Engaged Reading:

Promoting Achievement and Motivation

Introduction: The push for successful, independent readers

The standards and expectations of students and teachers are set.  According to the U.S. Department of Education (1997), “All students will read independently and well by the end of 3rd grade.”  To read independently and well by the end of third grade involves: the capability of comprehending a variety of simple texts, while understanding elements of literature and characteristics of genre, using phonics and simple context clues to figure out unknown words, drawing conclusions about events in reading, as well as making, confirming, and revising predictions while reading (Department of Education’s Checkpoints for Progress in Reading and Writing, 1998).  Teachers, students, and community members are responsible for making this goal happen, as reading is so necessary in enabling students to succeed through school and their grown lives. 

Is this a realistic goal that can be met by children today?  In fact, most American third graders can read; however, many students spend their time decoding the text and are unable to comprehend and understand the message (Every Child A Reader, 1998).  The students have a foundation in phonics, word structure, recognition, and meanings, but lack the necessary skills to independently comprehend and interpret texts.  As these students continue through school, their inability to fully comprehend and make meaning of texts places them at a severe disadvantage to the rest of the students.  In addition, researchers have observed that students’ intrinsic motivation decreases (Wigfield et al., 1997), their attitude decreases (McKenna, Kear, & Ellensworth, 1995), and amount and breadth to which children read decreases as the child continues through elementary and into middle school years (Guthrie & Knowles, 2001).  Most children enter school excited to read; however, by the time they enter middle school they have a dislike for reading.  This disheartening phenomenon leads us to reconsider educational practice, as well as the contexts which children construct a meaning and value of literacy (i.e. within the home and the community that he or she lives).  The question becomes: How can we change this pattern of struggling readers who choose not to read for pleasure, so that more students become engaged and successful readers?


The Theory: Reading engagement


Much of the research and effort that has contributed to the formation of the reading engagement theory has been situated at the National Reading Research Center (NRRC), the jointly funded effort of the University of Maryland and University of Georgia.  The NRRC scholars of educational psychology and human development have focused their efforts on exploring, identifying, and understanding the variables that contribute to reading engagement.  The researchers have studied and focused on the integration of motivational, cognitive, and social features of reading and reading instruction.

Engaged readers, as defined by John Guthrie and the NRRC, are those who apply reading strategies for comprehension and conceptual knowledge, are motivated to learn and achieve, and who are part of a supportive literate community (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000).  Engaged readers not only are able to decode and comprehend texts, but they value reading, believe they are good readers, and choose to read.  Engaged reading is not an attack on the cognitive importance of reading—it is just as important as the motivation–-rather, it is a calling for a integration between motivation, cognition, and social contributions in order to engage students in reading to become life-long, successful readers.


Reading and Motivation:

            The literature discussing motivation is abundant, and at times overwhelming.  The wide range of motivational literature is a result of the multidimensional feature of the reasons for human behavior (Baker & Wigfield, 1999).  In the literature, there are many variables that have been shown to affect a persons’ reading behavior.  As it pertains to reading engagement, all variables may play some role in determining whether a student reads or not.  Researchers at the NRRC, as well as other scholars, are exploring various motivational variables (e.g. self-efficacy, interest, autonomy, goal orientation) and their relationship with reading development and engagement.

Wigfield and colleagues (Guthrie, Oldfather, & Eccles) have been influential in connecting achievement motivational constructs to literacy development.  The achievement motivation view stresses the importance of goals, beliefs, and values in motivation and learning (Oldfather & Wigfield, 1996).  These motivation achievement constructs have influenced learning, but not until the last decade had they been seriously applied to reading and literacy.  In the motivational literature, students have been thought to be motivated extrinsically (for an external reward) or intrinsically (for the sake or value of doing something).  An engaged reader is thought to be someone who reads for the sake of reading (intrinsic), not for a grade or for other external incentives (extrinsic); however, there have been no observed long-term side effects of extrinsic rewards for reading (Wigfield, 2000).

A person’s self-efficacy and self-beliefs of ability are thought to affect their motivation to complete a task.  Schunk (1993) observed that if students are trained to be more efficacious, they improve their chances of achievement in different subject areas.  Therefore, when children believe they are efficacious at reading they will likely succeed at reading.  In addition to self-efficacy, if students value literacy as an important means for learning, and interacting in our society, then students will be more apt to achieve as readers.  When children view reading, writing, and knowing as valued constructs, then they are more likely to be motivated and successful readers (Oldfather & Wigfield, 1996).

Interestingly, Guthrie and Wigfield (2000) claim that reading motivation not only explains why some children read more than other, but it also triggers the strategic skills of the child and allows him or her to engage in the reading.  He emphasizes that without motivation children will be less likely to use cognitive strategies (e.g. using prior knowledge, searching for information, self-monitoring), and be less likely to read.  In this sense, motivational variables, such as self-efficacy, interest, and autonomy, are greatly influential in reading engagement—an integration of social, cognitive, and motivational aspects.


Principles for Promoting Reading Motivation:

            The reading engagement theory holds certain motivational variables as highly influential contributors in promoting engaged reading.  By providing the following list of principles for promoting reading motivation, the theory has answered the question: How can educators engineer social environments that will provide students with the will and skill to engage in reading?

The following is a list of principles, created by Guthrie and other scholars at the NRRC, for fostering reading engagement: Learning and knowledge goals (co-developed between the teacher and the students, and that drive the lessons), real world interactions (connection between the curriculum and the student’s life outside of school, using stimulating activities), autonomy support (student choice motivates students to learn), interesting texts for instruction (book meets the cognitive capacity and the topic interest of the student), strategy instruction (teachers directly teach strategies for reading through direct instruction and guided practice), and collaboration (students use social discourse to understand different meanings and to socially construct knowledge from the text) (Guthrie & Knowels, 2001, Guthrie & Alao, 1997, Guthrie & Cox, 2001).  One or two principles will not successfully foster an engaging environment for students; the teacher must engineer the classroom and his or her practice so that all the contributors are linked in a cohesive manner.


