Wednesday, June 28, 2017

TED Talk by Paul Hernandez, Helping at Risk Students

Paul Hernandez is the author of  the Pedagogy of Real Talk featured in my last blog.  He now has a TED talk that would be useful for faculty professional development.  In this TED talk, he illustrates his teaching technique of using real talk to connect with challenging students and improve teaching for all students.  He uses universal themes to connect with his students.  Examples of universal themes include fear, love, and dealing with challenges. He uses these themes to remind students what we have in common, our shared humanity. He shares his story of growing up in poverty, belonging to a gang, and how a few caring faculty changed his life so that he was able to complete his doctorate and change the lives of other students.  You can view this TED talk at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IH9AruhN4X4  I highly recommend this video for your upcoming professional development sessions this fall.  

Reference:
Paul Hernandez, The Pedagogy of Real Talk: Engaging, Teaching and Connecting with Students at Risk (Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin, 2016). 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Working with at Risk Students, The Pedagogy of Real Talk by Paul Hernandez: A Book Review by Dr. Marsha Fralick

Paul Hernandez in his book, The Pedagogy of Real Talk, Engaging, Teaching, and Connecting with Students at Risk, proposes an alternative pedagogy for working with at risk students to increase success and retention.  His pedagogy facilitates meaningful connections between students and faculty by sharing real life experiences and connecting them to the curriculum. 

Real talk pedagogy is based on a case study investigation with migrant seasonal farm workers enrolled in the Michigan State University High School Equivalency Program designed to help high school dropouts pass the test of General Educational Development (GED).   Results of the investigation showed increased passing rates on the reading and writing portions of the GED as well as improved faculty and student relationships, reduced behavioral issues, and an increased interest in education.   Over 5 semesters, students had a 97% passing rate on the reading,and 95% on the writing portion of the GED. 

Real talk discussions are powerful tools to help students.  These discussions are used at the beginning, middle, and end of the semester, although they can be used at key teachable moments during the semester.  At the beginning of the semester, real talk discussions are used to help the students get to know the instructor as a real person who is genuinely interested in student success.  Key to the success of real talk discussions is the willingness of the instructors to share their personal experiences, so that students can feel that the classroom is a safe place to share their own experiences.  During these discussions, the instructor helps students understand how to overcome the struggles and celebrate the successes.   Real talk discussions are based on universal themes such as sadness, anger, frustration, happiness, excitement, fear, hate, and love.  These universal themes can easily be connected to the content of first-year experience courses. 

Hernandez has many suggestions for working with at risk students that can also be successfully used with all students.

  • Find ways to connect the curriculum with the life experience of students.
  • Make sure that students understand clearly the expectations you have for them in your course.
  • Arrive to class every day with an enthusiastic attitude.
  • Have students do a brief writing assignment each week on how the class is progressing, and whether the pace is too fast or too slow.
  • Be willing to share you experiences so that students will feel free to share their own experiences.
  • Move from lecture to individualized instruction, working in groups, and having students teach each other.
  • Vary the structure of the class by using different activities such as games, group exercises, and different lessons.
  • Maintain a positive attitude toward the work that students do in class since many have not received positive reinforcement in the past.
  • Spend time with individual students to answer questions about the class and to learn about personal issues affecting classroom success.
  • Although it is important to approach students with the attitude that every student can be successful, it is not possible to help every student.  We can feel good about any benefit students obtain from being in our class.  Some students are not ready to make a change, but positive experiences in education may help them to be ready for change in the future.  

Hernandez reminds us that our own life stories are powerful tools in relating to students.  All of us have been successful in graduating from college as we faced struggles along the way.  As an example, I know of one instructor who works with Latino students.  On the first day, he tells the story of how his father was a migrant farm worker who managed to send his four sons to college. This instructor was part of a Mexican gang who ended up with an advanced college degree and has helped many at risk students to be successful. 

Not all of us have such powerful stories.  Some of my best experiences in sharing stories has been from inviting guest speakers who have faced great struggles and become successful.  In one of my most memorable classes, I invited a speaker who was a holocaust survivor to share her experiences.  Students were listening intently and were more motivated to overcome their own struggles after hearing this speaker.    

If you are working with at risk students or just want to find new tools for relating to students, take a look at The Pedagogy of Real Talk

Reference:

Paul Hernandez, The Pedagogy of Real Talk: Engaging, Teaching and Connecting with Students at Risk (Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin, 2016).   

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Student Success: Best Practices Book Review

Best Practices
Book Review: Student Success in College, Creating Conditions that Matter by George D. Kuh et al.

