Implicit intelligence beliefs of computer science students: Exploring change across the semester

Abraham E. Flanigan, Markeya S. Peteranetz, Duane A. Shell, Leen-Kiat Soh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


This study investigated introductory computer science (CS1) students’ implicit beliefs of intelligence. Referencing Dweck and Leggett's (1988) framework for implicit beliefs of intelligence, we examined how (1) students’ implicit beliefs changed over the course of a semester, (2) these changes differed as a function of course enrollment and students’ motivated self-regulated engagement profile, and (3) implicit beliefs predicted student learning based on standardized course grades and performance on a computational thinking knowledge test. For all students, there were significant increases in entity beliefs and significant decreases in incremental beliefs across the semester. However, examination of effect sizes suggests that significant findings for change across time were driven by changes in specific subpopulations of students. Moreover, results showed that students endorsed incremental belief more strongly than entity belief at both the beginning and end of the semester. Furthermore, the magnitude of changes differed based on students’ motivated self-regulated engagement profiles. Additionally, students’ achievement outcomes were weakly predicted by their implicit beliefs of intelligence. Finally, results showed that the relationship between changes in implicit intelligence beliefs and student achievement varied across different CS1 courses. Theoretical implications for implicit intelligence beliefs and recommendations for STEM educators are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-196
Number of pages18
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Computer science
  • Implicit intelligence beliefs
  • Motivation
  • Self-regulation, Engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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