Historical Analysis: The past 30 years of reading and motivation:

By the 1970s, cognitive psychology had eventually taken priority as the major influence in reading research.  Researchers wanted to ascribe some sense of meaning to the process of reading by trying to understand the underlying cognitive processes, previously unimportant for the behaviorists, who were concerned with breaking everything done to stimulus and response (Hiebert, E. & Raphael, T., 1996).  The advent of the computer as an analogy of the human mind—using programmed hard and software to execute computational processes—created a vision of the human reader as a computer.  Research focused on schema theory, text processing, and metacognition, all dominating the literature (Gaffney & Anderson, 2000).  In a sense, the motivational aspects of learning were less emphasized with the full attention placed on cognitive processes.  The focus on comprehension and schema theory remained well through the 1980’s.  In the last decade and a half, reading research has taken a sociocultural spin.  As a result, the focus has shifted from comprehension and cognitive strategies to an understanding of cooperative learning, collaboration, and reading for pleasure.   Social constructivism questioned how meaning is constructed, emphasizing the social dimension of learning (Hiebert, E. & Raphael, T., 1996).

In addition, the emergence of Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan) in the mid-80’s, along with the growing importance of social learning, instilled a motivational dimension to student learning, as it is applied to specific learning contexts.  In the late 1980’s and 90s, there was a strong desire to connect the motivational theories to practice. This connection between the motivational theories and literacy is not evident in the literature until the scholars at the NRRC merged the two (early 90’s).  In sum, engaged reading provides a synthesis of the motivational literature and the literacy literature.  Prior to the mid 90’s, this research had been fairly disconnected.

We can see the paradigm shift apparent within the language in two major journals for teaching and research, Reading Research Quarterly and The Reading Teacher (Gaffney & Anderson 2000).  In figure I, it is revealed that the decrease in the appearances of the words schema and prior knowledge becomes most obvious in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Also, the decrease in occurrences of comprehension in the 1990s (shown in Figure II) is also a result of the paradigm shift from cognitive to sociocultural and motivational emphasis.  The shift also becomes evident when viewing the increase of terminology about “motivation,” and “interest,” in the literature.

Within the past fifteen years, drawing influence from the motivational research, scholars have focused on the motivational features of reading, as it is essential in a students’ reading development (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000; Wigfield, 2000; Turner, J.C. & Paris, S.G, 1995; Baker, L. Afflerbach, P., & Reinking, D., 1996).  This convergence of cognitive and motivational aspects of reading development becomes united in the theory of reading engagement.


Figure I.  Number of articles containing schema or prior knowledge.





Figure II.  Percentage of articles containing words about motivation or interest.


Figure III.  Percentage of articles containing comprehension.



Contemporary Analysis of Reading Engagement: Common trends in the literature

            A major trend that I found in the current literature is the way in which scholars are exploring how student understandings, interests, and beliefs interact with different instructional practices.  The relationship is seen in Turner and Paris (1995):

“If students are to be motivated readers and writers, we must give them the tools and the reasons to read and write and allow them to discover the many paths to literacy—paths that fit the diverse goals, purposes, interests, and social needs of children.”

A majority of the journals approach reading engagement as a phenomenon influenced by school contexts.  This idea is understandable for educators.  If classroom contexts did not play a major role in student’s reading engagement, then an educators’ impact on the students’ reading development would be minimal.  As a result, educators believe there is a significant relationship between contributions teachers can provide and the success of the student.  The focus on the instruction can be seen in the Concept Oriented Reading Instruction classrooms (Guthrie et al, 1999), where they implement the principles of reading engagement theory in six combined science and language arts classrooms (see annotated list of research studies for more discussion).  Turner and Paris (1995), Nolen (2001), and Rueda et al. (2001), explore how the tasks assigned by teachers influence the level of engagement.  A majority of the studies within the three journals (Journal of Educational Psychology, Reading Research Quarterly, The Elementary School Journal) explored instructional implications for facilitating environments that foster reading engagement and reading motivating.  For example, Sadoski, M. et al. (2000), explores effects of concreteness on comprehension and interest; Reeve, et al. (1999), observe autonomy-supportive teachers and the relationship to reading motivation; Susan Neuman (1999) examines the impact that an increased number of books, along with reading instruction training for the staff, can have on pre-school reading motivation and achievement.  This focus on instructional practices can be seen in Turner & Paris (1995): “Motivation does not reside solely in the child; rather it is in the interaction between students and their literacy environments.”  Scholars are seeking to grasp an understanding of how student motivation and reading engagement interacts and relates to literacy contexts and activities.

            The second trend in the research is the focus on the child, which was less common than the focus on the instructional contexts.   Researchers sought to identify the factors leading to reading motivation within the child.  This approach usually examined the understandings, interests, and attitudes students bring to school and how they relate to reading achievement and motivation.  This can be seen in Afflerbach’s understanding of reading motivation:

“Reading is facilitated or inhibited by the things that students bring to the reading of the text: self-esteem and self-concept, prior knowledge and interests related to the content of the text, motivation to learn, the ability to plan and think critically, and knowledge from previous interactions with the teacher and fellow students” (1996).

