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In Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, identity and belonging are affected by how students view themselves as belonging in STEM or not. The movement to help students understand that anyone can be successful in STEM is an incredibly important one. However, how students construct their identities within STEM is important for maintaining their engagement within STEM fields over time. If we condition students to expect positive feedback for having an aptitude in a STEM field early-on, what I deem genius culture, we risk helping these students develop resilience when faced with challenges. Although, if we tell students that everyone can succeed in STEM, we risk deflating students who are gifted or talented in STEM and equating growth/improvement as mastery, thereby discouraging inquiry. Moreover, as instructors, our own sense of STEM-self affects how we teach and reward our students for their successes. A more sustainable goal is to make students aware of their STEM-self and help students bolster their sense of belonging in STEM rather than acknowledging only their perceived successes or failures.

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© 2023 Bowman. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

The article was originally published in the journal Frontiers in Education.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.