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Resiliency: Urban high school students who experience college success

Edward G Doucette, Johnson & Wales University


Researchers have come to regard individuals who succeed in spite of extreme adversity as resilient. These individuals possess “protective factors” which “buffered or ameliorated a person's reaction to a stressful situation or chronic adversity so that his or her adaptation was more successful than would be the case if the protective factors were not present (Masten, 1994)” (Werner & Smith, 2001, p. 3). Four at-risk students who had attended and graduated from the same urban high school and had finished their fourth college semester in good standing participated in the study. In eighth grade each participant had two or more of the following at risk factors: (a) In the lowest socioeconomic quartile, (b) From a single parent family, (c) Has an older sibling who dropped out of high school, (d) Has changed school two or more times from 1 st to 8th grade, (e) Has average grades of C's or lower from 6th to 8th grade, and (f) Has repeated an earlier grade from 1st to 8th grade (Horn & Chen, 1998, p. 1). Each subject participated in a guided open-ended interview followed by an unstructured interview to access his/her perceptions about factors that might explain their current success. The subjects of this study identified seven protective factors that they perceived to have helped them succeed and described how these protective factors had been nurtured by their families, their schools, and their communities: relationship, insight, morality, initiative, independence, creativity, and humor (Wolin & Wolin, 1993, pp. 67–184). This research also articulates a framework that can be used to reexamine current resiliency research and to design future resiliency research. Each of the four components of this framework answers one of four essential questions: (1) Theory: When studying resiliency, what should we expect to find? (2) Practice: What are the resiliency processes and where do they occur? (3) Behavior: What occurs in resilient individuals and systems? And (4) Cognition: How is resiliency perceived or felt (How will we measure it)?

Subject Area

Secondary education|Educational sociology|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Doucette, Edward G, "Resiliency: Urban high school students who experience college success" (2003). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3106406.