Motivation, Engagement, and Reading


How motivation, engagement, and reading achievement are related among adolescents

Dr. John Guthrie is a Professor of Literacy in the Department of Human Development at the University of Maryland. At the university, Dr. Guthrie was co-director of the National Reading Research Center. His work was based on classroom research in motivation and contexts for developing reading engagement. You can find out more about his research through his book, Engaged Reading: Processes, Practices, and Policy Implications, and Engaging Young Readers: Promoting Achievement and Motivation.
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Why do we care about motivation when it comes to reading?

Dr. John Guthrie states, "you have to have energy to get to be a better reader." Many challenges arise with Core Content State Standards and one of those challenges is getting students to read complex text, which is hard work. In order for students to fully understand what they are reading, they must spend time and energy, which requires motivation. Students have to want to do the work and believe that they can succeed.

What teachers can do

  1. Relevance: making reading relevant to students. Examples- show a short clip of a video that relates to the text they are about to read. If the students are reading about the outdoors, take them on a nature walk.
  2. Little choices: Teachers don't have give broad choices, but instead should give little choices such as, which character would you like to write about? Dr. Guthrie suggest students be given one choice during every lesson.
  3. Working together: have students work in partners, or groups, so they have the opportunity to learn from one another. This allows the students to connect reading to social engagement.
  4. Assure that kids are successful: Match text to the students and help them set goals, so they can keep track of their progress.
  5. Help kids see the value of reading: Teachers need to remind students that reading is key, and this can be done through activities like engaging students in debates and discussions.

Principals should put motivation on their checklist and inform the teachers on certain activities they want to see take place in order for this to be accomplished.

What parents can do

  • Help students get access to books.
  • Read to them/with them.
  • Let students know that they support their reading and value it.
  • Advocate for reading. They can do this by allowing students to see the book's movie.

Motivation is not limited

Motivation should be included in every subject during every lesson that relates to text.

Dr. Guthrie states, "engagement is more important to achievement than intelligence."

Next steps: Engaging in classroom experiments to find out how to engage and motivate the students in your classroom.

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