According to Duckworth, grit is a key factor in determining success in various endeavors, including education, sports, and business. She argues that grit is a better predictor of success than talent or intelligence and that it can be developed and strengthened over time.
Duckworth and her team found that juniors with the most grit were more likely to graduate from high school than their less gritty peers, even after accounting for these predictive factors, in addition to standardized test scores and demographics.
While fostering grit is beneficial when it comes to facets of student learning, such as encouraging students to correct mistakes, establish high expectations, and take ownership over their learning experience, details as seemingly small as the temperature or layout of a room can also impact student motivation and perseverance.
We still have a lot to learn about how best to foster grit in students, and answering the question will require strong collaboration between researchers and educators. It will also require determination and perseverance.
Are people born with grit? According to research from Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, and Kelly (2007), grit is a question of nature and nurture, not one or the other. For people to develop grit, they need to cultivate a growth mindset.
Before you read on, we thought you might like to download our three Resilience Exercises for free. These engaging, science-based exercises will help you to develop grit and effectively deal with difficult circumstances, and give you the tools to improve the resilience of your clients, students, or employees.
In 2006, an aspiring PhD candidate was fascinated with the idea that some people seem to be grittier than others. Her exploration started after deciding to become a 7th-grade math teacher several years earlier. She noticed that some students appeared to have the ability to tackle long-term challenges better than others, regardless of IQ scores.
You probably have heard of Angela Lee Duckworth and her work around grit and resilience. In case you have not or need a reminder, here is her 2013 TED talk, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.
People are born with various levels of grit, but Duckworth contends that it is a trait that develops through experience. One key to improving it, as she points out in her TED talk, is by shifting your mindset from a fixed to a growth orientation.
Because grit is about intense passion for a particular goal, people can demonstrate it in one area, but not others. Those other areas might require self-control, but not grit. Duckworth (n.d.) provides the example of completing your taxes by April 15th.
Developing grit and resilience helps a person to build and sustain a growth mindset. Duckworth (2013) might disagree, based on her 2013 TED talk. She stated that she believes a growth mindset helps build grit.
What if it is a combination of both? If people are born with some level of grit, it is possible that grit contributes to their mindset. Think about a child who is beginning to walk. Some do this without much encouragement at all. They pull themselves up, take a few steps, fall, get back up, and the process repeats until their parents cannot catch them.
Other children, after several falls, need much more encouragement to get up and try again. Is it possible that this is an early sign of grit and resilience? If people are born with a tendency toward a growth or fixed mindset, does the natural grit some people have contribute to their tendency?
Building resilience and grit varies from person to person and is influenced by our culture. Still, the American Psychological Association offers 10 ways to build resilience that just about anyone can do.
For the therapists and educators, another excellent way to develop grit and resilience in your clients is by teaching them resilience. Our Realizing Resilience Masterclass will provide you with a full set of tools to do this.
Humans are creatures of habit. If you quit when things get tough, it gets that much easier to quit the next time. On the other hand. If you force yourself to push through it, the grit begins to grow in you.
No article about grit, resilience, and a growth mindset is complete without offering a few book suggestions. Many of you are familiar with the first two on this list. The other four each provide a different perspective on this topic.
Today Duckworth is a sought-after speaker on human behavior and the founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development (including, but not limited to grit). Quartz caught up with her after her keynote address at the Qualtrics X4 Experience Management Summit, a conference about brand experience, held in March in Salt Lake City, Utah. The following transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
So how can we (I include myself here as a therapist) help our clients become grittier? Not by demanding that they pull themselves up by their bootstraps or by setting unreasonable expectations and assuming teens can meet them all on their own. For teens to grow their grit, we need therapists like you to help them get there.
Caren Baruch-Feldman, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and a certified school psychologist. She has authored numerous articles and led workshops on topics such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, helping children and adults cope with stress and worry, helping people change, and developing grit and self-control. She is the author of The Grit Guide for Teens.
Along with my leadership team, I began a search last year for a way to collect a different kind of data on our students, both current and incoming, that will help us understand them a little better, and will better equip us to put students in a position to be successful. The catalyst for this search centered on why some of our students seem to overachieve and exceed expectations each year while others seem to underachieve. We were already familiar Angela Duckworth's well-known research on grit, but we drilled down deeper to see if it might prove meaningful for our students. We then decided to explore ways that Duckworth's research on grit, including her grit measurement scale, might help us better serve our students.
Upon agreeing that this metric could be a valuable tool, we began our data collection immediately. Starting with our middle school's eighth graders, we administered Duckworth's 12-item grit scale (PDF, 147KB) in the spring semester prior to their freshman year. This takes less than ten minutes of the students' time, so the process is quite efficient. My leadership team then scored the completed scales and added them to the students' files. As we're an independent school that accepts a number of new students each year in grades 9-12, we turned next to our incoming students, those who had applied for admission for the 2014-15 school year. After collaborating with our director of admissions, we added the 12-item grit scale to our traditional battery of admissions information (testing, grades, recommendations, etc.). When we returned to school in August, we administered the 12-item grit scale to the remainder of our student body and are now cataloging that data, too.
In the short-term, we will watch our students carefully as we move through the school year. As we notice either overachievement or underachievement with individual students, we will consult those individuals' grit scales. We believe that with an underachieving student whose grit score is below average, for example, we can help by offering strategic advice and encouragement related to grit. Duckworth defines grit as "tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals," so we will focus our encouragement on that as well as on equipping that student "to pursue especially challenging aims." With overachievement, we likewise will consult students' grit scales, but will work to find correlations between overachievement and grit. Our short-term plan will be actionable with all of our students beginning in the fall semester.
Our long-term plan of action involves using the grit data to inform decisions that affect teaching and learning. We have already begun planning ways to bring our students' attention to the concept of grit and the correlation between grit and success, according to Duckworth's research. Specifically, we are mapping out ways to address grit in large settings like chapel, school assemblies, pep rallies, and open house events for both current and prospective families. We also are working with our athletic and fine arts departments to address and promote grit among our athletic teams as well as with our performing arts casts and ensembles. Furthermore, we will be working with each academic department to incorporate allusions to grit in the classrooms. We may do this through the inclusion of curriculum-related articles, finding grit in fictional characters and historical figures, or labeling especially challenging problems "grit work." Our counselor will also be included, as she has opportunities for one-on-one conversations with students about grit.
Ideally, a year from now, then in two years, and so on, we will find that we have made a difference in our students' lives. Our goal, of course, centers on nurturing grit to help them become more successful, particularly over the long haul. We anticipate seeing anecdotal evidence of increased grit, but we hope the data will support us. We will look for this data when we re-administer the grit scale annually and search for trends in the scaled scores.
Will incorporating the grit scale and strategic conversations about grit into the culture of our school help us to produce grittier and ultimately more successful kids? Time will tell, but we are committed to this long-term and especially challenging goal.
Duckworth says her research shows grit is actually a better predictor of success than IQ or other measures when it comes to achievements as varied as graduating from West Point or winning the National Spelling Bee. 2b1af7f3a8