Motivation and emotion/Book/2015/Reading motivation in young learners

Reading motivation in young learners:
How can teaching staff and parents motivate young learners to read?

Overview edit

Figure 1. A century ago, less distractions existed for students making it easier to motivate reading.

Why do some young children just do their work while others spend hours trying to redirect their energy to other tasks? Motivating young children to read can be difficult. This chapter presents some of the psychological theories of motivation in relation to reading, a teacher's role in learning, a parent's role in supporting their child, and finally some strategies that can be used to boost motivation. The idea is to form an integrative and supportive approach to motivating readers and enhance their academic lives using psychological science.

Key questions of chapter.

  • Why is reading important?
  • What is motivation in relation to learning to read?
  • What psychological theories help to explain the motivation of young readers?
  • How can teaching staff and parents work collaboratively towards better learning outcomes?
  • What are some strategies to motivate reading that parents and teachers can use?

Introduction edit

Figure 2. A magic flute or quick solution does not exist in motivation, it takes work and time.

Why reading is important? edit

There are students who do not receive the skills they need to succeed in a world with many complex difficulties (Vernon-Feagans, Kainz, Hedrick, Ginsberg, & Amendum, 2013). Recent reports on academic achievement scores have shown that students are not performing as well as they have in previous decades (Anderson & Fuller, 2010). The amount of time spent reading predicts not only reading achievement, but an individual's knowledge of the world (De Naeghel, Van Keer, Vansteenkiste, & Rosseel, 2012). Reading at university or college level is fundamental to future research, knowledge and careers (McMinn, Tabor, Trihub, Taylor, & Dominguez, 2009).

Motivation and reading edit

In a world with an ever-growing amount of distractions, it can sometimes be incredibly difficult to get young learners to read. Motivation plays a vital role in achievement and the development of literacy (Mucherah & Amberose-Stahl, 2013). There is a huge difference between influencing and motivating (Reeve & Woogul, 2014). Influencing is getting a child to read because as the parent or teacher that is what you expect from them (Figure 2). Where as a reader that is motivated wants to get to the end of the story just to find out what happens. They can also enjoy the progress especially when feedback is given optimally.

Benefits of a motivated reader include higher leisure time reading, which then associates back to more reading engagement and better reading comprehension in the student's school work (De Naeghel et al., 2012). If adopted, an integrative and supportive approach between students parents, teachers, and the community could maximise the efficiency of resources. This approach could help motivate young learners to read while their brains are in the optimal developmental stages for language and learning development, and try to identify and assist those children behind in their learning (Chiu & Chow, 2015).

Psychological theory and reading motivation edit

Figure 3. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

[Provide more detail]

Need fulfillment edit

One well established model of needs is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (see Figure 3). Need fulfillment can lead to not only subjective well-being of an individual, but if a community's needs are met the society also benefits as a whole (Tay & Diener, 2011). In a sample of 123 countries; social relationships, mastery, and autonomy were most highly correlated to positive and negative feelings (Tay & Diener, 2011). While the lower levels of Maslow's needs can be met without necessarily learning to read, for self esteem and even more so self-actualization needs in the modern world, reading is fundamental.

Self determination theory edit

According to Self-determination theory (SDT), there are three innate psychological needs that have to be met for optimal mental health. These are autonomy, relatedness and competence (Reeve & Woogul, 2014), (Figure 4). SDT distinguishes between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000). When someone is completely uninterested in an activity or non-motivated, this is referred to as amotivation.

Figure 4. Self Determination Theory

Amotivation can be described as a complete lack of motivation. The learner has no reason, if any, to participate in a particular activity or task (Reeve, 2015). In a classroom setting the learner just goes along with the activity with minimal effort or interest (Reeve, 2015). This can be present a very difficult situation for teachers and parents.

Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation comes from outside or externally from the learner (De Naeghel et al., 2012). An example of extrinsic motivation is a student completing a boring homework task in order to receive a toy or financial reward. For many mundane tasks this approach can sometimes be the only way to get a child to accomplish anything (Jang, Reeve, & Deci, 2010). While extrinsic motivation has its benefits in some cases (see Figure 5), in relation to reading, intrinsic motivation is the ideal goal.

Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation is internally driven or from within. Intrinsic motivation involves doing a task for personal enjoyment, natural curiosity, novelty, and challenge (De Naeghel et al., 2012). When a young learner is fully autonomous or self determined, behavior and learning are optimal (De Naeghel et al., 2012). The self-determination continuum proposes a practical path designed to help move a person from an amotivational reaction to a state of internal or intrinsic motivation in young learners (Ryan & Deci 2000). Although it is possible to be extrinsically and intrinsically motivated (Ryan & Deci 2000). The continuum (Figure 5) works from left to right. An example of how to move a student to be more intrinsically motivated in their reading is provided in the case study.

The Self-determination Continuum
Figure 5. The Self-Determination Continuum

Case study- The self-determination continuum as a motivational guide

Simon is a 10 year old boy who is amotivated when it comes to reading. Simon's parents and Teacher then communicate, and start trying to increase his interest in reading. In the first weeks of the school year, they are concerned that he is not attempting his class-work. Simon either stares at the roof in reading sessions, or refuses to read because he says that books are boring. They let Simon choose some appropriately levelled books of interest and begin a reading intervention at school.

At home, Simon's parents externally regulate his reading by giving him a small predetermined reward if Simon reads for 30 minutes, when he chooses, in the afternoon on schooldays. After a while Simon starts to feel like he should get his reading done, as his parents and teacher are regularly asking him of his progress and helping him. As part of the reading interventions at school and encouragement at home, Simon starts to want to read because he learns he can make school work easier, and can learn more about his favourite topic; dinosaurs. After more time has passed, Simon's confidence and reading level have grown. He reads because he has become a successful student, believing successful students read a lot in their spare time.

At the end of the school year Simon is asked why he reads. Now he is intrinsically motivated as he responds that he reads for enjoyment, to do better at school, likes stories and learning new things. Simon still sometimes gets rewarded for his achievements. However, he doesn't always read for a reward, or have to be told when to read in class. Simon has taken more responsibility in his learning by asking for help when he needs it.

Expectancy-value theory edit

Expectancy-value theory of achievement motivation was originally developed by |Julian Rotter. Expectancy-value theory and achievement motivation theorists attempt to explain an individual's choice of achievement tasks, and why they are persistent in undertaking these tasks (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000). Wigfield and Eccles reviewed past literature that specifically focused on two issues: a change in children and adolescents belief's of their ability and expectancy of success, and the relationship between children and adolescent's ability-expectancy beliefs and subjective task values to their performance. Building a history of successful experiences in reading, by using appropriate levelled books can help build a healthy appetite for learning and a |growth mindset.

Ecological system theory edit

Ecological system theory suggests that development happens in a complex environment, with surrounding contexts having multiple levels (Chiu & Chow, 2015). Development is affected by: (1) microsystems: family and classroom; (2) macrosystems: economy and cultural values; and (3) mesosystems: classmates, families and teachers (Chiu & Chow, 2015). Chiu and Chow suggest that those with higher socio-economic status, have access to more educational resources. financially disadvantaged students could be helped by having access to public libraries and school resources, and improved ethical communication between assistance services.

Self efficacy theory edit

Self efficacy theory was proposed by Albert Bandura (Anderson & Fuller, 2010). The four factors that affect self efficacy are: experience or practice, social factors, physiological experience (e.g. an increased heart rate), and from others, such as modelling or vicarious experience (Reeve, 2015). This is why schools promote a safe and productive learning environment. Girls generally have a higher self efficacy for reading than do boys (Anderson & Fuller, 2010). More positive male modelling of reading behaviour would be beneficial for boys.

Teaching staff edit

A teacher's role edit

Figure 6. Teaching can be challenging, but fun and rewarding.

Motivating students to read is the most essential part of teaching (Mucherah & Amberose-Stahl, 2014). As a teacher or educational staff member, you have already undertaken higher education and built a repertoire of motivational strategies accumulated through years of experience. This page is intended to extend that repertoire from a psychological perspective, but your depth of experience is also invaluable. If you have any additional evidence-based strategies that you would like to add it would be great. Congratulations on your choice of a challenging, although incredibly rewarding career in helping the development and intellectual growth of the future generation.

Young learners reading fluency is a multi-layered and dynamic process (Wang, Algozzine, Ma, & Porfeli, 2011). Learning to read is an ongoing, difficult and strenuous task, with often no observable benefits from a young learners perspective. Therefore, it is crucial that numerous strategies are available to motivate young learners.