One method researchers used to understand what motivated middle school students to read was to survey their interests.  Guy Ivey and Karen Broaddus (2001) sought for the qualities that motivated students to read inside and outside the classroom. By asking students what interests and motivates them to read, educators can better understand the contributing factors involved in students’ motivation to read.  The second method of research examined the ways in which achievement motivational factors (e.g. self-efficacy, values, and goals) contribute to amount and breadth of reading.  Wigfield and Guthrie (1997) sought to understand the complexity of children’s reading motivation.  They designed a questionnaire that identified the multifaceted dimension of motivation.  They were able to conclude from the data that the students who reported high intrinsic motivation read nearly three-times as much per day than the person who reported a low intrinsic motivation.  Gottfried at al. (2001) studied the decline of intrinsic motivation through the school years.  They concluded that intrinsic motivation remains fairly steady and predictable over the school years, despite teachers, parents, and geography.  In contrast to the focus on the school context, these studies focused on the child’ interests and intrinsic motivation.

            A third element important to the discussion on reading engagement, which was often over-looked in the literature, is the influence of sociocultural factors in reading engagement.  There was not one article in the three journals that specifically addressed the importance of sociocultural factors in reading engagement. Guthrie’s definition of reading engagement (1998,1999, 2000) encompasses cognitive, motivational, and social contributions of reading engagement, yet in his and others’ research, the sociocultural emphasis is underemphasized.  With the last year, scholars have placed more importance on the sociocultural implications in reading motivation. Rueda et al. (2001), and Verhoeven & Snow (2001), show promising concern for the need to recognize the impact of home and community factors in reading engagement.  They consider the importance of how reading is valued in particular cultures and homes, as well as the boundaries placed between culture, the home, and school. 

            Missing in the literature are detailed ethnographic studies of particular engaged readers.  This research is important in our understanding of what, how, and why students are motivated in certain situations and contexts.  This work would refine our view of the successful reader and the reader who reads for pleasure.  In addition, there is a place for more research on the practices and qualities of teachers who foster reading engagement in their students.  This research would provide could contribute to the work being done with Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction in a few schools in Washington D.C.  A richer database of research would help refine what we know of the instructional principles that stimulate reading engagement.  Lastly, in-depth research pertaining to sociocultural impacts on reading engagement would be helpful in our understanding of the ways in which the home and community foster reading engagement.  We must critically examine school instruction and the communities in which these children live in order to know how reading is fostered.


Figure 4: Visual Representation of the major trends in the literature.

Motivation resides in the child




             Motivation resides in instructional practice



Text Box: Language  Text Box: Community


Culture                         Motivation resides in the child’s cultural and familial context


Graphics taken from the Maryland Literacy Research Center website.



Works Cited Page



Afflerbach, P. (1996) Engaged Assessment of Engaged Readers. Developing Engaged

Readers in School and Home Communities. Eds. Linda Baker, Peter Afflerbach, David Reinking.


CIERA Every Child A Reader: Applying Research in the Classroom, 1998


Department of Educations’ Checkpoints for Progress in Reading and Writing (America

Reads Challenge…, 1998) ; www.ed.gov/pubs/checkteacher/5third.html, 12/4/01.


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.


Gaffney, J.,, Anderson, R. (2000) Trends in Reading Research in the United States:

Changing Intellectual Currents Over Three Decades. Handbook of Reading Research. Eds. Kamil, M.L., Mosenthal, P., Pearson, P.D., & Barr, R. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, New Jersey.


Guthrie, J. & Cox, K. (2001) Classroom Conditions for Motivation and Engagement in

Reading.  Educational Psychology Review,13.


Guthrie, J., & Knowles, K. (2001) Promoting Reading Motivation. Literacy and

Motivation: Reading Engagement in Individuals and groups. Eds. Ludo Verhoeven & Catherine Snow. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ.


Guthrie, J.T., Wigfield, A. (2000) Engagement and Motivation in Reading. Handbook of

Reading Research. Eds. Kamil, M.L., Mosenthal, P., Pearson, P.D., & Barr, R. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, New Jersey.


Guthrie, J.T., Anderson, E., Alao, S. & Rinehart, J. (1999) Influences of CORI on

Strategy Use and Conceptual Learning from Text. 99, 343-366.


Guthrie, J.T., & Alao, S. (1997) Designing contexts to increase motivations for reading.

Educational Psychologist, 32, 95-107.


McKenna, M.C., Kear, D.J., & Ellsworth, R.A. (1995). Children’s attitudes toward

reading: A national survey. Reading Research Quarterly, 30, 934-956.


Oldafther, P. &  A. Wigfield. (1996) Children’s Motivations for Literacy Learning.

Developing Engaged Readers in school and home communities. Eds. Baker, Afflerbach, Reinking. 89-113


Schunk, D.H., & Swartz, C.W. (1993). Goals and progress feedback: Effects on self-

efficacy and writing achievement. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 18, 337-354.


Turner, J.C., & Paris, S.G. (1995). How literacy tasks influence children’s motivation for

literacy. The Reading Teacher, 48, 662-673.


Wigfield, A. (2000). Facilitating Children’s Reading Motivation. Engaging Young

Readers. Eds. Baker, L., Dreher, J.D., Guthrie, J.T. Guilford Press, New York, NY.


Wigfield, A., Eccles, J.S., Yoon, K.S., Harold, R.D., Arbtren, A.J.A., Freedman-Doan,

C., & Blumenfeld, P.C. (1997). Change in children’s competence beliefs and subjective task values across the elementary school years: A three-year study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 451-469.


Wigfield, A., & Guthrie, J.T. (1997). Relations of children’s motivation for reading to the

amount and breadth of their reading. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 420-432.
















Task I.  Discussions with Scholars


Meeting with Ralph Putnam (advisor)


-He remarked that this would be my interest idea for this week and this week only.

-I was reassured with this since I was still trying to develop my area of study when I walked into his office.

