Saturday, 13 February 2010

What predicts success in a school teacher?

Not the sort of things you'd think—like maybe charisma, the ability to perform in public, or even a caring attitude:

What did predict success, interestingly, was a history of perseverance—not just an attitude, but a track record. In the interview process, Teach for America now asks applicants to talk about overcoming challenges in their lives—and ranks their perseverance based on their answers. Angela Lee Duckworth, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and her colleagues have actually quantified the value of perseverance. In a study published in TheJournal of Positive Psychology in November 2009, they evaluated 390 Teach for America instructors before and after a year of teaching. Those who initially scored high for “grit”—defined as perseverance and a passion for long-term goals, and measured using a short multiple-choice test—were 31 percent more likely than their less gritty peers to spur academic growth in their students. Gritty people, the theory goes, work harder and stay committed to their goals longer. (Grit also predicts retention of cadets at West Point, Duckworth has found.)

But another trait seemed to matter even more. Teachers who scored high in “life satisfaction”—reporting that they were very content with their lives—were 43 percent more likely to perform well in the classroom than their less satisfied colleagues. These teachers “may be more adept at engaging their pupils, and their zest and enthusiasm may spread to their students,” the study suggested.

In general, though, Teach for America’s staffers have discovered that past performance—especially the kind you can measure—is the best predictor of future performance.

Here's the full article by Amanda Ripley in the Jan-Feb 2010 Atlantic.

Be interesting to start measuring the communication effectiveness of clergy with their congregations.


Anonymous said...

Hey Gord, Joshua here. I wonder if this applies to the ministry...

I have a new email address

Can you email me? Need to run something by you.

Andrew said...

Interesting. Although thinking back to my own school days, it probably would have taken perseverance to keep coming in every day to our classes. Interesting about the life satisfaction as well.