Modeling the relation between students’ implicit beliefs about their abilities and their educational STEM choices

Sandra van Aalderen-Smeets (Corresponding Author), Julie Henriëtte Walma van der Molen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
129 Downloads (Pure)


Despite the large body of research on students’ educational and career choices in the field of technology, design, and science, we still lack a clear understanding of how to stimulate more students to opt for a study path or career within the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). In this article, we outline a new theoretical framework to describe how students’ implicit belief about the malleability of their intelligence can be an important precursor of their STEM educational and career choice behavior. Based on the different bodies of literature about STEM choices and about students’ implicit beliefs about their abilities, we present three hypothetical pathways, in the form of testable models, that describe potential relations between the implicit theories that students may hold regarding the malleability of their STEM ability and students’ intentions to pursue a STEM career. Each pathway outlines a specific mediating factor influencing this relation: (a) self-efficacy beliefs, (b) stereotypical thinking, and (c) motivational beliefs. These pathways provide more insight into the underlying mechanisms that may affect STEM choice behavior. In our view, such a theoretical underpinning is a necessary prerequisite for further scientific investigation into the potential relations between students’ implicit beliefs about their potential development, relevant psychological variables, and STEM choice behavior. Furthermore, we believe it provides a theoretical foundation for practical interventions that aim to stimulate STEM choice behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
JournalInternational journal of technology and design education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Educational and career choice
  • Implicit theories of intelligence
  • Mindset
  • STEM
  • STEM pipeline
  • Ability related beliefs


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