Running Head: WEB 2.


Web 2.0 and Motivation to Read Meredith Megan Ormond East Carolina University



Abstract This is a teacher action research study examining the impact of the use of Web 2.0 technologies on motivation to read. Two groups of ninth graders, eighteen students total, participated in the study. The Adolescent Motivation to Read Profile was used as a pre-test and post-test to determine motivation to read. The intervention group participated in literature discussions using online tools while the comparison group participated in traditional oral literature discussion. No significant change in motivation was seen in either group at the end of the study, but qualitative data suggests the use of Web 2.0 may affect student engagement.

WEB 2.0 AND MOTIVATION TO READ Web 2.0 and Motivation to Read


“Are we going to read today?” asks Lindsey. Twenty-four freshman faces turn to me in anticipation. “Yes, we get to read today,” I respond, excited that they asked. “What about Shelfari? Can we post about our books today? We haven’t done that since last week,” says Tyana. “Absolutely. That’s a great idea. I’ll make sure we have time to do that before we leave today,” I say and notice several faces register with satisfaction. This day is a far cry from the first week of school when I told students to find a book they liked because we would be reading often during class. Eyes rolled; groans were audible. This was not, however, unexpected. After eight years of teaching I know that many of the students whom I teach come to me as reluctant readers, some even as non-readers. It used to discourage me; I loved books in high school. Then I realized, these students are from a generation and a time far different than the one in which I grew up. How do we reach this new generation of students? Can technology be the answer rather than the problem? The purpose of this study was to examine how technology, specifically Web 2.0 tools, impacts motivation to read. There has never been a time when there was such a bevy of sensory distractions waiting for teenagers at every turn: PlayStation3, computer games, iPhones, Blackberrys, text messaging, instant messengers, the internet, Facebook, and the list goes on. There is a virtual smorgasbord of social interaction tools and technological delights that, to many students, just seem more fun than reading. MySpace has more than 110 million active users, while Facebook claims more than 500 million active users



(The Neilsen Company, 2008). Teenagers like the constant interaction sites like Facebook provide as well as the distance provided by instant messaging. “Facebook is fun because you get to see what other people are thinking. It’s like poking around in their life, in their brain,” says senior Lauren Carraway. Texting and chatting let students “say what they want without feeling like they’re being judged by someone else,” and these tools provide instant access to talk with friends (Carraway). Meanwhile, interest in reading seems to decline with age. A study by students at Exeter University found that of the 707 adolescents surveyed, the number of students who read books at home dropped almost 30% between the ages of 11 and 15 (Hopper, 2005). Because motivation is linked to important reading skills such as strategy use and comprehension, this decline is especially concerning (Guthrie, et al., 1997). Many educators ask, “How can I compete with all the internet and technology?” However, the question we should be asking is “How can we harness the interest in Web 2.0 technologies to motivate our students?” Every day teachers use students’ interests to engage students in the classroom. We choose books to share in which we think they may be interested. We craft assignments that we think will engage their curiosity and creativity. Why should Web 2.0 be any different? Teachers must stop fighting against the ‘distractions’ and begin to investigate if using these popular tools can improve learning and engagement in our schools. The following details a study conducted in two 9th grade classrooms during which I sought to discover whether participation in online literature discussion using Web 2.0 tools affected motivation to read. For the purpose of this study, motivation is defined in terms of “goals, competence-related beliefs, and needs that influence” an individual’s



achievement (Guthrie, Wigfield, Metsala, and Cox, 1999, p.233). Web 2.0 refers to online tools that allow students to “create, manipulate, and collaborate online” (Handsfield, et al, 2009, p. 40). I compared the behavior and attitudes of my students participating in Web 2.0 conversations to those in a comparable 9th grade class participating in more traditional class discussion and activities. I predicted that the students participating in Web 2.0 conversations would see a greater increase in reading motivation than the comparison group. Much research has been presented about the effectiveness of collaborative learning and the use of Web 2.0 to enhance comprehension, but very few studies have focused on how the use of these technologies affects motivation, a key ingredient to successful literacy achievement.

