Academic Resilience Initiative

Under the direction of Dr. Margaret Mbindyo, assistant professor in the Department of Academic Advisement and Student Development, the Millersville University (MU) Academic Resilience Initiative is a retention initiative created to help students persist and graduate college. Millersville has many resources to help students transition to campus. The Academic Resilience Initiative is a resource for when things get tough.

Academic resilience is defined as the ability to effectively deal with setback, stress or pressure in the academic setting. In college, students face various pressures that are academic, social, emotional, financial and mental in nature. Faculty and staff have an important role to play in building students' academic resilience. Using stories and narratives is a great strategy, which allows students to see the other side of the faculty or staff while allowing the student to be in control of what happens, and feel empowered as they build their own academic resilience. Narrative storytelling is not a new concept in encouraging student success, but the unique perspective of this project, and the research it is based on, would lead to a meaningful impact on student persistence and retention at Millersville University.

The Academic Resilience Initiative will develop short personal video clips that relate to common struggles students face. The videos will provide a big value for a small investment of time by faculty or staff. There are many positive benefits when students click and play a video of someone familiar on campus. When students realize that faculty and staff faced similar circumstances and lived to tell about it, they can picture themselves being successful in the future. These videos will integrate growth mindset to help students in building their academic resilience.

This is a chance for faculty and staff to bridge the divide between the people who seem to have all the answers and the students who are still figuring things out. When students know their instructors and professors went through the same things they are going through, they become engaged, seek help outside of class, and are more willing to listen to the faculty and staff suggestions and ideas. As faculty and staff let themselves be known, students will likewise reveal themselves, and thus strengths and relationships can grow.