-I told him that I wanted to look at how students’ identity and self-perception relate to their reading.  I told him that I got to this thinking after wondering about the advantages of self-selected reading (or free-voluntary) classrooms.

-After some discussion he said that I was moving down a motivational pathway.  He suggested a couple of books to follow up on.  Mike Rose’s Lives on the Boundary, and Deborah Stipek’s book (he couldn’t remember the title).

-He also suggested that I speak with Nell Duke and Carol Sue Englert (since I have research assistantships with them).  He said that they will be able to help me develop my focus a bit more because they have more background in the literacy field.


A talk with Les Burns (2nd year doctoral student in TE—English Ed.)


Les approached me after he heard about my interests in our first class together.  He was helpful in suggesting a book (Stephen Krashen, The Power of Reading) that turned out to be a kind of meta-analysis of research covering the topics of free voluntary and silent-sustained reading in classrooms.  He also mentioned Frank Smith as someone to read to further my understanding of literacy in the classroom.


A talk with Les Burns


I spoke with Les further about free voluntary reading strategies and reader identity.  He has been reading and studying similar ideas lately.  He let me borrow his copy of Nancy Atwell’s In the Middle, 2nd edition.    We chatted some time on the importance of student choice as far as reading goes.  During his last year of teaching, self-selected reading fueled his curriculum, and he is now working with a teacher at Bath High School.  He reinforced the idea that teachers need to use the students’ identity when creating curriculum, and project assignments.  I guess the difficult part is connecting the material to their interests and identity.


Correspondence with Nell Duke:


-She was very helpful in pointing me in the right direction.  She suggested that what I was talking about (self-regulation, and self-efficacy in reading achievement) has been pursued and developed (mostly) in Maryland and Georgia by Guthrie, Wigfield, et al. 

-She suggested two seminal books (both with Guthrie as an editor—I was able to get one of them), and pointed me to the Reading Research Handbook. 

-It also became apparent that if I wanted to do something with interest and reading I would have to deal with different researchers, such as P. Alexander & Susanne Hidi.



A talk with Les Burns:


Well, I have figured out that Les and I are pursuing generally the same field (he is working on a literature review for another class).  We are both very interested in reading engagement, motivation and cognition as they influence reading.  We talked for quite a while about the processes that we are going through and how exciting (and sad) it is to find materials that say what you want to say.  It has all been said before!


We talked about how reading engagement can change student’s attitudes toward reading.  We discussed that we can only change the student’s understanding of reading after the fact (his focus for his class is high school reading engagement).  Most of the reading motivation research relates to late elementary, middle, and high school students.  Very little is collected among very young children (as stated in the Dolen-2001 reading).  The second way of influencing students’ motivation to read is by reconstructing the representations children have for reading.  I told him that I wasn’t sure which age group I should focus on (I am not sure if I need to—I am not writing a literature review).


What Les has found is that most of the theory of Engaged Reading is far from empirical research.  He said, so far, he has found many cases where the research is mostly instances of this works and this works, but no real empirical studies revealing the stats.


Meeting with Ralph Putnam (advisor)


-First he calmed me down about the Comps, prelims, classes, and all…

-Then we chatted about how I may end up doing a more broad, “What encompasses this field?” type of project, rather than a focused, scoped research project.

-We talked about how reading and math have been the focus for Ed Psych since the start of cognitive psychology in the middle of the 70’s.  That is why there was such a strong concentration on cognition in regards to reading before the 1980’s.

-He then suggested a chapter that I should read in the Ed Psych handbook.  It was to map out the evolution of reading research for the last 50 years.

-He lent me the copy of Dolen’s journal in Cognition and Instruction.  Said that I may want to focus on the practices of teachers in the attitudes and beliefs of literacy.

-After much discussion, we figured that it may be wise to focus on how teachers and educators influence this process of engagement (the journal is a good start).



Correspondence with Emily Swan:


-She actually was one of the doctoral students working on the CORI project (with Guthrie) the past 5 to 10 years.  These CORI classrooms are situated with the theoretical qualities of instruction that foster engaged literacy.  She is now a professor at Utah Ed School.

-I asked her if there were any other classrooms or studies where concept-oriented instruction was targeted, and where the focus was on reading motivation.

-She informed me that there are a couple other researchers who have put their theories to practice (Ames, Stipek, & Roger Breunig), but there are no other formal applications where classrooms may have been tested to see whether or not they work and enhance reading engagement.


Correspondence with Nell Duke:


She believes that the CORI research is important and that it is making headway.  She expressed the concern that research does not often find its way into the classroom; often it takes some time. 


She directed me to an important piece: Turner &  Paris (1995).  This had not come up in my research; it was an important article for me.



Meeting with Ernest Morrell:


I expressed concern that maybe the reading engagement theory is not finding its way into the classroom as well as it should.  He said that this can happen, but not all the time.  This is why it is important for collaboration among teachers and researchers. 


He said my work is two-fold—need to understand and research the theory, and then work at research that connects this basic theory to practice (he says its very interesting and important work).


Teachers need to feel apart of an intellectual community.  This can be established in TE programs where alumni can stay together after taking teaching positions.  Some of the best teachers are the teachers who are leaving the profession for other stimulating, exciting positions.


He spoke of literary theory as a way of understanding reading engagement (a range of thinking about the readers’ interaction with literature—reader response theory is just one section of literary theory). 


He spoke of the need to creating a situation for the students to believe that they are to create meaning.  One way this can happen, as seen in his research, is to allow them to see the relationships of the reading to pop culture.




