to science, and career exploration
Finally, we’ve observed a handful
of teachers who’ve created a class
identity and sense of belonging that
they’ve tied to class work. They use
words like “we” and “our class.” For
example, in reference to an upcoming
student mentoring project, the teacher
said, “We’ll be teaching 5th graders
about invasive species. Each one of
you plays an important role in making
this succeed. The 5th graders depend
on your knowledge, preparation, and
Finding Its Relative Worth: Cost Value
Like savvy shoppers, students often
weigh the relative costs of their
options. Before engaging in learning,
participation, and achievement, they
may think about what they’ll have to
“pay” for it and what they’ll gain in
return. Video games, part-time jobs,
other classes, and socializing may
compete with studying for students’
time and effort.
If students perceive that their
science content has little value, they
may calculate that the cost of engaging
in it is simply too high. However, if
a teacher consistently highlights the
value of science in terms of students’
interests, goals, self-perceptions, and
daily life, it’s often enough to sway this
cost analysis in favor of science.
A Worthwhile Investment
When students hold the belief, flawed
though it may be, that academics have
little value, it’s no wonder they’re dis-
engaged from school. Fortunately,
teachers have tremendous power to
influence those beliefs. Investing the
effort to implement the strategies
we’ve suggested here is well worth the
cost. Helping students find value in
their learning activities is likely to
result in increased student
engagement, interest, and performance
both in and out of school. EL
Authors’ note: The material in this
article is based on work supported by the
National Science Foundation under Grants
No: HRD-1136143, HRD-1102925, and
HRD-0827526. Any opinions, findings,
conclusions, or recommendations
expressed in this article are those of the
authors and do not reflect the views of the
National Science Foundation.
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Schmidt, J. A., Shumow, L., & Durik, A.,
(2011). Incremental mindset and utility
for science learning and engagement
(IMUScLE). Grant proposal funded by
the National Science Foundation, Washington, DC.
Shumow, L., & Schmidt, J. A. (2014).
Enhancing adolescents’ motivation for
science: Research-based strategies for
teaching male and female students.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Lee Shumow ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is
Presidential Teaching Professor and
Jennifer A. Schmidt (jaschmidt@
niu.edu) is associate professor in the
Department of Leadership, Educational
Psychology, and Foundations at Northern
Illinois University, DeKalb. They are
the authors of Enhancing Adolescents’
Motivation for Science: Research-Based
Strategies for Teaching Male and Female
Students (2014, Corwin).