Asee peer logo

Gritty students: The effect of perseverance on retention for traditional and nontraditional students

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Special Initiatives and Programs at Two-Year Colleges

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.650.1 - 23.650.7



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Anne-Marie A Lerner University of Wisconsin, Platteville

visit author page

Anne-Marie Lerner is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin - Platteville collaborative program located at the University of Wisconsin - Rock County. In her capacity as assistant professor, she works extensively with place-bound, nontraditional students in face-to-face as well as streaming video capacity. Her professional interests include investigating effective teaching pedagogy for remote delivery as well as to nontraditional students, and education assessment. She received her PhD in mechanical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2008.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Gritty students: The effect of perseverance on retention for traditional andnontraditional studentsIt is important to examine characteristics that contribute to successful retention in an engineeringprogram, particularly among nontraditional and transfer students. One characteristic trait thathas been experimentally linked to success is grit, which is defined as “perseverance and passionfor long-term goals” (Duckworth 2007). Although grit is widely seen as a personality trait, it hasalso been shown to be something that people can be taught; that is, interventions can be enactedto increase a person’s grit. The simplicity of measuring someone’s grit score, and the straight-forward intervention path for those with lower scores, makes this trait an attractive candidate forexamination among students. Preliminary studies establish net grit scores of students atbeginning stages of the engineering program, at a two-year and four-year institute. Intermediateand advanced students within a mechanical engineering program are also studied. Thelongitudinal aspect of this study will follow individuals as they progress through or abandon theprogram.The mechanical engineering program has a collaborative program relationship with thirteen two-year Colleges that allows any student who has achieved an associate’s degree to stay at their two-year Colleges campus while obtaining a mechanical engineering BS degree from the four-yearinstitution. This program increases educational access to nontraditional, place-bound studentsacross the state.Preliminary results of a longitudinal study involving grit in nontraditional and traditionalstudents are presented. While the longitudinal study involves following students throughouttheir academic career, this study compares grit scores between groups of students at differentacademic stages. Traditional students are surveyed at a freshman introductory Success Skillscourse, and nontraditional and traditional students at the Colleges are surveyed in a transfer-equivalent course. Traditional and nontraditional students are surveyed together in anintermediate course, which is one of the first that students take after having been accepted intothe mechanical engineering program, early in their junior year. Students are surveyed again intheir senior design course. Comparisons are made between the different academic levels as wellas between traditional and nontraditional students, with attention paid to confounding factorssuch as gender and racial identity.BibliographyDuckworth, A.L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M.D., Kelly, D.R. "Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-termgoals." Personality Processes and Individual Differences, 2007: 1087.

Lerner, A. A. (2013, June), Gritty students: The effect of perseverance on retention for traditional and nontraditional students Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19664

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015