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Motivating students to read using differentiated techniques has been the subject of many research projects in the past ten years. Researchers have looked into why students have a dislike for reading as well as the best methods for encouraging students to read. This review will summarize the findings from literature and determine the best justified methods for the study.
A Strong Dislike for Reading
Upon being asked the question, what causes students to experience such a dislike for reading?, many researchers have reported various explanations. Pat Cunningham (2005) shares that schools that use extrinsic motivational tools, prizes or rewards for reading and punishments for not reading, instead of utilizing more intrinsic motivation experience many reluctant readers. Kyle Kostelecky and Mark Hoskinson (2005) and Jenna Cambria and John Guthrie (2010) share an exact finding in their data. All express in their research that kids who are forced to take tests after reading, read a certain number of books or aim for a tangible reward or prize are pushed away from real reading, especially if the students are punished for not meeting their goal (Cunningham, 2005). These extrinsic motivators do not help develop a continuing love for reading (Cambria & Guthrie, 2010).
Claire Snowball (2005) shared a similar finding. She found that students who were not motivated to read were not interested in the types of books that were being offered in school (2005). With a lack of interest or enjoyment in books, less and less students were reading.
Another area of reading that was reported to cause some reluctance was the difficulty level of the texts. Jenna Cambria and John Guthrie (2010) determined that students were not confident in their reading ability expressed a dislike for the art. Also, Heather Casey (2008), who uses learning clubs, describes the difficulty of the texts used in classrooms as a reason why students dislike reading.
Intrinsically Motivating Students to Read: Individually
Many techniques were discovered that might help this overwhelming dislike for reading in schools today. These techniques range from strategies to help individual students to strategies that are beneficial for a classroom full of students. All of the strategies link reading with intrinsic motivation, getting students to feel the need and desire for reading (Cambria &Guthrie, 2010). One of the main techniques that was found in the data was the need for high-interest texts to be available in the classroom. Students should be given the opportunity to read texts that interest them.
In the world of reading, many reluctant readers, especially boys, are interested in reading books with pictures or drawings, so that they are able to see what is happening and can make valid connections to the text. Graphic novels, as Snowball (2005) describes, provide this type of high-interest content with visuals for students who struggle reading larger texts. Graphic novels may not be for everyone, though. Therefore, it is important to reach studentsââ‚¬â„¢ individual interests, as discovered through an interest inventory, with different types of book selections (Boehm, 2009). Sarah Parks Duncan (2010) reports similar findings, in that a classroom library should be full of the types of books that students want to read, not books that they should read.
Student choice and relevance were also key intrinsic motivational techniques found in the research. Cambria and Guthrie (2010) shared that students should be given choices in the classroom, not only with the books they read, but also with how they are learning. One example of using student choice in the reading classroom is the Think-Tac-Toe created and shared by Kelley Samblis (2006). He created a three by three grid in which each box included a different type of activity. The students would then choose the three activities they wanted to complete. The activities were created to fit the specific learning and intelligence needs of the students, making it relevant for each (Samblis, 2006). Providing students the opportunity to read something that has some significance to their lives allows them to feel connected to the text and in turn motivated to read (Feger, 2006). Choice and relevancy are crucial to intrinsically motivate students.
Intrinsically Motivating Students to Read: Whole Class
Many of the studies reviewed discussed instruments used in a whole class setting to aid students in their desire to read. The first instruments are read alouds and teacher modeling. As Sarah Parks Duncan (2010) reports, teachers need to share their love for reading and model quality reading to their students. Reading aloud allows students to hear what quality reading looks like and sounds like. Pat Cunningham (2005) shares similar research. She takes this concept even further and states that teachers should read aloud, but should read a variety of genres so to meet the interest needs of all students (Cunningham, 2005). Ensuring that a variety of texts are read may assist in reaching those tough to reach students. This consistent modeling and reading aloud throughout all of school may indeed help students achieve that confidence needed to understand more difficult types of texts when they get older (Silva, 2010).
Through the modeling and reading aloud processes, teachers are able to engage students in meaningful discussions about their texts. Getting students to discuss books with their peers and choose how they want to discuss the text serves as another motivational technique. Vanessa Morrison and Lisa Wlodarczyk (2009), share that teacher read alouds and class discussions allow students to make connections with the text. They are then better able to analyze and synthesize the texts and complete higher leveled thinking activities. Heather Casey (2008), as noted earlier, reported the use of learning clubs in the classroom. Students were placed in groups to discuss books or texts that they had read. Working with others allows students to get a different perspective of the text, which can lead to better comprehension of the text (Casey, 2008). The authors of Thinking and Talking about Books: Using Prompts to Stimulate Discussion (2010), share a similar finding as the previous study. They report that students who share their thoughts about what they are reading, responding to specific prompts, are encouraged to continue reading so that they can continue to share with their peers (Blum, Koskinen, Bhartiya & Hluboky, 2010).
One key tool that most students can relate to in the world today is technology. Many schools and teachers are equipped with computers and some, with iPads and tablets. Two studies expressed how technology can assist in motivating readers in the classroom. The author of the first study shared how using technology during literacy centers in the form of digital texts can encourage a studentââ‚¬â„¢s desire and will to read (Thoermer & Williams, 2012). Students can use iPads or computers for Readerââ‚¬â„¢s Theater scripts or for read alouds found on the internet. Del Siegle (2012) also studied this topic but focused on the effects of using e-books in the classroom as a reading tool as well as a writing tool to motivate students in each area.
Overall, many methods of motivating students to read have been the subject of research. All of the methods studied have been expressed as clear, positive results to the problem. The basis of this research project is to determine the most justifiable strategy to motivate students to read. Looking back over the findings, the strategies that are most commonly found are teacher read alouds and student choice. For further inquiry of the topic, the following question is raised. Which strategies promote increased academic performance in the area of reading? This study will conduct further research on motivational techniques for reading, especially the techniques mentioned here and determine which strategies promote increased academic abilities in the area of reading.
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