Relevance is a research-based measure from the Tell Them From Me surveys. It is a source of evidence linked to What works best and the School Excellence Framework..

What is it?

Instructional relevance refers to whether classroom instruction is purposeful and meaningful to students’ everyday lives.

The Tell Them From Me surveys ask students about how relevant they perceive their studies to be, and how clear the purpose of their learning is to them. In secondary schools, students are asked only about subjects they are currently enrolled in from among English, Maths and Science. The results are reported as students’ average score for relevance.

Why is it important?

Both motivation and achievement are enhanced when students find value and meaning in their learning. Interest in class and subsequent grades has been shown to improve when students make personal connections between their lives and classroom learning. Student beliefs regarding the value of school subjects also impact on their later academic choices, as well as their effort and persistence in learning.

School improvement links

School Excellence Framework element What works best theme
Effective classroom practice Explicit teaching

Evidence base

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. Science, 326(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: Routledge.

Image: This explainer has been produced in collaboration with The Learning Bar

Explainers of the Tell Them From Me measures have been produced in collaboration with The Learning Bar. The Tell Them From Me measures are provided by, and remain the intellectual property of, The Learning Bar. The explainers can also be found online within the Tell Them From Me portal. Tell Them From Me and TTFM are trademarks of The Learning Bar.


  • Student engagement and wellbeing
  • Tell Them From Me

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
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