Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Resilience (Personality trait) in adolescence; Narrative inquiry (Research method);


The purpose of this study was to investigate youth resiliency employing dual methodologies, auto-ethnography and life history research respectively, to reveal how two middle-aged adults (one African-American, the other Caucasian) achieved resiliency; and most importantly, how their experiences and insights might inform ongoing efforts to promote youth resiliency. This research project was a follow-up to a previous study (involving four African American participants – two males and two females) conducted to determine the roles that schools and communities play in promoting youth resiliency.

Offering insights into the usefulness of extended research, Herr and Anderson (2005) captured the essence of my decision to conduct a follow-up study here:

Doctoral students may be able to capitalize on class projects that require a pilot study or 'practice research' as part of the course requirements to begin their action research. In addition, doctoral students may have room in their program for an independent study or two. These spaces allow for the kind of ongoing piloting where each separate piece of the research conducted over a series of semesters is actually part of the whole (Herr & Anderson, 2005, p.105).

Although participants [from the previous study] were able to succeed despite a negative life trajectory, it yet remained inconclusive whether personal attributes and environmental factors were equally effective in enhancing youth prospects. Additionally, because the previous study was conducted among African-American subjects only, I thought it probative to inquire as to whether findings would be consistent across demographic or socioeconomic boundaries.

The story that emerged was of each participant's strength, illustrating how each individual persistently engaged in the world around them in order to negotiate, and ultimately transcend their immediate circumstances. This study reaffirmed the need to talk openly about youth across demographic and socio-cultural divides, with the results offering implications for educators, students, and future research.

Findings suggest the need for educators to know students holistically as well as personally, including familiarity with all aspects of a student's identity. If all youth are expected to attain resiliency (or as I prefer transcendence), then classrooms should become environments where personal attributes are enhanced, rather than stymied, with all youth being afforded opportunities for meaningful participation. In summary, this study validated the need for all [not just some] stakeholders to assist all [not just some] youth in channeling their respective strengths in meaningful and productive ways.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

First Advisor

Christopher Edginton, Committee Co-Chair

Second Advisor

Deborah J. Gallagher, Committee Co-Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xiii, 209 pages)



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