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Learning Condition Spotlight: Meaningful Work

In order to maximize student engagement and foster a meaningful learning experience, teachers strive to help students discover the personal relevance of their studies. Below are some strategies for teachers to enhance Meaningful Work as well as student and educator reflections about the impact of Meaningful Work on motivation and academic performance.

A. What is Meaningful Work and why does it matter?

Meaningful Work is work that is interesting and relevant to students’ own individual lives. Students are more motivated to learn when the work in class feels interesting and relevant to them.

In Students’ Words: "Meaningful work is work that helps us make connections to the real world and our own lives. Meaningful work is work that excites and motivates us now and to grow in the future."

– To&Through Middle Grades Network

In the video below, students discuss how seeing themselves in the curriculum and becoming decision-makers in their own learning journey contributed to their motivation.

B. How is Meaningful Work measured?
Elevate measures Meaningful Work by asking students the extent to which they agree with the following statements:
  • In this class, we do meaningful work, not busy work.
  • What we learn in this class is connected to real-life.
  • This teacher makes what we're learning really interesting.
Students react to these statements on a 6 point scale and the percentages in Elevate reports reflect the portion of students who select “strongly agree” or “agree.” 
C. How can I improve Meaningful Work?
Teachers can improve Meaningful Work by helping students see the connection between their class work and their life outside of the classroom and by creating opportunities for student choice. Check out these and other recommended practices at

In the video below, educators discuss how they partnered with students to align on a definition of work that is meaningful and strategies they applied to help students recognize the relevancy of their work. A teacher also shares how her students’ grades improved in tandem with the Meaningful Work learning condition.

In the next video, Rae Anne Crandall of San Ramon Valley USD shares how she improved meaningful work by asking her students for suggestions for how she could improve.

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