An Exploratory study of ‘Grit’ in Higher Education
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Academic success may not be wholly dependent on the cognitive ability of the student. Recently, other non-cognitive factors such as grit, tenacity and perseverance have been identified as important factors in the long term academic success of the student (Farrington et al 2012). These concepts combine to form the term ‘Agency in Learning’. This research focuses on grit, which Duckworth and her colleagues identified as a “significant predictor of success” (Duckworth et al 2007). It is presented that the level of grit a student has may limit or indeed prohibit progression into and throughout third level education and determine the attainability of long-term academic success. In this study, a 12 point questionnaire was issued to 231 students of Letterkenny Institute of Technology and the results of those were statistically analysed to determine the level of grit in these students and the potential contributing factors to grit. Those factors include gender, age, year of study, programme of study and route of entry into that programme. With the use of independent t-tests and ANOVA, results indicate that there is no significant relationship between (a) gender and (b) programme of study and grit. It was also determined that grit increased as age increased and as a consequence of such, the same was seen with year of study. The more common route of entry into third level is via the Central Applications Office (CAO) and the students via this route were statistically less gritty than the students via other routes. Literature suggests that there is little empirical evidence of grit presented with regard to the Irish educational system, therefore this study explores what effect encouraging grit may have on levels of progression of students from second level to third level and throughout third level.
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