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Grit, Self-Regulation, and Motivation: Examining Measurement Invariance and Mean Differences Across Gender and Ethnicity

Mon, April 8, 8:00 to 10:00am, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Floor: Mezzanine, Chestnut East


Muenks et al. (2017a, 2017b) examined overlap in grit’s factor structure with conceptually similar self-regulatory variables and its relations to theoretically important motivational beliefs. Their studies had relatively small samples that did not allow the latent constructs to be examined all together in the same model. Therefore, in this study we examine how grit overlaps, at the latent variable level, with the conceptually similar constructs self-regulation (SR), effort-regulation (ER), and two motivational beliefs, task value (TV), and self-efficacy (SE), in a large sample of adolescents. The second objective is to assess whether there are differences in latent means among the constructs across gender and ethnic groups (African American and non-African American), something few grit researchers have examined.

Theoretical Framework
Duckworth et al. (2007) defined grit as a personality characteristic consisting of two components, perseverance of effort (PE) and consistency of interest (CI). They and others have found that it predicts educational outcomes, although findings are mixed. Further, given this definition the grit components should relate to motivational beliefs and values, but findings again are mixed. The multiple group six factor simple structure model with different estimation options we use in this study provides greater clarity about the nature of these theoretically important relations.

1,147 high school students completed the Grit-S and the SR, ER, TV, and SE subscales of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ). First, we conducted two multiple group analyses with full information maximum likelihood estimation for each construct to examine differential item functioning (DIF) across gender (518 females and 623 males) and ethnicity (398 African Americans and 749 non-African Americans, 25% not European American). Next we fit a six factor simple structure model with weighted least square estimation to examine the relations among the latent variables, followed by two multiple group analyses to examine possible mean and correlational differences between groups.

Item functioning did not differ by gender, but one CI and one PE items functioned differently in the two ethnic groups. The six-factor model fit was satisfactory; correlations among the latent variables ranged from .30 to .92 (all significant). Males reported significantly higher CI than did females, and significantly lower SR, ER, and TV. There were no mean differences between the two ethnic groups.

Grit has received much attention both from researchers and policy makers, even before its measurement invariance has been established. Thus our study provides foundational information about its functioning at the item level. The study has methodological significance with respect to issues regarding fitting an item factor model that contains many latent variables. The gender differences have potential implications for interventions that have been developed to enhance grit or other relevant constructs.


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