Policies, designed to promote resilience, and research, to understand the determinants and correlates of resilience, require reliable and valid measures to ensure data quality. The student resilience survey (SRS) covers a range of external supports and internal characteristics which can potentially be viewed as protective factors and can be crucial in exploring the mechanisms between protective factors and risk factors, and to design intervention and prevention strategies. This study examines the validity of the SRS.
7663 children (aged 11-15 years) from 12 local areas across England completed the SRS, and questionnaires regarding mental and physical health. Psychometric properties of 10 subscales of the SRS (family connection, school connection, community connection, participation in home and school life, participation in community life, peer support, self-esteem, empathy, problem solving, and goals and aspirations) were investigated by confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), differential item functioning (DIF), differential test functioning (DTF), Cronbach's α and McDonald's ω. The associations between the SRS scales, mental and physical health outcomes were examined.
The results supported the construct validity of the 10 factors of the scale and provided evidence for acceptable reliability of all the subscales. Our DIF analysis indicated differences between boys and girls, between primary and secondary school children, between children with or without special educational needs (SEN) and between children with or without English as an additional language (EAL) in terms of how they answered the peer support subscale of the SRS. Analyses did not indicate any DIF based on free school meals (FSM) eligibility. All subscales, except the peer support subscale, showed small DTF whereas the peer support subscale showed moderate DTF. Correlations showed that all the student resilience subscales were negatively associated with mental health difficulties, global subjective distress and impact on health. Random effects linear regression models showed that family connection, self-esteem, problem solving and peer support were negatively associated with all the mental health outcomes.
The findings suggest that the SRS is a valid measure assessing these relevant protective factors, thereby serving as a valuable tool in resilience and mental health research.