Evidence That It Works
A study of a diverse group of 262 high school science students found that both science grades and interest in science increased after writing about how what they were learning in class was relevant to their lives, in comparison to a control group. This result was particularly significant for students who did not expect to be successful in science class.
Why Does It Matter?
The “outside-in” approach to education doesn’t always connect academic content to students’ lives and often leaves students questioning the meaning of what they’re learning. This approach can eventually lead to decreased student motivation and well-being.
Giving students the opportunity to consider the relevance of what they’re learning to their lives both now and in the future can be a powerful mechanism for engaging students in class. Indeed, a study of 2,000 students showed that when students attach a personally meaningful purpose that is prosocial in nature (kind and helpful to others) to what they’re learning, they are more likely to persevere on a boring academic task.