The STEAM-Active (Project Number: 2021-1-ES01-KA220-HED-000032107) project is funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.

Incremental Beliefs, STEM Efficacy and STEM Interest Among First-Year Undergraduate Students

Partners' Institution
University of Peloponnese
Year of publication
Educational stage
University Level
Journal name
Journal of Science Education and Technology
Thematic Area
STEAM intervention (teaching strategies, evaluation...)
Recent research suggests that students may not be entering STEM fields due to declining interest as well as stereotypes that STEM fields require natural talent. As such, engaging and retaining students in STEM is essential to ensure placement for these in-demand skills and jobs. The results demonstrate that incremental beliefs and STEM efficacy are important predictors for various STEM outcomes such as sense of belonging. Better understanding of implicit intelligence beliefs and STEM efficacy has implications for facilitating interest and engagement in STEM fields.
Relevance for Complex Systems Knowledge
This study contributes to the growing body of research on intelligence theories, examining whether incremental beliefs and STEM efficacy predict STEM outcomes such as STEM interest, sense of belonging in STEM, and perceived identity compatibility.

Participants were 1201 first-year undergraduate students from a STEM-focused university.

Measures are listed in the order in which participants completed them.
- STEM Interest
- STEM/Self-Perceived Identity Compatibility
- STEM/Gender-Perceived Identity Compatibility
- STEM Efficacy
- STEM Sense of Belonging
- Implicit Intelligence Beliefs
- Demographics

Results from the present study suggest that incremental beliefs and STEM efficacy are important predictors of STEM outcomes. More specifically, findings show that holding incremental beliefs predicts greater STEM efficacy, which then predicts greater interest and sense of belonging in STEM as well as greater perceived identity compatibility between self and STEM and between one’s own gender and STEM.
Additionally, findings from the moderated mediations suggest that these mediation effects are only significant for those currently pursuing a STEM major, supporting the hypothesis that endorsing incremental beliefs, which challenge the STEM stereotype, is beneficial for those currently in STEM.
Point of Strength
The findings from this research expand our understanding of the underlying mechanisms by which incremental beliefs affect students’ STEM interest, sense of belonging in STEM, and perceived identity compatibility, which are important predictors of STEM outcomes related to interest and engagement. Examining the mediating effect of STEM efficacy is important for both understanding the psychological processes of STEM interest and engagement as well as development of theory-based intervention targeting these key variables.
STEM interest, Intelligence beliefs, Self-efficacy, Sense of belonging, Perceived identity compatibility
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