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Other than talent and opportunity, grit has been shown to be an important determinant of learning and success.

  • Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: The power of passion and perseverance. New York, NY: Scribner.
  • Duckworth, A., & Gross, J. J. (2014). Self-Control and Grit: Related but Separable Determinants of Success. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(5), 319–325.

Grit is not merely an attribute of an individual but can be cultivated through community effort. First-generation college engineering students who had a greater sense of engineering identity and belongingness also predicted higher levels of grit.

  • Verdín, Dina; Godwin, Allison; Kirn, Adam; Benson, Lisa; and Potvin, Geoff, "Understanding How Engineering Identity and Belongingness Predict Grit for First-Generation College Students" (2018). School of Engineering Education Graduate Student Series. Paper 75.

Higher education institutions can potentially promote resilience in at-risk students and improve retention and graduation by promoting self-efficacy, self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses and encourage help-seeking.

  • Morales, E. E. (2014). Learning from success: How original research on academic resilience informs what college faculty can do to increase the retention of low socioeconomic status students. International Journal of Higher Education, 3(3), 92-102.

The concept of grit has captured the attention of educators and researchers alike. A measure of a student's ability to effortfully persist in the face of struggle, grit is proposed to be an important characteristic required for students to succeed academically. Some evidence suggests that grit has a positive relationship with a range of academic outcomes, and yet others argue that grit offers little in terms of predictive value for understanding academic outcomes. In addition, there is conflicting evidence about the presence of gender differences in grit, and very little research around the role of being the first member of the family to attend university in the development of grit. In order to address conflicting findings about the importance and correlates of grit, and to explore the role of engagement in the relationship between grit and academic outcomes, a cross sectional survey study was conducted. The current research measured grit, engagement and academic productivity among 395 Australian university students.

Findings suggest that there is no difference in grit between genders, although this cannot be concluded with certainty due to a large imbalance of male to female participants. It also appeared that being the first in family to attend university was associated with an increased level of the grit factor 'effort'. There was a positive relationship between grit, engagement and academic productivity. Further analysis revealed that engagement mediated the relationship between grit and productivity, suggesting that a person with higher grit is more likely to have higher engagement, and that engagement leads to greater academic productivity. These findings highlight the relevance of grit as a desirable student characteristic, and the importance of engagement in the grit-productivity relationship.

Hodge, B., Wright, B., & Bennett, P. (2018). "The Role of Grit in Determining Engagement and Academic Outcomes for University Students," Research in Higher Education, Springer; Association for Institutional Research, vol. 59(4), 448-460.

The SUCCESS (Studying Underlying Characteristics of Computing and Engineering Student Success) project is a multi-institution National Science Foundation grant. Students are admitted to engineering and computing programs with the assumption that they are prepared to succeed; however, a large number of students face significant challenges in their education pathways. This study systematically examines how student outcomes like academic performance as well as student success defined more broadly to include well-being and personal achievements may be influenced by non-cognitive and affective (NCA) factors. Our research has shown that these measures are better predictors of student outcomes than traditional measures like prior academic performance and standardized test scores.

The goal of this project is to identify how NCA factors can indicate the kinds of support resources with the highest potential to help students in need, thus enabling their continued academic success. We have measured students’ NCA factors including personality, grit, identity, motivation, belonging, and many others with thousands of students at 17 participating U.S. institutions. 

We have found that there are five distinct groupings of NCA factors for engineering and computing students and that these groupings are connected to students’ experiences and outcomes (i.e., academic conduct violations and retention). However, these groupings are also unconnected to traditional measures of academic success like grade point average and standardized tests scores. Our results indicate the interventions to support student success may need to target sets of multiple NCA factors rather than single factors.

Our future work will engage groups in pilot interventions that target these sets of NCA factors to support students in their engineering and computing educational pathways. To learn more, please visit reach out to us at