Motivation for Reading


—  To be motivated means to be moved to do something…. Someone who is energized or activated toward an end is considered motivated. (Ryan & Deci, 2000: 54)

—  Motivation deals with….the choices individuals make about which activity to do or not to do, their degree of persistence at the chosen activities, and the amount of effort they put forth to do the activity. Purely cognitive models of reading do not deal with these sorts of issues and so do not provide a complete picture of reading. (Wigfield, 2000: 140-141)

—  Most research agrees that motivation involves a set of beliefs, values, and expectations and a set of defining behaviors: engagement, persistence, strategic problem-solving, and requests for help.


Theories of Motivation

Theories of motivation can become quite complex because of their many overlapping concepts and characteristics. Part of the complexity arises from researchers ‘different starts points.

—  Achievement Theory

—  Attribution Theory

—  Social-Cognitive Theory

—  Goal Theory

—  Self Determination Theory


Related Concepts

There are a number of related concepts that are keys to many of the theories.

  1. An individual experiences control over the processes and tasks that lead to successful outcomes
  2. When an individual feels good about him or herself
  3. interest


Motivation and Reading

—  Students with higher reading motivation performed significantly better on a number of reading-comprehension measure (Guthrie et al., 2004, 2007; Unrau & Schlackman, 2006). Overall, motivational factor do appear to influence reading comprehension, both directly and indirectly, and deserve serious attention for reading development.

—  Wigfield and Guthrie (1997; Wigfield, 1997b) have developed a motivation questionnaire (Motivation for Reading Questionnaire, MRQ) which they have applied in multiple studies. In their 1997 study, they examined the relationship between motivation and depth and breadth of reading. Motivation was found to be a significant predictor of depth and breadth of reading, and a composite intrinsic motivation profile was a stronger predictor than a composite profile of extrinsic motivation.

—  Intrinsic motivation is represented by curiosity, involvement, and preference for challenge.

—  Extrinsic motivation is represented by recognition, grade, social reasons, competition, and compliance.


Motivation in the L1 reading classroom: the impact of motivation

—  In the classroom, student who are more intrinsically motivated are more engaged readers. Intrinsically motivated students read more, learn more, use strategies for reading and learning more effectively, are more curious and become more involved in their reading and learning, have a preference for challenge, are more confident and have reasonable expectation for success, and are more self-directed readers. In other words, they are independent learners in control of their reading (Guthrie et al., 2006; Guthrie, Wigfield, & Perencevich, 2004a).


Motivation for L2 reading

L1 intrinsic motivation and L2 intrinsic motivation, both significantly predicted the amount of L2 reading (Takase 2007)

Implication for instruction: Teaching Motivation

Factors that support reading motivation:

  1. Opportunities for learning success and gains in conceptual knowledge.
  2. Real-world interaction (demonstrations, data collection, observation, etc.)
  3. Autonomy support, student self-direction.
  4. Interesting texts for instruction.
  5. Opportunities for extended reading.
  6. Strategy instruction.
  7. Social collaboration and relationship building for academic tasks.
  8. Evaluation and feedback that support learning.

Teacher practices for promoting motivation:

  1. Talk about what interests students and why.
  2. Share personal examples of motivated task engagement.
  3. Have students share their interest.
  4. Create a pleasant classroom environment.
  5. Promote effective goal setting and expected outcomes.
  6. Communicate the importance of schoolwork and tasks.
  7. Make task purposes and performance expectations clear.
  8. Increase student’s expectancy of success in particular tasks.
  9. Build student’s self-confidence.
  10. Promote the development of group cohesiveness.
  11. Have good lead-ins to all texts and tasks to build initial interest.
  12. Match student skills with challenges.
  13. Make the curriculum relevant to student.
  14. Promote effective learning strategies.
  15. Introduce new books and reading materials to students.
  16. Promote active student participation, so learning is stimulating and enjoyable.
  17. Involve learners in decision-making related to reading tasks and goals.
  18. Give student choices.
  19. Provide support and scaffolding with more difficult texts and tasks.
  20. Build real levels of expertise in topics of reading (e.g., with CORI, content-based instruction).
  21. Provide motivating feedback on tasks and learning progress.
  22. Create communities or learners who support each other with difficult tasks (e.g., cooperative learning approaches).
  23. Encourage students to read extensively, both in school and at home.
  24. Generate “flow”.



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