Colleges and universities are struggling to improve graduation rates and help students achieve their educational goals.  Four year colleges graduate only about 50% of students within 6 years while community colleges have a 39% completion rate.    This book is a summary of recommendations based on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Documenting Effective Educational Practice project (DEEP).  This project examined the practices of 20 colleges and universities that performed well on measures of student engagement on the NSSE as well as had better than predicted graduation rates (over 50%).  The findings can provide some guidance for colleges seeking to implement best practices for student success. 

Student Engagement
The best predictors of graduation are academic preparation and motivation (p. 7).  However, many of our students are lacking in these areas.  It was noted that student engagement is a key to student success, especially for students lacking preparation and motivation.  Student engagement has two important components, including the amount of time and effort students invest in their studies and learning opportunities and services designed to engage students in learning. 

Summary of Best Practices
Based on the DEEP study and other current research on educational effectiveness, the following conditions are important best practices: (p. xi)

·         Adequate student time on task
·         Balancing academic challenge with support for students
·         Emphasis on early months and first year of study
·         Respect for diverse talents and cultural differences
·         Integration of prior learning and experience
·         Ongoing practice of learned skills
·         Active learning
·         Assessment and feedback
·         Collaboration among students
·         Out-of-class contact with faculty


Effective Practices at DEEP Colleges and Universities
Student Success in College focuses and these key areas for institutional effectiveness and student success:

Effective institutions have a clear, focused institutional mission.
The mission is a statement of philosophy, aspirations, values, purposes, and traditions that is a guide for action.  It is important that this mission include a commitment to student success.

It is important to focus on student learning as opposed to teaching.
There has been a shift from an emphasis on teaching to an emphasis on learning.  This new emphasis on learning includes active and collaborative learning, using new electronic technologies, problem solving, group projects, peer tutoring, service learning, and internships.  These new pedagogies help students practice what they are learning, develop leadership skills, prepare for the future world of work, and learn to work with diverse people.

Effective institutions place a high value on quality teaching and professional development.  People within the institution have a passion for helping students develop their potential and are knowledgeable about student engagement. 

Effective colleges and universities make time for students and provide prompt feedback.  Students participate in activities, ask questions, and use faculty office hours.  Faculty provide feedback about strengths and areas that need improvement. 

Colleges can provide environments that are adapted for student enrichment and engagement such as spaces for discussion and group work. 

It is helpful to create clear pathways to student success.
Creating a clear pathway to success is especially important for underrepresented students and those whose parents have not attended college.  Students need to know what to expect and how to be successful.  Clear pathways include a welcome to the college, orientation programs, how to find student services and other resources, programs for first-year students, and formal groups for supporting underrepresented students.  Summer transition programs are especially helpful for underrepresented students.  It is important to provide activities to help students meet their peers and connect to the institution. 

One of the most important services is advising which is especially important for student success and improves completion rates. 

Other important components are early warning systems that provide early assistance for students experiencing problems. 

High performing institutions are improvement-oriented.
These college monitor present performance and set goals for improvement.  They constantly work toward positive change and value innovation. The goal is to be the best they can be. 

There is a shared responsibility for educational quality and student success.
No single office, individual, or college division is responsible for student success; it is a shared responsibility.  Effective institutions have effective leaders and diverse faculty and staff.  Student services work in partnership with academic affairs to assure student success.
Faculty help students to assume responsibility for their own learning.  Students do classroom presentations and tutor or assist other students outside the classroom.  Students participate in campus governance. 

Here are some important components of educational quality leading to student success:

                Level of Academic Challenge
Successful practices include academic rigor including the requirement to spend time preparing for classes, reading assignments, and writing reports.  It includes critical thinking which involves analyzing, synthesizing, applying theories, and making judgements.  The key to success is both academic challenge and appropriate support to achieve the desired outcomes.  Support can include required study groups, meetings with faculty and advisers, workshops, tutoring, and assistance with writing. 
When faculty have high expectations of students, students generally meet the challenge.  Most first-year experience programs help students adapt to these higher levels of expectations, especially the increased emphasis on reading and writing. 

                Active and Collaborative Learning 
Students practice what they are learning by working in groups, solving problems, asking questions in class, group projects, peer evaluation, learning communities, tutoring other students, participating in service learning, and active discussion of classroom materials. 
Faculty are encouraged to present material in multiple ways.  For example,  project or portfolio based learning helps students utilize many diverse ways of learning.  In this way, students are required to learn and then demonstrate what they have learned.  Students learn that they are active rather than passive learners. 

