Preferred Name

Kristin Sowden

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Strategic Leadership Studies


Adam J. Vanhove

Benjamin Selznick

S. Jeanne Horst


Existing theory and evidence regarding the effects of grit on a range of antecedents suggest that students reporting higher grit levels should be more likely to be retained and to persist when meeting the challenges of earning a college degree. However, like others before it, this study does not indicate support for overall grit scores on student retention and persistence outcomes. Therefore, grit should not be considered as a non-cognitive predictor for the admissions process. These null findings were present for overall grit scale scores and grit subdimension scores (passion, perseverance). One significant interaction was found between Pell recipiency and the perseverance subdimension of the grit scale in predicting persistence through graduation, which may imply that students at high risk of stopping or dropping out of college with higher perseverance grit scale scores may be more likely to persist towards earning a degree. Moving forward, professionals interested in using the overall grit scale to capture predictive validity should carefully consider if the overall grit scale is the most precise tool available for study. Furthermore, proponents of grit should consider the study of the subdimension of perseverance of effort, introducing grit to students as an intervention after college enrollment, and the study of alternative non-cognitive predictors with the potential to forecast retention and persistence. Finally, and most importantly, scholars well versed in the overall grit literature must share their knowledge across campus, especially with institutional strategic leaders and practitioners, to ensure that professionals interested in using grit as an intervention fully understand its capabilities and limitations.



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