Literature Review Motivation has been shown to positively correlate with reading amount. In a study of 217 third and fifth graders, results showed that when considering the variables of past achievement, prior knowledge, self-efficacy and motivation, motivation was the strongest predictor of reading amount (Guthrie, et al., 1999). Students who were deemed highly motivated, meaning they ranked in the top third of the reading motivation scale, read almost 20 minutes more outside of school than their peers in the bottom third of the motivation scale (Guthrie et al., 1999). Therefore, it is likely that students who are motivated will make gains in reading skills since reading amount has been positively linked to higher reading proficiency. Conversely, unmotivated readers suffer from many problems, including a lack of motivation, attention deficits, failure to complete



assignments, reading resistance, and task avoidance (Guthrie, Alao, & Rinehart, 1997). This decline in reading amount and motivation is furthered by the rapid influx of technology aimed at children and adolescents. Many students would prefer to spend time with a computer rather than a book. This prolific increase in students’ technology use has drastically impacted the way educators must view the teaching of literacy. Literacy teachers can no longer rely on traditional books and paper formats. They must begin to harness the power of this technology to teach literacy, and especially to increase students’ motivation to engage in literacy activities. This paper will explore the question: Does participation in online literacy discussions through the use of Web 2.0 tools increase students’ reading motivation?

Importance of Motivation In discussions of reading motivation, there are two types to consider: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation involves curiosity and interest in the task one is doing and “a mastery orientation toward tasks” (Guthrie et al., 1999, p. 234). Pintrich and Schrauben (1992) showed strong correlations between intrinsic motivations and the use of reading strategies (Guthrie et al., 1997). Intrinsic motivation may also affect the quality of learning. Several studies show that students with intrinsic motivation were better able to relate different parts of a text and were better able to connect texts to prior knowledge (Schiefele, 1999). Extrinsic motivation involves efforts exerted in order to be recognized by others or obtain rewards or other external incentives (Guthrie et al., 1999). Extrinsic motivation may have the opposite effect on reading as intrinsic motivation. Because extrinsic



motivation is based in competition and the avoidance of negative judgment, it can lead to reading avoidance and the use of weak strategies (Guthrie et al., 1997). Motivation is a particular concern for teachers of adolescents. Middle school staff rate reading motivation at the top of their priority list for what most needs more research (Guthrie et al., 1997) The fact is, most middle school students just are not reading. “The typical middle school student reads less than five minutes per day for his or her own interest” (Guthrie et al., p.438). Gambrell (1996) administered the Motivation to Read Profile to a group of third and fifth graders. This study revealed that, as students advance in school, the value they place on reading decreases (Gambrell). As intrinsic motivation for reading drops, extrinsic motivation seems to rise as teachers try to lure students into reading and have the leverage of failing grades (Guthrie et al., 1997). This trend towards a drop in reading motivation as students progress in school is alarming because motivation has been linked to comprehension and engagement. In a study measuring passage comprehension in more than 17,000 tenth-grade students, reading motivation was found to predict text comprehension (Guthrie et al., 1999). However, research by Schiefele (2000) suggests that motivation’s impact on learning may have certain limits, especially on the deepest levels of learning, which may still largely depend on ability.

The Rise of the Google Generation The rapid growth of technology in the past two decades has had a profound effect on the nation’s younger generation. This proliferation has changed the way students spend free time, interact, and learn. Today’s students live in a world that has



developed in them a desire for immediacy. They crave the quick responses that the internet can provide (Kitsis, 2010). Many students are literally surrounded by technology. There are more computers with internet access in schools than there are telephones, televisions, or encyclopedias (Leu, 2000). By 2005, 100% of public schools in the United States had Internet access and 94% had instructional access. The National Center for Educational Statistics says that 97% of all public schools have broadband Internet services (Handsfield, Dean, & Cielocha, 2009). In fact, the United States government spends billions of dollars each year providing schools with Internet and telecommunication services (Leu & Kinzer, 2000). This plentiful access to the Internet means that communication is commonly occurring in online discussions (Larson, 2009). These online discussions and Internet activity take place out of school as well. With the rise of social networking, more students are using Internet tools than ever before. Fifty percent of Facebook users log in every day, and people spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook. Facebook boasts that more than 250 thousand new members are added each day, and roughly half of its users are collegeaged and younger (Facebook Statistics). These numbers, while staggering, grow larger every day. The social networking tool Twitter averages a 343 percent increase in users per year (The Neilsen Company). Students are spending more and more of their free time online. These online communities have become the way many young people interact and communicate. What does this mean for educators? Teachers must learn to harness the power of the Internet and social networking for educational purposes. Additionally, teachers must aid students in gaining the technology skills they need to live in a global community. Many nations have realized this, the United States included, and



have begun to develop technology standards and resources in order to graduate students who use technology tools proficiently (Leu & Kinzer, 2000) In 2002, the International Reading Association asserted that educators needed to meaningfully introduce students to new technologies in current language curriculums to prepare them for futures involving digital literacies (Larson, 2008). Online discussion of literature is one way of accomplishing that.

