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Examining Grit and Mindset in Concurrent, and Gains, in Reading Comprehension: A Twin Study



Previous research emphasizes non-cognitive/personality factors in predicting academic achievement (Yeager & Walton, 2011; Richardson et al., 2012). Specifically, psychological constructs of mindset and grit tap individual differences in student beliefs about ability and performance and both have been suggested to be positive indicators of achievement Dweck, 2006; Duckworth & Yeager, 2015). Further, some educational researchers suggest changing mindset, and/or grit, in children will lead to future educational gains (Alan et al., 2016). Here, we focus on student beliefs and performance in the domain of reading, as student attitudes may be especially important for reading achievement (Petscher, 2009). We assess the relation among mindset, grit, concurrent reading, and growth in reading, using regression and twin modeling techniques, to examine the role of student beliefs on concurrent reading achievement and future gains in reading achievement. We used data from 431 twin pairs (173 monozygotic pairs, 258 dizygotic pairs; 55% female), drawn from two data collection waves of the Florida Twin Project on Reading, Behavior and Environment (Taylor et al., 2012). Participants completed Mindset related to intelligence (De Castella & Byrne, 2015), and grit (Duckworth et al., 2007) scales by self-report questionnaire at wave 1, and reading comprehension by the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests at wave 1 and 2 (wave 1 Mage = 13.30yrs, wave 2 age Mage = 15.24yrs). Examining the correlation among the measures, mindset was correlated with both waves of reading comprehension (r = .26, .19), but grit was not significantly correlated with reading comprehension at either wave (r = .06, .07). Therefore, grit was removed from any further modeling. Subsequently, two multiple regressions were conducted, using only one randomly chosen member of the twin pair (Table 1). First, gender, age, and mindset were regressed onto wave 1 reading comprehension. Mindset was a significant predictor, accounting for 4% of the variance of concurrent reading comprehension. Second, gender, age, wave 1 reading comprehension, and mindset were regressed onto wave 2 reading comprehension. Only concurrent reading comprehension was a significant predictor of gains in reading comprehension, indicating mindset did not contribute to change in reading comprehension performance across two years. As a second step, a trivariate Cholesky decomposition was applied to the full twin data, producing three sets of genetic and environmental factors (Table 2). The only significant overlap between mindset and reading comprehension was through the nonshared environment, and mirroring the regression results, was only seen between mindset and concurrent reading comprehension. We set out to determine the relation of mindset and grit in predicting concurrent reading comprehension, and gains in reading comprehension. In total, there was surprisingly little overlap between the personality factors of mindset and grit with reading comprehension, concurrently and two years later. We found no support for the idea that student beliefs are associated with gains in reading comprehension, which raises concerns about the likelihood of changing student beliefs to change achievement. The finding that mindset was associated with concurrent reading comprehension through child-specific environmental factors was interesting, and needs to be further explored.
Examining Grit and Mindset in Concurrent and Future Reading Comprehension: A Twin Study
Discussion Results
LaTasha R. Holden, Ph.D.1,2, Kimberly Martinez, B.S.1,2, Sara A. Hart, Ph.D.1,2. & Jeanette Taylor, Ph.D.1
Florida State University, Department of Psychology1Florida Center for Reading Research2
Intelligence Mindset and Grit weakly correlated
Very little relation between Mindset or Grit with reading
comprehension, and Mindset better predictor of reading
comprehension than Grit
Multivariate twin models found no statistically-significant
genetic or shared environmental overlap between Mindset
and Grit
However, was evidence of non-shared environmental
overlap between Mindset and concurrent reading
Majority of significant genetic or environmental influences
were independent to each factor
Generally, non-shared environmental influences were high,
which may indicate measurement error regarding those
The strongest predictor of reading comprehension at Wave
3 was the child's previous reading comprehension score
Taken together, these findings suggest Mindset and Grit
may not be particularly useful targets for reading
comprehension interventions
Surveys were collected by means of self-report
The only measured reading construct was GMRT,
administered at home by caregivers which could add
measurement error
Reading difficulties early in life linked with variety of poor outcomes later
“Non-cognitivefactors gained attention as intervention targets for
children struggling in school
oGrit (passion and perseverance for long-term goals) and Intelligence
Mindset (beliefs about malleability of one’s own intelligence) are the
focus of interventions because linked to academic and personal success
oMindset interventions for reading show promise, but less known about
Twin studies of Mindset, Grit, and academic achievement find genetic and
non-shared environment influences (not shared environment) and only
focused on concurrent ability
Our twin design addresses gap in the literature about how Mindset and Grit
relate to reading, both concurrently and 2 years later, also examining
genetic and environmental influences underlying their relations
1. Relationships between grit, intelligence mindset, and reading?
2. If so, does grit or intelligence mindset affect future reading?
3. How much do genetics and the environment contribute to these
constructs and their relationships?
