What Makes Students Resourceful

This submission is by Dr. Maureen Reed, LTO Director

We often wonder why some of our students do not succeed, while others excel.  Over the past years, I have been trying to answer this question and better understand the ingredients for success.  One theory that I subscribe to is Rosenbaum’s (1980) theory of learned resourcefulness.  Rosenbaum was attempting to understand the general ingredients for success in life.  This theory has been applied to academia and it seems to be predictive of academic success (Reed et al., 2011).  The theory of learned resourcefulness posits that individuals who are successful have four attributes that lead to success. First, they are generally highly practiced problem solvers.  Second, they make positive self-statements even when faced with failure.  Third, they are good at delaying gratification and finally, they understand that change takes effort.  The thing that I particularly like about this theory is that all of these skills can be taught within the context of a course.  A few years ago, Deb Kennett from Trent University and I did just that and were able to track changes in student resourcefulness of a course.  As resourcefulness increased so did GPA (Kennett & Reed, 2009).  Today I start many of my classes with a talk about what makes students resourceful.  Students tell me the talk helps them to focus and reduce behaviours that distract them from their own academic success.

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