Task II:  Journal Review


Journal Articles: Journal of Educational Psychology

  1. A.E., Fleming, J., & Gottfried, A.W.  (2001) Continuity of Academic Intrinsic Motivation from Childhood to late Adolescence. 93, 3-13.
  2. Reynolds, P.L. & Symons, S. (2001) Motivational Variables and Children’s Text Search. 93.
  3. Sadoski, M., Goetz, E. & Rodriguez, M. (2000) Engaging Texts: Effects of concreteness on comprehensibility, ability, interest, and recall in four text types. 92, 85-95.
  4. Schraw, G. (2000) Reader Beliefs and Meaning Construction in Narrative Text. 92, 96-106.
  5. Guthrie, J.T., Wigfield, A., Van Meter, C. (2000) Effects of Integrated Instruction on Motivation and Strategy Use in Reading. 92, 331-341.
  6. Flowerday, T. & Schraw, G. (2000) Teacher Beliefs about Instructional Choice: A phenomenological study. 92, 634-645.
  7. Page-Voth, V. & Graham, S. (1999) Effects of Goal Setting and Strategy Use on the Writing Performance and Self-efficacy of Students with Writing and Learning Problems. 91, 230-240.
  8. Reeve, J.M., Bolt, E. & Cai, Y. (1999) Autonomy-Supportive Teachers and how they Teach and Motivate Students. 91, 537-548.
  9. Sweet, A., Guthrie, J.T. & Ng, M.M. (1998) Teacher Perceptions and Student Reading Motivation. 90, 210-223.
  10. Spires, W. & Donley, J. (1998) Prior Knowledge Activation: Inducing engagement with informational texts. 90, 249-260.
  11. Guthrie, J.T., Van Meter, P. et al. (1998) Does Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction increase strategy-use and conceptual learning from text? 90, 261-278.
  12. Schraw, G. Flowerday, T. & Reisetter, M. (1998) The Role of Choice in Reader Engagement. 90, 705-714.
  13. Paxton, R. (1997) “Someone with like a life wrote it”: The effects of a visible author on high school history students. 89, 235-250.
  14. Wigfield, A. & Guthrie, J.T. (1997) Relations of Children’s Motivation for Reading to the Amount and Breadth of Their Reading. 89, 420-432.


Reading Research Quarterly

  1. Ivey, G. & Broaddus, K. (2001) “Just Plain Reading”: A survey of what makes a student want to read in middle school classrooms. 36, 350-377.
  2. Worthy, J., Moorman, M. & Turner, M. (1999) What Johnny likes to read is hard to find in school. 34, 12-27.
  3. Neuman, S.B. (1999) Books Make the Difference: A study of access to literacy. 34, 286-311.
  4. Baker, L. & Wigfield, A. (1999) Dimensions of Children’s Motivation for Reading and Their Relations to Reading Activity and Reading Achievement. 34, 452-477.



Elementary School Journal

  1. Miller, S. & Meece, J. (1999) Third Graders’ Motivational Preferences for Reading and Writing Tasks. 100.
  2. Klinger, J, Vaugh, S. & Schuman, J. (1998) Collaborative Strategic Reading Studies in Heterogeneous 4th Grade Classrooms. 99.
  3. Commeyras, M. & Sommer, G. (1998) Literature Questions Children Want to Discuss: What teachers and students learned in a second grade classroom. 99, 129-152.
  4. Guthrie, J.T., Anderson, E., Alao, S. & Rinehart, J. (1999) Influences of CORI on Strategy Use and Conceptual Learning from Text. 99, 343-366.


(For summary—see Contemporary Analysis.)



Task Three: Annotated Lists


Journals in the field

  1. Reading Research Quarterly

In connection to the International Reading Association, the journal is concerned with issues of literacy with people of all ages. 

  1. Journal of Educational Psychology

The journal publishes articles quarterly that are psychological research pertaining to education, from young children to adults.  Research published usually focuses on learning, cognition, instruction, motivation, and development.

  1. The Reading Teacher

A journal of the International Reading Association, it is aimed for educators involved in literacy instructional practice in K-12 schools.  The journal is a forum for people concerned with practice, research, and trends in literacy research.

  1. The Elementary School Journal

The journal is aimed at help into the researcher and the educator in the elementary and middle schools.  The articles raise topics such as development, instruction, anthropology, and psychology as it related to education.

  1. Review of Educational Research

The journal does not publish original empirical research unless it is in a broad, integrative review.  The journal welcome topics from all disciplines (e.g. psychology and sociology).



Influential written works:


  1. Baker, L., Dreher, M.J., Guthrie, J.T.  Eds. (2000) Engaging Young Readers.

A collection of articles that look at the instructional practices that are thought to enhance reading engagement, defined by Guthrie in the first article of the book.  Together, they review these instructional needs for students: a good foundation at the word level, help if in trouble, ample materials for reading, opportunities to share in a community of learners, among others.


2.     Linda Baker, Peter Afflerbach, David Reinking. Eds. (1996) Developing Engaged Readers in School and Home Communities.

A collection of writers attempting to focus first on the social/cultural factors (influence of family beliefs, connecting home and school) of engaged reading.  In the second section, they concentrate on outlining the motivational aspects of engaged reading and literacy motivation.  The third section of the book focuses on aspects of educational research in literacy education.


  1. Verhoeven L., Snow, C. (2001) Literacy and Motivation (2001).

This is a collection of articles (with similar aims as the prior piece) written with the concentration on social/cultural, instructional, and policy perspectives involving literacy engagement.  The articles focus on the social/cultural perspective of reading engagement more than previous collection of works listed above.


  1. Gambrell, L., & Janice Almasi Eds. (1996) Lively Discussions I: Fostering Engaged Reading. International Reading Association. Newark, DE.

These writers analyze the way in which discussion plays an integral role in students collaboratively constructing meaning and interpretations.  They concentrate on discussion (teacher and student’s interactions and participations) and include perspectives on assessing discussions.


