Dissertation: Gabriel Simon

Cohort 2, published 2011


Building Resiliency: The Impact of School Protective Factors on Elementary Students' Language Arts Achievement


This resiliency research can serve to validate previous studies on the resiliency protective factors of caring adult-student relationships, high teacher expectations, and a high level of student engagement. The study’s purpose is to uncover school level protective factors that lead to student resiliency and academic success as reported by individual students. This research investigates how these school factors relate to student achievement. Peer reviewed literature from the past ten years along with seminal works focus on studies related to the aforementioned resiliency protective factors. The study provides a mixed methods approach with quantitative data coming from student surveys on the presence of the protective factors. The qualitative portion of the study collects data from follow up student focus groups to enrich the data. The researcher found that student reports of caring adult relationships in school and time for student to student small group interactions increased students’ language arts test scores by 23 scaled score points for each variable. The qualitative focus groups and interviews give more detailed information about the type of protective supports that students experienced in school which included high teacher expectations, caring adults who were interested in their lives, and specific examples of meaningful student participation. Low resilient low achieving students explained fewer rich examples of teacher expectations and fewer opportunities for engagement in the classroom. The conclusions drawn from this research provide specificity to school supports that improve the language arts achievement of at-risk students.

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