The Chick or the Egg? Multi-Group, Short-Term Longitudinal Relations Between Grit and Literacy Achievement

Thumbnail Image
Publication or External Link
Boyars, Michal Yablong
O'Neal, Colleen R
The impact of grit on achievement is well established, but it is unclear whether achievement impacts grit. This short-term longitudinal study examined the direction of relations between grit and literacy among diverse elementary school student groups. Most grit research features a unidirectional design (e.g., grit affects achievement). Yet, recent research supports cross-lagged models in which socioemotional skills and achievement affect one another. In addition to testing cross-lagged effects, this study examined the direction of grit-literacy relations for different demographic groups (i.e., age, gender, and dual language status). Method: Participants included upper elementary students (N = 396; 3 schools; Mage = 9.61; 55% female; 59% dual language learners; 11% Black, 6% Asian, 29% Latino/a, 8% Multiracial; 39% White). Measures were student-reported grit, teacher-reported grit, and a student literacy achievement performance task (Test of Silent Reading Efficiency and Comprehension, TOSREC). Analytic Approach: An autoregressive cross-lagged design included two time points over 4 months. A cross-lagged model was compared to unidirectional models (i.e., direct and reverse) for best fit. Multi-group analyses were then used to examine whether grit-literacy relations differed as a function of demographics. Results: The data fit the cross-lagged model better than the direct or reverse models. Within the context of a cross-lagged model – which contained both the direct and reverse effects – there was a significant relation between Time 1 literacy achievement and Time 2 student-reported Grit-PE, suggesting that literacy achievement can predict later Grit-PE. There were no demographic differences in the fit of the data with the cross-lagged model between gender, DLL status, and age groups. Findings of the current study support the examination of reciprocal effects in grit-literacy relations and its generalizability among students. Longer-term cross-lagged studies are needed to further understand the temporal sequence between grit and literacy.