By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Lately high school counselors and college admissions officers have heard the same word over and over… “grit,” described by some researchers as overcoming challenges and learning from mistakes or as one administrator put it, “fire in the belly.”

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The interest in grit stems from recognition that test scores and grade point averages don’t tell the whole story of an applicant…that non-cognitive skills might tell why students succeed or fail.

Angela Duckworth, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, developed a “grit scale,” that deals with diligence, goal completion and dealing with setbacks… that those who display grit “perform beautifully in highly challenging situations where dropout is likely.”

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Although some think the measure is too soft or subjective, schools and non-profit organizations are beginning to use it without abandoning traditional measures, which aren’t at odds.

Duckworth believes effort, confusion, and boredom are hard…but hard isn’t the same as can’t.”

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Read more in The Chronicle of Higher Education.