Understanding the Benefits of Web 2.0 Web 2.0 refers to online tools that allow students to “create, manipulate, and collaborate online” (Handsfield, et al, 2009, p. 40). These tools differ from Web 1.0 applications, which required users to be passive consumers. Web 2.0 software includes blogs, digital storytelling, wikis, as well synchronous and asynchronous message boards and chat rooms. These applications are purposely designed for collaboration (Handsfield, et al., 2009). Web 2.0 tools provide many benefits to the literacy classroom. Hancock (2008), as cited in Larson (2009), asserts that new technologies in classrooms provide new guiding principles and depth to reader response research. The International Reading Association agrees that literacy instruction will be significantly impacted by new digital literacies. For example, asynchronous discussion boards support collaborative learning since participants can contribute without interruption. They are interactive but allow participants to reflect before responding (Larson, 2009). Discussion boards and chat rooms have been shown to increase interest, which can then increase motivation to learn. This effect is more substantial when these tools allow students to interact with others (Burgess, 2009). New literacies offer even more of a


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social component than previous modes of literacy instruction (Larson, 2009). Through these social interactions, learning is created, often even more so than in print environments (Leu, 1996). As new literacies increase, students will become more reliant on social learning strategies (Larson, 2009). Studies by Wolsey (2004) and Carico & Logan (2004) as cited in Larson (2009) show that online literature discussions offer great possibilities. Researchers claim, “Results of early studies support that online literature discussions have great potential for fostering literacy skills, strengthening communication, and building a sense of community” (Larson, 2009, p. 638). New technologies offer more options and can provide closer conversations between participants (Larson, 2008). The use of Web 2.0 has the added benefit of promoting self-direction and critical thinking. Researchers posit that engaging students with activities that use online networks is important for creating critical citizens who are prepared for a global age (Handsfield, et al., 2009). Knobel and Lankshear (2006) said that students should be allowed to author their own online spaces and create for an audience. This promotes powerful and authentic writing (Handsfield, et al., 2009). The types of new technologies can help struggling readers and writers gain meaningful practice with literacy skills. For instance, using blogs is beneficial in ESL classes to teach idiomatic and conversational discourse. Blogs provide community and safe opportunities to share ideas (Handsfield, et al., 2009). Threaded discussions allow less proficient students to view models of appropriate literary response modeled by their peers. This type of modeling would be difficult to preserve in face-to-face interactions (Wolsey, 2004). In fact, motivation for all students may increase when they publish writing online for authentic audiences.


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Cooperative Learning Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of Web 2.0 tools is its ability to let students interact socially as they learn. This type of cooperative and collaborative work has been shown to have positive effects in the classroom. Cooperative grouping allows students to learn from one another (Leu, 2000). It provides a supportive atmosphere and meaningful interaction, which can enhance motivation to learn (Shaaban, 2006). Students are more intrinsically motivated when their basic needs are met. These needs include the need for competence, the need for social relatedness, and the need for autonomy. These needs can be met by cooperative grouping. Students who are intrinsically motivated by this type of collaborative work explore and experiment more because they enjoy the activity in which they are involved (Boekaert & Minnaert, 2006). Flippo’s (2001) study, as cited in Burgess (2009), showed that the chance to interact socially while learning improved reading engagement. Collaborative learning has been shown to have many other benefits, as well. Students often learn more by sharing discoveries with each other (Leu, 1996). According to Flood (1986), cooperative learning helps children activate prior knowledge. Cooperative learning also helps students take responsibility for their own learning, allows each member to contribute significantly to the group, develops higher level thinking skills, allows members to successfully complete tasks, forces them to consider multiple perspectives, and provides practice with decision-making skills (Uttero, 1988). The social interactions provided by cooperative learning will be increasingly essential as technology continues to grow (Leu, 2000). Web 2.0 can fuse the benefits of cooperative learning with the

WEB 2.0 AND MOTIVATION TO READ ever-increasing importance of effectively using technology.

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Studies Integrating Web 2.0 with Literacy Instruction There have been several studies of different age groups that examined the use of Web 2.0 tools in literacy instruction. One such study by Handsfield, Dean, and Cielocha (2009) was conducted in a 4th grade bilingual class consisting of eight boys who were native Spanish speakers. The participants used online blogs to discuss books they were reading independently. The teacher-researchers involved conducted interviews, videotaped lessons, and collected and analyzed observations of instruction. The researchers found that one of the major benefits of blogging was the expectation of social interaction. In previous instruction using paper response journals, students frequently ignored teacher comments, and instead of responding, moved on to their next thought. However, participation in the blogs encouraged students to respond to each other. Additionally, researchers found that students more frequently made interpersonal connections during online discussions. Use of blogs also created opportunities for language development through authentic conversations. When teachers followed up with these students three years later, almost 80% of students were using Web 2.0 tools outside of school (Handsfield, et al., 2009). This suggests that use of new technologies in the classroom can carry over into students’ out of class habits. A similar study was conducted in the midwestern United States using a 5th grade class of 26 students (Larson, 2009). The data collection and analysis focused on two groups of 5 students. Students participated in asynchronous online discussion board to discuss the novel their small group was reading. Researchers used qualitative


