Literacy 4-6

Systems Change

Factor Connections

Hover to see how factors connect to Motivation. Then click connected factors to explore strategies related to multiple factors.

Motivation is the desire and energy that guides behavior. When we are motivated, we engage more in what we are doing and learn more. Motivation has an essential influence on reading and writing development and students' identification as readers and writers.

Main Ideas

Motivation to read and write tends to decrease as children get older. The amount of time children spend reading for pleasure has been found to decrease from 39% of 9- to 11-year-olds reading for fun five to seven days a week to 27% of 12- to 14-year-olds.

One important distinction is between intrinsic Motivation, the inherent desire to learn and accomplish goals, and extrinsic Motivation, which is the desire to accomplish goals because of external rewards/recognition or to avoid a negative consequence. Intrinsic and extrinsic Motivation are not mutually exclusive; it is very common for students to be driven by both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. For example, they may not be intrinsically interested in a specific assignment but they are motivated to do well for a related long-term goal. Further, students who struggle with literacy skills may be less motivated to participate in academic reading but may avidly read other kinds of reading materials that are personally engaging. Moving students towards being more intrinsically motivated is important for long term engagement in reading and writing.

Some important concepts that impact Motivation include:

  • Self-efficacy - the confidence students have in their own reading and writing abilities
  • Interest/value - whether we want to complete the task
  • Goals - the reasons or purposes for doing a task
  • Self-regulation - the ability to organize and manage thinking, behavior, and emotions to accomplish a task

Self-efficacy for reading underlies their Motivation to read. Because of this, students with a higher literacy self-efficacy will choose to engage in more challenging reading tasks. Students' self-efficacy may develop from experiences where they master a task (e.g., successfully reading a complex book), the Emotions elicited by reading and writing (e.g., feelings of frustration and anxiety vs. joy), and feedback and messages of encouragement or discouragement they receive from others about their reading and writing skills.

Culture and race can also play an important role in the processes of academic Motivation. For example, students from marginalized backgrounds may benefit from stronger relationships in order to feel a sense of belonging in their school community, which can impact Motivation.

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