During a recent ‘organization spree’, my mom unearthed from the depths of the basement, a pile of report cards from my elementary through high school years. On my first grade report card my teacher had written, “Stacy can do anything that she puts her mind to.” I am sure that as a first grader, I took that as a compliment. As a teacher, I now understand it to mean that motivation was an issue. This supposition was supported by a comment written on one of my high school report cards, “Stacy is capable of more. Prod her a bit.” I am pointing out the obvious here, but all of us would probably agree that whatever is required of us is more enjoyable (and more likely to be completed) when we are motivated.
Recently, efforts to improve student achievement have been focused on providing our schools with better curriculum and instructional materials, more highly qualified teachers, and standards that clearly define what students are expected to learn. Even IF all of these things are in place, gains in student achievement will be difficult to show if students are not motivated to learn. Motivation can make the difference between learning something temporarily and being able to ‘own’ and apply what they have learned permanently. One study showed that students who are motivated to read, spend 300% more time reading than students who are not motivated to read (Tweet!) (Wigfield & Guthrie, 1997). Student motivation is not only linked to higher levels of achievement but it is also linked to satisfaction with school, positive self-esteem, social adjustment, and lower dropout rates.
Motivation to read is only one piece of the reading puzzle but it is a necessary piece, especially if we, as parents and/or teachers, want students to develop a habit of reading that will benefit them throughout their lives. There are various aspects of motivation, but researchers agree four factors are critical for motivating students: ...