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Jennifer L. Courduff


Undergraduate students who enroll in online courses and degree programs often struggle to make progress. Researchers have suggested that noncognitive traits like grit may contribute to student success. However, findings on grit have been conflicting and there is no research on professors’ perceptions. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore professor perceptions of the role of grit in online baccalaureate education, particularly its role in student progress and if there were any implications for teaching practice. Dewey’s pragmatism, Garrison et al.’s CoI framework, and Rogers’ diffusion of innovations theory came together to form the conceptual framework for this study. The research questions for this study were about professors’ perceptions of the role of grit in online baccalaureate student progress and teaching practice. Data for this study came from semi-structured interviews with 10 professors from a small college in rural Appalachia. Interviews were conducted via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and then hand coded and sorted into categories and themes. The findings from this study revealed that professors found grit to be integral in baccalaureate online education, serving as a glue holding positive behaviors together to promote student progress toward goals. Participants also believed that grit was a worthy subject for their own research and that professors should strive to develop grit in their online baccalaureate students. Findings from this study support social change through promoting student retention and progress in the online baccalaureate environment.

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