                Student and Faculty Interaction
Effective institutions foster many kinds of student and faculty interactions including discussing career plans with an adviser, faculty mentors, classroom interaction, feedback from faculty on student performance, participating in student activities, involvement in committees, and engaging is campus governance.  Appropriate space needs to be provided for these activities. 
Technology is providing newer ways to enhance interaction through the use of course management systems such as Blackboard or Canvas. 

                Enriching Educational Experiences
College campuses provide the opportunity to interact with people of different races, ethnicities, religions, socio-economic level, and political beliefs.  These experiences help students to work in a diverse environment after graduation.  Community service and service learning projects provide students with valuable experience and leadership opportunities that can enhance employment prospects after graduation.  Internships provide additional experiences that can lead to employment after graduation. 

                Supportive Classroom Environment
Students are more successful when they have adequate support to achieve their goals.  Support can include the traditional student services, accessible faculty and staff, transition programs, first-year experience seminars, peer mentors, and early warning systems.

Summary
The ideas in this book provide a roadmap or checklist of ideas that colleges and universities can implement to improve institutional effectiveness and student success.  Some of these ideas are familiar and common on most college campuses, but they are a comprehensive roadmap for improvement. 

Notes:
George D. Kuh et al., Student Success in College, Creating Conditions that Matter, (San Francisco:  Jossey Bass, 2010).




Monday, August 8, 2016

Making the Most of the First Week of Your Course

As you begin planning for your fall classes, you may find this posting useful.  It is a repeat, but timely.  

The first week of the course can be the most important week of the semester because it is an opportunity to set the stage for all that follows.  Here are some suggestions for the first week:

1.       Do an engaging and enjoyable activity so that students leave the first class with enthusiasm for the course.
First impressions are important in many areas of life, including the impression you make on the first day of the course.  Be sure to include an enjoyable activity that engages students and gives them an opportunity to participate in discussion.  There are many engaging activities for the first day or week of class in my Instructor Manual, Chapter 1 1: http://www.collegesuccess1.com/MotivationM.htm

2.       Pace your class to maintain student interest. 
As a general rule, plan to spend no more than 10-15 minutes on any activity.  Plan some activities that require student interaction. 

3.       Establish a supportive environment for learning.
Provide positive feedback to students who volunteer, especially during the first class.  Encourage students to be supportive of one another.  I usually make this statement early in the course:
I believe that students learn better in a positive and supportive environment.  It is my goal to be supportive of your learning and encourage you to be supportive and respectful of other students.  

4.       Introduce yourself. 
Spend about five minutes or less introducing yourself so that students get to know you.  Here are some ideas to include in your introduction:
·         Your educational journey
·         Your most important values
·         Why you enjoy teaching this course
·         What you hope students learn in the course
·         Your professional experience
·         Your favorite inspirational quote
Don’t spend too much time on your personal introduction since there are other important goals for the first class. 

5.       Get to know your students and help your students get to know one another.
Students begin any new course with some excitement or anxiety about a being in a new situation.  You can build on the excitement and reduce anxiety by doing some ice breakers.  You can find a variety of ice breakers and introductory activities on this page of my website: http://www.collegesuccess1.com/MotivationM.htm
Don’t spend the entire first class on ice breakers since there are other important goals for the first class.  Ideally, aim to spend no more than 10-15 minutes on the ice breakers.  You can do the ice breakers quickly by dividing your students into groups of 5 and having the group share some answers to the ice breaker questions.  Call on each group to share some of the responses.  Remember to share some of your own answers to the questions. 

6.       Use your syllabus to help students understand the course objectives and requirements. 
You can find components and sample syllabi at:http://www.collegesuccess1.com/Syllabus.htm
As an alternative to reading your syllabus, give students 5 minutes to skim your syllabus.  Tell them that there will be some discussion questions at the end of 5 minutes.  Ask for volunteers to answer some questions such as:
·         What is a syllabus and why should you keep it?
·         How can you make an A in this course?
·         Do you have to attend every class?
·         What behavior is required in this course?
·         What happens if your assignment is late?
·         How do you contact the instructor?
·         What textbook is required?
·         What is one student learning outcome that you find interesting? 
If students cannot answer your questions, pause so that they can look up the answers.   You could also give a 5 minute quiz on your syllabus at the beginning of the second class meeting. 

