Latino academic resilience: Stories of high achieving middle school ELLs and the teachers and families that help them succeed

Marcela Astudillo, University of Rhode Island


A general definition of resilience is an ability to thrive and succeed in a variety of areas related to our lives despite adversities we may face. The more specific term referred to as "academic resilience" deals with achieving academic success despite difficulties within an academic setting. Evidence shows that one of the demographic groups that experiences many challenges within academic settings and therefore who often struggle with academic success are English Language Learners. As compared to the regular education population of native speakers of English, ELLs have much higher high school dropout rates and have an overall more difficult time experiencing academic success than their native speaker counterparts. In this study, the researcher explores the comments of six academically resilient Latino ELLs and seeks to understand from their own perspectives on the teacher classroom practices and pedagogies that most help them. In addition to asking students to share their perspectives on the teacher practices that they feel contribute to their academic success, the researcher also explores the opinions of their teachers and parents. The overall goal of the researcher was not only to learn from student voices about what helps them but also to try to connect these voices to those of their teachers and their parents. After extensive interview coding and analysis, the researcher learned that students say they learn better in classrooms where teachers often go beyond the call of duty of simply planning and carrying out lessons, classrooms where teachers practice innovative pedagogies, classrooms where teachers are persistent about all student learning and, finally, classrooms where general literacy is emphasized. These findings are important and helpful to teachers who seek to maximize the impact of their work when it comes to educating their ELL population.

Subject Area

English as a Second Language|Middle School education|Educational psychology|Latin American Studies

Recommended Citation

Marcela Astudillo, "Latino academic resilience: Stories of high achieving middle school ELLs and the teachers and families that help them succeed" (2015). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3714325.