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methodology and analyzed field notes, interviews, electronic student journals and online message board transcripts. Engagement in the literature study using Web 2.0 “promoted socially constructed learning” and established “a community of inquiry” in which the students shared diverse perspectives (Larson, 2009, p.646). The findings showed that students took charge of conversations by creating their own prompts with little teacher direction or involvement. Students generated conversational, interactive responses. Researchers found that participation in asynchronous discussion boards elicited responses that were deep and represented varied points of view. Student responses in interviews and journal entries indicated they enjoyed using Web 2.0 for literature study. One student wrote, “I loved writing new threads and reading what people responded to me,” while another student said, “It was fun making new threads because people reply to you” (Larson, 2009, p.645). These responses reiterate the positive impact collaborative learning can have on student motivation, and this effect seems to be heightened by the use of new technologies. Kitsis (2010) carried out a year-long study with her own 11th and 12th grade classes in which students used online social networking to discuss literature. Using the website Blogger, students responded to prompts about the literature the class was reading and began conversations with each other about the text. Kitsis found that students demonstrated active reading, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation—skills that were previously missing from class literature discussions. Students had more opportunities for interaction using blog because they were able to interact at any time. Those students who had not participated in traditional face-to-face discussions regularly contributed to blog discussions. Blogs gave students a “common jumping off point” in


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later face-to-face conversations (Kitsis, 2010, p. 52). Online dialogue created the feeling of community that increased students’ patience as readers. Also, students learned to support their arguments when justifying responses to their peers. Participation was shown to be more equally distributed among group members than it had been in physical discussions. Another important benefit was that the teacher was able to virtually listen in on each conversation without necessarily having to change the dynamic of the conversation by intruding (Kitsis). Studies have also analyzed the effectiveness of using Web 2.0 technologies with college undergraduate students. These studies when compared to the studies conducted in elementary, middle, and high schools provide a wide range of information about how Web 2.0 influences students’ literacy study in the classroom. Larson (2008) observed how her undergraduate pre-service literacy teachers interacted in online discussion forums to discuss the novels they were reading in small groups. She found that the use of asynchronous discussion boards gave students time to reflect, thereby creating more meaningful responses. The online interaction also created more meaningful interaction between students and the text because students were able to gain insight by reading peer responses. Students stayed on topic more so than they had in traditional literature discussions, and the students found the online forum to be a safe place for sharing personal thoughts. The students’ enjoyment of the social interaction increased their enjoyment of the interactions with the literature. In her electronic journal, one student responded, “I really loved the online discussion. Oh my goodness, did our group have fun!” (Larson, 2008, p. 128). Similarly, Burgess (2009) conducted a study implementing the use of Web 2.0


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tools found on WebCT for online literature discussion with eighteen students in her undergraduate developmental reading class. Burgess noted improvement in engagement and critical thinking at the end of the four month study period. Students participated in online discussions and chat rooms to discuss reading assignments. Message board transcripts and quiz results were analyzed, and student surveys and interview responses were collected. Survey results showed that students felt participation in the discussion board and chat rooms increased motivation to read. Additionally, students indicated that they strongly agreed with statements reflecting enjoyment of the activities (Burgess). While these online discussion tools were found to be helpful with developmental readers, Wolsey (2004) also asserts that this type of electronic threaded discussion is beneficial for more advanced readers, as well. Gifted students and advanced readers can participate in electronic discussions with each other and the teacher that meet their developmental needs. These discussions would be difficult to hold face to face during class time because they would exclude other students, but because of the never-ending access to online forums, students are able to engage with each other for extended periods and are not limited by the confines of the school day (Wolsey).