7.       Set the standards for appropriate behavior in your classroom.
Standards for student behavior should be outlined in your syllabus and implemented on the first day.  It is important to enforce the standards from the beginning.  For example, if you want only one person speaking at a time, enforce this behavior at your first opportunity.  If you would like some ideas on dealing with difficult students, see Faculty Resources on this page of my website:

8.       Provide an overview of online components of the course such as your course management system or electronic textbook. 
While you may not be able to provide this overview during the first class, it is important to include this information during the first week or no later than the second week.  Show students how to log into Blackboard, Canvas or other course management systems.  Help them to access their online textbook or other online materials. 


Adjust these suggestions to match your teaching style and the needs of your students.  I hope you find these ideas useful in making a good impression and generating enthusiasm for your course.  Best wishes as you help your students to be successful.  

If you would like a Word document of this blog to share with faculty, send your request to marsha@marshafralick.com 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Tips for Teaching Summer School

Some of my favorite courses have been the ones I taught in summer school.  I have found that the condensed format with longer class periods provides more opportunities for meaningful discussions and excellent student interaction. Summer courses have a more diverse student population that sets the stage for interesting discussions.  You will find motivated students who are trying to get ahead, students who are making up credits, older students, working students, and recent high school graduates. 

What does the research show about summer or compressed format courses?  Researchers agree that these courses have some advantages such as improved discussions, student interactions, focused learning, and creative thinking.  (Kops, 2009)  Research also shows that success in teaching in a compressed format requires strategies that are important for student success in general, but these strategies are even more critical in a compressed format.  Here is a quick review of the key ideas from research on success in compressed formats:
  • Short and frequent assignments with regular feedback are best.
  • Success depends on organization, student involvement, instructor enthusiasm, prompt feedback, and high expectations.
  • It is important to focus on student outcomes rather than content delivery.  Focus on what students need to know instead of what content you should cover. 
  • Expectations and standards should not be lowered, but the course should be structured differently. 

Based on research and my own experience in teaching summer courses, here are some of my recommendations for an outstanding summer school experience for yourself and your students. 

  • Since summer sessions move quickly, it is important to be organized in advance.  Focus on the student learning outcomes.  Create your course syllabus and course calendar before the class begins.  From the first day, let students know what is expected of them and the required time commitments.
  • While designing your course, focus on what is most important.  As a way to remain focused, try this exercise with yourself.  If you only had 3 hours to teach this course, what topics would you include?  Of course you will include all important student outcomes, but make sure you are focusing time on the most important topics.
  • To increase student motivation, express your enthusiasm for teaching the course and show your interest in the topic.  Tell your students why the course is important and meaningful.
  • Start your class by building community.  Begin by getting to know your students and helping them to get to know each other.   Take a look at the introductory activities in my Instructor Manual at http://www.collegesuccess1.com/MotivationM.htm   Also see my blog posting below from August, 2015, “Making the Most of the First Week of Your Class.”
  • The key to success in summer school is student involvement and variety.  Based on current brain science, the human brain pays attentions for about 10 minutes at a time.  (Medina, 2008)  Think about your lesson plan in 10 minute segments.  After 10 minutes, change what you are doing.  For example, after 10 minutes of lecturing, involve students in a discussion.
  • Use a variety of teaching techniques to maintain interest such as the mini lecture, think-pair-share, mapping, quick assessments, demonstrations, humor, riddles, short videos, skits, the one minute paper, or the one minute speech.  As an example, after a 10 minute lecture, use a technique called 60-60, 30-30.  In this technique students work in pairs.  The first student talks about the topic or discussion question for 60 seconds without interruption.  The second student does the same.  Then the first students provides a response for 30 seconds and the second student does the same.  Students share key ideas with the larger group. 
  • Use frequent group activities.  Be careful to set a time limit so that students maintain interest and you maintain focus on important student learning outcomes.  For most groups, I set a time limit of 5-7 minutes for student discussion and then about 5 minutes for large group sharing.  Of course you can expand the time if the discussion is especially relevant or meaningful.
  • Keep grading up to date to minimize anxiety for yourself and to keep your students on track. 

Post your questions below.  Have a great summer!   

References

Kops, Bill.  "Best Practices: Teaching in Summer Session." Retrieved from http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Best+practices%3a+teaching+in+summer+session.-a0205495618 

Gooblar, David. “The Benefits of Intensive Summer Courses.”  Retrieved from https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1016-the-benefits-of-intensive-summer-courses

Medina, J., (2008) Brain rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. (Seattle, Washington: Pear Press.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Pluto Is Not a Planet. Learning Style Is out Too.


