Grit, Mindset, and Academic Performance: A Study of Pre-University Science Students
Paul Bazelais 1
Tenzin Doleck 1  
Xiao Shen Hu 1
Anh Vu 1
More details
Hide details
McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, CANADA
Publication date: 2018-08-23
EURASIA J. Math., Sci Tech. Ed 2018;14(12):em1615
Recent studies in educational psychology highlight the role of motivational variables such as trait-like perseverance. Studies have linked such variables (e.g., grit and mindset) to academic performance. However, research has reported inconsistent findings in explaining academic achievement differences. Drawing from a sample of pre-university students (N = 309), the present study assesses the efficacy of both grit and mindset in predicting academic achievement. The results suggest that neither grit, nor mindset was predictive of academic achievement. These findings have significant theoretical and practical implications.
Aronson, J., Fried, C. B., & Good, C. (2002). Reducing the Effects of Stereotype Threat on African American College Students by Shaping Theories of Intelligence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38, 113-125.
Bahník, Š., & Vranka, M. (2017). Growth mindset is not associated with scholastic aptitude in a large sample of university applicants. Personality and Individual Differences, 117, 139-143.
Bazelais, P., Lemay, D. J., & Doleck, T. (2016). How Does Grit Impact Students’ Academic Achievement in Science? European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 4(1), 33–43.
Bazelais, P., Lemay, D. J., & Doleck, T. (2018). Examining the Link between Prior Achievement in Secondary Education and Performance in College: Using Data from Pre-University Physics Courses. Journal of Formative Design in Learning. Advance online publication.
Blackwell, L. S., Trzesniewski, K. H., & Dweck, C. S. (2007). Implicit Theories of Intelligence Predict Achievement across an Adolescent Transition: A Longitudinal Study and an Intervention. Child Development, 78, 246-263.
Burkhart, R. A., Tholey, R. M., Guinto, D., Yeo, C. J., & Chojnacki, K. A. (2014). Grit: A marker of residents at risk for attrition? Surgery, 155(6), 1014–1022.
Burnette, J. L., Oboyle, E. H., Vanepps, E. M., Pollack, J. M., & Finkel, E. J. (2013). Mind-sets matter: A meta-analytic review of implicit theories and self-regulation. Psychological Bulletin, 139(3), 655-701.
Chang, W. (2014). Grit and academic performance: Is being grittier better? (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Miami, Florida.
Claro, S., Paunesku, D., & Dweck, C. (2016). Growth mindset tempers the effects of poverty on academic achievement. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, 113(31), 8664-8668.
Coleman, J. S., et al. (1966). Equality of Educational Opportunity (US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC), 1066–5684.
Colom, R., & Flores-Mendoza, C. E. (2007). Intelligence predicts scholastic achievement irrespective of SES factors: Evidence from Brazil. Intelligence, 35(3), 243–251.
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), 492-511.
CREPUQ. (2007). The R score: what it is, and what it does (pp. 1-18). Retrieved from
Cury, F., Da Fonseca, D., Zahn, I., & Elliot, A. (2008). Implicit Theories and IQ Test Performance: A Sequential Mediational Analysis. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 783-791.
Devers, A. (2015). Thinking about Intelligence: How Student Mindsets Influence Academic Performance. Rising Tide, 7. Retrieved from
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. L., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance of adolescents. Psychological Science, 16(12), 939–944.
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), 1087-1101.
Dweck, C. S. (1999). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.
Dweck, C. S. (2000). Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.
Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House Incorporated.
Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindsets and Human Nature: Promoting Change in the Middle East, the Schoolyard, the Racial Divide, and Willpower. American Psychologist, 67, 614.
Eskreis-Winkler, L., Shulman, E. P., Beal, S. A., & Duckworth, A. L. (2014). The grit effect: predicting retention in the military, the workplace, school and marriage. Frontiers in Psychology, 5.
Farruggia, S. P., Han, C., Watson, L., Moss, T. P., & Bottoms, B. L. (2016). Noncognitive Factors and College Student Success. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice. Advance online publication.
Gonida, E., Kiosseoglou, G., & Leondari, A. (2006). Implicit Theories of Intelligence, Perceived Academic Competence, and School Achievement: Testing Alternative Models. The American Journal of Psychology, 119, 223-238.
Good, C., Aronson, J., & Inzlicht, M. (2003). Improving Adolescents’ Standardized Test Performance: An Intervention to Reduce the Effects of Stereotype Threat. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 24, 645-662.
Gottfredson, L. S. (1997). Why grit matters: The complexity of everyday life. Intelligence, 24, 79–132.
Hartigan, J., & Wigdor, A. (1989). Fairness in employment testing: Validity generalization, minority issues, and the general aptitude test battery. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Hwang, M. H., Lim, H. J., & Ha, H. S. (2017). Effects of Grit on the Academic Success of Adult Female Students at Korean Open University. Psychological Reports. Advance online publication.
Ivcevic, Z., & Brackett, M. (2014). Predicting school success: Comparing Conscientiousness, Grit, and Emotion Regulation Ability. Journal of Research in Personality, 52, 29–36.
Jaeger, B., Freeman, S., Whalen, R., & Payne, R. (2010, June). Successful Students: Smart or Tough? Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. Retrieved from
James, W. (1907). The Energies of Men. The Philosophical Review, 16(1), 1–20.
