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A Conversation with Angela Lee Duckworth Deborah Perkins-Gough People who can set long-term goals and stick to them have a leg up on success in school and life. For the last 11 years, Angela Lee Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania has been conducting groundbreaking studies on grit—the quality that enables individuals to work hard and stick to their long-term passions and goals.
In this interview with Educational Leadership, Duckworth describes what her research has shown about the relationship between grit and achievement, and she reflects on the importance of helping students develop grit and other noncognitive traits.
The theme of this issue, as you know, is "Resilience and Learning. Is there a difference between the two?
The word resilience is used differently by different people. And to add to the confusion, the ways people use it often have a lot of overlap. To give you an example, Martin Seligman, my advisor and now my colleague here at Penn, has a program called the "Penn Resiliency Program.
But I've heard other people use resilience to mean bouncing back from Angela becerra hw chp 1 2, cognitive or otherwise. And some people use resilient specifically to refer to kids who come from at-risk environments who thrive nevertheless. What all those definitions of resilience have in common is the idea of a positive response to failure or adversity.
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Grit is related because part of what it means to be gritty is to be resilient in the face of failure or adversity.
But that's not the only trait you need to be gritty. In the scale that we developed in research studies to measure gritonly half of the questions are about responding resiliently to situations of failure and adversity or being a hard worker.
The other half of the questionnaire is about having consistent interests—focused passions—over a long time. That doesn't have anything to do with failure and adversity.
It means that you choose to do a particular thing in life and choose to give up a lot of other things in order to do it. And you stick with those interests and goals over the long term. So grit is not just having resilience in the face of failure, but also having deep commitments that you remain loyal to over many years.
Tell us about one of your studies that showed the relationship between grit and high achievement. One of the first studies that we did was at West Point Military Academy, which graduates about 25 percent of the officers in the U. Admission to West Point depends heavily on the Whole Candidate Score, which includes SAT scores, class rank, demonstrated leadership ability, and physical aptitude.
Even with such a rigorous admissions process, about 1 in 20 cadets drops out during the summer of training before their first academic year. We were interested in how well grit would predict who would stay.
So we had cadets take a very short grit questionnaire in the first two or three days of the summer, along with all the other psychological tests that West Point gives them.
And then we waited around until the end of the summer. Of all the variables measured, grit was the best predictor of which cadets would stick around through that first difficult summer. In fact, it was a much better predictor than the Whole Candidate Score, which West Point at that time thought was their best predictor of success.
The Whole Candidate Score actually had no predictive relationship with whether you would drop out that summer although it was the best predictor of later grades, military performance, and physical performance. Woody Allen once quipped that 80 percent of success in life is just showing up.
Well, it looks like grit is one thing that determines who shows up. We've seen echoes of our West Point findings in studies of many other groups, such as National Spelling Bee contestants and first-year teachers in tough schools. Grit predicts success over and beyond talent.
When you consider individuals of equal talent, the grittier ones do better. What research finding on grit has been most surprising to you?
Probably the finding that most surprised me was that in the West Point data set, as well as other data sets, grit and talent either aren't related at all or are actually inversely related.
That was surprising because rationally speaking, if you're good at things, one would think that you would invest more time in them. You're basically getting more return on your investment per hour than someone who's struggling.Old Mill Road School.
Old Mill Road, North Merrick, NY () Angela Colton Phone: Fax: Email: From neighborhood watch to services, our team is here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Police. She is also the current President of the San Diego Chapter of Women in Public Finance.
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