  1. Nolen, Susan. (2001) Motivation for Literacy in Kindergarten. Cognition and Instruction.19, 95-142. 

Nolen attempts to observe young children’s motivation when learning to read.  She concludes that young children’s formation of what it means to collaborate, cheat, read and write is established in the context of instruction.  Children’s understanding of literacy reflects the practices of corresponding teachers.


  1. Turner, J.C., & Paris, S.G. (1995). How literacy tasks influence children’s motivation for literacy. The Reading Teacher, 48, 662-673.

These researchers explore the motivational strategies of some expert teachers in literacy instruction.  They observed that opposite to closed tasks, open tasks provide more than one option for students and questions that have more than one choice or answer.  Open tasks allow for students to evaluate their performance by effort, strategies, or whether they tried to do their best.  They conclude that motivation lies not only in what the student brings to the classroom, but also in the interaction between the child and their literacy environment.


  1. McKenna, M.C., Kear, D.J., & Ellsworth, R.A. (1995). Children’s attitudes toward reading: A national survey. Reading Research Quarterly, 30, 934-956.

The journal describes a study in which the investigators collected information about their attitudes toward reading in a sample of 18,185 students.  They analyzed the data on the basis of gender, ethnicity, reading ability, and grade level.  The major observation was that the reading attitudes of the students in the study became increasingly negative as they grew older.


  1. Schunk, D.H., & Swartz, C.W. (1993). Goals and progress feedback: Effects on self-efficacy and writing achievement. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 18, 337-354.

The authors explore the effects of goals and feedback when students are learning new strategies for writing.  Students who received positive feedback and who had the goal to learn the strategy scored higher in writing achievement.  Additionally, self-efficacy was highly predictable of both writing skills and strategies used.


  1. Baker, Linda. (2000) Building the Word-Level Foundation for Engaged Reading. Engaging Young Readers. Eds. Baker, L., Dreher, J.D., Guthrie, J.T. Guilford Press, New York, NY.

Baker discusses the importance for students to understand the basics of reading, as it is essential in becoming engaged readers.  She focuses on how students should first develop skills they need for recognizing words.  She then offers some reading activities and advice for creating motivational contexts that support word recognition and vocabulary knowledge.


  1. Oldafther, P. &  A. Wigfield. (1996) Children’s Motivations for Literacy Learning. Developing Engaged Readers in School and Home Communities. Eds. Baker, Afflerbach, Reinking. 89-113.

They attempt to bridge the gap between motivation and literacy research.  After discussing the affects of achievement motivation (e.g. self-efficacy, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and achievement goals), they then reveal what we know about engaged readers (i.e. the supportive relationships around them, as well as their beliefs about themselves and about literacy.


  1. Afflerbach, P. (1996) Engaged Assessment of Engaged Readers. Developing Engaged Readers in School and Home Communities. Eds. Linda Baker, Peter Afflerbach, David Reinking.

He argues that reading engagement involves more than just comprehension.  Therefore, assessment should encompass more than just comprehension.  He presents multiple forms of assessment (e.g. portfolio assessment, projects, and checklists and questionnaires) that creatively assesses students with teacher-student collaboration.  His ideas of assessment attempt to evaluate student’s reading engagement—motivation, reading strategies, and interaction with peers and teacher.  


  1. Guthrie, J.T., Anderson, E. et al. (1999) Influences of Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction on strategy use and conceptual learning from text. Elementary School Journal, 99, 343-366.

They describe the conclusions they have found after the Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction (CORI) classroom study, which instituted the principles from the reading engagement theory (autonomy support, strategy instruction, real world connectedness, etc.).  The study revealed that the classrooms with the CORI instruction fostered reading engagement and conceptual learning (significantly higher than the control classrooms). 


  1. Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M., (1985) Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior. New York: Plenum Press.

The authors present The Cognitive Evaluation Theory, which views human beings as active organisms, having three particular needs (competence, self-determination, and relatedness).  They explore human behavior in relation to the locus of causality, internal or external.  They conclude that a student’s self-perception combined with their sense of control greatly influences their intrinsic motivation.


  1. Rueda, R., MacGillivray, L. & Monzo, L. (2001) Engaged Reading: A Multilevel Approach to Considering Sociocultural Factors with Diverse Learners. CIERA report #1-012. Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement.

They present data focusing on sociocultural factors in reading engagement with a group of “at risk,” non-english speaking Latina/o children.  They analyzed the tasks in which the students were asked to complete (Turner & Paris, 1995) and the affects it had on reading engagement. Based on their research, they provide the need for a broader understanding of reading engagement, one that emphasizes a sociocultural extension to the theory.


  1. Guthrie, J. & Kathleen Cox: (2001) Classroom Conditions for Motivation and Engagement in Reading. Educational Psychology Review, 13, no. 3.

The authors attempt to reflect on the research on the Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction.  They begin by revealing that the research began with one researcher and one practicing teacher.  This ethnographic research provided many insights into the theory as it is today.  Because Guthrie did not engineer the study to have a control classroom, he felt that they needed to implement CORI in a study where there were controls classrooms.  He concludes that we can learn a great deal from his research, and the seven principles in engineering a classroom context that facilitates reading engagement.


  1. Schraw, G., Flowerday, T. & Lehman, S. (2001) Increasing Situational Interest in the Classroom. Educational Psychology Review, 13, 211-224.

They describe three ways in which classrooms can provide situational interest.  The three ways to increase interest are to offer meaningful choices to students, to select well-organized texts that promote interest, and to provide the background knowledge needed to fully understand a topic.  The authors present a solid overview of the research that has led to this article, dealing with the some of the motivational influences on reading engagement.


