We tested whether classroom activities that encourage students to connect course materials to their lives will increase student motivation and learning. We hypothesized that this effect will be stronger for students who have low expectations of success. In a randomized field experiment with high school students, we found that a relevance intervention, which encouraged students to make connections between their lives and what they were learning in their science courses, increased interest in science and course grades for students with low success expectations. The results have implications for the development of science curricula and theories of motivation.
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