What is one of the strongest predictors of academic success for students? In this superhero tip, we’ll explore the answer to this!

Rigorous Skill Development and Grit

Tips from our C5 Intervention Program & C5 Summer Institute

This blog discusses a tip that fits within our second C5 Component, which is Rigorous Skill Development. 

What would be your answer to the question, “What is the best predictor of academic success?” You might say “having a great teacher” or “ student intelligence” or maybe even "having a supportive home environment.” While those things are absolutely contributors to academic success, they are not the best predictors of success - at least not according to our team's experience or the research.

So, what is one of the strongest predictors of academic success for students? Grit. 

Angela Duckworth, a prominent figure in the educational arena and New York Times best-seller on the subject, defines grit as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.” As an educator, you can probably imagine why grit is an important indicator of success. After all, the ability to stick with things in the long term is something that all of our students need in order to attain and maintain, not just academic success, but success in life in general. 

Grit is not one of those character traits that we hear a lot about but is integral to success. We tend to think of character development as something to be done exclusively in the home. However, we can attest to the truth that schools can be just as equally equipped to help students develop grit in very practical ways. 

Before we discuss some of the practical ways to help students develop grit, we want to identify what we’d like to call the “arch-nemesis” of this character trait. It's something that we might need to look out for that may get in the way of developing grit. In this case, low self-esteem. In order for a student to develop grit, there needs to be an internal belief and feeling that they can do it, whatever “it” might be. There has to be a feeling of capability, or a high esteem of one's own abilities. 

Poor self-perception and experiences that reinforce that feeling of “I’m not good enough” will impede on grit every single time.

So, how do we counter this? How do we, as educators, help students to develop grit?

Here are some practical ways: 

  • Make exposure to literature and content around grit and resilience-building a regular part of your academic curriculum. 
  • Identify instances when you see students demonstrating GRIT in their work, relationships, etc. 
  • Help students to see obstacles as opportunities to learn or do something different rather than giving up. 
  • Expose your students to assignments and exercises that may be JUST outside of their reach or experience. Something to evoke enough difficulty that it “feels” like a challenge but not so far that it makes them feel “overwhelmed.” 

You are probably doing these things already but we hope that this tip gives you just the encouragement you need to know that it makes a difference and to be intentional. Your students will thank you!