True Grit: Trait-Level Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals Predicts Effectiveness and Retention Among Novice Teachers

July 2014

Source: Teacher College Record, Volume 166, March 2014
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study examines whether teacher retention and effectiveness among novice teachers in their first and second year of teaching can be predicted by differences in grit.

The authors collected biographical data from two samples of novice teachers in low-income schools. One sample included 154 novice teachers in their first and second year in the classroom and assigned to low-income districts during the 2006–2007 school year. The second sample included 307 first-year and second-year teachers assigned to low-income school districts during the 2008–2009 school year.

Raters blind to outcomes followed a 7-point rubric to rate grit from information on college activities and work experience extracted from teachers’ résumés. The authors then used grit scores to predict teacher retention through the academic year and, among those who stayed, effectiveness measured in terms of students’ one-year academic gains. The authors compared the predictive validity of grit scores to that of other variables available at the time of hire, including academic credentials, interviewer ratings of leadership experience, and demographic variables.

The findings indicate that grittier teachers were more likely to complete the school year and outperformed their less gritty colleagues.
Furthermore, the findings demonstrate that consistent with the applicants in sample 1, applicants in sample 2 whose résumés revealed evidence of passion and perseverance for long-term goals became novice teachers whose students made more academic progress under their guidance.

The authors argue that these findings contribute to a better understanding of what leads some novice teachers to outperform others and remain committed to the profession.
Furthermore, the method for quantifying grit from biographical data developed for this investigation represents a practical tool for predicting success in the first few years in teaching.

However, the authors argue that résumés are unfortunately often idiosyncratic and time-consuming to code. Hence, they suggest as an alternative to résumé coding, the same information could potentially be gathered more efficiently through a structured form on which prospective candidates list college activities and work experience, dates of involvement, and associated achievement and leadership roles. 

Updated: Feb. 18, 2018