Usher, E. L., Li, C. R., Butz, A. R., & Rojas, J. P. (2019). Perseverant grit and self-efficacy: Are both essential for children’s academic success? Journal of Educational Psychology, 111(5), 877-902.
Psychological factors such as grit and self-efficacy have been heralded as powerful predictors of performance. Their joint contribution to the prediction of early adolescents’ school success has not been fully investigated, however. The purpose of this study was to examine U.S. elementary and middle school students’ (N = 2,430) grit (assessed as perseverance of effort) and self-efficacy, and their predictive relationship with achievement and teacher-rated motivation and competence in reading and math across one school year. Scalar invariance was found for grit and self-efficacy measures across school level, gender, and SES. Older students and students from lower SES reported significantly lower grit and self-efficacy. Girls reported higher grit and reading self-efficacy. Grit was correlated positively with self-efficacy (.37 ≤ r ≤ .66), modestly with teacher ratings in reading and math (.14 ≤ r ≤ .25), and weakly or uncorrelated with achievement (.03 ≤ r ≤ .13). Self-efficacy was positively related to all outcomes (.21 ≤ r ≤ .36). SEM indicated that subject-specific self-efficacy was positively related, and grit weakly or unrelated, to reading and math achievement, controlling for grade level, gender, SES, and prior achievement. An examination of competing mediation models revealed that self-efficacy partially or fully mediated the relationship between grit and school outcomes. Conversely, little evidence supported grit as a mediator of self-efficacy’s relationship to outcomes. Time-lagged models across one school year confirmed these conclusions. Findings imply that, to improve student performance, teachers should target students’ self-efficacy rather than grit. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)
In this study we trouble the notion of “grit” and “high-stakes” testing by focusing on the experiences and perspectives of Black and Latinx students labeled with dis/abilities with the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). Through interviews, focus groups, and classroom observations with 15 Black and Latinx students labeled with dis/abilities, we utilize the power of student voice and counterstories to problematize the master narrative of a “grit”/no “grit” binary in education policy discourse. This binary has contributed to an educational culture that reinforces victim blaming, reifies inequities for Black and Latinx students with dis/abilities, and undermines students’ emotional wellbeing. Harnessing the power of the students’ experiences and perspectives, we conclude with recommendations for policy and practice.
Grit is a construct that is widely studied by educational researchers and that has generally been enthusiastically received by educational practitioners. This essay highlights that many of the core claims about grit have either been unexamined or are directly contradicted by the accumulated empirical evidence. Specifically, there appears to be no reason to accept the combination of perseverance and passion for long-term goals into a single grit construct, nor is there any support for the claim that grit is a particularly good predictor of success and performance in an educational setting or that grit is likely to be responsive to interventions. I describe avenues for future research on grit that may help to clarify if grit can contribute to our understanding of success and performance. These avenues include examinations of possible configural relationships between passion and perseverance, whether grit or grit facets represent necessary but not sufficient conditions for performance, interactions between ability and either grit or the facets of grit in the prediction of performance, possible polynomial relationships between grit or grit facets and performance, and improvements in the manner in which grit is assessed. Alternative predictors of performance that are more strongly related to success and performance and that may be more responsive to interventions are also discussed.