girl readingFrom the National Geographic — “Angela and her team had to create a scale to measure grit, because it didn’t exist. The questionnaire asks students to rate themselves on a five-point scale ranging from “very much like me” to “not like me at all” in answer to such statements as “I have overcome setbacks to conquer an important challenge,” “Setbacks don’t discourage me,” “I have been obsessed with a certain idea or project for a short time but later lost interest,” “I have difficulty maintaining my focus on projects that take more than a few months to complete,” and “I finish whatever I begin.”

“We validated it,” Angela says. “We showed it predicted objective measures like graduating West Point’s first summer [cadet basic training] and winning the National Spelling Bee. And then in all the studies we measured IQ and consistently found that IQ really is something else.” Being a hardworking or self-controlled kid is not the same as being a smart kid. Angela and her team had parents rate their kids, had teachers rate their kids, and had kids take two different questionnaires and a delayed-gratification test (“Do you want a dollar today or two dollars in a week?”). They had them do a hypothetical delayed-gratification test with a large number of choices (two dollars today, seven in three months).

“When you average across all of those things, we found you can predict things like their grade point average startlingly well—much better, in fact, than IQ does—as well as changes in grades,” Angela says, a finding described by like-minded Stanford colleague Carol Dweck, whom Angela thinks of as a role model, as “a landmark piece of work.”

The team also studied gender differences and found that girls are more self-controlled than boys, which helps explain why they tend to get better grades (though not always higher test scores). And they tested the effects of stress, finding that when kids experience negative life events beyond their control it impairs their self-discipline and that you can actually measure decreases in self-control in the six-month period following the stress….”

Read the full story at Grit Trumps Talent and IQ: A Story Every Parent (and Educator) Should Read.