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Academic Support


Learning Skills and Strategies

Learning strategies are ways to understand, remember, and apply the knowledge you learn.

What is Academic Resilience?

Research shows that how students set goals for themselves, known as their “goal orientation”, influences their cognitive, affective and behavioral reactions as well as their academic performance. 

Resilient students are able to stay highly motivated despite stressful events and conditions that may arise.  In other words, motivation is key to academic resilience

10 Qualities of an Academically Tenacious Student: 

  1. Feel as though they belong in school, academically and socially 

  1. See the relevance of education for achieving their personal future goals 

  1. Value effort 

  1. Seek challenging tasks that will help them learn rather than stick with easy tasks that offer no opportunity for growth 

  1. View setbacks as an opportunity for learning rather than an indication of their low innate ability or worth 

  1. Have a number of self-regulation strategies at their disposal to remain motivated and avoid distractions over the short and long haul 

  1. Believe in their ability to learn and perform 

  1. Enter the classroom with the goal of mastering the material, not outcompeting other students 

  1. Have a sense of purpose, and feel that their learning will contribute value to the world beyond themselves 

  1. Have a positive, supportive relationships with teachers and peers 

How to Build your Academic Resiliency

The following sample activities have been curated for their capacity to build academic tenacity in students. These activities can be used individually or as a set and updated to reflect opportunities relevant to your students. The related reflective and strategic questions are designed to promote students' ability to self-regulate (Butler, Schnellert & Perry, 2017). You can find more activity ideas available online at Promoting Participation- Activities.

  1. Help out a classmate with the course material - What strategies do you find most helpful when you are learning something new? How could you use them to help your classmate with the course material? 

  1. Create a study goal for your next study session - Were you successful with your study goal? How likely are you to use this same goal again? 

  1. Find a new study spot - What features of this space supported, or took away from, your experience studying? 

  1. Attend Office Hours - What were you hoping to learn from attending office hours? 

  1. Try a new study tool or technique - How do you know if this tool is working, or not working for you? What will you try next? 

  1. Participate in campus wide event – attend a new workshop 

  1. Visit any faculty member for advice regarding careers, degrees, or opportunities - Have you asked faculty for advice regarding careers, degrees, or opportunities before? What are your key takeaways from this visit? 

  1. Create two multiple choice questions that could help you and your peers study for the exam, share your questions on the discussion board 

Information for Faculty- How to Build Academic Resiliency in Students

There are many ways to increase a students' academic resilence:

  1. Change mindsets: Helping students change their mindset about the malleability of intelligence can change the way they react to setbacks and deal with challenges in the classroom 

  1. Increase social belonging:  Strengthening students' sense that they belong in the learning environment can alleviate their fears about performance, especially for students who have been historically marginalized or underrepresented in the post-secondary context. 

  1. Encourage self-reflection:  Helping students change their view of their possible selves—for example by coming up with a list of personal values and ranking them in order of importance, by imagining a future "possible self," or by listing the obstacles they might encounter to realizing that self and strategies they would use to overcome the obstacles—can result in lasting and improved academic outcomes, from attendance to initiative to performance. 

  1. Increase self-regulation: Helping students improve their self-regulation by cultivating goal-setting and self-management strategies can help with the negative thoughts and anxious feelings that are common in school. 

  1. Integrate learning strategies: Teaching students how to manage their workload in your class, decipher a complex text, chunk a big project into smaller and more manageable sub-tasks, study efficiently and other essential skills can enhance academic performance and resilience. Sometimes all it takes is sending the message that all students belong and are capable of great accomplishments with the proper mindset, effort and strategies for success.  Encourage your students to make an appointment with the Learning Strategist.

  2. Incorporate exercise breaks during lectures:  Feel free to experiment with your students with short movement breaks of 3, 6 or 9 minutes. You may be surprised at how good they (and you) feel after a quick break together!

Information for Faculty- The Hidden Curriculum

Despite our best efforts, there is still a “hidden curriculum” in our classrooms and curricula—the unwritten rules or expectations for our physical and digital learning spaces.

Specifically, expectations before, during and after class, as well as what students should do if they miss class, are often unspoken because many faculty assume that their students already know these things or because they feel students should figure them out on their own.

Nonetheless, some students struggle because they don’t know about these habits, behaviours and strategies. But once they learn them, they can meet them with ease.

The first step in dealing with a hidden curriculum is to recognize it and understand how it can influence your students’ resilience. Ask yourself these three questions:

  • What are your prevailing opinions, and how do they make their way into learning activities?
  • How do you manage your classes, and how might those negatively impact some students?
  • Do you check in with your most vulnerable students individually to ensure they understand what’s expected of them?

The research shows that students develop more resilience when they feel like they belong. Inclusive learning spaces support students whose socio-economic circumstances, physical disability or poverty has become a barrier to their educational success—and faculty have a key role to play in creating inclusive learning environments.

In that regard, some researchers recommend replacing the notion of “safe” learning spaces with brave learning spaces, in order to encourage authentic conversations related to any issues of identity, oppression, power and privilege that may arise in the physical or digital classroom.

Specifically, the research highlights how students perceive “safe spaces” as places where faculty rule out conflict, whereas “brave spaces” allow all students and faculty alike to be vulnerable and exposed as they dissect controversial issues together.

Ask yourself: Do you promote an illusion of safety in your classroom, or do you encourage your students to show courage in their learning?

Resources to Print

More Resources

Below are some additional resources on academic resiliency:

Resilient Pedagogy- More information for how to develop resilient course design

The Hidden Curriculum- More information on hidden curriculum

Teaching the Hidden Curriculum- Inclusive Teaching Guides & Tips

TEDx Talk- A key Ingredient in the Student Resilience Recipe


This information has been taken from the website Thriving in the Classroom.