U Can Achieve is a Mental Toughness development program designed for secondary students. Mental Toughness is a mindset which determines how you perform when exposed to stressors, pressure and challenge. This program, which can be tailored to different year groups, stages or whole-school, can increase student's understanding of how stress impacts on them and equips them with techniques to build their mental toughness to achieve peak performance.
Mental toughness is important in schools due to its links with conscientiousness (a good predictor of academic achievement), low anxiety levels (associated with greater academic attainment), resilience, hardiness, optimism and self-esteem.
Students who participate in the U Can Achieve program each complete the young person's version of the MTQ48 questionnaire - a measure of mental toughness for secondary students. The MTQ48 provides a score against the "4 Cs of Mental Toughness" - Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence. It is here that Mental Toughness moves beyond resilience to introduce a more pro-active element. Resilience is often defined as a function of Control and Commitment. Mental Toughness adds two more components - Challenge and Confidence.
Control may be related to education in contexts where students need to manage anxiety levels (i.e., before upcoming exams) or it may confer advantages on academic success, as students high in life-control will manage their school workload effectively, being good at planning, time-management and prioritizing.
Students scoring high on Commitment are focused and diligent as they strive to achieve goals, and this is likely to be advantageous for educational attainment.
Students scoring high on the mental toughness component of Challenge will be more likely to cope with changes or transitions and environments that are challenging.
Confidence may also be important for attainment, and students who feel confident with others may be more likely to have a wider circle of friends and may contribute more eagerly in group or class activities.
Research has shown that Mental Toughness is of benefit to students
Research from the University of Hull (UK) involving secondary school students suggests that Mental Toughness interventions have the potential to have beneficial effects upon the following aspects of adolescents' educational experiences:
- Improved classroom behaviour
- Improved peer relationships
- Increased attendance
- Increased academic attainment
- More effective management of workload
- Improved planning, prioritising and time management
In combination, these results indicate that students with high levels of Mental Toughness are more likely to pass and proceed (rather than fail and dropout) and achieve higher grades than students with low Mental Toughness.