This summary is based on my presentation on this topic at the National First-Year Experience Conference in Orlando in February, 2016.  There was so much interest in this session that all the seats were filled and many could not attend, so I am sharing the main ideas in this blog.

The planet Pluto has been part of our popular culture.  We all loved the planet Pluto so much that in the 1930’s Disney even created a cartoon character named after it.  There was much disappointment when on July 14, 2006, the New Horizons spacecraft became the first spacecraft to fly by Pluto, and based on observations from his historic journey, scientists discovered that Pluto did not meet the criteria of a planet.  It was reclassified as a dwarf planet.  According to a recent article in Time Magazine, the public has voted that Pluto should remain a planet.  Does a vote based on popular belief make it true?  The outcome of this vote is an example of the difficulty of discarding long-held beliefs about anything.
 
In education, we love the concept of learning styles and have long held the belief that if students use their preferred style, learning will be increased.  Again, does believing make it so?  Although the use of learning style theory is commonplace in education, credible empirical research supporting this theory is lacking.  Should we re-evaluate our much loved learning strategies?  What is the evidence?  

Cognitive psychologists Pashler et al. set up criteria for evaluating the research on learning styles and conducted a review of the literature.  They searched for studies using empirical methodology in which students were assessed for learning style, randomly assigned to different instructional approaches, and then tested to show improvement based on learning style.  Evidence for the validity of learning style assessments was weak or contradictory.  The authors concluded that “the widespread use of learning style measures in educational settings is unwise and a wasteful use of limited resources.”  Recent researchers have confirmed these conclusions (Bishka, 2010: Fridley & Fridley, 2010; Kirshner & Van Merrienboer, 2013; Mayer, 2011; Norman, 2009: Riener & Willingham, 2010; Rohrer & Pashler, 2012; Scott, 2010.)

Pashler did find evidence that students learn in different ways:
  • They have different aptitudes and interests.
  • Prior knowledge and culture greatly affect how students learn.
  • Some students have learning disabilities that affect learning.
  • Optimal teaching methods vary across disciplines.  For example, in teaching writing, a heavy verbal emphasis is required.  For teaching geometry, a heavy visual-spatial emphasis works best. 

Is the concept of learning styles harmful to students?  It places a label on them that may not be valid and can be limiting.  For example, one student reported that he failed a course because his professor did not understand that he was a kinesthetic learner.  Newer findings in neuroscience show that we need to use all the senses in learning, not just the preferred ones.  However, educators have been slow to change their long-held beliefs. 

Basic research on learning and memory has provided new information on how the brain learns and guidelines for effective study techniques.  John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and director of the Brain Center to Applied Learning Research has written a book called Brain Rules that translates scientific findings into practical strategies for learning.  His suggestions are based on peer reviewed journal articles that have been replicated many times. 

Medina has suggested some useful ideas for college students based on brain science:

  • Using all the senses improves learning.  This is called multi-sensory integration.
  • Visual learning is the most powerful.
  • Exercise is good for the brain and boosts brain power.
  • The ability to learn is affected by the emotional environment.  Stress interferes with memory.  A positive learning environment is best.
  • The human brain is multi-faceted and each is unique.  This idea may support multiple intelligences.
  • Better attention equals better learning.  
  • Repeat to remember.  Long-term memory can become more reliable by repeating the information in timed intervals.
  • Sleep well, think well.  It is during sleep that the brain processes material learned during the day and stores it in long-term memory. 
  • Multi-tasking is a myth.  The brain can focus on only one activity at a time.  A person who is interrupted takes 50% longer to complete a task and the interruptions result in 50% more errors.  
  • We create new neurons and learn new things throughout life.

Conclusions and next steps:
  • Continued empirical research on learning styles needs to be done to confirm or reject current learning style theory.  However, at the current time, there is not enough scientific evidence to continue using learning styles.
  • Colleges and students would be wise to invest scarce resources in materials that have proven results.
  • To maintain credibility, faculty need to be aware of the latest findings in brain research and apply these findings to increase student learning.
  • There is a need to identify learning practices that have experimental support to provide students with effective learning strategies.  
  • Faculty need to reconsider the effect of labeling students as auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners since this may limit their ability to learn.
  • Using learning strategies based on brain science furthers the goal of making education an evidence based field.
  • Those who write educational materials need to lead the way in helping students and faculty apply current science to learning.  

