OTL 201 Post 3: Learning Activity 2 – Key concepts

This isn’t a particularly exciting activity, but I think it is an essential one. In order to successfully complete this course (i.e., assignments), students must grasp some core concepts. Below is a bit of a glossary or some of these concepts. I encourage them to contact me and also to post (and respond to posts) any thoughts/questions that they may have about these concepts.

In terms of my teaching practice, I want my students to do well and I want to make the tools for doing well readily available to them. Because there is no textbook, a glossary such as this one can come in handy.

I have no links for this activity – textbooks/articles, and the lovely teacher who is teaching the other half of this course! were the creators of this list.

“Hello Students:
Below you’ll find a brief review of some of the key concepts/terms you’ll be exposed to in this course. To do well in this course, you must have a good understanding of these concepts. Please contact me with any questions you may have. I also encourage you to post any questions you may have and to comment on others’ questions if you have something you think would help them in their understanding of the concept.

Review of Key Concepts
Resilience factor: A moderator variable (i.e., interactive variable) that reduces adverse outcomes (i.e., improves outcomes) in an at-risk group. It affects the strength of the relationship between predictor (risk factor) and outcome (what the researchers are measuring).

In this course, we are looking at resilience which means we are always focusing on an at-risk group.

**When you are locating (resilience) studies (i.e., for assignments), make sure that the subject sample is an at-risk group! How do you know if the subjects are an at-risk group? The criterion that the researchers used for subject selection (e.g., children of divorce; foster children, survivors of natural disaster, etc.) defines the risk factor.

E.g., foster children (at-risk group/risk factor) who have high self-esteem (resilience factor) have reduced rates of depression (outcome).

For a study to be a “resilience” study, three central variables are required (remember these when selecting studies for assignments!):
1) risk factor/at-risk group
2) outcome measure
3) resilience factor

Risk factor: The variable that is typically used for subject selection, and defines the “at-risk” group (subject sample).

Caution: Things can get a bit confusing because authors sometimes incorrectly refer to vulnerability factors or mediator variables as risk factors (see below for an explanation of vulnerability factors and mediator variables).

Resource factor: A variable (additive variable) that reduces adverse outcomes/improves outcomes in everyone (entire population) regardless of risk status.

E.g., children (entire population of children, whether at-risk or not) who have high self-esteem have lower rates of depression. Here there is a direct correlation between self-esteem (predictor) and depression (outcome) because risk status is not included in this research design (i.e., they looked at the entire population).

Although it’s important to understand this concept, in this course, we are not focusing on resource factors.

Vulnerability factor: A moderator variable (i.e., interactive variable) that increases adverse outcomes in an at-risk group. This is the opposite of a resilience factor and is not the focus of this course.

E.g., foster children (subject sample; risk factor) who are found to have low self-esteem (vulnerability factor) have increased rates of depression (adverse outcome).

Mediator: A variable that explains the relationship between a predictor variable and an outcome variable.

E.g., low socio-economic status (SES; predictor variable) leads to poor parenting practices (outcome variable). Parental stress (correlated with low SES) is the reason why low SES leads to poor parenting practices; it is an intervening variable that is responsible for/accounts for the relationship between predictor and outcome.

Mediators are also not the focus of this course, however, you are likely to come across them in the studies you read and as such, should understand them.”