Do your students believe they can succeed? You can inspire the courage to excel by bolstering student self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the belief one has in their ability to perform a specific task. Gender differences have been observed in STEM self-efficacy, where men and boys more often have a higher STEM self-efficacy than women and girls. STEM self-efficacy can affect the probability of success in STEM-related fields.

Help students map their climb to STEM success with the following five tips to build self-efficacy:

  1. Break down the task: Smaller tasks are easier to tackle, so break down your goal into small pieces. Then, set short-term goals!
  2. Find a role model: Talk to or observe someone who knows how to do the task well. It’s particularly helpful if the friend or adult has something in common with you (gender, race, age, location)!
  3. Ask for specific feedback: As you progress through the task, trust that feedback can help you improve.
  4. Learn from failure: Failure is OK, and part of learning! Have the courage to initiate, fail, and initiate again.
  5. Celebrate milestones: Reflect on your progress and acknowledge each and every small step forward.

Short-term successes and failures are the stepping-stones to achieving long term goals.

Research indicates that the most effective ways to improve STEM self-efficacy for girls and women are providing opportunities for them to learn through observing others perform tasks, to meet relatable role models who look like them, and through realistic feedback related to a specific learning experience or previous performance.

By building students’ STEM self-efficacy, you will increase their motivation, engagement, performance, persistence, and success!

Learn more: Rittmayer & Beier. 2008. Self-Efficacy in STEM. http://www.engr.psu.edu/awe/misc/arps/arp_selfefficacy_overview_122208.pdf


This diversity tip was originally shared in the March 16, 2016 Newsletter.

If you have a diversity/inclusion tip or resource you would like to share with the division, please email Morgan Hynes morganhynes@purdue.edu.

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