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It is fundamentally important to help students connect the material they learn in their science courses to the world they encounter outside the classroom. In this preliminary report, we describe how we facilitated such connections in our undergraduate students by creating materials for a First-year Seminar course, The Earth (a non-science-majors course). The materials included specific in-class, small-group discussion questions; talking points in lecture; and a journal where students recorded their observations of the natural world. Our analysis indicated that we improved our students' attitudes and beliefs about how their coursework relates to the real world, and these improvements were better than those of students with similar experiences but who were not exposed to the additional, tailored course materials.
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