Here is a link to my conference materials including handouts and PowerPoint: http://www.collegesuccess1.com/Conferences.htm

My new 7th Edition of College and Career Success has 2 chapters on using brain science to improve learning.  Click this link to view the Table of Contents of the full edition: http://www.collegesuccess1.com/CCS7thEd.html or the concise edition: http://www.collegesuccess1.com/CCS7thEdConcise.htm  

References:
Lemonick, Michael (2014) “The People Have Voted: Pluto is a Planet” from http://time.com/3429938/pluto-planet-vote/

Medina, J., (2008) Brain rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. (Seattle, Washington: Pear Press.) You can find 12 pages of references for the supporting research at: http://www.brainrules.net/pdf/references_all.pdf

Paschler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D. and Bjork, R. (2010) Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 9, pp. 105-119, retrieved from https://www.psychologicalscience.org/journals/pspi/PSPI_9_3.pdf

Here are some additional current articles on this topic:
“All You Need to Know about the Learning Styles Myth in Two Minutes”
http://www.wired.com/2015/01/need-know-learning-styles-myth-two-minutes/





“Brain Based Learning, Myth versus Reality: Testing Learning Styles and Dual Coding”
https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/brain-based-learning-myth-versus-reality-testing-learning-styles-and-dual-coding/ 


  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth, a Book Review

Please note that this book review is based on an Advanced Readers Edition and is not available until May, 2016.  

Having worked with in the field of education for 48 years now, one of the enduring puzzles is how to help students develop a passion for learning and the perseverance to achieve their goals.  Too often students say they are not interested and give up on their goals too quickly. 

I was happy to hear some answers to this question from Angela Duckworth at a speech at the National First-Year Experience Conference in Orlando.  Here are some ideas from her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Duckworth defines grit as having the passion and perseverance to achieve long-term goals.  It is a “never give up” attitude and the ability to keep going after failure.  Developing grit is part of the maturation process.  It involves figuring out what we want in life, learning to deal with failure, and persisting in spite of adversity.      

It is interesting to note that talent or intelligence do not guarantee grit.  Too many times our most talented students are the ones who give up early.  The author notes that “Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another.” (p. 14) She adds that “Without effort, your talent is nothing more than your unmet potential.” (p. 51) The author has explored the idea of greatness and achievement and found “how little IQ mattered in distinguishing the most from the least accomplished.” (p. 75) Achievement and greatness depend on having a goal, using priorities, and the consistence of effort over time. 

How can grit be increased?  The author begins to answer this question by identifying the four components of grit: (p. 91)
  1. First comes interest.  People with grit enjoy what they do.
  2. Second comes the capacity to practice which leads to mastery.  It is the ability to work hard.
  3. Third is a sense of purpose.  People believe that their work matters to themselves and others.
  4. Fourth is hope which enables a person to keep going when things are difficult.  "It is the expectation that tomorrow will be better than today." (p. 169)  Hope enables a person to think positively and deal with setbacks.
The important point is that all these components can be learned.  

Angela Duckworth makes an important connection with Carol Dweck’s theory of fixed and growth mindsets.  Students with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence is fixed at birth, increased effort does not lead to success, and that there is a limit to what can be accomplished.  Students with a growth mindset believe that intelligence is increased as you learn new knowledge, skills can be improved through practice and effort, and that challenges are a way to be tested and improve performance. 

Research completed by Angela Duckworth and Carol Dweck found that students with a growth mindset were significantly grittier than students with a fixed mindset.  These grittier students earned higher grades, were more likely to enroll in college, and persist in achieving their goals.  Students can learn about the growth mindset and teachers can encourage the development of it.  Students need to understand that they can achieve success with consistent practice over a long period of time.  Most importantly, students need to be able to analyze their failures, learn from them, and stay optimistic about the future.

The author concludes with the positive idea that anyone can “grow their grit” and it can result not only in more success, but also increased happiness and satisfaction with life.  How can you increase your grit? 

You can cultivate your interests.  You can develop a habit of daily challenge-exceeding-skill practice.  You can connect your work to a purpose beyond yourself. And you can learn to hope when all hope is lost.  (p. 169)

My hope is that this brief book review will increase your interest in reading this book and learning more about the details so that you can use this information to increase your own grit and that of your students. 

References and Resources:
Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (New York: Scribner, 2016.) 

Angela Duckworth has developed at Grit Scale that measures perseverance or grit.  You can take this scale online to measure your own grit and to get an idea of the components of this characteristic.  She has also posted a .pdf of the Grit Scale that you can use with your students.

Videos:
The Key to Success? Grit TED talk by Angela Duckworth (recommended for faculty)

The Secrets to Success by Will Smith (recommended by Angela Duckworth)