Online Doctoral Student Grade Point Average, Conscientiousness, and Grit: A Moderation Analysis

Michael James Walsh, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


This study examined the relationship between grit, conscientiousness, and online doctoral grade point average. Self-reported grit scores were calculated using the Grit-S scale and conscientiousness scores were calculated using the Big Five Inventory. Grade point average was self-reported; however, it was also verified by a screen shot of the student system of record. Multiple regressions were then used to determine the predictability of grade point average using grit and conscientiousness. Participants include 478 online doctoral students in their doctoral course of study from a university in the Southwestern United States. Regression modelling found that grit did not statistically significantly predict grade point average (F(1, 477) = 2.25, p = .135) and conscientiousness did not moderate the effect of grit on grade point average (F(1, 474) = .206, p = .650); however, there was a statistically significant positive linear relationship (B = 0.089, SE = 0.029) between conscientiousness and grade point average (p < .05). These findings add to the growing body of research regarding success factors for online doctoral programs and suggest that, despite the opinions in the popular press, grit does not add incremental value beyond other personality traits. Before educators and administrators make lasting changes to curriculum, further research should be completed.

Keywords: grit, conscientiousness, doctoral education, online education, online, moderator

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