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The Role of Grit in Determining Engagement and Academic Outcomes for University Students


  • Brad Hodge

    (La Trobe University)

  • Brad Wright

    (La Trobe University)

  • Pauleen Bennett

    (La Trobe University)


The concept of grit as described by Duckworth (Journal of personality and social psychology 92:1087, 2007) has captured the attention of educators and researchers alike. A measure of a student’s ability to effortfully persist in the face of struggle, grit is proposed to be an important characteristic required for students to succeed academically (Duckworth in Journal of personality and social psychology 92:1087, 2007). Some evidence suggests that grit has a positive relationship with a range of academic outcomes, and yet others argue that grit offers little in terms of predictive value for understanding academic outcomes. In addition, there is conflicting evidence about the presence of gender differences in grit, and very little research around the role of being the first member of the family to attend university in the development of grit. In order to address conflicting findings about the importance and correlates of grit, and to explore the role of engagement in the relationship between grit and academic outcomes, a cross sectional survey study was conducted. The current research measured grit, engagement and academic productivity among 395 Australian university students. Findings suggest that there is no difference in grit between genders, although this cannot be concluded with certainty due to a large imbalance of male to female participants. It also appeared that being the first in family to attend university was associated with an increased level of the grit factor ‘effort’. There was a positive relationship between grit, engagement and academic productivity. Further analysis revealed that engagement mediated the relationship between grit and productivity, suggesting that a person with higher grit is more likely to have higher engagement, and that engagement leads to greater academic productivity. These findings highlight the relevance of grit as a desirable student characteristic, and the importance of engagement in the grit-productivity relationship.

Suggested Citation

  • Brad Hodge & Brad Wright & Pauleen Bennett, 2018. "The Role of Grit in Determining Engagement and Academic Outcomes for University Students," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 59(4), pages 448-460, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:reihed:v:59:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s11162-017-9474-y
    DOI: 10.1007/s11162-017-9474-y

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