They’re battle scars
Using the theoretical works of Hauser et al (2006, p.5), Rutter (1999), Masten et al (2009), Luther et al (2000), McDermott and Graham (2005), Drapeau et al (2007) and Thomson et al (2002), the authors present their own survey research findings to explore how a sample of young women from the UK learnt to cope with various ‘chains of adversity’ such as abortions, domestic violence, drug abuse and more to emerge as emotionally stronger and resilient individuals.
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This research aimed to demonstrate that when faced with adversity, there are some critical or pivotal moments that take place in the lives of young people (King et al, 2003, p.186) which cause a paradigm shift in their attitude towards their own future and enable them to develop positive self-esteem and maturity. The study took into account responses from six UK-based women between age 20-25 who underwent a long period of trauma (usually 2-3 years), which played a great role in shaping their present mental strength. Out of the chosen sample, only one subject came from an affluent background.
A key highlight of the study was to indicate strategies of resilience based on whether they are short-term or long-term recovery mechanisms. The former comprised addictive behaviour such as alcohol and drug abuse, socialising a lot, clubbing with friends, and writing entries in journals and diaries. The longer-term recovery process included reconnecting with families, enrolling for higher education in universities and engaging with development projects open to adolescents.
In summary, the study comprised a few limitations like leaving out other aspects of life for these participants such as the obvious influence of parental support, and other social factors. Moreover, the study is limited to a small sample of only six individuals, most of whom come from nearly similar backgrounds. This poses difficulty in generalising the outcome for a larger cross-section of society. Although, there is ample theoretical background to support the findings, further independent research must be pursued to validate the importance of resilence. However, it cannot be denied that this study offers a rare glimpse into the lives of young people and their coping mechanisms of various adversities.
Examining a multi-dimensional model of student motivation and engagement using a construct validation appoach
In this research, Martin (2007) tries to assess a multidimensional framework to lay out motivational factors which govern school students, effectively trying to map out which factors matter most as encouragement tools, and whether these results can be used for active engagement with those who remain uninspired by the educational system. To do it, Martin (2007) uses the Motivational and Engagement wheel from his own research (Martin, 2001; Martin, 2003c; Martin, 2005c) while utilising other research papers to build a higher order structure of the wheel comprising four factors (Pinrich et al, 1990; Pinrich et al, 1991; Buss & Cantor, 1989; Beck, 1995).
The higher-order group factors consist of 1) adapative cognitive dimensions, 2) adaptive behavioural dimensions, 3) impeding/maladaptive cognitive dimensions and 4) maladaptive behavioural dimensions (Martin, 2007, p.416). The lower-order wheel structure comprised a total of 11 parameters lying within the higher-order quadrants, including self-efficacy, self-handicapping, disengaging, failure avoidance, anxiety, study management, persistence etc, invoking Bandura (1997), Wigfield & Eccles (2000) etc.
To further validate his theoretical premise, Martin (2007) took a broad sample of 12,237 students in junior high, senior high and middle schools across 38 Australian institutions and statistically analysed the behavioural dimensions using multi-dimensional modelling which examines several statistical parameters including Mean, SD, Kurtosis, Skew, invariance etc. To further elaborate on his results, Martin (2007) stretched his research findings to incorporate gender gap between boys and girls which could have biased the study.
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In summary, since, the research was derived from a broad-based sample and backed by established studies in student motivational behaviour, Martin (2007) can be safely considered a useful research tool for practitioners. Further research can be pursued to understand the implications of the Motivational and Engagement wheel, and what role can it play for the greater good of the educational system.
Dealing with Disadvantage
Similar to Shepherd et al (2010), this article aimed to analyse the building of resilience in disadvantaged and marginalised youth living in Glebe housing project, Sydney, Australia based on their exposure to delinquent behaviour. The difference from the previous study lied in the fact that here, social capital was demonstrated to play a very important role in building resilience among teens, especially when they grow up in adverse circumstances.
To validate her findings on social capital, Bottrel (2009) invoked the research of Bassani (2007), Stanton-Salazar and Spina (2005), Ferguson’s (2006), Terrion (2006), Vinson (2004) and Hollands, Reynolds, and Weller (2007) and Bourdieu’s (2004) theory which presents social capital as an entity which can play a central role in transforming adolescent minds when faced with uncertain adversity or a negative upbringing due to a poverty-stricken neighbourhood.
The doctoral research study took into account experiences of over 300 young people, in the age group 12 to 24 years, who grew up in the depressed surroundings of the Glebe Housing Estate in Sydney. Many of them, both boys and girls, had struggled with issues such as malingering, juvenile crime, domestic violence and racial discrimination (pertaining to Aboriginal subjects).
The study tried to find out to what extent peer groups played an important role in supporting these adolescents in the formative stages of life, how identities were shaped and what could have been the possible impact due to an absence of social interactions. The study evaluates the importance of human bonding as an enabling exercise for participants to come on top of any adverse circumstances they may face, and the perspectives that can be drawn from life.
In summary, however, the study does not give any kind of empirical relationship between the perceived importance of social capital and the values of resilience fostered in young minds. The study tries to defend the position that such peer groups are wrongly perceived as “problem youth” prone to criminality and anti-social behaviour, and the world around them should try to see the benefit they receive due to the forging of human capital through group interactions, which enable them to take their own place in the world. To qualify this study further, it is recommended that some sort of quantitative survey be conducted that can detail the exact impact of social capital on the ability of youth to overcome adversity.
Bottrel, D. (2009). Dealing with Disadvantage: Resilience and the Social Capital of Young People’s Networks. Youth & Society, 40 (4), 476-501.
Martin, A.J. (2007). Examining a multi-dimensional model of student motivation and engagement using a construct validation appoach. BritishJournal of Educational Psychology, 77, 413-440.
Shepherd, C., Reynolds, F.A. & Moran, J. (2010). They’re battle scars. I wear them well: a phenonemenological exploration of young women’s experiences of building resilience following adversity in adolescence. Journal of Youth Studies, 13 (3), 273:290.