Can Grit be Taught? Learning from a field experiment with middle school students in FYR Macedonia
Last registered on March 17, 2017


Trial Information
General Information
Can Grit be Taught? Learning from a field experiment with middle school students in FYR Macedonia
Initial registration date
March 17, 2017
Last updated
March 17, 2017 3:38 PM EDT
Primary Investigator
World Bank
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Paris School of Economics
PI Affiliation
World Bank
PI Affiliation
World Bank
PI Affiliation
University College of London
PI Affiliation
University of Pennsylvania
PI Affiliation
University of Pennsylvania
Additional Trial Information
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
A growing body of literature points to the key role of socio-emotional skills in predicting educational success. Among these skills, grit – passion and perseverance in the pursuit of long-term goals (Duckworth et al., 2007) – has been shown to predict educational success over and beyond innate ability. We designed and implemented an intervention into the country-wide curriculum of middle school students in FYR Macedonia aimed at cultivating grit by teaching students the fundamentals of deep practice: setting and pursuing stretch goals through repeat effort, using effective self-regulation strategies, and adopting growth mindsets (Eskreis-Winkler et al., forthcoming). It also aimed at evoking positive role models and reducing stereotype threat, especially for girls and Roma children. The intervention, which comprises five consecutive sessions delivered during a school semester to students in 6th and 7th grade in FYR Macedonia, was delivered as part of an existing one-hour class in the Ministry of National Education and Science curriculum aimed at cultivating general life and civic skills. It is implemented as a multi-arm cluster-randomized controlled trial at the school level: the first treatment arm relies on student following a self-learning curriculum, whereas the second treatment relies on a teacher-delivered curriculum using the same content. The impact of the intervention on student attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and educational outcomes is evaluated.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Arias, Omar et al. 2017. "Can Grit be Taught? Learning from a field experiment with middle school students in FYR Macedonia." AEA RCT Registry. March 17.
Experimental Details
The objective of the nation-wide intervention is to cultivate grit among sixth and seventh grade students in FYR Macedonia by (i) introducing them to the notion of deep practice, which provides practical strategies to set stretch goals, avoid distractions, and stay on task, even in the face of struggle and frustration; (ii) helping them to improve concentration whilst learning; and (iii) providing them with strategies to elicit effective feedback from teachers and other sources. Special attention is paid to avoiding stereotype biases against girls and ethnic minorities, especially Roma children. In doing so, the intervention is expected to increase school performance, facilitate primary-to-secondary-school transitions, and influence students’ aspirations and expectations about the future. Moreover, it is expected to promote a change in attitudes among students and teachers that tend to put one gender or ethnic minority at relative disadvantage, and to promote a change in attitudes among teachers that can demotivate students. The intervention has two treatment arms: the first is self-paced and relies entirely on student self-learning; the second adds a teacher training module and relies on teachers to deliver the intervention. The control group receives the conventional, existing “Life Skills” curriculum by the Ministry of National Education and Science that aims at cultivating general life and civic skills. The intervention considered 5 weekly lessons, delivered during consecutive Mondays (when feasible) in a given school year semester.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Outcomes (end points)
Grit, Frustration reaction, Locus of control, aspirations and expectations, grades
Outcomes (explanation)
The outcomes “grit” and “deliberate practice” are equally-weighted summed scales, constructed from their various sub-scales. Grades will be constructed indexes aggregating different subject grades over the respective time period.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The intervention has been implemented as a cluster-randomized controlled trial at the school level, with schools being randomly allocated into either treatment group one, treatment group two, or the control group. Randomization was stratified at the municipal level to ensure a national representativeness in group allocation. Impacts will be assessed for each treatment group against the control group, and for the different treatment groups against one another. Possible impacts on educational outcomes of non-treated grades (spillovers) will be analyzed conditional on the main results.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Cluster randomization at the school level.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
350 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
40,000 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
110 schools aprox per treatment arm
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
University of Pennsylvania IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Details not available
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers