The objective of this study is to investigate the relation between the meaning students attribute to their school tasks and the performance level they achieve in them. Based on the approach of situated cognition, a video strategy was defined to elicit, record, and interpret the meanings that emerge when students observe their own performance in scenes previously recorded in their classroom. The students' responses were taped and subjected to semantic and gestural analysis. Three patterns of meaning could be identified in the results: automatic, instrumental, and projective. These patterns place students along three different courses of action, despite dealing with the same school task. In particular, students that, from the observation of their tasks, create projective meanings demonstrate better understanding, greater performance and, eventually, higher qualifications. The conclusions highlight the methodological and pedagogical value of this project, since it helps to understand the different meanings created by the students, and reveals how these factors impact on school performance and success. (160 palavras).