College Students’ Perceptions of Relevance, Personal Interest, and Task Value

Eric C. Schoute*, Patricia A. Alexander, Sofie M.M. Loyens, Doug Lombardi, Fred Paas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study aimed to explore undergraduates’ perceptions of relevance in conjunction with two associated constructs, personal interest, and task value. To unearth these perceptions, American (n = 104) and Dutch (n = 79) students completed the Conceptualization of Relevance Task (CoRT). This task required them to: (a) select a graphic that best represented their view of the interplay of relevance, personal interest, and task value; (b) justify their selection and exemplify it with a personal experience (c) define each of these terms. We scored the quality and consistency between students’ graphic selection and their justification and exemplification of that selection using a 0–2 rubric. The definitions students wrote for each term were subjected to content analysis. Among the major contributions of this study was its demonstration of the merit of examining laypersons’ views of relevance; the finding that students conceived of relevance as multidimensional and both externally and internally influenced; and the noting of parallels between the views of these non-experts and those of experts in the field of motivation regarding the nature of relevance. Implications for future research and practice are forwarded.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

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