17.  Spires, H. & Donley, J. (1998) Prior Knowledge Activation: Inducing Engagement with Informational Texts. Journal of Educational Psychology. 90, 249-260.

The study is in reaction to the transmission model of reading (i.e. author transmits the meaning to the reader).  They examine the effect of using a particular reading strategy (connecting what is read to prior knowledge) on 9th graders of varied achievement.  The students who utilized the prior knowledge activation strategy scored higher on open essay questions (but not the questions at the literal level) and reported a greater attitude toward reading.


Influential People:


1.     John Guthrie- A professor of Human Development at the University of Maryland.  He was the co-director of the National Reading Research Center from 1992-1997.  He has contributed much to the development of engaged reading.  Most specifically, Guthrie has developed concept-oriented reading instruction.


2.     Allan Wigfield- At the University of Maryland, his interests are in motivation and student self-concept.  His influence in the field has been tremendous, as he has focused on the multidimensional character of reading motivation.



3.     Penny Oldfather-  At the University of Georgia, Oldfather focuses on the affective and cognitive processes that enable some students to become engaged in literacy activities and prevent others from beginning them.  Oldfather has contributed immensely to the integration of motivation and reading development literature.


4.     Linda Gambrell- As the director of the Literacy Motivation Project with the NRRC, she concentrated on areas of reading comprehension strategy instruction, literacy motivation, and the role of discussion in teaching and learning.


5.     Lesley Mandell Morrow- At Rutgers, her interests are in equipping children with the skills needed to read fluently and to become life-long readers.  She has studied students’ attitudes of reading, as well as the role of choice in motivating students to read.


6.     Peter Afflerbach- At the University of Maryland, he examines reading comprehension strategies of accomplished and developing readers.  He is involved in attempts to assess readers’ engagement, and more than simply comprehension.



7.     David Reinking- At the University of Georgia, Reinking has focused on literacy, technology, and motivation.  He has specifically studied the implications technology and hypertext has on reading engagement.


8.     Linda Baker- As a member of the NRRC, Baker has addressed such topics as word recognition, metacognitive aspects of reading, and children’s reading motivation.  She co-edited the book that introduced the NRRC’s engagement perspective.


9.     Patricia Alexander- At the University of Maryland, Alexander studies the interaction between knowledge, interest, and strategic processing.  Her work in interest has been extremely influential in the NRRC’s development of reading engagement.


10.  Scott Paris- His interests include literacy, motivation, metacognition, self-regulation, and assessment.  By focusing on the community-school-family connections with literacy, his work has been influential to reading motivation.



Important Studies or Research Programs:


  1. CORI research—Guthrie, et al., implemented the theoretical framework for reading engagement in third and fifth grade classrooms science/language arts classrooms.  By applying these characteristics (autonomy, interest, strategy instruction, concept knowledge, real world relatedness, knowledge goals, and collaboration) to empirically observe the effectiveness of the principles on third and fifth graders in three low SES schools.  They concluded that students with the CORI instruction were more likely to learn and use strategies for gaining concept knowledge than students in the control group.  Also, students who showed greater achievement and strategy skills revealed higher self-efficacy and curiosity (Guthrie, Van Meter, et al., 1998, Guthrie, E. Anderson, et al., 1999).


  1. Engaged Reading: A Multilevel Approach to Considering Sociocultural Factors with Diverse Learners.  The researchers studied students in a poor community in Southern California, observing the impact of tasks (open-ended vs. closed) and ecocultural (family’s need to balance resources, constraints, beliefs and values) on reading motivation.  They found, in contrast to Turner and Paris (1995), that students were more engaged in closed reading tasks than in open tasks.  In addition, they found data that indicated where ecocultural factors were related to children’s perceptions of themselves as readers and the value they placed on reading.  The better the readers’ perceptions of themselves, the more likely their family reported being active in pursuing English and Spanish literacy.  Likewise, students who valued reading emerged from families that reported high attention to time together with literacy activities.  They conclude that there is a complex relationship between features of the social context and reading engagement, and they propose for a broader view of reading engagement, which weighs the sociocultural factors (Rueda, R., MacGillivray, L. & Monzo, L., 2001).


  1. Continuity of Academic Intrinsic Motivation from Childhood through Late Adolescence: A longitudinal study.  They examined academic intrinsic motivation with a sample of children, beginning at 9 and continuing for eight years.  They found that academic intrinsic motivation remains stable across the school years.  Although intrinsic motivation decreases through the school years, one is able to predict the next years’ intrinsic motivation, regardless of teachers, schools, and geography.  Interestingly, the social sciences were the only school subject that did not reveal a drop in intrinsic motivation (Gottfried, et al., 2001).


  1. “Just Plain Reading”: A survey of what makes students want to read in middle school classroom. Surveyed sixth graders to find out what motivates them to read and participate in the school classroom.  They found that students want to read materials that are interesting to them (i.e. magazines, adventure books, mysteries, and scary stories).  They also want to read books when they have some say in what the book.  Students reveal that free reading time in class is important because it allows students more time to comprehend the text, not necessarily read more (Ivey, G., & Broaddus, K., 2001).


  1. Relations of Children’s Motivation for Reading to the Amount & Breadth of Their Reading.  The authors examined fourth and fifth graders’ self-efficacy, intrinsic-extrinsic motivation, goals, and social aspects.  They found that students’ reading motivation predicted reading amount and breadth.  Additionally, highly motivated students read nearly three times more per day than unmotivated children.  This study helps us understand the relationship between motivated readers and highly successful and avid readers (Wigfield & Guthrie, 1997).


