Building resilience in science

By Rob Butler posted 06-06-2022 10:01

Resilience can mean slightly different things to different people depending on the context it is used in.

When running Science Learning Partnership courses we have defined resilience as:
• Not giving up when things get difficult
• Developing a positive approach to getting things ‘wrong’
• Embracing trial and error and failure as a valid approach to learning
• The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
• Keeping things in perspective
• Being in it for the ‘long game’

These skills have the potential for long term impact, both in lessons and in exams. With the sawtooth-style difficulty demands in modern GCSE papers, students may find that each question gets harder as you work through it, then the difficulty resets at the next question. It’s important your learners don’t give up. When planning investigations, it takes repeated exposure and modelling before learners start to be able to plan for controlling variables. When doing practical work, it can take a while for learners to gain the skills and confidence to do practical activities independently. The list is endless, but all of these things require resilient learners.

How to build resilience?
• Classroom culture – having a growth mindset approach, where students can expect to fail and view ‘failure’ as a learning experience (the primary school where I’m a governor reminds students that FAIL is the First Attempt In Learning)
• Use the same strategies that you would for fitness training – be positive and think of what success leads to.
• Learners need to learn to ‘delay gratification’ They may expect immediate rewards and returns but need to resist the temptation of a small reward now for a bigger reward later on. Homework is an example of where delayed gratification is needed.
• Experiencing success – learning what success feels like makes learners more likely to strive for it again. Using scaffolding strategies and making sure work is accessible will allow learners to succeed.

What strategies have you used in your classroom to develop more resilient learners and how have your learners responded to them?

Useful Links

Growth mindset

Watch Walter Mischel’s marshmallow test

Did you enjoy this blog? If so, scroll to the top and hit the 'Recommend' button!



10-06-2022 08:28

Classroom culture - so easy to say to make a culture but to actually achieve takes so many things - particularly with teenagers and post pandemic when their confidence is lower. 
Pair discussions is a great way to start - you can hear all the answers - with none of the pressure.

07-06-2022 09:26

Can we add 'understanding the personal value' of science, which helps develop resilience through autonomous motivation?