Growing STEM: Perceived faculty mindset as an indicator of communal affordances in STEM

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2019 Aug;117(2):260-281. doi: 10.1037/pspa0000154. Epub 2019 Mar 14.


As students explore science and engineering fields, they receive messages about what competencies are required in a particular field, as well as whether they can reach their goals by entering the field. Faculty members convey information both about whether students might have the ability to succeed in a particular field and also whether students might want to succeed in a particular field-is this career one that serves the values or goals of the student? We hypothesize a novel pathway through which growth versus fixed mindset messages communicated by faculty affect students. Specifically, we explore whether emphasizing the potential for growth, rather than emphasizing fixed abilities, can indicate to students that science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) fields offer opportunities to fulfill their goals. Across 8 studies, we find that perceiving that faculty endorse growth versus fixed mindset beliefs increases beliefs that STEM contexts afford communal and agentic goals; perceived communal affordances more strongly predict people's interest in pursuing STEM education and careers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Engineering / education*
  • Faculty / psychology*
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mathematics / education*
  • Science / education*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Technology / education*
  • Universities*
  • Young Adult