As promised in my last post, we are moving on to talk about Grit.

This section of the Gameful Learning MOOC is presented in the form of an interview with Angela Duckworth.

What is grit?

It is easy to see Grit as analogous to determination and hard work, but Angela defines it more positively as perseverance and passion. So Grit is not only something we draw on to overcome setbacks, it drives us forward all the time. Grit underpins our capacity to step out and take risks, learning from failure. As such grit is closely associated with intrinsic motivation and a Mastery Orientation.

How do we foster Grit?

It is therefore obvious that Grit has a positive impact on learning, but how can a teacher encourage the development of grit in their students? The secret is obvious when we study the relationship between grit and motivation.

Giving learners agency encourages intrinsic motivation, resulting in the development of passion or Grit.

A learning environment characterised by high challenge and high support is also conducive to developing Grit. Challenge and support was discussed at length in the interview, but put succinctly students that are challenged and supported feel a sense of belonging and competence.

In other words the three components of Self Determination Theory are integral to fostering grit in students.


Grit is an attribute which facilitates learning, and is itself closely aligned with the principles of Self Determination Theory. Grit is also connected with the Mastery Orientation in Achievement Goal Theory. Grit ties together what we have learned in our study of motivational theories and connects those theories with effective learning.


6 responses

  1. Hi Grant,
    I really like the way that you have described Grit. I have always thought of it as the perseverance, adding the passion part makes a lot of sense. I guess Grit is not a term that we use, we use resilience, which is close- but not the same. I wonder if you think this matters?
    Looking forward to your next post.

    1. I too have Been using resilience, and lamenting the lack of it in students.

    2. Grit as defined in the MOOC seems to be more assertive in approach.

    3. PS, nice article in the paper 👍

  2. I read the book Grit and was really encouraged by it. More and more, I’m reading that success (however you define it) is not dependant on innate talent and I love it! It gives me hope!

    1. Thanks for your comment Rachael. The thing I like about this definition of grit is that it includes passion. I had always equated grit with resilience or perseverance, which are a response to circumstances. Grit in this context is more proactive. Taking hold of circumstances.
      Innate ability helps, but it certainly isn’t the only factor in success.

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