on The Academic Resilience Scale.
Martin, A.J. and Marsh, H.W. (2006). Academic resilience and its psychological and educational correlates: A construct validity approach. Psychology in the Schools, 43(3), pp.267–281.
Thow, M. (2015). How to be Healthy at Work: for people doing PhDs and other higher degrees, academics, teachers and office workers who sit a lot.
Williams, M.G., Penman, D. and Kabat-Zinn, J. (2012). Mindfulness : an eight-week plan for finding peace in a frantic world. Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale Books.