True Grit: How Important is the Concept of Grit for Education? A Narrative Literature Review

Rosie Elizabeth Allen, Chathurika Kannangara, Jerome Carson


An abundance of literature exists that explores the potential applications of grit in predicting several academic outcomes. Regardless, the concept of grit has been heavily criticised due to the number of inconsistencies among current research. Fully understanding the usefulness of grit in an educational context is a worthwhile pursuit and could yield incredibly influential implications. The current narrative review aimed to address and explore these inconsistencies to determine the true impact of grit on the academic outcomes of school students. Such that, it aimed to establish whether grit was useful in improving outcomes such as academic achievement, attendance and retention. Research posits that grit is a strong predictor of academic outcomes for many, but not all, students. Furthermore, it seems that the predictive abilities of grit can be enhanced by concentrating on the perseverance of efforts component of grit, rather than overall grit. While the importance of grit’s perseverance component has been confirmed; there are several recommendations for future research. Likewise, a number of inconsistencies are discussed relating to grits practical applications within an educational context. Cultivating grittiness, specifically perseverance of efforts, in student populations would reap huge rewards. Indeed, the educational rewards for students would be substantial, as well as the financial benefits for schools and educating institutions. The usefulness of cultivating a perseverance of efforts in students is discussed.


academic achievement; grit; education; retention; success

Full Text:



Allen, D. D., & Bond, C. A. (2001). Prepharmacy predictors of success in pharmacy school: grade point averages, pharmacy college admissions test, communication abilities, and critical thinking skills. Pharmacotherapy, 21(7), 842–849.

Bazelais, P., Lemay, D. J., & Doleck, T. (2016). How Does Grit Impact College Students' Academic Achievement in Science?. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 4(1), 33-43.

Bresó, E., Schaufeli, W. B., & Salanova, M. (2011). Can a self-efficacy-based intervention decrease burnout, increase engagement, and enhance performance? A quasi-experimental study. Higher Education, 61(4), 339-355.

Brigman, G., & Webb, L. (2007). Student success skills: Impacting achievement through large and small group work. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 11(4), 283.

Brown, J. (2012). Developing a freshman orientation survey to improve student retention within a college. College Student Journal, 46(4), 834-851.

Credé, M., & Kuncel, N. R. (2008). Study habits, skills, and attitudes: The third pillar supporting collegiate academic performance. Perspectives on psychological science, 3(6), 425-453.

Credé, M., & Niehorster, S. (2012). Adjustment to college as measured by the student adaptation to college questionnaire: A quantitative review of its structure and relationships with correlates and consequences. Educational Psychology Review, 24(1), 133-165.

Credé, M., Tynan, M. C., & Harms, P. D. (2017). Much ado about grit: A meta-analytic synthesis of the grit literature. Journal of Personality and social Psychology, 113(3), 492.

Cross, T. M. (2013). Staying the course: Grit, academic success, and non-traditional doctoral students.

Datu, J. A. D., Yuen, M., & Chen, G. (2018). The triarchic model of grit is linked to academic success and well-being among Filipino high school students. School Psychology Quarterly, 33(3), 428.

Dixson, D. D., Roberson, C. C., & Worrell, F. C. (2017). Psychosocial keys to African American achievement? Examining the relationship between achievement and psychosocial variables in high achieving African Americans. Journal of Advanced Academics, 28(2), 120-140.

Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of personality and social psychology, 92(6), 1087.

Duckworth, A. L., & Quinn, P. D. (2009). Development and validation of the Short Grit Scale (GRIT–S). Journal of personality assessment, 91(2), 166-174.

Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: the power of passion and perseverance. London: Vermilion.

Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students' social and emotional learning: a meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child development, 82(1), 405–432.

Eaton, M. J., & Dembo, M. H. (1997). Differences in the motivational beliefs of Asian American and non-Asian students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89(3), 433.

Eskreis-Winkler, L., Duckworth, A. L., Shulman, E. P., & Beal, S. (2014). The grit effect: Predicting retention in the military, the workplace, school and marriage. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 36.

Hagedorn, L. S., Maxwell, W., & Hampton, P. (2001). Correlates of retention for African-American males in community colleges. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 3(3), 243-263.

Hsin, A., & Xie, Y. (2014). Explaining Asian Americans’ academic advantage over whites. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(23), 8416-8421.

Hulleman, C. S., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2009). Promoting interest and performance in high school science classes. Science, 326(5958), 1410-1412.

Hunter, R. F. (1984). Validity and utility of alternative predictors of job performance. Psychological bulletin, 96(1), 72-98.

Ivcevic, Z., & Brackett, M. (2014). Predicting school success: Comparing conscientiousness, grit, and emotion regulation ability. Journal of research in personality, 52, 29-36.

