Engineering students' intelligence beliefs and learning

Glenda S. Stump, Jenefer Husman, Marcia Corby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Background: Students' beliefs about their intellectual ability influence their use of learning strategies, learning effort, and response to failure or setbacks. Students with incremental views of intelligence believe that learning is possible with sufficient effort, whereas those with entity views believe that intelligence is a fixed quality and expenditure of effort reflects an insufficient amount of that quality. Purpose: This study examined the relationship between engineering students' beliefs about intelligence and their perceived use of active learning strategies such as collaboration and knowledge-building behaviors, self-efficacy for learning and performance, and course grade. The study also examined the extent of entity and incremental beliefs in a sample of engineering students. Design/Method: The correlational study analyzed data from 377 engineering students recruited from required engineering courses at a large public university. We used bivariate correlations to examine relationships between study variables and multiple regression analyses to examine predictive ability of the variables on learning strategies and course grade. Results: Our results showed that students' intelligence beliefs were correlated with active learning strategies. Self-efficacy, reported use of collaboration, and incremental beliefs about intelligence were predictive of students' reported use of knowledge-building behaviors. Intelligence beliefs were not predictive of course grade. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate the utility of these motivational beliefs for understanding university engineering students' learning efforts. Our results also suggest a need for instructors to support incremental views of intelligence among engineering students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-387
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Collaboration
  • Intelligence beliefs
  • Knowledge-building behaviors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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