How “Gritty” are You? Student Growth and Possible Correlation to Grit

Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Angela Lee Duckworth’s TedTalk, The Key to Success?  Grit

After reading the extremely informative article “True Grit: The Best Indicator of Student Success” on the Edutopia website, I became interested in the study of grit and its correlation to student growth.  There are many helpful resources in the post including diagnostic tools for measuring grit (using the grit scale) and growth versus fixed mindset (using an online quiz).

Growth versus fixed mindset, or one’s belief that growth of talent and intelligence is either fixed or capable of growing, can be a contributing factor to students’ desire to persevere despite obstacles.   According to the research of Carol Dweck, this intrinsic factor (and the external forces, such as feedback, that may affect it) could contribute to the achievement and growth of students.

Here are additional articles and resources related to grit, growth mindset, and types of feedback that encourage achievement:

  • “What if the Key to Success is Failure?”–  From The New York Times, this article summarizes the role that grit plays in students’ success.  In the article, Angela Duckworth, a psychologist, summarizes, “The problem, I think, is not only the schools but also the students themselves…  Here’s why: learning is hard. True, learning is fun, exhilarating and gratifying — but it is also often daunting, exhausting and sometimes discouraging. . . . To help chronically low-performing but intelligent students, educators and parents must first recognize that character is at least as important as intellect.”
  • “The Talent Myth”– From The New Yorker, the article summarizes the “myths” that incapacitate businesses when it comes to recruiting the “right” people for jobs based upon talent alone.  
  • “How Not to Talk to your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise”– From New York, this article explains that feedback which emphasizes “intelligence” and “talent” (for example, “you are such a good writer” or “you are so smart”) can actually hinder students desire and ability to accomplish difficult tasks.  
  • “Why do Some People Learn Faster”– From Wired, this article summarizes the research on growth mindset conducted by Carol Dweck and others.  It states that learning from mistakes is a prime component of one’s ability to grow, stating, “Education is the wisdom wrung from failure.”  Note: This source is written by Jonah Lehrer, who is a journalist of disrepute.  However, the research in the article can be cross-referenced in other sources and is useful.
  • Mindset Works– Based on the research of Carol Dweck, this website provides resources for teachers interested in implementing growth mindset education and practices in the classroom.  You have to register for an account, but from the website, articles, resources and a TedTalk about growth mindset can be accessed.

My goals in working with teachers are the following:

  • Explore the correlation between grit, growth mindset and SGP as measured by STAR
  • Educate students on grit and growth mindset and provide opportunities for personal reflection
  • Provide resources for teachers interested in implementing best practices regarding grit and growth mindset, ultimately improving student growth and achievement

To meet these goals, I would like to implement the following process:

  1. Use diagnostic tools (the grit scale and online growth mindset quiz mentioned above) to measure students’ current level of mindset and grit
  2. Educate students on these measures using both close reading of non-fiction texts (Reading Informational Texts CCS) and evaluating of speeches (Speaking and Listening CCS)
  3. Provide opportunities for students to reflect on the new information through writing and discussion
  4. Continue to work with teachers on implementing best practices for increasing student grit and growth

I have begun working with Tim Starkey using this process, and I will be posting the resources and follow-up information from our work together soon.  My hope is to expand the scope of my collaboration and work with all willing teachers in the two high schools.

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