You are on page 1of 12

School Studentsto Motivating Secondary Enjoy Readingand Writing

Patrick McEvoy-Halston EDCI 35OIYO2 Dr. Fenimore 12 February 2004



to There would seemto be little more important for would-be English teachers explore in hopesof becoming skilled at helping their studentsto becomeefficient readersand writers than the subjectof motivation. A generationago the exploration of motivation researchwould lead one to becomefamiliar with the use of extrinsic motivatorsin motivation. Thesedays,however, reading and writing. Instead, fewer expertsfocus on the use of externalrewardsto get students to motivation encourageteachers help their who the majority of psychologists/educators research studentsbecomeinherently interestedin the processof reading and writing. In this paperI will extrinsicmotivation as experts'most briefly describewhy intrinsic motivationhasdisplaced preferredmethod for motivating students. I will follow this by bringing to light two very to important first stepsnecessary get studentson the road to becoming intrinsically motivated students(namely, getting studentsto believe in their own abilities, as well as convincing them that reading and writing truly are affecting, enjoyableactivities),and both list and discussthe meansof facilitating studentinterestin the processof reading and most frequently recommended writing. fr

The Main Problem with Extrinsic Motivation to the still Researchers do advocate useof extemalrewardsto motivate students readand usage. but write (i.e.,tlle useof extrinsicmotivation), theyoftenqualifytheir recommended as the who Wigfield (2000)is oneof manyresearchers now sees useof rewards usefulonly for for "rhe acqui[litiol] of basicskillsneeded reading[. . .] [which]maynot be intrinsically

, "+ **'tlur" i.+'il.\ yt}J '


preferto researchers motivlting for manychildren"(p. 1a9). For themostpartcontemporary attendto how intrinsic motivation,fosteringthe sheerlove of readingandwriting for its own for sake,can be nurturedin students.The reason the shift of focus over the yearsis that

havebeenprovento (1) haverelativelyhigherachievement motivated students intrinsically

McEvoy-Halston 2

relatively J t (Sweet, Guthrie, Ng. 1998);(2) to.have & tests measured standardized or grades by 4a ' rJMut ott44+*zwbtp)41k$*,'.1, &t&, (Guthrie e+C.,1998);and(3) to readfar moreandmorefrequently highertext comprehension Research students. and (Wigfield& Guthrie,1997)thanextrinsically motivated unmotivated for in oncetherewards motivated students too oftendesist activities all thatextrinsically shows have theseactivities areno longer offered (Wigfield, 2000). The primary difficulty researchers motivation doesn'twork but that then,is not thatextrinsic motivation, with theuseof extrinsic in intrinsically interested to extrinsic rewardsoften work in oppositionto attempts get students havean "[e]xtemalrewards and reading writing. As Fawson Moore(1999)conclude, and undermining effecton intrinsicmotivation"(p.326). Important First Step: Believein Your Students Before students developan intrinsic interestin readingand writing, they haveto can readen andwriters, and,ug$@glely, by the believethey havethe ability to becomecompetent ', that manystudents believeinstead they "just aren ggtdte/ school, time theyreachsecondary
e19_li1tr."Too many well meaningteacherend up inadvertentlyreinforcing the students'sense of themselvesas inherently incapableof being skilled readersand writers. According to Borich have often usedto encouragestruggling readersand and Tombari (1995), techniquesteachers giving excessive sympathyat failure, showingsurpriseat success, writers,such as expressing and unsolicited help, and lavishing praiseupon studentsupon completion of relatively simple tasks,often end up reinforcinga student'sbelief that he or sheis constitutionallya poor reader has demonstrated that a student'ssenseof his/her efficacy relates and/or writer. Since research strongly to their performancein taskssuch as reading and writing (e.g6 Bandura, L977),many have concludedthat the important first stepin creatingproficient, internally researchers motivated readersand writers is to get them to begin to believe in their own self-efficacy. Teachersthereforemust resist seeingtheir classroomas divided into high and low performers,


and conceiveof all of their studentsas capablehnd bright (OECD, 2000).


