Factors and conditions promoting academic resilience. A TIMSS-based analysis of five Asian education systems

Andrés Sandoval-Hernández, Piotr Białowolski

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It is well documented that academic achievement of students from families of low socioeconomic status (SES) tends to be below their more socially advantaged peers. Several studies have identified factors and conditions that facilitate academic success for disadvantaged students (i.e., promote academic resilience). However, one of the main criticisms of this body of research is in the set of variables that explain academic success for low SES students and which is not very different from the variables that would explain academic success for all students. The objectives of this article are dual. Firstly, to identify factors and conditions associated with academic success, regardless of student SES. Secondly, to identify factors and conditions associated with academic resilience, that is, exclusively for low SES students. To this end, we used data from Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, and Japan in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011. The study sample covered 23,354 students in 720 schools in the five countries. The strategy for analysis was driven by fit of logistic regression models, first predicting the probability of academic success and then subsequent identification of variables significant as predictors for success within the pool of low SES students. Results indicated that variables, such as, positive student attitude to mathematics, teacher confidence in student performance and the test language being spoken at home, were associated with greater chances of academic success. High academic expectations and time spent on mathematics at home demonstrated a differential effect between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students in Singapore. In Korea, being male (gender) and in Taipei, low levels of bullying at school, increased the likelihood of resilience. Results suggested that interventions impacting behavior reflected in differentially associated variables could help disadvantaged students to become academically resilient.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-520
Number of pages10
JournalAsia Pacific Education Review
Issue number3
Early online date28 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2016


  • Academic resilience
  • Educational achievement
  • Socioeconomic status


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