Grit and Mindset Do Not Predict Failure in Dpt Students: A Pilot Study
Purpose/Hypothesis: Noncognitive factors such as grit and mindset have been identified as potential indicators to determine success in various populations. Grit is defined by a person’s passion and perseverance to achieve a long term goal. Relationship to success? Mindset is defined by the belief about oneself and if different factors of life such as intelligence and talent are fixed or can change. Relationship to success? The purpose of this pilot study was to identify if noncognitive factors of grit and mindset would correlate to academic success in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. We hypothesized that higher scores of grit and mindset positively correlate with academic success. Number of Subjects: 89 Materials and Methods: Grit and Mindset Scores. Eighty nine DPT Students at the University of Evansville (Evansville, Indiana) were given two surveys: 1) a 12 question grit survey developed by Angela Duckworth and 2) a 16 question mindset survey developed by Carol Dweck. Surveys were administered via Google Forms on the first day of class for each respective cohort. Informed consent was obtained prior to the administration of the survey. GPA Calculations. Cumulative GPAs were calculated based on coursework from all undergraduate institutions attended. Science GPAs were calculated from undergraduate classes in the following subjects: Anatomy & Physiology, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Statistics. Graduate GPAs were calculated from all courses in our DPT program. For repeat courses, only the highest grade was counted towards the cumulative, science, or graduate GPAs. All courses, including repeats, were included when counting the number of grades below a B. Academic Difficulty. Academic difficulty was defined as failure of one or more classes, resulting in either delayed progression through our program or removal from the program. Students who did not experience academic difficulty were coded as academic successes. Data Analysis. All data analysis and plotting was performed in R (Version 3.5.1). All values are reported at medians ± median absolute deviation. Group differences were analyzed using non-parametric tests. Results: Grit and mindset scores did not correlate with graduate GPA or differ between students in the academic success (AS) or academic difficulty (AD) groups (grit: AS = 3.88 ± 0.31, AD = 3.92 ± 0.06, p = 1; mindset: AS = 66.00 ± 10.38, AD = 62.00 ± 8.15, p = 0.23). Graduate GPA correlated moderately with both cumulative undergraduate GPA (cGPA: r = 0.64, p < 0.001) and science undergraduate GPA (sGPA: r = 0.61, p < 0.001). cGPA and sGPA were significantly lower in students who experienced academic difficulties (cGPA: AS = 3.75 ± 0.19, AD = 3.57 ± 0.13, p < 0.01; sGPA: AS = 3.52 ± 0.38, AD = 3.05 ± 0.25, p < 0.01). Using cut-scores of at least two undergraduate grades below a B, with one coming from a science class, we were able to distinguish AS and AD with an accuracy of 0.84 (CI95% = 0.76 – 0.92), sensitivity of 0.83 (CI95% = 0.75 – 0.91), and specificity of 0.89 (CI95% = 0.69 – 1.09). Although preliminary, mindset scores were significantly lower in the at risk students who experienced academic difficulties (AD at risk: 62.00 ± 8.15, AS at risk: 69.50 ± 4.45, p < 0.05). Conclusions: Our data suggests that grit and mindset are not useful metrics for predicting success in DPT programs—undergraduate performance better correlated with academic success in the included DPT students. Low mindset scores may be useful in predicting which students with a history of low academic performance are more likely to continue to experience academic difficulties. As students progress through the program, we will examine whether grit and mindset scores are related to: 1) clinical performance and 2) scores on the National Physical Therapy Exam. Clinical Relevance: Grit and mindset may not be good predictors of success in a DPT program. However, low mindset scores in students with a history of low academic success may be utilized as a point of intervention to improve their academic performance while in a DPT program.