  1. The Role of Choice in Reader Engagement.  They studied the effect that selecting one’s own reading has on engagement, looking at the cognitive and affective results of choice.  The first experiment compared groups: an unrestricted choice among three books, a traditional no choice group, and a denied choice group.  After reading the selection, writing an essay, and taking an attitudes measure, the researchers observed no difference among the groups in their cognitive changes.  They did notice changes within the subjects’ reported attitude for reading.  The second study examined the difference between a group receiving denied choice and the traditional no choice.  Similarly, they found no change in the cognitive measure, and the denied choice decreased interest.  They conclude by stating that there are only a empirical studies that correlate choice and reading engagement (Schraw, G., Flowerday, T. & Reisetter, M., 1998)


Research Methodologies:


  1. Case Study: One way of understanding the make-up of engaged readers is to spend a great deal of time with a few different children, some considered to be engaged and others less engaged with reading.  As one becomes to understand each child’s attitudes, interests, and habits, one can make hypotheses to why particular children are engaged readers and others are less so.  This methodology is concerned with the understanding of what does it mean to be engaged, and how successful readers become engaged readers.


  1. Survey Approach: One way of determining if students reveal interest and motivation when reading is to survey the students.  One could survey the students on everything from what genres of books interest them to what to why they choose to read.  This remains to be the most popular way of determining a persons’ interest in the studies reviewed. 


  1. Experimental Design: This serves as a productive way for researchers to understand why some instructional approaches tend to increase engaged reading in classrooms when others do not.  A sample design could test for the effectiveness of student choice in a high school classroom.  One would need to allow one group of students to select a book out of a group, while the other group is assigned a book to read.  One could test their comprehension, expressive essay, and a motivation or interests survey. 


Popular Handbooks:


  1. Reading Research Handbook: A great resource for topics related to reading instruction and development.  The newest edition (Kamil, Mosenthal, Pearson, and Barr, 2000) offers an entire chapter on reading engagement and reading motivation (Guthrie,Wigfield), which captures the current state of reading engagement. 


  1. Handbook of Educational Psychology: This handbook provides overviews of major themes and issues in educational psychology.  The chapter that reviews the changes in literacy over the past hundred years serves as a great resource for understanding the historical perspective of the changes in research and thinking about reading and writing.


Important Ideas:


  1. Real World Interactions: Reading engagement increases if students can make connections between material learned in the classroom and the things that they do outside of school.  This can be attained with supplemental activities (photosynthesis in plants, debates for presidency, etc.) dealing with experiences they would encounter outside the classroom.


  1. Autonomy Support: Reading engagement is thought to increase if students have some control in what they learn and how they learn it in the classroom.  The idea assumes that students do not want their learning totally manipulated from the outside.  When students are allowed to manipulate their own agenda, then they are more likely to become active and engaged readers.


  1. Interesting Texts for Instruction: Students who are allowed to read interesting texts are thought to be more likely to be engaged by the reading.  Interesting means that it is both a cognitively appropriate and meets their interests.  Also, classrooms that have interesting texts all around the room are thought to encourage students to be more engaged readers.


  1. Strategy Instruction:  Students should be instructed on how to use different reading strategies (e.g. using prior knowledge, interpreting text, and self-monitoring).  When students are actively implementing these strategies while reading texts they are more likely to comprehend and make meaning of the text.  It is assumed that when students are comprehending and interpreting the text, they are more likely to enjoy what they are reading and willing to discuss it in class.


  1. Collaboration:  It is thought that students make meaning when sharing their interpretations with each other (Almasi).  The discussion is to be student directed, and depends heavily on the cooperative atmosphere of the classroom. 


  1. Learning and Knowledge Goals: It is important for students to be learning goal oriented; that is, students want to learn for the intrinsic desire to learn; they are not needed to be motivated by external rewards (e.g. grades, recognition, or incentives).  This learning goal perspective is to be reinforced by the teacher and the classroom as they create what it means to read, write, and discuss the texts.



Important Conferences:


  1. Reading Rockets- Oct. 17, 2001, Jan. 23, 2002, and Feb. 27, 2002.  The National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) sponsors a series of satellite conferences focusing on achieving success in reading.  Topics include: individual strategies for reading instruction, small group strategies for reading instruction, and whole class strategies for reading instruction.


  1. National Reading Conference- A professional organization for scholars who are interested in sharing information and ideas about literacy and literacy instruction.  They have a conference once a year with presentations by keynote speakers, research reviews, and paper sessions.


  1. The American Education Research Association holds an annual conference held each spring.  It becomes a forum for reports, presentations, and trainings for thousands of educational researchers.




Contextual Influences:


  1. With the onset of video games, time children spend reading has decreased.  Many children chose to play strategic and visually stimulating video games for pleasure hours after school and on weekends.  The more time children spend playing video games, the less time they are reading for pleasure, which is one characteristic of an engaged reader. 


  1. The internet and the computer have changed the way people engage themselves in reading.  Before the internet, textbooks, trade books, and classic novels encompassed the reading used to learn the school disciplines.  Now students have the option to surf the web, experiencing a non-linear form of text, where students scan bits of text and take in the visual and auditory pleasures of multimedia.  The act of picking up a textbook or a classic novel is now competing with this engaging and interactive source of information and multimedia.


  1. Television has shown to impact reading over the past half-century.  There are studies that show that television watching can be at least partly responsible for a decrease in the amount of time people spend reading for pleasure through the years.  Also, many studies have shown that when people are deprived of television, their amount of pleasure reading increases nearly double to that when they were watching television (Van Der Voort, 2001).  In addition, television has allowed people to gain quick access to adventures, catharsis, and access to knowledge that before would usually be experienced through books. 


  1. Harry Potter has inspired adults and children to pick up a book and read.  In many ways, the books have sparked peoples’ interest to open them up to the adventure that a book has to offer.  Harry Potter has created a community of engaged and interested readers who are captivated by the adventure and beauty of a book.