All FSI Publications Journal Articles Adversity and Resilience Science

Internal Capabilities and External Resources of Academically Resilient Students in Rural China

Resilience can play an important role in enabling disadvantaged students to succeed academically. However, few studies in low-resource contexts have evaluated resilience as a process (including a child’s internal capabilities and external resources, like the internal capabilities of a child’s caregiver) and as an outcome (e.g., academic achievement). In the current study, we examined the associations among students’ self-reported internal capabilities, their external resources (e.g., caregivers’ internal capabilities), and their academic resilience (operationalized as performance on a math test). The study was conducted among 1609 primary and secondary school students in rural China using the Connor–Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC) to measure internal capabilities. Student CD-RISC scores were positively associated with external resources including caregiver CD-RISC scores, maternal education level, high levels of perceived social support, recreational reading, and involvement in group-based activities at school. A one-point increase in students’ CD-RISC scores was associated with a 0.01 SD increase in math score (p < 0.001), and the math scores of students whose CD-RISC scores were in the bottom quartile were 0.18 SD lower than those of their peers (p < 0.01). High levels of perceived social support and recreational reading were also associated with academic resilience in the adjusted equation. Directions for future research and policy implications are discussed.