EssentialSecond Step: Modellins ReadinsPleasure they to to begins get students beginto believein themselves, (teachers) Evenif a teacher to in themthatit is worththeirwhile to engage the struggle become muststill persuade
must show studentswho, even by secondary competentreadersand writers. That is, teachers school,may not entirely be surethat reading and writing are inherently rewarding activities. The truly love reading and writing, and (2) find ways to share teacherthereforemust (1) themselves with studentswhat theseactivities have mean to them. As Alexander and Fives (2000) argue, "the prospectof creating a literacy-rich learning environmentthat fosterscontinued and optimal I when tegahe.{$-fj literacy developmentin all children is greatly enhanced in importance reading" (p.297). that they "sharetheir personalreading with Gambrell (1996) reconmends to teachers studentsand to be more explicit in illustrating to children the value of reading in their own lives" can give their studentssome senseof the effect reading (p.2I). She arguesthat when teachers

on is corroboratedby my.9wn perso\Elpxperience. I was motivated to lea4 P-ogt{y my own only 4 1, "llp*,iyvt{ interspersed lectureswith quotesfrom the likes of his after my experience**l ugj3gtrqtfiho Blake, Wordsworth,and Byron. TheseRomanticpoetsevidentlyhad a continuinghold on my teacher;they evidently were somethinghe referredto over and over again for wisdom, for poetry, but, previously, company,for pleasure. I did not doubt my ability to read and understand demonstrationof the importanceof I did doubt its worth. This teacher'spowerful and sustained Romantic poetry in his life was sufficient to get me interestedin seeingif I too might find fellowship with someof the Romantic poets.



Class Librarv is A teacherwho obviously lovesbooks and believesin the abilitiesof his/herstudents likely to gain the trust of studentsand suggestto them that books offer them somethingof value, but he/shemust still find ways to structurehis/her classroomand activities to considerable facilitate the continuing developmentof studentinterestin reading and writing. One way of library in the classroom.Not only is a doing this is to have a well stockedand well designed library in the classroomfurther evidencethat their teachertruly loves books, it also provides to studentseasy access a world of books from which they can chooseand find their own suchas NancieAtwell (1998),who choosenot to favourites. Though thereare someeducators, stock their classlibrary with "unliterary" Wofks,othersrecommendthat teachersstock their

o^y^L +J* 11, oy.a.1*,tivt,Wo^1"

comic books,*c1tugrVersaci, 200I) Not only are such mediums library with magazines, can be one meansof (Versaci),having them in the classroom to intrinsically appealing students maintaining students'senseof self worth: it tells them that the sortsof things they read on their own count as reading material. tell Of course.somelibraries are better than others. Researchers us that studentsare and highly visible (Morrow, 1991). It is also a good idea to attracted librariesthat are appealing care to know more about. to stock the classlibrary with books which deal with topics teenagers Fortunately,we live in a time where many excellentyoung adults are publishedevery year. High could look to a book school studentswho want to know more about,say, first dating experiences, with whom they could comparetheir such as Ellen Wittlinger's Hard Love to find characters them in writes abouthis feelingsand publishes with. Hard Love's protagonist own experiences his own zine. Thereby, his friends who read his zine are better able to understandwhat he is to going through, and are thereforeable to provide him with meaningful responses his situation. This particular book happensto be ideal for a reading and writing teacherto have availablein



in, are it his/herclasslibrary because both dealswith a topic adolescents interested and powerfully conveysthe rewardsliteracyprovidesone with. who advocatethat teachershave book-rich It should be noted that most researchers

makeproperuseof them so that the books do not s inply ilg.l , alsoarguethat teachefs environments refersto a study(theBradfordBook-Food for p,rops. Gambrell(1996), example, become c1499

to whichshowed facilitatingaccess bookswasnot sufficientto develop that experiment) mustknow whatto do with the that in student interest books. Sheconcludes teache$ dramatic booksso that they can be usedto stimulatestudentinterest. Choice and Autonomv by students makeuseof a classlibrary is one of the means to As mentioned, encouraging to It activelyinvolvedin their education. helpscommunicate can whicha teacher get students to that students leamingis not simplysomething happens them;theycaninitiatetheir own that to is creating openclassroom, crucial,according an Choice, in explorations theclassroom. in and student interest reading writing" (p. 664). They TurnerandParis(1995),in "sustaining but givesa student choice, notjust in thebooksthattheywill read, in thatwhena feacher argue cometo takemore "personalresponsibilityfor their natureof their writing tasks,that students or like literacy" and"are more likely to useleaming strategies summarizing backtrackingrather (p. copflng,or guessing" 665). like thanshortcuts memorizing, ,,,. i
, ^{:'


whentheywere by how literarytasks werereceived students Tumer(1997)compared

n,' ' 'i

\,\} w1

to permitted students set which "closed." were ones Open tasks "open" when and theywere
while the and goals, choose sffategies, assess final results, information, select organize and to wereprovidedfor students control their closedtaskswerethosein which few opportunities choose on decide their own theme, tasksstudents could,for example, tasks.In opencomposition to optionsweredenied students. tasks these theywanted write on, etc. In closed to whatsubject



provided for studentautonomyand choice was a crucial Turner found that the room teachers becameactively engagedin their writing tasks. As factor in determiningwhether students as Turner and Paris (1995) so perfectlyput it, "[s]tudentswant to seethemselves originatorsof plans and ideas,not as followers in a grand schemethey may not understand"(p. 667). Some theorists,however,concludethat stude_ntsjlnbe gverwhelmedbv too muc\t, .- 1 choice. Sometheoristsspecifythat "a modestamountgg9i.e"


