Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Higher Ed/Community College Ed

Major Professor

Thomas E. Miller, Ed.D.

Committee Member

John M. Ferron, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jean R. McCarthy, Ed.D.

Committee Member

William H. Young III, Ed.D.


non-cognitive traits, undergraduate academic achievement, academic predictors


Postsecondary student performance has been studied in great detail by higher education systems and their stakeholders in attempts to identify what may contribute to increased rates of retention and degree completion. Research on predictors of postsecondary performance has focused significantly on the relationship between performance and traditional cognitive measures, yet a growing body of literature examines other factors that may play a role, including that of grit, a non-cognitive trait described as a disposition toward perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Moreover, for graduates who enter the workforce in a profession as demanding as teaching, characteristics such as grit have proven significant in terms of their linkage with success in the profession. This quantitative study was an examination of the relationship between grit and academic performance in order to more accurately identify what may contribute to students’ postsecondary academic performance. Specifically, this study compared the predictive value of grit scores to that of high school GPA and SAT scores, two cognitive variables which have long been considered the best predictors of student academic performance. This study also investigated the role of grit in predicting student GPA in postsecondary study. The study sample was comprised of 130 native first- or second-year students majoring in education. Data for this quantitative study come from the online administration of the Grit-S survey in conjunction with institutional data on student performance. The overall findings of this study contribute to the increased understanding of the complexities related to predictors of postsecondary student performance, specifically in regard to undergraduate students pursuing degrees in education. The findings illustrate a positive, statistically significant relationship between grit and academic performance. Consistent with previous studies, HSGPA was identified as a significant predictor of success at the postsecondary level. Additional key findings and their implications for practice in higher education are presented along with offerings for further research opportunities.