Communication with parents edit

Communication between school staff and parents is always important. Getting parents or older siblings to assist younger learners at home is extremely helpful in reading development. Parent training in becoming more effective in shared reading behavior increases reading skills and is particularly useful in causes of environmentally or genetically at risk students (Landry et al., 2012). Providing parents with additional reading strategies and support can boost the learning rate of students with below-year level, and often unmotivated readers as well.

Risk factors, learning difficulties and reading interventions edit

Improving the reading rate of less competent or non-compliant students can be difficult (O'Connor, Swason, & Geraghty, 2010). The more practice a reader gets, the more proficient a reader becomes (Wang et al., 2011). Risk factors for lower than peer reading rates include: rural students, low socio-economic status families (Vernon-Feagans et al., 2013), home-life disruptions, late school entry and those learning to read in a second language (Kruk et al., 2013). These are risk factors but it should always be remembered there are vast individual differences.

There are many learning difficulties that are independent of how much motivation is present. This often requires additional strategies and consultation with medical professionals or psychologists is frequently necessary. Some learning difficulties associated with reading include: Dyslexia, difficulties with |vision, attention deficits such as ADD and ADHD and other learning disabilities.

Figure 7. Getting learners motivated, is the fundamental platform for successful education.

Reading interventions can alter genetic factors (Wang et al., 2011). Many reading interventions run for ten weeks, research suggests that increasing this to twenty weeks makes a significant difference (O'Connor et al., 2010). Often developing a good working relationship can take at least five sessions, particularly with apprehensive readers or reluctant to engage students. While cost and time are always important factors, increasing the quantity of time a student reads with support, greatly benefits their academic life.

Including appropriate motivation reasoning alongside skill interventions could help improve autonomous reading from students and improve academic performance (De Naeghel et al ., 2012). While much focus can be on 'how' we read and the techniques, it can also be important to direct attention to the longer-term 'why' we learn to read. Depending on where a person sits on the self determination continuum (See Figure 5), dictates which motivational strategy to implement.

A positive outlook edit

It is important to never give up and always stay positive. Positivity alone can be a powerful motivational tool. As mentioned above there is no magic flute (Figure 2) or quick solution to motivating learners, so if one strategy is not working there are always many others to explore. Keep up the fantastic job and never give up.

Parents edit

Figure 8. Encouraging children to read about things that interest them and modelling positive reading behavior, enhances their motivation.

A parent's role edit

Being a parent can be one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of a person's life. In general, parents want the very best for their children's futures, education and psychological growth. Literacy skills are essential for academic success (Eklund, Torppa, Aro, Leppänen, & Lyytinen, 2015). Education then opens many more possibilities for a person to grow and develop their identity, community, culture, well-being, and collective knowledge.

The type of parenting style a child receives makes a difference in the development of your child. Responsive parenting is an effective strategy to boost development. Providing consistently high levels of acceptance and warmth towards children as unique individuals fosters interested and cognitively responsive development (Landry et al., 2012).

When it comes to before school reading acquisition, timing and quantity are essential (Kruk et al., 2013). Reading skills in primary school are a significant predictor of reading skill in later life (Hart et al., 2013). An accuracy rate of around 90% is a good sign a book is at an appropriate level for assisted reading development (O'Connor, Swason, & Geraghty, 2010). The more hard work and effort you put in early, the more self directed a child becomes.

Figure 9. Children who read to themselves for enjoyment often do better academically.

Learning environment and distractions edit

There are countless leisure activities available to young learners in modern times. This makes the task of motivating young readers difficult for parents and teaching staff dealing with so many distractions (De Naeghel et al., 2012). Distractions can be either internal or external (Unsworth & McMillian, 2013). Internal distractions could be tiredness, hunger, boredom, fatigue or lack of interest. External or environmental issues could include distractions such as noise, social pressures from peers, bullying at school and general home-life interruptions. Making a quiet study space where books are read together as a family can limit distractions and foster quality family time. Listening to music, particularly those with lyrics, can distract a learner from reading (Anderson & Fuller, 2010). Although when a child is significantly amotivated, sometimes a reward or background distraction can be helpful for engagement in the right circumstances.

