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Perseverance Print or save as PDF

How is it defined?

Perseverance refers to the ability to pursue one’s goals to completion, even in the face of obstacles (Kern, Benson, Steinberg & Steinberg, 2016). It draws on the positive characteristics that support well-being and adult flourishing (Seligman, 2011).

The Tell Them From Me framework on student engagement includes measures of social, institutional and intellectual engagement. Perseverance relates to students’ intellectual engagement and is closely connected to optimism, academic self-concept and academic buoyancy measures. Combined, these measures provide information about students’ self-perceptions of positive emotions and their ability to navigate everyday school life.

Why is it important?

  • Perseverance makes up one of five positive characteristics in youth that Kern et. al. (2016) believe will foster engagement, accomplishment, meaning, relationships and positive emotions in adulthood. The other four characteristics are engagement, optimism, connectedness and happiness.
  • Of these five positive characteristics, perseverance has the strongest correlation with academic achievement and school performance (Gregory & Brinkman, 2015).
  • Individuals with high perseverance were more likely to graduate from school, stay in their jobs, and remain married (Eskreis-Winkler, Shulman, Beal & Duckworth, 2014).

How do we measure it?

In both the Tell Them From Me primary and secondary school questionnaires, students respond to Likert questions about how well certain statements describe them. The questions refer to statements such as ‘I finish whatever I begin’, ‘I keep at my school work until I’m done with it’, etc. The results are reported as the percentage of students with high, medium or low levels of perseverance. Students with high levels of perseverance are also described as students who ‘are motivated to complete tasks that they begin most of the time’.

This briefing note is for a DOE custom well-being measure, and has been prepared by the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation.



Eskreis-Winkler, L., Shulman, E. P., Beal, S. A., & Duckworth, A. L. (2014). The grit effect: Predicting retention in the military, the workplace, school and marriage. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, Article 36.

Gregory, T., & Brinkman, S. (2015). Development of the Australian Student Wellbeing survey: Measuring the key aspects of social and emotional wellbeing during middle childhood. Published by the Fraser Mustard Centre. Department for Education and Child Development and the Telethon Kids Institute Adelaide.

Kern, M. L., Benson, L., Steinberg, E. A., & Steinberg, L. (2016). The EPOCH measure of adolescent well-being. Psychological Assessment, 28(5), 586-597.

Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York, NY: Free Press.