Conclusions on Literature This information suggests that there are many things literacy educators must do to prepare students for today’s world: 1) Literacy educators must motivate students to read and participate in literacy activities in order to develop their literacy skills, 2) Literacy educators must harness the power of technology to engage students and


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prepare them for a globally connected world dependent on new literacies, and 3) Literacy educators must incorporate cooperative grouping into their lesson plans in order to allow social interaction which can interest students and develop important thinking and collaborative skills. Effectively using Web 2.0 for literature discussions accomplishes all three of these tasks. Web 2.0 is designed to be collaborative and therefore offers easy opportunities for students to work cooperatively. It can allow for discussions of literature and collaboration on other literacy-centered activities so students can continue to develop crucial literacy skills. However, there is still very little research on whether participation in Web 2.0 can increase a student’s motivation to read. More research must be done to determine if using Web 2.0 can increase not only comprehension, but motivation, as well. My research question is: Does participation in online literature discussion using Web 2.0 tools increase students’ motivation to read? I believe that the use of Web 2.0 will be a motivating factor for the students involved. Methodology Participants The participants in this study were members of two English classes of 9th grade students at a rural high school in Eastern North Carolina. There were eighteen total participants. There were nine participants in the treatment group, four males and five females. One of the students was white, seven were African American, and one was Hispanic. Students ranged in age from 14-15. The class was taught by Teacher A, the researcher, who holds National Board Certification and is pursuing a master’s degree in reading. This class was chosen by convenience since it was the only class of freshmen

WEB 2.0 AND MOTIVATION TO READ the researcher was teaching in the spring semester.

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The comparison group contained nine students, four white students, three African-American students, one Hispanic student, and one multi-racial student. Four of the students were male and five were female. Students ranged in age from 14-15. This class was taught by Teacher B, the English Department chair and most veteran English teacher at the school. While each class contained more than nine students, only nine students in each class returned necessary consent and assent forms to participate in the study. Both teachers involved in this study share the philosophy that reading is vitally important for high school students. Each teacher encourages reading and active involvement with reading daily within her classroom.

Setting The school chosen for this experiment has a population of approximately 750 students. The majority of students are considered to have low socioeconomic status, with approximately 54% of the student body receiving free and reduced lunch. The entire school population is roughly 60% African American, 30% Caucasian, and 10% Hispanic. The school also participates in a 1:1 laptop program, so each student is assigned an Apple laptop for use each day. Most students are familiar with using different software and computer applications. The teachers involved in the study have been teaching at the school for eight and eleven years respectively, and both teachers graduated as North Carolina Teaching Fellows from the local university with degrees in English education.


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Procedures Consent and assent forms were distributed and explained to both classes by the researcher. Those students who returned parental consent forms and signed forms of assent were included in the study. To begin the study, baseline data about students’ attitudes towards reading and motivation to read was established. Each respective teacher administered the Adolescent Motivation to Read Profile (see Appendix A) to the treatment and comparison class. Students in each class participated in independent reading during which students were able to choose books to read on their own. Students in both classes also participated in whole class literature study, during which the teacher selected a text that the entire class read independently or as a group. The texts chosen for whole class literature study were the same for both the treatment and the comparison group and were found within the Holt, Rinehart, & Winston Elements of Literature, Third Course Textbook. However, each week the treatment group, students in Teacher A’s class, was assigned to respond to literature, either their independent reading texts or the whole class literature study texts, in an online format. Students participated in online discussions using the class asynchronous discussion board on eChalk, synchronous online chat via TitanPad, or the social networking site Shelfari one to two times each week for five weeks (See Appendix B). The students used the discussion board and TitanPad to discuss class texts. The teacher gave the students prompts for these online discussions, and discussions typically lasted ten to fifteen minutes per session. Students were grouped randomly in both forums by choosing one student per seating


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table to create the online group. The researcher monitored the online discussions by viewing discussion board transcripts and outlined specific requirements for each session (number of posts required, number of group members, topics of discussion). These requirements varied for each session. Students used Shelfari to discuss independent reading texts with other students reading the same book. Again, the researcher gave students prompts to discuss in their posts on other students’ pages. Meanwhile, the comparison group, the students in Teacher B’s class, participated in more traditional classroom activities and discussion of literature. On the days when the treatment group participated in online dialogue, the comparison group participated in whole class discussion or answered comprehension and critical thinking questions from the textbook. Teacher B facilitated class conversations and assigned the questions for each session. Instead of discussion, the comparison group took Accelerated Reader (AR) quizzes on their independent reading books. At the end of the intervention period, the AMRP was administered again to both groups.

Data Collection and Analysis Quantitative and qualitative data were collected for this study. The primary measure of reading motivation was the Adolescent Motivation to Read Profile (AMRP) administered to each group. The original Motivation to Read Profile was developed by Gambrell (2006) to measure reading motivation in elementary students. Pitcher, et al. (2007) adapted the instrument to make it more applicable for use with adolescents. The AMRP asks students to identify their attitudes about books and reading in a series of


