Should Language Acquisition Researchers Study “Grit”? A Cautionary Note and Some Suggestions
Keywords:grit, second-language acquisition, measurement, necessary condition analysis , aggregation
Grit is theoretically defined as the combination of perseverance and passion for long term goals. Both of these constructs are likely to be relevant for our understanding of how language acquisition occurs and for explaining between-person differences in the rate of language acquisition. Despite this relevance, there are methodological and theoretical reasons why language acquisition researchers should be cautious about studying “grit” as a construct that is predictive of or causally related to language acquisition. In this paper we discuss some of these reasons, with a specific focus on the problems associated with the aggregation of perseverance and passion into a single variable, and the lack of predictive validity for other important life outcomes. We also discuss and describe with examples other challenges involved in studying grit, passion, or perseverance. Finally, we offer suggestions for some potentially more fruitful ways in which perseverance and passion for long-term goals may be integrated into research on second/foreign language acquisition. For example, we discuss how the measurement of grit facets may need to be revised to be better aligned with the “persisting despite initial failure” theoretical definition of perseverance, and to also balance the negatively-worded and positively-worded item content of the scales. We also discuss how an examination of necessary-but-not-sufficient relationships between grit facets and language acquisition using Dul’s (2016) methodology may be particularly valuable. That is, perseverance and passion may both be required for successful language acquisition but be insufficient on their own because other variables also need to be present (e.g., opportunity to practice, feedback).
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Copyright (c) 2021 Marcus Credé, Michael C. Tynan
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