How Motivation, Engagement, and Reading Achievement are Related Among Adolescents.

The Beginning Thoughts for the Research:

Dr. John Guthrie from the University of Maryland knew that most teachers agreed that motivation was important for students' learning, but he realized that there had not been any research on motivation or how to go about it. Therefore, he has been studying the relationship of motivation, engagement, and reading achievement. He explains in the podcast that you have to have energy to become a better reader. The standards require a lot of reading with complex thinking so students have to be energized to read and think through the content.

Five practices that successful teachers use for motivation

1. Relevance: Helping students see how it relates them; so that it actually means something and is not an abstract idea or off in the distance concept. Give them a concrete thing before they read. For example, show a video that connects to the text before reading.

2. Little Choices: Give students opportunities to make their own choices each day. This helps give them ownership. For example, which character they want to specialize on or what book they want to read.

3. Working Together: Have students collaborate so students see that reading is not just an individual thing, but also social. This gives students the opportunity to hear other perspectives and have discussions.

4. Assure Success: Set realistic goals for the students so that they don't think reading is too hard; help them build confidence. For example, match the text level to the student or give them a goal of how many pages to read.

5. Show Value of Reading: Help them understand how reading helps them; show them how reading pay offs.

For Parents:

Allow access to many kinds of books- connect them to online and/or library books. Parents can play a powerful part in students reading experience if parents encourage them to read, require reading, and let them know how much they value reading. Parents, since they are often role models, can also be the example for their children by reading on their own.


Principals can play a huge role in helping their be motivation and engagement when reading as well. They can do this by supporting it with observation. Principals set the expectations for the teachers, if principals require that some type of motivation (one of the five practices) is included in every lesson with text.

Policy Makers:

Right now the policy makers are very focused on students' skills when it comes to reading- how to read/ strategies to help with reading. Since policy makers are all about achievement, though, Dr. Gunthrie says that policy makers need to put less focus on skill and more focus on motivation. He thinks that that focus on skill has really been working against the purpose of the policy makers because it causes less motivation for the students.

"Engagement is more important to reading then intelligence is."