Why Some Students Fail And Other Students Succeed

What separates students who get straight A’s from students who struggle to pass their classes? Is it a high IQ that pushes students to excel in their classes or is there something else? Angela Lee Duckworth, a teacher turned psychologist, has an answer to that question. After several studies conducted in the military, spelling bees, classrooms, and companies, Angela determined what causes people to excel. Simply put Duckworth says,

IQ was not the only difference between my best and my worst students.

In fact, she often saw cases in which students with higher IQ scores performed worse than students with lower IQ scores. So now we are back to our initial question–what separates students who get straight A’s from students who struggle to pass their classes?

Angela says grit is the separating factor. She defines grit as “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals”. Contrary to popular belief, grit has a more significant correlation to high school graduation rates than things like family income and social status do. So now you know you do not need to be some inherently intelligent individual to succeed in life, but how do you form grit?

Unfortunately, the answer is not easy and science does not have enough studies showing what actually builds grit, but on the bright side, we do not need to be talented individuals. Angela has observed cases where high talent could be inversely related to grit–in other words, the more talent one possesses, the less grit they may posses.

Additionally, Angela offers some hope from a study called “growth mindset” performed by Stanford’s Dr. Carol Dweck. Angela says the concept of growth mindset is, “the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed and it can change with your effort.” This means that if you failed to show grit in the past, you still have time to develop it.

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