Innovative Learning

Grit and Persistence

Grit is the characteristic of indivudals who demonstrate perseverance to accomplish educational goals in the face of challenges and setbacks. According to Duckworth (2007), Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course.

Related to grit is the concepts of persistence or perseverance. According to Peterson and Seligman (2004), persistence is the voluntary continuation of a goal-directed action in spite of obstacles, difficulties, or discouragement. Simply measuring how long someone works at a task does not adequately capture the essence of perseverance because continuing to perform something that is fun or rewarding does not require one to endure and overcome setbacks.

According to a 2013 report by the US Department of Education, there are three main elements of grit:

1. Academic mindsets. These are how students frame themselves as learners, their learning environment, and their relationships to the learning environment. Mindsets include beliefs, attitudes, dispositions, values, and ways of perceiving oneself.

2. Effortful control. Students are constantly faced with tasks that are important for long-term goals but that in the short-term may not feel desirable or intrinsically motivating. Successful students marshal willpower and regulate their attention in the face of distractions.

3. Strategies and tactics. Students are also more likely to persevere when they can draw on specific strategies and tactics to deal with challenges and setbacks. They need actionable skills for taking responsibility and initiative, and for being productive under conditions of uncertainty—for example, defining tasks, planning, monitoring, and dealing with specific obstacles.




Duckworth et al., 2007, Grit, pp. 1087-1088)

Peterson & Seligman, 2004, Persistence and Perseverance, p. 229-230

Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance in 21st-Century Education: State of the Art and Future Directions, U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology, 2013