Author

Luke E. Faust

Date of Award

Summer 8-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Kelli Paquette

Second Advisor

David Piper

Third Advisor

Meghan Twiest

Abstract

This mixed methods study examines the impact of grit and self-efficacy and the factors of these constructs on the performance of students at-risk. Grit was explored as a person’s passion and perseverance toward a long term goal. Past research on this construct determined it to be predictive of success in many different contexts, not limited to student performance (Duckworth, 2016). Self-efficacy was evaluated using Vuong, Brown-Welty, and Tracz’s adaptation of the College Self-efficacy Instrument to measure the impact personal belief in one’s ability had on student performance.

First, 184 first year students were surveyed before midterm of their first semester. The survey consisted of five demographic questions, 12 grit questions, and 28 self-efficacy questions. Demographic information including gender, race, socioeconomic status, and first generation status was also statistically evaluated. The data were analyzed as it related to first semester grade point average. Following the quantitative portion, six upperclassmen who had started their careers in the developmental placement category, were interviewed. Three of the interviewees had above a 3.5 GPA and three of the interviewees had below a 2.5 GPA.

The research questions explored were: Is there a significant difference in the GPA of students in developmental college placement categories who have higher levels of grit than those who have lower levels of grit? Is there a significant difference in the GPA of students in developmental college placement categories who have higher levels of academic self-efficacy those who have lower levels of academic self-efficacy? How do grit and academic self-efficacy relate as performance predictors for students in developmental placement categories? How does gender, race, socioeconomic status, and first generation status influence the grit and self-efficacy in students at-risk?

Findings uncovered a relationship between grit and performance, self-efficacy and performance, grit and self-efficacy and performance, and demographic information and performance. Through independent sample t-tests, ANOVAs, bivariate correlations, stepwise regression modeling, and coding interview responses, the researcher was able to evaluate the impact on performance. This study determined that grit and self-efficacy have an impact on student performance for students at-risk.

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