Relevance Print or save as PDF

How is it defined?

Instructional relevance refers to whether classroom instruction is purposeful and meaningful to students’ everyday lives. Both motivation and achievement are enhanced when students find value and meaning in their coursework (Brophy, 1999).

The Learning Bar’s framework on the drivers of student outcomes includes measures of quality instruction, school context, classroom context and family context. The domain of quality instruction in OurSCHOOL is inspired by and consistent with the model of instruction set out by Anderson (2004) and includes measures of effective learning time, relevance and high-yield teaching strategies.

Why is it important?

  • When students view classroom content as relevant, they have greater motivation to study for that course (Frymier & Shulman, 1995).
  • Interest in class and subsequent grades has been shown to improve when students make personal connections between their lives and classroom learning (Hulleman & Harackiewicz, 2009).
  • Student perceptions about the value of a school subject can be fostered through classroom relevance interventions that focus on modifying existing beliefs (Gaspard et al., 2015).
  • Interventions that target student perceptions of the perceived relevance of learning content have been shown to effectively promote motivation for that subject (Hulleman & Harackiewicz, 2009).
  • Student beliefs regarding the value of school subjects predict academic choices, effort and persistence (Wigfield, Tonks, & Klauda, 2009).

How do we measure it?

In the OurSCHOOL elementary and secondary school surveys, students respond to Likert questions regarding the relevance of classroom instruction in their classes. On the secondary school questionnaire, students are only asked questions about subjects they are currently enrolled in from among three subject areas – Language Arts, Math and Science. The data is scaled on a 10-point scale and the results are reported as “the average score for relevance”.


Anderson, L. W. (2004). Increasing teacher effectiveness (2nd ed). Paris: UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning.

Brophy, J. (1999). Toward a model of the value aspects of motivation in education: Developing appreciation for particular learning domains and activities. Educational Psychologist, 34(2), 75-85.

Frymier, A. B., & Shulman, G. M. (1995). “What’s in it for me?”: Increasing content relevance to enhance students’ motivation. Communication Education, 44(1), 40-50.

Gaspard, H., Dicke, A. L., Flunger, B., Brisson, B. M., Hafner, I., Nagengast, B., & Trautwein, U. (2015). Fostering adolescents’ value beliefs for mathematics with a relevance intervention in the classroom. Developmental Psychology, 51(9), 1226-1240.

Hulleman, C. S., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2009). Promoting interest and performance in high school science classes. Science326(5958), 1410-1412.

Wigfield, A., Tonks, S., & Klauda, S. T. (2009). Expectancy-value theory. In K. R. Wentzel & A. Wigfield (Eds.), Handbook of motivation at school (pp. 55-75). New York, NY: Routledge.