o431 twin pairs (173 MZ, 258 DZ) from Waves 2 & 3 of Florida Twin
Project on Reading, Behavior, and Environment
oMage= 13.30, SDage = 2.44 in Wave 2
oMage = 15.22, SD = 2.51 in Wave 3
oGrit Scale
oIntelligence Mindset Scale
oGates-MacGinitie Reading Test (GMRT)
oSelf-questionnaire packets completed by each twin and one parent
oParents were given instructions on how to administer the GMRT
Correlations 1 2 3 4 A C E
0.34 0.15 0.50
(.02-.61) (.00-.40) (.41-.63)
0.44 0.02 0.55
(.08-.28) (.00-.28) (.46-.70)
0.42 0.31 0.27
(.22-.63) (.12-.49) (.22-.34)
0.52 0.35 0.14
(.35-.73) (.14-.55) (.11-.18)
5. Residualized
Change in Reading
0.09 0.09* .00 0.82** -- -- --
2. Wave 2 Grit
1. Wave 2 Mindset
4. Wave 3 Reading
3. Wave 2 Reading
Note. Residualized Change in Reading indicates the score at Wave 3 controlling for Wave 2.
The ACE model indicates the following influences: A = genetic , C = shared
environment, E = non-shared environment.
Descriptives 1 2 3 4
n768 768 846 595
M4.29 3.48 33.85 34.85
SD 1.02 0.64 9.18 9.74
Min 1 1.5 6 4
Max 6 5 48 48
Skew -0.24 -0.07 -0.8 -0.94
Kurtosis -0.40 -0.35 0.08 0.03
The first author is supported by the Provost’s
Postdoctoral Fellowship Program at Florida State
The research reported in this poster was supported by
the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child
Health and Human Development of the National
Institute of Health under award number P50 HD052120
The content here is solely the responsibility of the
authors and does not necessarily represent the official
views of the National Institutes of Health
Multiple Regression Results
Wave 2 Reading Wave 3 Reading Wave 3 Readinga
2 Age 5.83** 1.85 3.47** 3.47 7.51* 0.01
2 Age-squared -0.22** 0.07 -0.51** 0.13 -0.31** 0.01
-2.16* 0.87 -1.30 1.23 -0.58 0.59
2 Mindset 1.70** 0.46 1.35* 0.58 0.52 0.50
2 Grit 0.10 0.76 0.91 0.96 0.96 0.83
2 Reading 0.60** 0.06
Total R2.09** .10** .35**
Mindset Wave 2
E1 A2 C2 E2 A3
.55 .00
.53 .02 .00
Mindset Wave 3
E1 A2 C2 E2 A3
.55 .02
.58 .005 .00
Wave 2
Reading Grit
E2 A3 C3
Wave 3
A4 C4
Note. All coefficients presented in the multivariate twin models are unstandardized. Solid lines indicate significance from 95% CI not bounding zero.
Note. * p< .05, ** p< .01. Only one randomly-selected twin per pair was used for analysis.
aThis model represents the change in reading comprehension performance across the two years between waves.
Full-text available
Grit, a fundamental personality trait, is beneficial for individual's lifelong health and well-being. A great amount of studies have shown that contact with nature has significant positive impacts on cultivating an individual's grit. According to the human's psychological and physical conditions at different ages, the grit-oriented nature education shall be started at the preschool age (5-6 years old). Unfortunately, both theoretical and practical knowledge of this type of education is fragmented and deficient. Therefore, it is pressing and important to develop a set of nature education programs aiming to develop grit for preschool children. Probing into the theoretical system and practical strategies of grit-oriented nature education from key parts of the theoretical framework, key components of the education with the weight of importance, a think tank of grit-oriented nature education, and strategic design of nature education settings, this study provides researchers with future research trends, educators with inspirations of nature education practice, and designers with new ideas of nature experience.
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