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Angela Duckworth lecture

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‘Grit’ author talks passion, dedication, diversity during lecture at UD

Angela Duckworth, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, visited the University of Delaware on Oct. 11 to lecture on her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. 

Duckworth, whose research has become popular through both her TED talk and her New York Times best-selling book, engaged the audience in conversation about her research into the combination of passion and perseverance she calls “grit.” 

Passion develops when people find purpose in an activity, whereas perseverance develops when one believes that his or her abilities can grow through dedication and hard work. 

Duckworth told her audience that growth does not happen just because someone performs an activity over and over. She highlighted the importance of deliberate practice and explained that people often fail at the “getting feedback” stage. According to Duckworth, this crucial stage is often overlooked. She suggested that it is a teacher’s, coach’s, or parent’s responsibility to provide feedback that encourages perseverance by suggesting concrete improvements. 

After her lecture, Duckworth answered audience questions about diversity and grit. She concluded that “it is not the students’ job to overcome unlit paths but rather it is the responsibility of faculty to light them.” Faculty should guide students through the frustrations experienced in the learning process.

During her visit to the University, Duckworth met with other groups to discuss her research and its impact on teaching. 

• She met with faculty and staff from the College of Education and Human Development for a question and answer session.

After a fruitful discussion, she challenged attendees to write down their life’s goal in ten words or less. According to Duckworth this exercise is helpful in finding the purpose in their work and their life. 

Duckworth provided her own example stating that her goal is to, “use psychological science to help children thrive.”

• The Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning (CTAL) hosted a Teaching and Learning Conversation about Duckworth’s book Grit in which attendees grappled with how to cultivate passion and perseverance in their students. 

Duckworth’s appearance was part of UD’s Center for the Study of Diversity fall lecture series in collaboration with the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity, CTAL, the Center for Black Culture, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education and Human Development. 

The Center for the Study of Diversity lecture series continues with a presentation by Bryant Marks, “If Opportunity isn’t Knocking Then How Can I Achieve?” on Oct. 27. (Register)


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