Academic Fitness

Upskilling students with the cognitive and motivational skills to become an autonomous and passionate learner.

The subcategories (or wellbeing ‘constructs’) within each Knox Total Fitness pillar are informed by a rigorous review and meta-analysis conducted by the Science of Wellbeing researchers, and inform evidence-based interventions that staff and students can adopt to improve ‘fitness’ in each wellbeing domain.


A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence and talents can improve with intentional effort, help-seeking and persistence to learn new strategies (Dweck, 2008). People with a ‘growth’ (versus ‘fixed’) mindset believe that the brain is like a muscle that can be developed; they are more likely to develop critical thinking skills and embrace challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow (Ricci, 2013). According to Farrington and colleagues (2012), “positive academic mindsets motivate students to persist at schoolwork (i.e., they give rise to academic perseverance), which manifests itself through better academic behaviours, which lead to improved performance”.

Autonomy and Mastery

Autonomy is the ability to make one's own decisions consistent with self-beliefs – it means having choice or independence about a decision or activity (Deci & Ryan, 2017). Environmental mastery is the ability to manage or choose environments in accordance with ones needs and values (Henn et al., 2016). Mastery instils a sense of competency and autonomy instils intrinsic motivation, both of which are predictive of engagement, perseverance, productivity and adaptability (Guay, 2022).


Perseverance means to persist towards goals “despite obstacles, discouragements or disappointments” (VIA, 2022). Perseverance is a core component of grit, also related to self-discipline and self-control (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, & Kelly, 2007; Duckworth & Seligman, 2006; Lam & Zhou, 2019). Therefore “an academically perseverant student would behave in an engaged, focused, and persistent manner in pursuit of academic goals, despite obstacles, setbacks, and distractions” (Farrington et al., 2012, p. 20).