The Motivation and Instruction lab’s research addresses the reasons students may lack motivation to pursue STEM courses or careers. Their preconceptions about STEM learning become barriers to their education, the most prominent being that science is a subject that comes “naturally” to smart people. Thus, when students struggle in STEM classes, they perceive this as a sign that they are not smart enough for success in a STEM.
We tackle these beliefs and attitudes by exposing high school students to scientists’ struggling stories, reminding them even the greatest scientists experienced difficulties. Previous research has shown this method results in improved interest in science, delayed recall of science material, and science problem solving. Our ongoing work investigates how different types of scientists’ struggling stories affect students’ beliefs about their own STEM learning ability and students’ actual STEM performance.