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multiple-choice questions. Specifically, the answers to the twenty multiple-choice questions are coded with a value of one to four. Ten of the questions measure the student’s self-concept as a reader, and the other ten questions measure the student’s perception of the value of reading. The researcher printed the directions for the AMRP and trained Teacher B to administer the survey. Teachers A and B administered the survey during class time on the same day. Both teachers read aloud the questions and answer choices to their own group. Students were given approximately ten minutes to complete the survey. The researcher tabulated student responses on the AMRP reading survey scoring sheet. The researcher obtained a raw score for both self-concept and value of reading which were added together to find the full survey raw score. Two scoring sheets were completed for each participating student: the initial AMRP administration full survey raw scores were recorded as pre-test data and the final AMRP administration full survey raw scores were recorded as post-test data. The researcher used a spreadsheet to calculate the pre-test/post-test change score for each student in both groups. The independent t-test was used to compare the change scores for the treatment group and the comparison group. The researcher interviewed a focus group of four randomly-selected students from the intervention group at the end of the intervention period to supplement the findings of the survey and gain specific qualitative data about student perceptions and attitudes about the use of Web 2.0 (See Appendix C). Both teachers recorded observations in a daily journal about motivation and behaviors in each group. These notes provided anecdotal evidence of motivation seen in the classroom. Additionally,


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the field notes of Teacher A and Teacher B were compared to analyze any patterns of behavior found to be similar or different in both groups.

Reliability and Validity Teacher A and B followed scripted procedures for AMRP administration on both pre-test and post-test administrations. Both groups were surveyed on the same day using the same procedures. Threats to validity included a subject-characteristic threat, as some students in one group or the other may have had a more entrenched aversion to reading than others. History was an additional threat since any of the students may have experienced something during the intervention period that affected their reading motivation, such as problems at home, an illness, or trouble at school. There was no specific way to address these threats other than choosing two classes that were comparable in size and make-up. Findings Results showed a positive mean change score of 2, a 4% change, for the intervention group when comparing pre-test and post-test scores. As shown in Figure 1, change scores varied per student, ranging from -1 to 7, within this group

Intervention Group AMRP Data


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(Figure 1) As shown in Figure 3, the comparison group showed a negative mean change score of -0.2, a 0% change, when comparing pre-test and post-test scores. Individual student change scores ranged from -4 to 5 in this group as shown in Figure 2. No patterns between racial or gender subgroups were discernible in either the intervention group or the comparison group. An independent t-test of equal variance, pictured in Table 1, showed the two tailed p value to be .117, which does not show a statistical significance in the difference in change scores between the two groups.

Comparison Group AMRP Data


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(Figure 2)

Mean Change Scores

Indpendent t-test on Change Scores of Web 2.0 Treatment Group vs. Traditional Instruction Comparison Group with 18 cases

Group 1 Mean SD n Mean diff. SE t-value df two-tailed p Group 2 2 0.222222222 2.783882181 2.905932629 9 9 Equal Variance 2.222222222 1.341410719 1.656630733 16 0.117070309

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(Table 1) Field notes by Teacher A and Teacher B did not show significant variations between the groups in motivation to read, but there was evidence of variation in motivation to engage in literature discussion. The intervention group taught by the researcher, Teacher A, showed increased motivation to discuss texts when the opportunity was given to discuss online, particularly when Shelfari was the mode of discussion. Students engaged in discussion tasks more quickly and with more focus than they had before the intervention period. Additionally, an increased level of student participation was noted in the intervention group when engaging in online discussion than before the onset of intervention. Teacher B noted no change in motivation to engage in discussion during the course of the intervention period. An interview with a focus group of four students randomly selected from the intervention group supported these findings. Students said they liked using Web 2.0 tools to discuss literature, though it did not make them want to read more. Three of the four students in the focus group intimated that they preferred discussions online. Lisa (all student names are pseudonyms) explained, “I can’t really say that it


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[participation in Web 2.0 discussions] made me want to read, but I liked talking to my friends that way. I guess, though, sometimes it can make you want to read something if your friend tells you something they’re reading is good like on Shelfari.” “I like talking to my friends on the internet but that doesn’t make me want to read; I would rather talk to them about other things,” Kasey said. Corey added, “I like it when we get to use Shelfari because it feels like being on Facebook at school. That makes it feel like fun.” Students expressed some frustrations with Web 2.0 conversations, as well. “One thing I don’t like about the chat room is that you have to wait on someone else to say something. Like sometimes, your group is just waiting for one person to respond,” added Kashawn. Conversely, Lisa liked the accountability provided in TitanPad, “I like that the teacher can see who talked and who didn’t. In regular groups when you talk out loud, a lot of time, one person does all the work but everyone gets credit. Plus people know the teacher can see so they feel more like they have to participate.” Kasey explained that he liked the asynchronous discussion board dialogue because he could read posts by his classmates and “get thoughts together” before posting. Kashawn agreed saying, “I like reading what my friends say. Sometimes when we talk out loud you can’t hear what someone says or not everybody talks.” These results do not imply that participation in Web 2.0 dialogue to discuss literature impacts reading motivation; however, qualitative evidence suggests that there may be reason to study the effect the use of Web 2.0 on student engagement. Discussion Although the mean score of the intervention group did increase while the mean


