Assessing Adolescents’ Motivation to Read

After rereading the article and looking carefully at the words that I had previously highlighted, the article was trying to get across the idea that students will want to read more and will improve their reading skills when teachers actually consider the reading materials and types of instruction that these students prefer.

The authors viewed motivation as “beliefs, values, needs, and goals that individuals have.”  They revised the Motivation to Read Profile by adding more questions about electronic resources, projects and schoolwork the students enjoyed, and what students read and wrote on their own.  The language on the profile was changed to be more student-friendly.  The students were tested as individuals (for more honest, open, and free answers) and in groups (for further discussions of popular literacy practices.)  Some of the directions for the teachers were revised, but the scoring sheets were the same for the Adolescent Motivation to Read Profile.

The researchers tested all types of adolescents all across the United States and the Caribbean.  Their test results were as follows:  “Females had significantly higher scores on the surveys than males.  Males scored higher on the survey in their early teens but their scores decreased in their later teens.  Females across all groups valued reading more than males.  Females’ value of reading increased with grade level but males’ decreased.  African American and Afro/Indo-Trini adolescents valued reading significantly more than Caucasians or students from other ethnicities.  There were no significant differences on self-concept between grade level, gender, or ethnic groups.”

The authors found many discrepancies with the students’ survey answers and with their interview answers.  Several students considered themselves as being poor readers when they actually read magazines, e-mails, games, and other leisure reading for information or pleasure instead of traditional books.  Also, their vocabulary levels were much higher than non-readers’ levels would have been.

The students’ use of multiliteracies was apparent.  Their favorite magazine topics were teens, cars, sports, fashion, and people.  The adolescents also liked to e-mail and instant message their family members and friends on a regular basis.  These teens read the newspaper on-line.  They enjoyed locating song lyrics, participating in chat rooms, role playing, playing games on gaming sites, and finding game ‘cheat’ codes.  They even created their own websites.

Family and friends often recommended good books for adolescents to read, and many family members purchased books for the teens.  Adolescents enjoyed hearing their teachers read aloud in class.  When their teachers were excited about particular books, the students were more likely to read and enjoy them, too.  They also enjoyed literature circles and selecting their own books from teacher, school, and local libraries.

The last line summed up the entire article.  “Adolescents are, after all, the major stakeholders in their education, and we, the adults, need to listen to what they have to say.”

I noticed that this article was written in 2007.  It didn’t mention social networking sites like Facebook.  My sons and my students enjoy hours of writing and reading on this type of website.

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