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  • Writer's pictureMichelle D Rogers

Are X-Factors really X-Factors?

In recent years there has started to be a lot of talk about X-Factors in education - those intangible skills, traits, and competencies that help people be more successful.

What are X-Factors?

Among them are: grit, engagement, mindset, purpose, and goal setting. These are not all, but a few of the currently trendy ones.

I think that these skills have always been important to the success of individual, in any field, in any context. Without them, you give up easily when faced with challenges or adversity, you cannot move work and endeavors towards important objectives, and you find little interest or reason in what you do.

So, X-Factors are not really X-Factors, they are the factors that have always been needed to be successful. However, until recently, they were studied very little in the realm of successful educational achievement as intelligence and IQ was the fancy cousin getting all the attention.

In the field of Positive Psychology they have been studying grit for about a decade now. In a study by Duckworth, Quinn, and Seligman (2009) titled Positive Predictors of Teacher Effectiveness, the researchers found that both grit and life satisfaction were directly correlated to teacher effectiveness (as measured by student academic gains at year-end).

Angela Duckworth has done quite a lot of research on grit in the realm of educational achievement. Her research shows that grit is at important to success as intelligence, if not more so. As no matter how intelligent one is, if they give up easily, they will not achieve much.

Duckworth has developed a ‘Grit Scale’, in which you can measure your level of grittiness:

This article is an excellent review of Duckworth’s work (an interview with her) and compares grit to research in the area of mindset:

This article from the NY Times also gives a great overview of the importance of learning from mistakes in order to be more successful in the future:

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