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score of the comparison group decreased from the pre-test administration of the AMRP to the post-test administration of the AMRP, the change was not statistically significant. Several students showed an increase in scores on the AMRP while other students’ scores decreased. Based on these findings, the research hypothesis was incorrect; there is no evidence to suggest that participation in online literature discussions using Web 2.0 tools increases students’ motivation to read. Research shows that collaborative grouping in traditional settings can motivate students to engage in activities (Leu, 1996; Boekaert & Minnaert, 2006; Shaaban, 2006); however, it does appear that cooperative grouping for online literature discussions can impact reading motivation itself. This should not dismiss, though, the positive benefits researchers have found Web 2.0 integration with literacy can have on comprehension and critical thinking (Larson, 2009). Since very little impact on reading motivation was seen by the group participating in Web 2.0 discussions and a negative change was seen by the group participating in traditional oral discussion, the results of this study seem to reiterate the importance of pre-reading activities and decisions teachers and students make (i.e. building background knowledge, allowing for choice) prior to reading that build motivation rather than the activities that occur subsequent to reading (Guthrie, et al., 1997; Schiefele, 2000). However, the qualitative data suggests that the use of Web 2.0 to discuss literature may have the potential to increase student engagement. Teacher observations indicated students in the intervention groups showed signs of increased engagement while discussing literature while the comparison group showed no such increase. Responses from the focus group supported these observations. This seems valid


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considering research shows that cooperative grouping can increase engagement (Flippo, 2001) as does the use of technology (Larson, 2009; Kitsis, 2010). There are several limits of this study. Because of the small sample size in this study, more research is needed to determine if participation in Web 2.0 conversations to study literature can increase motivation to read. Additionally, it may be prudent to study whether more frequent participation in Web 2.0 discussions could impact reading motivation. The original proposal for this study called for Web 2.0 discussions three to five times per week. However, at the onset of the intervention, the participating school entered transformation status due to poor test scores. This classification created new pacing and new mandated benchmark testing with more frequent formative assessments in freshman English classes. Therefore, more class time was spent on End-of-Course test practice and computerized assessments, causing classes to read fewer texts and leaving even less time for participation in literature discussion online. These limitations and their effect on the frequency of online discussion may have influenced the impact the intervention had on student reading motivation. The frequent test preparation also may have been an intervening variable itself, affecting reading motivation. Additionally, although the AMRP, based on the Gambrell’s Motivation to Read Profile (MRP), is commonly used to assess motivation to read quantitatively, it provides a limited measure of reading motivation based on self-concept as a reader and perceived value of reading. This instrument was not ideal in measuring actual motivation to read, as defined in this study. Further refinement of instrumentation available to quantitatively assess reading motivation would be useful to teacherresearchers.


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While more research may be needed on this type of intervention’s impact on reading motivation, based on these results, it seems more warranted to research further the impact technology-literacy integration, particularly the use of Web 2.0 tools, can have on student engagement. Encouraging student discussion and interaction through the use of Web 2.0 tools may be a way to engage students, especially those who enjoy using technology, in literature study and critical thinking about texts. This study was designed based on evidence that cooperative learning and the use of Web 2.0 technologies could have positive effects in the classroom (Larson 2009; Burgess, 2009; Wolsey, 2004). Based on the research indicating the importance of reading motivation to reading achievement (Guthrie, et al., 1997; Pintrich & Schrauben, 1992), the researcher hoped to examine whether cooperative work using Web 2.0 could raise reading motivation as a way to further reading achievement. While that correlation was not seen, there was qualitative data that confirmed positive benefits of using Web 2.0 in the classroom, which provides a basis for further research.

Reflection The action research process was completely new for me. As a teacher, I am constantly wondering whether one strategy or one approach would be more effective than another. I often try new things in my classroom and informally evaluate whether or not the new implementation was effective. However, I have never had the opportunity or the know-how to implement a formal action research study. It was a daunting task, and I never dreamed how involved it would truly be. As the researcher in this study, I had a


