Research by Topic
Below are selected research studies that investigate issues important to motivation. The resources are listed alphabetically by author and include links to the item or to where it can be purchased.
Dimensions of Children's Motivation for Reading and Their Relations to Reading Activity and Reading Achievement
Baker, L., & Wigfield, A. (1999). Dimensions of children's motivation for reading and their relations to reading activity and reading achievement. Reading Research Quarterly,34, 452-477.
This study was designed to assess dimensions of reading motivation and examine how these dimensions related to students' reading activity and achievement. A heterogeneous urban sample of fifth- and sixth-grade children completed the Motivation for Reading Questionnaire (MRQ; Wigfield & Guthrie, 1997), a questionnaire designed to assess 11 possible dimensions of reading motivation, including self-efficacy, several types of intrinsic and extrinsic reading motives, social aspects of reading, and the desire to avoid reading. The students also completed several different measures of reading activity and reading achievement. Confirmatory factor analyses demonstrated that the proposed dimensions of children's reading motivation could be identified and measured reliably.
Scales based on the different dimensions related positively to one another and negatively to the desire to avoid reading. Mean scale scores on most of the dimensions differed by gender and ethnicity, with girls and African Americans reporting stronger motivation. Mean scale scores on most of the dimensions were similar for fifth- and sixth-grade students and for low and middle income students. All of the scales related to children's reports of their reading activity and several to their reading achievement. The strength of the relations between reading motivation and reading achievement was greater for girls and for white students. Cluster analyses revealed seven distinct groupings of children based on their motivational profiles that were related to reading activity and, to a lesser extent, to reading achievement. The study demonstrates that reading motivation is multidimensional and should be regarded as such in research and in practice.
Contexts for Engagement and Motivation in Reading
Guthrie, J.T. (2001). Contexts for engagement and motivation in reading. Reading Online, 4(8). International Reading Association: Washington DC.
Engaged reading is a merger of motivation and thoughtfulness. Engaged readers seek to understand; they enjoy learning and they believe in their reading abilities. They are mastery oriented, intrinsically motivated, and have self-efficacy. Teachers create contexts for engagement when they provide prominent knowledge goals, real-world connections to reading, meaningful choices about what, when, and how to read, and interesting texts that are familiar, vivid, important, and relevant.
Changes in Elementary School Children's Achievement Goals for Reading and Writing: Results of a Longitudinal and an Intervention Study
Meece, J.L., & Miller, S.D. (1999). Changes in elementary school children's achievement goals for reading and writing: Results of a longitudinal and an intervention study. Scientific Studies of Reading, 3, 207-229.
An achievement goal framework was used to examine changes in students' motivation for reading and writing in the late elementary years and to evaluate a classroom intervention project. The longitudinal study involved 431 students in Grades 3 to 5. Results showed significant declines in task-mastery and performance goals within the school year and across grade levels. There were few sex differences in students' goals for reading and writing. The intervention project included 8 teachers and 187 students in Grade 3.
This study showed how various instructional modifications can influence students' achievement goals, perceived competence, and strategy use in reading and writing. As teachers provided more opportunities for students to complete challenging, collaborative, and multi-day assignments, students became less focused on performance goals, and low-achieving students reported less work avoidance. The educational implications of this research are discussed.
What Johnny Likes to Read is Hard to Find in School
Worthy, J., Moorman, M., & Turner, M. (1999). What Johnny likes to read is hard to find in school. Reading Research Quarterly, 34 (1), 12-27.
This study examines the lives of 123 African Americans born in poverty and at high risk of failing in school. From 1962-1967, at ages 3 and 4, the subjects were randomly divided into a program group who received a high-quality preschool program based on High/Scope's participatory learning approach and a comparison group who received no preschool program. In the study's most recent phase, 97% of the study participants still living were interviewed at age 40. Additional data were gathered from the subjects' school, social services, and arrest records. The study found that adults at age 40 who had the preschool program had higher earnings, were more likely to hold a job, had committed fewer crimes, and were more likely to have graduated from high school than adults who did not have preschool. Additional findings are detailed in the project's final report.