Kelly, A. M., Townsend, K. W., Davis, S., Nouryan, L., Bostrom, M. P. G., & Felix, K. J. (2017). Comparative Assessment of Grit, Conscientiousness, and Self-Control in Applicants Interviewing for Residency Positions and Current Orthopaedic Surgery Residents. Journal of Surgical Education.
Komarraju, M., Karau, S. J., & Schmeck, R. R. (2009). Role of the Big Five personality traits in predicting college students’ academic motivation and achievement. Learning and Individual Differences 19(1), 47-52.
Maccann, C., & Roberts, R. (2010). Do time management, grit, and self-control relate to academic achievement independently of conscientiousness? 79–90.
Maddi, S., 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.
Malykh, S. (2017). The role of Personality Traits and Intelligence in Academic Achievement of Russian High School Students. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 237, 1304–1309.
McCutchen, K., Jones, M., Carbonneau, K., & Mueller, C. (2016). Mindset and standardized testing over time. Learning and Individual Differences, 45, 208-213.
Miller, G. (2013). Understanding John Hattie’s visible learning research in the context of Carol Dweck’s growth mindset (Training notes). Retrieved from
Mindset. (2018). Retrieved from
Mouratidis, A., Michou, A., & Vassiou, A. (2017). Adolescents’ Autonomous Functioning and Implicit Theories of Ability as Predictors of Their School Achievement and Week- to-Week Study Regulation and Well-Being. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 48, 56-66.
Mueller, B. A., Wolfe, M. T., & Syed, I. (2017). Passion and grit: An exploration of the pathways leading to venture success. Journal of Business Venturing, 32(3), 260–279.
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), 599–620.
Murphy, M., & Dweck, C. (2016). Mindsets shape consumer behavior. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 26(1), 127-136.
Nelson, S. M. (2016). Grit, Student Engagement, and Academic Performance at a Historically Black Community College (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from https://scholarlyrepository.mi...?.
Pascarella, E. T., Terenzini, P. T. (2005). How college affects students: Vol 2. A third decade of research. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Pluck, G., Ruales-Chieruzzi, C. B., Paucar-Guerra, E. J., Andrade-Guimaraes, M. V., & Trueba, A. F. (2016). Separate contributions of general intelligence and right prefrontal neurocognitive functions to academic achievement at university level. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 5(4), 178–185.
Poropat, A. E. (2014). A meta-analysis of adult-rated child personality and academic performance in primary education. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 84(2), 239–252.
Reardon, S. F. (2011). The widening of the socioeconomic status achievement gap: New evidence and possible explanations. Whither opportunity? Rising inequality, schools, and children’s life chan. In G. J. Duncan & R. J. Murnane (Eds.), Whither opportunity? Rising inequality, schools, and children’s life chances (pp. 91–116). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Robbins, S. B., Oh, I.-S., Le, H., & Button, C. (2009). Intervention effects on college performance and retention as mediated by motivational, emotional, and social control factors: Integrated meta-analytic path analyses. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(5), 1163-1184.
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). Retrieved from
Romero, C., Master, A., Paunesku, D., Dweck, C. S., & Gross, J. J. (2014). Academic and Emotional Functioning in Middle School: The Role of Implicit Theories. Emotion, 14, 227.
Salles, A., Lin, D., Liebert, C., Esquivel, M., Lau, J. N., Greco, R. S., & Mueller, C. (2017). Grit as a predictor of risk of attrition in surgical residency. The American Journal of Surgery, 213(2), 288–291.
Sisk, V., Burgoyne, A., Sun, J., Butler, J., & Macnamara, B. (2018). To What Extent and Under Which Circumstances Are Growth Mind-Sets Important to Academic Achievement? Two Meta-Analyses. Psychological Science.
Sriram, R. (2014). Rethinking Intelligence: The Role of Mindset in Promoting Success for Academically High-Risk Students. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 15(4), 515-536.
Stipek, D., Gralinski, J. H. (1996). Children’s beliefs about intelligence and school performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(3), 397–407.
Strauss, V. (2016, May 10). The problem with teaching ‘grit’ to poor kids? They already have it. Here’s what they really need. Washington Post. Retrieved from
Strayhorn, T. (2013). What Role Does Grit Play in the Academic Success of Black Male Collegians at Predominantly White Institutions? Jour. of African American Studies, 18(1), 1-10.
Sturman, E. D., & Zappala-Piemme, K. (2017). Development of the grit scale for children and adults and its relation to student efficacy, test anxiety, and academic performance. Learning and Individual Differences, 59, 1–10.
Thomas, C. L., Cassady, J. C., & Heller, M. L. (2017). The influence of emotional intelligence, cognitive test anxiety, and coping strategies on undergraduate academic performance. Learning and Individual Differences, 55, 40–48.
Tirri, K., Kujala, T. (2016). Students’ Mindsets for Learning and Their Neural Underpinnings. Psychology, 7, 1231.
West, M., Kraft, M., Finn, A., Martin, R., Duckworth, A., Gabrieli, C., & Gabrieli, J. (2016). Promise and Paradox. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 38(1), 148-170.
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.
Yeager, D. S., & Walton, G. M. (2011). Social-Psychological Interventions in Education: They’re Not Magic. Review of Educational Research, 81, 267-301.
Zeng, G., Hou, H., & Peng, K. (2016). Effect of Growth Mindset on School Engagement and Psychological Well-Being of Chinese Primary and Middle School Students: The Mediating Role of Resilience. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1873.