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5 ways to develop academic buoyancy

5 ways to develop academic buoyancy

3 min read
  • Motivation, Resilience & Growth Mindset
  • Stress management & well-being

Have you heard of the term ‘Academic Buoyancy’? Chances are you haven’t, but it may be one of the most important psychological areas in education. Academic Buoyancy describes student’s ability to deal with typical school challenges. These include:

  • Getting bad grades
  • Challenging homework
  • Coursework deadline
  • Exam stress

Academic Buoyancy is subtly but importantly different from resilience. According to researchers in this field “the studies that deal with academic resilience tend to be focused on ethnic groups situated in adverse conditions and situations and chronic underachievers. Other research touches on the issue of resilience in the academic setting for students with learning disabilities….we propose that traditional resilience concept does not address the many individuals who are faced with setbacks, challenges and pressures that are part of the ordinary course of life”. 

The 5 Cs of Academic Buoyancy

The 5 C’s of Academic Buoyancy

Researchers from the University of Sydney and the University of Oxford have investigated how to help students develop their Academic Buoyancy. They refer to their model as the 5 Cs; Composure, Confidence, Co-ordination, Commitment and Control. If we can help students develop these areas, it will help them manage the everyday challenges that they face at school.

1. Composure

This refers to helping students manage anxiety. There is no one set way to do this. We recommend creating an environment that reduces the fear of failure (the most common ones include the fear of shame and embarrassment and the fear of an uncertain future), as well as teaching them skills to handle exam and revision pressure and maximise their revision time.

2. Confidence

In the research, this is referred to as ‘self-efficacy’, which is akin to situation specific confidence. Strategies to improve this include addressing negative beliefs that students have about themselves and effective goal setting. See our blog on how to do goal setting right for more.

3. Co-ordination

Key to students being able to co-ordinate their work-load is to not fall foul of ‘The Planning Fallacy’. The planning fallacy describes the tendency that people to be poor predictors of how long future tasks will take, often underestimating it. This is often linked to procrastination. Tips to overcome this include starting early, don’t do the hard task last and to effectively manage your revision environment to minimise distractions.

We will teach your students to thrive under pressure with key stress management skills. Ideal in the lead up to exams.

4. Commitment

This refers to helping students persist at tasks for longer. A lot of the current research in this area often relates to ‘grit’, which is the combination of passion and persistence. It is interesting to note, that at the time of writing there aren’t any studies that detail strategies on how to develop grit (or indeed how significant this is in relation to exam results).

So for now, the best advice is to help students develop their self-talk (something known to effect persistence) and to access social support available (a factor that has been shown to link to resilience).

5. Control

Help students create a sense of ownership. Strategies that should aid this include giving regular, helpful and constructive feedback as well as helping them focus on individual development and improvement, instead of comparing themselves to others. This self-referenced focus is more stable, durable and as a result is much more within one’s own control.

About the editor

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch is a Chartered Psychologist and a leading expert on illuminating Cognitive Science research in education. As Director at InnerDrive, his work focuses on translating complex psychological research in a way that is accessible and helpful. He has delivered thousands of workshops for educators and students, helping improve how they think, learn and perform. Bradley is also a prolific writer: he co-authored four books including Teaching & Learning Illuminated and The Science of Learning, as well as regularly featuring in publications such as The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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