In 2013, The Duke Endowment provided $3.4 million to the four institutions named in Mr. Duke’s Indenture of Trust — Davidson College, Duke University, Furman University and Johnson C. Smith University — to intensively study the issue of student resilience and to develop new interventions to test and refine.
The Student Resilience and Well-Being Project began with data collection across all four campuses to better understand the causes of student stress, how stress manifests itself, what tools students possess to deal with stress and become resilient, and where interventions to improve resiliency are most needed. Using this data (collected longitudinally from the Class of 2018 over four years) campus teams are designing and implementing new interventions and restructuring existing ones to help enhance resiliency.
The Student Resilience and Well-Being Project aimed to identify the factors that contribute to and mitigate student resilience, and to increase knowledge about the effectiveness of interventions designed to improve resiliency, and to share that knowledge among the four campuses and beyond. The study found that four key factors strengthen student resilience and well-being: self-control, academic engagement, self-compassion, and supportive and meaningful relationships.
Using these factors as a foundation, the project has already resulted in:
- A more effective array of interventions and supports for students
- Scholarly findings that contribute to the higher education and mental health communities
- Measurable enhancements in student resiliency and wellness on all four campuses
The Endowment has seen increased collaboration across and within the four schools, as well as an increased understanding of student resilience and promising intervention ideas. In addition, the study helped inform the schools’ responses to the COVID-19 crisis on campus.
In addition to working within their own campuses, the schools contributed to shared data collection and analysis, created joint studies and interventions, and shared findings and ideas. During the 2016 Student Resiliency Symposia at the Endowment’s headquarters, the four schools welcomed representatives from other colleges and universities to showcase their own resiliency efforts and participate in shared learning.