IQ, Grit, and Academic Achievement: Evidence from Rural China

Journal Article

Published By

International Journal of Educational Development

January 2021

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Promoting an educated labor force is critical for emerging economies. Educational achievement, in turn, depends heavily on general cognitive abilities as well as non-cognitive skills, such as grit. Current research, however, has not examined how cognition and grit may explain the academic performance of students in an economically disadvantaged context. Thus, this study examines how IQ and grit contribute to academic achievement gains for students in poor areas of rural China. Drawing on data from 2931 students in rural China, we measure general cognitive ability, using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fourth Edition (WISC-IV) and Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices (Raven IQ); non-cognitive ability, using the Short Grit Scale; and academic achievement, using a curricular-based mathematics exam. We find that IQ and grit each predict achievement gains for the average student. Grit is not positively associated with achievement gains among low-IQ students, however, suggesting that grit does not translate into academic achievement gains for students with delays in general cognitive ability.

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