Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type



Educational Studies

Director of Thesis

Melissa Duffy, Ph.D.

Second Reader

Mark Weist, Ph.D.


Academic resilience refers to a student’s ability to emotionally and cognitively adapt to academic adversity, including transitions to new experiences like college. This ability to bounce back is an important characteristic for academic success (Robbins et al., 2018; Hodge et al., 2017). Within the literature, there is a need to understand more interpersonal influences, such as social support, on resilience. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate what social support students rely on and how students use social support through times of academic difficulty, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition to college. Undergraduate students (N = 189) completed a questionnaire that included measures of academic resilience, social support, and self-reported academic achievement. Analysis of questionnaire data revealed a moderate to strong, positive relationship between social support and academic resilience (r = 0.33, p < 0.001) and friends had the highest mean score of all agents of support (M = 3.56, SD = 1.26). A subset of participants (n = 9) also completed a follow-up interview, and coding of these responses revealed that students most frequently reported using social support for venting and informational support purposes. Some participants who reported support from instructors/TAs noted that it helped to boost their academic motivation as well. Most participants also reported that the transition to online learning due to COVID-19 negatively impacted the number of interactions and quality of interactions with most agents of social support. These findings provide support for the relationship between social support and resilience and also underscore that further research is needed in order to better understand why specific types of social support interactions affect students and their academic resilience.

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