(Stipek, f993, p. 107)develops

7i'**" f o"oyL-*''*;fr[

intrinsic motivation. Hunt (I975), amongstothers,reminds that theremay be no one kind of educationalenvironmentwhich suits all children. The importanceof a teachertaking into considerationthe differencein learning stylesof his/her studentswhen incorporatingchoice into cannotbe overemphasized. the classroom Challenee and Curiositv inadvertentlycommunicateto As mentioned,one of the meansby which teachers studentsthat they (the teachers)do not believe in the students'ability to read and/or write at a at needto succeed taskswhich they high level is to assignthem tasksthat aretoo easy. Students find challengingin order to developconfidencein their abilities (Turner & Paris, 1995). has proved that challengingtasksare intrinsically more interestingand fun Moreover, research for studentsthan unchallengingtasks. They tend to lead to more engagedstudentparticipation, and end up enhancingstudentlearningin a variety of ways. According to Turner and Paris, and self-monitoring strategies" challengingtasks"prompted studentsto use more organizatronal remind us, however,thatjust as you can give (p. 666) than unchallenging tasks. Researchers their own abilitiestoo too students much choice,they can be given taskswhich challenge strongly. Studentswho experiencefailure too often quickly becomefrustrated;if they have a poor senseof self-efficacy,repeatedfailure can confirm their own negative self-assessment attemptsto develop an intrinsic love (Stipek, lgg3),which will frustratethe teacher'ssubsequent



for reading and writing in the child. Books and taskschosenby the teachershouldenticestudents'curiosity and interest. There area numberof ways of doing this. A variety of books and taskscould be usedso that students don't becomebored with an overly familiar routine. Books usedin the curriculum shouldbe of topics of intrinsic interestto children(eg.,Hard Love's focus on first dating and teacherscould introducenew kinds of textual material, such as electronic experiences), so (Guthrie,2000). The taskscan be designed that they into their classrooms readingsources, can require higher-orderor divergentthinking and active problem solving. Also, teachers in questiontheir students ways which stimulatetheir interestand curiosity. Stipek (1993)argues (p. in that reveal"discrepancies students'understanding" 91), for example,work that questions to engagestudentcuriosity. Social Interaction haven't limited their interestsimply to student/teacher Motivation researchers to interactions. Recentresearchhas uncoveredthat studentsshould be encouraged sharetheir reading with one another. According to Turner and Paris (1995), social interactionfacilitates the reading and writing achievement, developmentof higher cognitive skills, as well as an to intrinsic desireto read. This shouldn'tbe a hard thing for teachers accomplishsincestudents love to sharetheir favourite books with one another. They also love to read books they know somethingabout,thereforethe books they end up reading are ofgg4ogeJhS-ll peers -"
y/// -



* /*L.t'

to suggests that studentsshould also be encouraged work about (Turner & Paris). Research togetheron writing tasks. Working togetheron writing taskshelps develop an intrinsic interest in writing, and it affords studentsopportunitiesto develop a better senseof their peers' writing leadsto greaterconfidencein a abilities. According to Turner and Paris, such understanding student'sown writing ability.



that is, I would havethoughtthat I find Turner and Paris's(1995)resultsto be surprising, as to exposure one's peerswriting would prove as discouraging it would encouraging consistent had us read for students. However, I admit that the very few times in high school when teachers to eachothers' writing, I found the experience be empowering. I learnedthat thosewho got better writers; they made fewer grammaticalelrors, better gradesthan I did weren't necessarily yes,but their style was not betterthan mine was--justdifferent. And I also found thosefew to experiences be inspiring. I really liked the idea that what we wrote would be sharedwith for elseotherthan our teacher a change. By sharingeachother's writings w,ehap a someone chanceto better understandhow we all thought and felt. It made us feel closei, and
\_1--..* -n<_ _ -,a,r''.

(. L6..yP"f gof

excited about anticipatedfuture opportunitiesin which we could shareeach other's works with one another. Conclusion Though extrinsic motivation, the use of rewardsto stimulatelearning, once dominated now focus on intrinsic motivation. I hope in this most leading researchers motivation research, essayto have made clear why this shift occurred,and, more importantly, to have introducedmy readerto the variety of ways in which an intrinsic interestin reading and writing can be believe that making books easily with secondaryschool students. Researchers encouraged availableto studentsby such meansas a classlibrary, and the incorporation of choice, challenge, and social interaction with readingand writing tasks ffa very effective meansof developingthis , to interest. However, unlessthe teachereffectively communicates his/trerstudentsthat they are them that reading and writing affords terrific, all capablereadersand writers and persuades to well thoughtout techniques inculcateintrinsic interestlikely will prove lifelong pleasures, unsuccessful.



