Is Grit a key factor in DPT program retention and success?


Grit is defined by Duckworth to be "a measure of perseverance and passion for long term goals," and identified as a factor in achievement. Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs use a variety of measures to predict student retention and success such as GPA, GRE scores, recommendation letters, and interview scores. Despite the admission of highly successful academic students, DPT programs still have problems with student retention and success. What role does personal grit play in a DPT student's ability to endure and succeed in a DPT graduate program?


Three cohorts of DPT students (N=153) completed the Short Grit Scale, a 12 item self-report measure of grit, during orientation to the program. DPT program retention was assessed along with success as measured by first semester GPA.


Average Grit-S scores for entering DPT students was 3.96. This was significantly higher than the mean Grit score reported by Duckworth for this age group at p<.0005. Overall, Grit-S scores were not a significant predictor of 1st semester GPA (p=.705). However, there was a significant relationship (rpb=.179, p=.027) between Grit-S scores and retention. In addition, grit was a significant predictor of retention at p=.031. For every 1 point increase in Grit-S score, the likelihood of retention increases by 3.31 times. When Grit-S scores were subdivided using the cut-off value of 3.75, there was a significant difference in those students who were retained as compared to those were not (x2=
6.716, p=.01). There was no difference in 1st semester GPA based on sub-divided Grit-S scores at p=.840.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Through the Looking Glass: Transforming Physical Therapy Education

Grit-S scores may be a valuable predictor for DPT program criteria when attempting to identify applicants with a higher likelihood of program retention. Identifying students with lower Grit-S scores may enable programs to focus on retention strategies, thereby increasing graduation rates and student success.


1. Duckworth AL, et al. Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals. J Personality and Soc Psych, 92(6) 1087-1101, 2007.
2. Duckworth AL, Quinn PD: Development and validation of the Short Grit Scale. J Personality Assessment,91(2) 166-174, 2009.

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  • Control #: 2750353
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2017
  • Authors: Jennifer Ellison, Katy Mitchell, Jennifer Bogardus, Peggy Gleeson
  • Keywords:

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