The Grit-to-Graduate: Pedagogical Ideas for Fostering College Persistence, Academic Success, and Career Readiness in Freshmen Through the Basic Communication Course
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Students who achieve their long-term goal of graduating from college are models of persistence and grit. Grit is the self-regulatory construct defined as “passion and perseverance for long-term goals despite setbacks, failures, and competing pursuits” (Eskreis-Winkler, Gross, Duckworth, 2016) and has been associated with both academic and workplace success (Eskreis-Winkler, Duckworth, Shulman, & Beal, 2014). Unfortunately, 37% of freshmen drop out of college by the end of their freshmen year (Almeida, 2016; Snyder, de Brey, & Dillow, 2018). The college classroom provides an optimal environment for institutions of higher learning to foster the grit-to-graduate in college freshmen, to enhance learning and academic success, and to increase goal commitment to graduation, degree achievement, and career readiness.
The purpose of this study was to investigate whether six pedagogical interventions and project adaptations would increase student grit in an entry-level communication class heavily comprised of freshmen. Four class sections were administered the 12-item grit scale (Duckworth, 2019) during the first and last week of first semester at a Midwestern University (N=79). The experimental group received the pedagogical grit interventions throughout the semester; the control group did not. A repeated measures ANOVA computed the variance of grit scores between the groups. Students in the experimental group also provided quantitative and qualitative data about which pedagogical instruments they found most effective.
While the hypothesis was not supported, student feedback on the six grit interventions was largely positive. Ideas for improving the interventions and for fostering grit and college persistence in freshmen are included.