Since my primary goal as a future teacheris to get as many studentsas possibleexcited about reading and writing, I doubt that.I could hlve picked a better topic to explore than irio tt/t'*t d*r'd..\, motivation!) What I will take intergdtedt9 learn a!o-111 motivation. (I certainly was_^t$qn-qiggl_l_y I has of with me is a good sense how much research beendoneon motivation. As a teacher, will to know many of the leading namesof motivation research look to for continuing guidance. Though my emphasisin this paperwas to attendto the conclusionsof researchstudies,I did introducemyself to what many teacherssaid worked best for them in motivating their studentsto becomeexcited about reading and writing. I was never one for extrinsic motivation, but I was pleasedto find out that research supportsmy preferredway of motivating students. I was very glad to find that motivation research seemsmuch more influencedby humanisticpsychologythan behaviouralpsychology. I thereforewill also take with me somesenseof optimism that schools,influencedby educational research, will continue to move in progressivedirections(maybewe might even one day get rid as betweenresearchers of grades!). I was also pleasedto find that there was so much agreement to how to develop intrinsic motivation. My guessis that I have an enoffnousamount tp learn about how to structurethe up-p-:9_p-{q

.}' - 4i.. t'-oj*"'c't 4'* fuJq i* V,* but pmouht of choice and challengeinto my aSsignm6nts,

at least I know for certain that theseare the areasI needto attendto in order to engagemy students. of Finally, I will take me with a renewedsense mission. Many of the studiesI came who previouslyhad readlittle motivatestudents could successfully acrossshowedhow teachers and had little interestin reading and writing. I find that much of the news I hear about schools



in AlexanderP. A. & Fives,H. (2000). Achieving expertise teachingreading. In L. Baker,M.J. Dreher,& J.T. Guthrie (Eds.),EngagingYoung Readers:PromotingAchievement and Motivation (pp. 285-308). New York, NY: Guilford Press. aboutWriting. Reading.and Atwell, N. (1993). In the Middle: New Understandings NH: Boynton/CookPublishers. Learning. Postmouth, Bandura,A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioralchange. Review. 84, I9I-2I5. Psychological in Borich, G. D. & Tombari, M. L. (1995). AuthenticAssessment the Classroom: Application and Practice. New York, NY: PrenticeHall. Fawson,P. C. & Moore, S. A. (1999). Readingincentiveprograms: Beliefs and 20, practices.ReadingPsychology. 325-340. culturesthat fosterreadingmotivation. The Gambrell,L.B. (1996). Creatingclassroom 50 Teacher. Q), 14-25. Reading E., G.R.,Alao, S., Anderson, & McCann,A. Guthrie,J. T., Van Meter,P., Hancock, learning use and conceptual strategy (1998). Does concept-oriented readinginstructionincrease Psychology. 90,26I-278. Journalof Educational from text? found wantingbeforeit interaction: A challenge Hunt, D. (L975). Person-environment Research45, 209-230. was tried. Review of Educational , D. Morrow, L.M. (1991). Promotingvoluntaryreading. In J. Flood, J.M. Jensen, Lapp, on & J. R. Squire(Eds.),Handbookof Research Teachingthe English LanguageArts (pp. 681690). New York: Macmillan. Organizationfor Economic Co-operationand Development. (2000). Motivating Studentsfor Lifelong Learning. Paris. Stipek,D.J. (1993). Motivation to Learn: From Theory to Practice. NeedhamHeights, MA: Simon & Schuster.
L '

and students'reading Sweet,A., Guthrie,J. T., & Ng, M. (1998). Teachers'perceptions Psychology. ,210-223. 90 motivations.Journalof Educational Turner,J. & Paris,S. G. (1995). How literacytasksinfluencechildren'smotivationfor 48 literacy. The ReadingTeacher. (8),662-73. see Versaci,R. (2001). How comic books can changethe way our students literature: 91 perspective. EnglishJournal. (2),6I-67. one teacher's

Wigfield, A. (2000). Facilitating children's readingmotivation. In L Baker, M. J. Dreher, & J. T. Guthrie (Eds.), Engaging Young Readers: Promoting Achievement and Motivation. (pp. 140-158). New York, NY: Guilford Press. Wigfield, A., & Guthrie, J. T. (L997). Relationsof children's motivation for readingto the amount and breadth of their reading. Journal of Educational Psychology. 89, 420-432. Wittlinger, Ellen. (2001). Hard Love. New York, NY: Simon Pulse.