Work-life balance edit

It can be hard to balance all the different activities in modern life. Balance between study and life is important (McMinn et al, 2009). Being tired or fatigued when learning can lower a reader's potential growth (Unsworth & McMillian, 2013). Finding a healthy balance between enriching activities and getting enough sleep and not over-engaging to the point of exhaustion is fundamental to healthy development. All children need their rest and time to enjoy imaginative play too. If a child is motivated to read for their own enjoyment, school work and reading comprehension become less challenging at school and when doing homework that follows as the child gets older.

Support and help edit

Schools are incredibly busy places. This means while sometimes it can be difficult to get time with teachers, they are generally more than happy to help if you are concerned about your child's reading level, or motivation towards reading. Some schools have reading groups or outside school hours programs. Communicating with teachers and other parents to form reading groups can also be a great way to socialise within your community. A few of the many strategies to motivate young children to read, that can be used at home, can be found below.

Strategies to motivate reading edit

Strategy Explanation Parents Educational staff
Agentic Engagement Students have a constructive contribution to the flow of instruction they attain (Reeve, 2013). Being understanding and teaching coping mechanisms for internal or external pressures can help focus students and allow for better holistic engagement and self regulation.
  • Invest quality time in talking about issues and help teach resilience and openness.
  • Be sensitive that sometimes drastic changes in student behaviour can have underlying cause.
Autonomy driven learning As presented by SDT, autonomy is not just an educational tool but a fundamental psychological need. Teacher guided autonomy support leads to an increase in student motivation and engagement (Reeve & Woogul, 2014). In a longitudinal test of SDT, autonomy-supportive teachers had the greatest motivational outcomes (Jang et al., 2012). Teachers that are caring, use instructional emphasis, harbor a mutual respect, provide master oriented goal structures and provide interesting and useful classwork activities; can help to create a more self driven or autonomous learner (Jang et al ., 2012).It is essential to provide a wide variety of books, at the appropriate level, so the child has an element of choice (Landry et al., 2012).
  • Let children choose a range of books. Public libraries when available are great.
  • Allow some flexibility as to chosen reading time.
  • Where possible support autonomy of learning and choices in the classroom.
Computer assisted learning Computer assisted learning is a great tool for time poor families and readers who are behind (Vernon-Feagans et al., 2013). It can be effective for improving early reading skills, different cultural backgrounds and as supplemental learning (Vernon-Feagans et al., 2013). Some links are available at the bottom of the page to some free sites, although there are purchasable programs as well.
  • Many education and reading based games exist.
  • They can be a fun and interactive supplement with conventional reading methods.
  • Different reading programs can coincide with curriculum or be offered in non-class periods.
Feedback Feedback is when we get a timely response to a particular behaviour. Clear detailed instructions, strong guidance, and informative competence-relevant information is the most optimal feedback a teacher can give a student (Reeve, 2015). Encouragement from parents and teachers can be really positive and help the child feel they are working hard.
  • Support the process and reward of achievement rather than just competing or completing.
  • Give appropriate, timely and accurate feedback to students.
Quality relationship The genuine quality of the teacher-student relationship can affect motivational outcomes to read (Reeve & Woogul, 2014).
  • Build quality student/teacher relationships
Modelling reading behaviours One way humans learn is vicariously meaning to watch others (Reeve, 2015). When children are younger the most important role models and teachers they have are their parents (O'Connor et al., 2010). Modelling reading behaviour and sitting with them when they are reading is a great way to support learning.
  • When busy schedules allow, read with and in front of your children.
  • When possible without neglecting supervision responsibilities, read a school appropriate book in reading times.

Conclusion edit

Reading is an important life skill and motivation can be a crucial part of learning. Need fulfillment provides an explanation as to why we need to learn to read. The Self-determination continuum can be a practical guide to progress learners towards an intrinsic motivational state. Expectancy value, ecological system and self efficacy theories help identify individual differences and those potential at risk of falling behind. Teachers and parents play important roles in implementing the many different strategies available to assist in motivating reading. The young reader can greatly improve academic success as a result of learning to read by an integrative and supportive approach between parents, teachers, and the community.

Quiz edit

1 Influencing is the same a motivating?


2 Reading is important in obtaining _________________, on Maslow's hierarchy of needs?

Motivational needs
Safety needs
Self actualization needs
Physiological needs

3 According to self-determination theory, if someone is completely unmotivated towards a task, they are displaying what?


4 Authoritative parenting styles tend to have the best outcomes on motivation and development?


5 This chapter presents a/an _________________ and _________________ approach between the learner, parents and teaching staff?


