The New York Times:
Self-control, curiosity, “grit” — these qualities may seem more personal than academic, but at some schools, they’re now part of the regular curriculum. Some researchers say personality could be even more important than intelligence when it comes to students’ success in school. But critics worry that the increasing focus on qualities like grit will distract policy makers from problems with schools.
In a 2014 paper, the Australian psychology professor Arthur E. Poropat cites research showing that both conscientiousness (which he defines as a tendency to be “diligent, dutiful and hardworking”) and openness (characterized by qualities like creativity and curiosity) are more highly correlated with student performance than intelligence is. And, he notes, ratings of students’ personalities by outside observers — teachers, for instance — are even more strongly linked with academic success than the way students rate themselves. The strength of the personality-performance link is good news, he writes, because “personality has been demonstrated to change over time to a far greater extent than intelligence.”
A number of researchers have been successful in improving students’ conscientiousness, Dr. Poropat said in an interview. One team, he said, found that when elementary-school students get training in “effortful control,” a trait similar to conscientiousness, “it not only improves the students’ performance at that point in their education, but also has follow-on effects a number of years afterward.” Another study found that a 16-week problem-solving training program could increase retirees’ levels of openness.
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