Jose, P. E., & Bellamy, M. A. (2012). Relationships of parents’ theories of intelligence with children’s persistence/learned helplessness: A cross-cultural comparison. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 43(6), 999-1018.

Kannangara, C. S. (2015). From languishing dyslexia to thriving dyslexia: Developing a new conceptual approach to working with people with dyslexia. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 1976.

Kidd, R. S., & Latif, D. A. (2003). Traditional and novel predictors of classroom and clerkship success of pharmacy students. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 67(1/4), 860.

Lee, S., & Sohn, Y. W. (2017). Effects of grit on academic achievement and career-related attitudes of college students in Korea. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 45(10), 1629-1642.

Maddi, S. R., Matthews, M. D., Kelly, D. R., Villarreal, B., & White, M. (2012). The role of hardiness and grit in predicting performance and retention of USMA cadets. Military psychology, 24(1), 19-28.

Mason, H. D. (2018). Grit and academic performance among first-year university students: A brief report. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 28(1), 66-68.

McCornack, R. L. (1956). A criticism of studies comparing item-weighting methods. Journal of Applied Psychology, 40(5), 343.

Muenks, K., Wigfield, A., Yang, J. S., & O'Neal, C. R. (2017). How true is grit? Assessing its relations to high school and college students’ personality characteristics, self-regulation, engagement, and achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(5), 599.

Oriol, X., Miranda, R., Oyanedel, J. C., & Torres, J. (2017). The role of self-control and grit in domains of school success in students of primary and secondary school. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 1716.

Oyserman, D., Bybee, D., & Terry, K. (2006). Possible selves and academic outcomes: How and when possible selves impel action. Journal of personality and social psychology, 91(1), 188.

Pace, V. L., & Brannick, M. T. (2010). How similar are personality scales of the “same” construct? A meta-analytic investigation. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(7), 669-676.

Palisoc, A. J. L., Matsumoto, R. R., Ho, J., Perry, P. J., Tang, T. T., & Ip, E. J. (2017). Relationship between grit with academic performance and attainment of postgraduate training in pharmacy students. American journal of pharmaceutical education, 81(4).

Paunesku, D., Walton, G. M., Romero, C., Smith, E. N., Yeager, D. S., & Dweck, C. S. (2015). Mind-set interventions are a scalable treatment for academic underachievement. Psychological science, 26(6), 784–793.

Pate, A. N., Payakachat, N., Harrell, T. K., Pate, K. A., Caldwell, D. J., & Franks, A. M. (2017). Measurement of grit and correlation to student pharmacist academic performance. American journal of pharmaceutical education, 81(6).

Piña‐Watson, B., López, B., Ojeda, L., & Rodriguez, K. M. (2015). Cultural and cognitive predictors of academic motivation among Mexican American adolescents: Caution against discounting the impact of cultural processes. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 43(2), 109-121.

Poropat, A. E. (2009). A meta-analysis of the five-factor model of personality and academic performance. Psychological bulletin, 135(2), 322.

Raphiphatthana, B., Jose, P. E., & Chobthamkit, P. (2019). The association between mindfulness and grit: an East vs. West cross-cultural comparison. Mindfulness, 10(1), 146-158.

Rimfeld, K., Kovas, Y., Dale, P. S., & Plomin, R. (2016). True grit and genetics: Predicting academic achievement from personality. Journal of personality and social psychology, 111(5), 780.

Robertson-Kraft, C., & Duckworth, A. L. (2014). True grit: Trait-level perseverance and passion for long-term goals predicts effectiveness and retention among novice teachers. Teachers College Record (1970), 116(3).

Sackett, P. R., Kuncel, N. R., Beatty, A. S., Rigdon, J. L., Shen, W., & Kiger, T. B. (2012). The role of socioeconomic status in SAT-grade relationships and in college admissions decisions. Psychological science, 23(9), 1000-1007.

Saunders-Scott, D., Braley, M. B., & Stennes-Spidahl, N. (2018). Traditional and psychological factors associated with academic success: Investigating best predictors of college retention. Motivation and emotion, 42(4), 459-465.

Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2011). A brief social-belonging intervention improves academic and health outcomes of minority students. Science, 331(6023), 1447-1451.

Weisskirch, R. S. (2018). Grit, self-esteem, learning strategies and attitudes and estimated and achieved course grades among college students. Current Psychology, 37(1), 21-27.

Wolters, C. A., & Hussain, M. (2015). Investigating grit and its relations with college students’ self-regulated learning and academic achievement. Metacognition and Learning, 10(3), 293-311.


Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

International Journal of Educational Psychology - IJEP | ISSN: 2014-3591

Legal Deposit: B.34286-2012 | |