Implicit STEM ability beliefs predict secondary school students’ STEM self-efficacy beliefs and their intention to opt for a STEM field career
journal contributionposted on 15.06.2018 by Sandra I. van Aalderen-Smeets, Juliette H. Walma van der Molen, Iro Xenidou-Dervou
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Despite the widely-accepted view that low self-efficacy beliefs negatively influence students’ intention to opt for a STEM field oriented study or career path, it remains unclear how to effectively stimulate these beliefs in students who do seem to have the ability and motivation to opt for a STEM career. A suggestion from previous literature is that students’ implicit beliefs about the malleability of their learning ability can have a major impact on their self-efficacy beliefs, and, importantly, that these implicit beliefs are malleable themselves. Even though this relation between implicit beliefs, self-efficacy, and STEM field aspirations has been suggested multiple times, there is no empirical evidence to support this claim. The goal of the current study was to examine whether implicit beliefs about the malleability of STEM ability are associated with secondary school students’ intention to opt for a STEM field bachelor’s degree, using a Structural Equation Modelling approach. Furthermore, we examined the mediating role of STEM-oriented self-efficacy beliefs on the relationship between implicit ability beliefs and STEM intention. We used a Likert-type questionnaire, consisting of subscales to measure ability beliefs, self-efficacy, and intention to opt for a STEM degree of secondary school students in their fifth grade (n = 483). Results showed that there is a positive relation between implicit STEM ability beliefs and the intention to opt for a STEM field bachelor degree, and that this relation is partly mediated by self-efficacy beliefs. Incremental STEM ability beliefs predicted positive self-efficacy beliefs and increased STEM intention. These findings provide a foundation for a novel approach to stimulate and motivate students for the STEM field, namely by stimulating incremental beliefs about their STEM ability.
This research was funded by TechYourFuture, the Dutch center of expertise in technology education, project 13.
- Mathematics Education Centre