Goal-oriented perseverance

Principal Metaphors

Proponents of Grit are not explicit about interpretations of the complex dynamics of learning. While Grit belongs among Coherence Discourses, explications of the perspective tend to make extensive use of the Attainment Metaphor:
  • Knowledge is … scope of possible actions and interpretations
  • Knowing is … staying the course
  • Learner is … a striver (individual)
  • Learning is … journeying
  • Teaching is … guiding. orienting




In the current educational literature, Grit refers to both a personality trait and a psychological discourse. The trait is typically described in terms of a persistence of effort and a goal-oriented passion. In psychology, the notion is associated with such concepts as hardiness, perseverance, positivity, and conscientiousness. Individuals with “high grit” remain determined, motivated, and focused over long terms, even when meeting failure and adversity. It is also strongly associated with (and sometimes equated to):
  • Resilience (Psychological Resilience) – invoking the property of some materials to spring back into shape after being subjecting to distorting pressures, Resilience refers to the psychological ability to cope with and recover from crisis situations


One of the major, substantiated claims around Grit is that it’s a better predictor of academic success than IQ. However, careful analyses of research data have revealed that a single component – namely, perseverance – accounts for observed variations. Many commentators have criticized the tendency of proponents to downplay poverty, racism, poor teaching, and other conditions, thus sometimes laying blame for poor achievement at the feet of disadvantaged learners.

Authors and/or Prominent Influences

Angela Duckworth

Status as a Theory of Learning

Insofar as it is useful for understanding learner motivations, Grit can be interpreted as a theory of learning.

Status as a Theory of Teaching

Grit is not a theory of teaching.

Status as a Scientific Theory

As noted above, the empirical evidence in support of Grit can be interpreted differently from the manner forwarded by its proponents.


  • Resilience

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2020). “Grit” in Discourses on Learning in Education.

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