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Rewarding Reading?: Perhaps Authenticity is the Answer


by Barbara A. Marinak & Linda B. Gambrell — April 07, 2009

After five decades of intensive research, questions remain about the effect of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. The debate can be seen recently as educators and economists square off regarding the recently instituted practice of paying students to take tests or attend school. More specifically, research over the past two decades has consistently suggested that it is not a question of whether rewards enhance or undermine intrinsic reading motivation but rather under what conditions rewards undermine intrinsic motivation. Several recent investigations suggest that authenticity might be the answer. For example, rewarding reading with proximal rewards and inviting students into authentic literacy tasks could serve to nurture the intrinsic motivation necessary to continue engaging with text. Given these findings, this commentary suggests it is helpful to consider the word reward as a verb or an adjective rather than a noun when deciding when and how to offer rewards for reading.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: April 07, 2009
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15608, Date Accessed: 11/23/2014 8:10:44 AM

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About the Author
  • Barbara Marinak
    Penn State University, Harrisburg
    E-mail Author
    BARBARA MARINAK is assistant professor of reading in the School of Behavioral Sciences and Education.
  • Linda Gambrell
    Clemson University
    LINDA B. GAMBRELL is a professor of education in the Eugene T. Moore School of Education at Clemson University.
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