Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Protective Factors Contributing to the Academic Resilience of Students Living in Poverty in Turkey

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Protective Factors Contributing to the Academic Resilience of Students Living in Poverty in Turkey

Article excerpt

This article examines the potential individual characteristics and environmental protective factors that promote academic resilience among impoverished eighth-grade students in Turkey. Study results revealed that home high expectations, school caring relationships and high expectations, and peer caring relationships were the prominent external protective factors that predicted academic resilience. Considering the internal protective factors, the following were positively linked with the academic resilience of adolescents in poverty: having positive self-perceptions about one's academic abilities, high educational aspirations, empathic understanding, an internal locus of control, and hope for the future.


The social and economic environment in which children and adolescents develop appears to be the most important predictor of their overall well-being. A vast amount of research evidence demonstrates that children and adolescents living in poverty suffer from negative life events and persistent strains that are damaging to their positive development (Buckner, Mezzacappa, & Beardslee, 2003; Luthar, 1999; Seccombe, 2000). In addition, studies indicate that there are strong and consistent links between poverty and children's poor academic competence. Specifically, children in poverty are at high risk for academic problems (Ripple & Luthar, 2000). Overall, impoverished children are more likely to have difficulty in school, low academic performance, school dropout, low scores on standardized tests, and low levels of intelligence test scores, and are less likely to attend or graduate from high school or college, than are their more affluent counterparts (Caughy & O'Campo, 2006; Delores & Godwin, 2007; Duncan, Yeung, Brooks-Gunn, & Smith, 1998; Evans, 2004; McLoyd, 1998; Pong, 1997; Suh & Suh, 2007).

However, a sizable percentage of poor children and adolescents overcome this adversity, exhibiting competence in the face of economic hardship and going on to lead highly successful, well-adjusted, and productive lives (Garmezy, 1991; Werner & Smith, 1992, 2001). Specifically, despite living in poor households, these resilient children and adolescents perform adequately in school, perceive themselves as being self-reliant, avoid problem or delinquent behavior, and adequately manage their relations with peers and community (Taylor, 1994).

Accordingly, understanding how resilient children and adolescents succeed academically despite living in poverty may help professional school counselors develop effective prevention and intervention strategies that will help impoverished students foster their competence and adaptation in the academic context. Academic resilience is defined as "high levels of achievement motivation and performance despite the presence of stressful events and conditions that place individuals at risk of doing poorly in school and ultimately dropping out of school" (Alva, 1991, p.19). Academic achievement is considered one of the appropriate indicators of academic competence and resilience for school-age children (Masten & Coastworth, 1998). In the literature, the term academic resilience seems to be highly accepted and used by resilience researchers (Andrew & Herbert, 2006; Borman & Overman, 2004; Cappella & Rhona, 2001; Finn & Rock, 1997). For this reason, academic resilience will be the term used throughout this article.

As a construct, academic resilience is considered to be a dynamic developmental process that involves the protective qualities associated with individual students (internal protective factors) and their environments (external protective factors) that contribute to the adjustment and academic success of at-risk students (Luthar, Cicchetti, & Becker, 2000). Thus, there appears a consensus in resilience research about the importance of the examination of the internal and external protective factors in order to explain the successful adaptation of some children and adolescents in the face of environmental risk factors such as poverty (Masten & Reed, 2002). …

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