The individual concepts of Grit and Growth Mindsets are familiar terms in the lexicon of student success. More recently, Hochanadel and Finamore have studied the interplay of these two concepts, encouraging educators to explore the synergy created when students are provided with the tools to learn how to develop both grit and a growth mindset in order to strengthen their ability to persist through difficult and challenging times.
In their article, “Fixed and Growth Mindset in Education And How Grit Helps Students Persist in the Face of Adversity,” Hochanadel and Finamore offer a concise review of the research by Angela Duckworth in her search for the illusive factors that play an essential role in personal, academic and professional success. From West Point to inner city elementary schools, she discovered that “passion and persistence for long-term goals” was a key predictor of success, terming that quality of unrelenting determination, “grit.”
In her studies of student success and persistence, Carol Dweck found compelling evidence that it is not a student’s intellectual ability that predicts success, but rather that successful students see their intellectual ability not as a fixed entity (“I am a C student and always will be”) but rather as something that can be and needs to be developed and enhanced, with both effort and persistence, (“With enough time on task and help from others, I will do even better on my next exam.”)
The importance of time as a factor should not be underestimated; successful students understand that time commitment is inherent in the development of grit as well as necessary in the development of intelligence.
Implications for Educators:
Given that these two traits play an enormous role in the educational outcomes for students, educators can help empower students to develop these essential qualities that will help them meet the inevitable challenges of college.
1. Teach students about the power of Mindset. The Growth Mindset, like the On Course Creator mindset, may be a foreign concept to students. Help students understand the way the mind works, and that intelligence can be developed rather than simply a fixed entity over which one has no control.
2. Cultivate a climate that recognizes and rewards persistence. Invite students to explore their own level of “grit” and ways it can be strengthened. Have students share stories of overcoming obstacles and encourage them to encourage each other in the pursuit of their dreams.
3. Have students set realistic goals using the DAPPS model from On Course. Discuss goals on a weekly basis with students. Celebrate achievements but most importantly, celebrate persistence and determination.
4. Use the Fork in the Road model to help students assess whether their current actions and attitudes are keeping them on course towards their goal or if they are choosing the the path of least resistance, taking them off course.
5. Challenge the idea of a fixed mindset by asking students to find stories in the news of people who have overcome obstacles and succeeded in school/college despite a difficult and unsuccessful academic past.
6. And lastly, be the role model your students need. Share with them your academic struggles and how you persisted, even in the face of doubt and difficulty, to make it to where you are today!