Autonomy for reading is defined as having some control over one’s own reading behavior. When students feel autonomous in their reading, they perceive that they made the decision about what they read and whether to read at all, and hence are more intrinsically motivated to read. In this survey, preference for autonomy measures the extent to which students are motivated by having autonomy or control over their own reading. If students score high, then they are highly motivated when they have choices; conversely, when they score low, autonomy is not as strong a motivator to read. Although teachers should always try to include some amount of choice in their reading activities and assignments, they should especially emphasize choice for students who show high preference for autonomy.
Self-efficacy for reading is defined as students’ beliefs that they can be successful at reading activities. Students with high self-efficacy in reading are generally highly motivated to read. Teachers should work with students who have low reading self-efficacy in order to increase students’ confidence in their reading skills. One way of doing this is by discussing the way one’s “mindset” determines reading success. Explaining to students that reading proficiency is not fixed and that everyone can become a more proficient reader has been shown to be an effective way to increase reading motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is a well-known construct among educators, widely described as motivation that comes from within a person (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002; Ryan & Deci, 2000). Intrinsically motivated students engage in school out of interest and enjoyment. Research shows that high intrinsic motivation leads to higher academic achievement and increased learning (Wigfield et al., 2006). Research has also demonstrated that intrinsic motivation promotes engagement in school, which then promotes achievement (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). Students who are intrinsically motivated to read a particular book are not concerned about being evaluated or obtaining a reward for reading it, but are focused on the satisfaction and enjoyment from reading the book.
Extrinsically motivated students act for reasons outside of the self, such as for a reward or to avoid punishment. Studies have shown a positive relationship between the amount of reading completed and extrinsic motivation (Wigfield & Guthrie, 1997), and reading incentive programs are in widespread use in schools (Fawson & Moore, 1999). Wang and Guthrie (2004) found that extrinsic motivation was negatively correlated with reading comprehension when intrinsic motivation was controlled, but that extrinsic motivation was positively correlated with intrinsic motivation. They concluded that extrinsic motivation, alone, will not support learning or persistence, but needs to be related to intrinsic motivation to have positive effects. Marinak and Gambrell (2008) showed that students who receive a book as a reward and students who receive no reward are more likely to engage in reading than students who receive a non-reading related reward. They also found that to increase reading motivation, it is important for the book to be given soon after the children complete their reading.
Perceived difficulty refers to students’ beliefs that reading tasks are hard or problematic. Many students are not likely to read texts that they perceive as too far above their reading level. It could be that students who shy away from difficult texts lack in self-efficacy for reading and have had bad experiences with hard to read books. Teachers should try and increase such students’ confidence in reading by modeling how to find texts that are just right for their reading level.
Social motivation is defined as a feeling of acceptance and alliance with others in the classroom. Social motivation to read will be determined by the actions of the teacher as well as by those of other students. Feelings of acceptance have been shown to relate to achievement and motivation. Students who are socially motivated to read like to discuss reading with student groups or to participate in reading clubs. Students who are low in social motivation may prefer to participate in individual reading. Including reading activities geared toward both types of students, those with high social motivation and those with low social motivation may increase motivation to read for these students.