What We’re Reading: Resourcefulness Can (and Should) be Taught

illustration by Clare Reid

In “Interpreting Students’ Experiences with Academic Disappointments Using Resourcefulness Scores as a Lens” (2019, Teaching and Learning Inquiry), authors Rebecca Martin and Deborah Kennett describe their qualitative study of twenty college students who had experienced academic disappointments. Crucially, these students varied in terms of resourcefulness (defined here as the ability to engage in positive self-talk, generate solutions to problems, prioritize tasks, and exert self-control).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the researchers found that more resourceful students responded to academic disappointments with productive strategies for future improvement, while less resourceful students tended to react to these disappointments with helplessness, denial, and fatalism. More strikingly, and in line with what we see in our work (particularly the Engelhard Project), the authors make the point that resourcefulness can be taught; we can—and should—teach students effective study skills and research skills, as well as how to make accurate attributions for their successes and failures, and how to devise feasible and productive plans to improve.