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great deal of responsibility, and I felt that the pressure of this responsibility was especially evident in the planning stages. It took me a very long time to decide on a topic for my study because there seemed to be so many possibilities I wanted to look into. I took the literature review very seriously and tried to really consider how previous research should help inform my proposal. As a teacher-researcher, I wanted the research to guide me as I considered how to implement an intervention in my own classroom. The IRB training had given me a wealth of background knowledge on conducting research, but I was still nervous as I began to prepare my proposal for IRB submission. I typically tweak and adjust things as I work, but I learned that the procedures and methodologies included in my proposal would have to be exact and that I would be responsible for adhering to what was in my proposal. There were several obstacles I faced in completing my research as planned. Gaining consent and assent was challenging because high school students are notorious for not bringing papers back signed. This was problematic since so few students returned consent forms. Additionally, my school underwent many changes during the semester my study was implemented which impacted how often and in what ways I could implement my intervention strategy. However, as the teacher-researcher, it was my responsibility to make the study work. I had to remain focused on the bigger picture and ensure that the correct procedures were followed in my classroom as well as the comparison classroom. This was a significant difference from my traditional role as teacher because during the research process I felt like I was in a more managerial role in addition to teaching. As the study concluded, it was my job to analyze the data in a very specific way. I learned a great deal about using statistics to analyze data by performing


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calculations myself instead of just reading about them. I feel confident that I could design, implement, and analyze future research more independently after having completed this process with the help of my professors and peers. The action research process was extremely valuable in my growth as an educator. This process allowed me objectivity. As a teacher, we are often so emotionally invested in teaching in a particular way that it is hard to take a step back and look at what is happening in an unbiased manner. During this process, though, I was concerned with the results of the study as a researcher would be and was able to think about the outcomes objectively, without worrying about how they reflected on my teaching. I learned how valuable that type of objectivity can be. As a teacher, if I am objective in analyzing what happens in my classroom, I will be more open to new ideas and more likely to identify what may not be working. Also, the action research process emphasized the importance of reflection and focused observation. Because I was recording my observations and reflections each day, I was more focused on noticing things in my classroom than I was in the past. Making myself take five or ten minutes at the end of each day to record my reflections helped me to reflect in a more systematic way, and I was able to see the progression of what was happening in my classroom. I have always been reflective as a teacher, thinking about my classes as I drove home or washed my hair in the mornings. Recording those reflections, though, pushed me to reflect in a more focused way. The outcome of my research project made me reflect again, on what my results meant and on factors that may have contributed to those results. After analyzing my data, I started thinking clearly about the difference between motivation and engagement and how those two concepts shape what happens in a


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Finally, I gained an abundance of content knowledge through my action research study. The literature review I conducted in preparation for the research was eyeopening. I learned so much about motivation and cooperative learning, as well as the context of technology in 21st century learning, and I learned who leaders in those various fields of research are. My understanding of reading motivation is much more complex now, and I can truly see how technology usage and cooperative learning affect a classroom environment. The action research process showed me how researchers gain the vital data that shapes the field of educational research. I am more appreciative of data driven research now after this experience. It is easy for teachers to do what they feel is best, but it is important for teachers to do what has been proven to be best practices based on sound research. Through my study, I learned that while technology is an invaluable asset in the classroom, using online discussions does not seem to impact motivation to read. After reflecting on this, I realize that it is typically what we do before reading (i.e. activating background knowledge, making connections, building upon interest) that motivates students to want to read. I found potential for using technology to increase engagement in my classroom, though, which makes me interested to continue making focused observations and reflections to further investigate this theory.


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Hopper, R. (2005). What are teenagers reading? Adolescent fiction reading habits and reading choices. Literacy, 39(3), 113-120. doi:10.1111/j.14679345.2005.00409.x. Kitsis, S. (2010). The virtual circle. Educational Leadership, 68(1), 50-54. Knobel, M., & Lankshear, C. (2006). Weblog worlds and constructions of effective and powerful writing: Cross with care, and only where signs permit. In K. Pahl & J. Rowsell (Eds.), Travel notes from the new literacy studies: Instances of practices (pp.72–92). Clevedon, England: Cromwell. Larson, L. C. (2008). Electronic reading workshop: Beyond books with new literacies and instructional technologies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(2), 121-131. doi:10.1598/JAAL.52.2.3 Larson, L. C. (2009). Reader response meets new literacies: Empowering readers in online learning communities [Electronic version]. The Reading Teacher, 62(8), 638-648. doi:10.1598/RT.62.8.2 Leu, D. J., Jr. (2000). Exploring literacy on the internet: Our children's future: Changing the focus of literacy and literacy instruction. The Reading Teacher, 53(5), 424429. Leu, D. J., Jr. (1996). Exploring literacy within multimedia environments: Sarah's secret: Social aspects of literacy and learning in a digital information age. The Reading Teacher, 50(2), 162-165. Leu, D.J., Jr., & Kinzer, C.K. (2000). The convergence of literacy instruction with networked technologies for information and communication. Reading Research


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