See also edit

References edit

Anderson, S. A., & Fuller, G. B. (2010). Effect of music on reading comprehension of junior high school students. School Psychology Quarterly, 25(3), 178-187. doi:10.1037/a0021213

Chiu, M. M., & Chow, B. W. (2015). Classmate characteristics and student achievement in 33 countries: Classmates' past achievement, family socioeconomic status, resources, and attitudes towards reading. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(1), 152-169. doi:10.1037/a0036897

De Naeghel, J., Van Keer, H., Vansteenkiste, M., & Rosseel, Y. (2012). The relation between elementary students' recreational and academic reading motivation, reading frequency, engagement, and comprehension: A self-determination theory perspective. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(4), 1006-1021. doi:10.1037/a0027800

Eccles, J. S., Wigfield, A., & Schiefele, U. (1998). Motivation to succeed. Handbook of child psychology 5(3), 1017-1095). New York: Wiley.

Eklund, K., Torppa, M., Aro, M., Leppänen, P. T., & Lyytinen, H. (2015). Literacy skill development of children with familial risk for dyslexia through grades 2, 3, and 8. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(1), 126-140. doi:10.1037/a0037121

Hart, S. A., Logan, J. R., Soden-Hensler, B., Kershaw, S., Taylor, J., & Schatshneider, C. (2013). Exploring how nature and nurture affect the development of reading: An analysis of the Florida twin project on reading. Developmental Psychology, 49(10), 1971-1981. doi:10.1037/a003134

Jang, H., Kim, E. J., & Reeve, J. (2012). Longitudinal test of self-determination theory's motivation mediation: Model in a naturally occurring classroom context. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(4), 1175-1188. doi:10.1037/a0028089

Kruk, R. S., Prentice, S., & Moen K. B. (2013). Early childhood education and care (ECEC) and reading acquisition in at-risk readers: Does quantity matter? Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 45(1), 49-63. doi:10.1037/a0022706

Landry, S. H., Smith, K. E., Swank, P. R., Zucker, T., Crawford, A. D., & Solari, E. F. (2012). The effects of a responsive parenting intervention on parent-child interactions during shared book reading. Developmental Psychology, 48(4), 969-986. doi:10.1037/a0026400

McMinn, M, R., Tabor, A., Trihub, B. L., Taylor, L., & Dominguez, A, W. (2009). Reading in graduate school: A survey of doctoral students in clinical psychology. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 3(4), 233-239. doi:10.1037/a0016405

Mucherah, W., & Amberose-Stahl, L. (2014). Relation of reading motivation to reading achievement in seventh-grade students from Kenya and the United States. International Perspectives in Psychology, 3(3), 156-166. doi:10.1037/ipp0000012

O'Connor, R. E., Swason, H. L., & Geraghty, C. (2010). Improvement in reading rate under independent and difficult text levels: Influences on word and comprehension skills. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(1), 1-19. doi:10.1037/a0017488

Reeve, J. (2013). How students create motivationally supportive learning environments for themselves: The concept of agentic engagement. "Journal of Educational Psychology, 105"(3), 579-595. doi:10.1037/a0032690

Reeve, J. (2015). Understanding motivation and emotion (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Reeve, J., & Woogul, L. (2014). Students' classroom engagement produces longitudinal changes in classroom motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(2), 527-540. doi:10.1037/a0034934

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78.

Tay, L., & Diener, E. (2011). Needs and subjective well-being around the world. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(2), 354-365. doi:10.1037/a0023779

Unsworth, N., & McMillian, B. D. (2013). Mind wandering and reading comprehension: Examining the roles of working memory capacity, interest, motivation, and topic experience. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 39(3), 832-842. doi:10.1037/a0029669

Vernon-Feagans, L., Kainz, K., Hedrick, A., Ginsberg, M., & Amendum, S. (2013). Live webcam coaching to help early elementary classroom teachers provide effective literacy instruction for struggling readers: The targeted reading intervention. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(4), 1175-1187. doi:10.1037/a0032143

Wang, C., Algozzine, B., Ma, W., & Porfeli, E. (2011). Oral reading rates of second-grade students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(2), 442-454. doi:10.1037/a0023029

Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (2000). Expectancy–value theory of achievement motivation. Contemporary educational psychology25, 68-81. doi:10.1006/ceps.1999.1015

External links edit

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