It’s no secret that we’re all more motivated to learn when we see what we’re learning as relevant to our lives and personally valuable. Teachers work hard to connect classroom activities with their students’ interests, and studies are shedding light on additional strategies that may be useful to some educators.
Writing in The New York Times, a psychologist describes several research studies that reveal ways to make learning personally meaningful for students. In one such study, high school science students were asked several times over the course of a semester to either write a summary of their classroom learning or write about how science is useful in their own lives.
Not surprisingly, the students who wrote about how science was personally useful to them outperformed the students who had merely summarized their learning, with the former, on average, earning almost a full grade point more. And the first group didn’t just earn better grades, at the end of the semester they also said they more interested in science.