Resilience amid Academic Stress: The Moderating Impact of Social Support among Social Work Students

Scott E. Wilks


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between academic stress and perceived resilience among social work students, and to identify social support as a protective factor of resilience on this relationship. A conceptual model of moderation was used to test the role of social support as protective. Methods: The sample consisted of 314 social work students (BSW=144; MSW=170) from three accredited schools/programs in the southern United States. Voluntary survey data were collected on demographics and constructs of academic stress, family support, friend support, and resilience. Hierarchical regression analysis was conducted to show the composite impact of demographic and model factors on the resilience outcome. Moderation was tested using a traditional regression series as guidelines of moderation with continuous variables. Path analyses illustrated main effects and moderation in the study’s conceptual model. Results: The sample reported moderate levels of academic stress and social support, and a fairly high level of resilience. Academic stress negatively related to social support and resilience. Social support positively influenced resilience. Academic stress accounted for the most variation in resilience scores. Friend support significantly moderated the negative relationship between academic stress and resilience. Conclusion: The current study demonstrated the likelihood that friend support plays a protective role with resilience amid an environment of academic stress. Implications for social work faculty and internship agency practitioners are discussed.


Academic stress; Resilience; Social support; Social work students

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