No More Reading for Junk – Section 2


Today I look at Section 2 in Heinemann’s new text No More Reading for Junk.  Section 2 explains Why Not? and What Works?  It is subtitled: What’s Lost When We Use Rewards and Incentives to Motivate Students to Read and is written by Linda Gambrell.

Linda states “the major goals of this section are to describe the research evidence that ‘reading for junk’ is counterproductive, provide an overview of what theory and research tell us about motivation to read, and make research-based recommendations for creating classroom contexts that support the development of intrinsic reading motivation” (p. 15).

Here are my favorite quotes from this section:

  • Research indicates that when rewarding a behavior in an attempt to foster motivation, the presentation of the reward must be immediate. (p. 14)
  • Incentives such as the “principal on the roof” do not nurture motivation because they are not closely related, or proximal, to the desired behavior (reading). (p. 14)
  • Decades of research clearly indicate that extrinsic rewards can actually undermine intrinsic reading motivation. (p. 16)
  • Therefore, if we want to develop the intrinsic desire to read, books and extra time to read are probably the most effective rewards. (p. 17)
  • When candy or stickers are given as rewards, the message is that candy and stickers are valued.  Rewarding students with opportunities to engage in more challenging academic tasks sends a clear message that literacy learning is valued. (p. 18)
  • The reward proximity hypothesis = the closer the reward to the desired behavior, the greater the likelihood that intrinsic motivation will increase (p. 18)
  • It is the teacher who is central to creating a classroom environment that inspires students to be engaged and motivated literacy learners. (p. 18)
  • Motivation to read is defined as the likelihood of engaging in a reading task and persisting in the activity despite challenges. (p. 19)
  • Intrinsic reading motivation refers to a student’s inner desire to engage in reading, regardless of whether there is an incentive or reward for doing so. (p. 21)
  • Students are more likely to choose to read and intrinsic motivation is nurtured when students are given ample time and opportunity to read. (p. 21)
  • The amount and breadth of reading that students do is the single largest factor contributing to reading achievement. (p. 21)
  • We believe that motivation is central to reading development, and if students are not motivated to read, they will never reach their full literacy potential.  It is simply not enough to teach our students to read; we want them to leave our classrooms with the intrinsic motivation to read for pleasure and for information and to read widely and deeply across a wide array of genres. (p. 22)
  • Classroom practices that nurture intrinsic motivation (ARC):
    • Access: to a wide variety of MATERIALS and TIME to read and talk about books.
      • Different time allocations should be provided for students at different stages of proficiency. (p. 25)
    • Relevance: to include high-interest and authentic activities.
      • To judge the authenticity of a reading activity, Duke et al. (2006) suggest that teachers look at both text and purpose. (p. 30)
    • Choice: to self-select materials for reading and activities that go with these texts.
      • Perks (2010) 4WH framework is useful for providing students with choice related to reading tasks and activities (p. 32):
        • WHom will students work with?
        • WHat strategies/skills will students work with?
        • WHen will student engage in specific reading tasks and activities?
        • WHere will students read?
  • Knowing how to read is not sufficient.  Students must have both the skill AND the will to read. (p. 33)

I appreciate how Linda was able to summarize the research on reading motivation to just 20 readable pages.  As you can see the section was filled with great ideas to support making a shift.  I am excited to share with you tomorrow what the book suggest we COULD (should) do to encourage reading motivation.



One thought on “No More Reading for Junk – Section 2

  1. Laura B says:

    These thoughts on extrinsic motivators reach beyond reading and into all areas of the classroom. I love the “reward proximity hypothesis”. I want to put the idea of access to time to talk about books (with peers, in an authentic way) to use.


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