Impulsivity has been linked to academic performance in the context of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, though its influence on a wider spectrum of students remains largely unexplored, particularly in the context of STEM learning (i.e. science, technology, engineering, and math). STEM learning was hypothesized to be more challenging for impulsive students, since it requires the practice and repetition of tasks as well as concerted attention to task performance. Impulsivity was assessed in a cross-sectional sample of 2,476 students in grades 6–12. Results show impulsivity affects a larger population of students, not limited to students with learning disabilities. Impulsivity was associated with lower sources of self-efficacy for science (SSSE), interest in most STEM domains (particularly math), and self-reported STEM skills. The large negative effect size observed for impulsivity was opposed by higher mindset, which describes a student’s belief in the importance of effort when learning is difficult. Mindset had a large positive effect size associated with greater SSSE, STEM interest, and STEM skills. When modeled together, results offer that mindset interventions may benefit impulsive students who struggle with STEM. Together, these data suggest important interconnected roles for impulsivity and mindset that can influence secondary students’ STEM trajectories.
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