Angela Lee Duckworth: The Key to Success? Grit

Leaving a high-flying job in consulting, Angela Lee Duckworth took a job teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school. She quickly realized that IQ wasn’t the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. In the TED video below, she explains her theory of “grit” as a predictor of success.

Interestingly, freshman English teacher Mrs. Tracy Traver has conducted similar research here at St. Francis as part of her master’s degree program. Mrs. Traver’s research topic was The Importance of Scholarly Habits at the High School Level. Using Duckworth’s research, Mrs. Traver surveyed the students, parents, and teachers using Duckworth’s 12-item GRIT scale and other questions related to scholarly habits from Dr. Sandra Kaplan. After analyzing the survey results, Mrs. Traver noticed that perseverance was evaluated at a relatively low level amongst all three survey groups. She then conducted a lesson with her students where they discussed the importance of setting goals, particularly SMART goals (sustainable, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound). Mrs. Traver then had the students set goals and post them on the wall in the classroom. The young men also had to choose one other student to “mentor” with their goal. Post-survey data showed an increased understanding of the importance of developing SMART goals and building perseverance. The overall findings showed the importance of teaching the scholarly habits and focusing on perseverance as an educational tool to prepare these young men for high school and college.

“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.” – Marian Wright Edelman


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