Background: Research has shown that reading motivation is correlated with achievement. Studying motivation in older students is particularly important as reading motivation declines over the course of elementary and middle school. However, current research largely fails to reflect the nuance and complexity of reading motivation, or its variation within and across contexts.
Purpose: This mixed-methods study investigates whether distinct reading motivation/achievement profiles exist for adolescents and what key levers foster adolescents’ motivation to read. This approach was designed to produce more generalizable results than isolated case studies, while providing a more nuanced picture than survey research alone.
Research Design: Seventh graders (n = 68) at two diverse public charter schools serving low-income students were surveyed regarding reading motivation and attitude. A cluster analysis of survey results and reading achievement data was conducted. One student per cluster was selected from each school for additional qualitative analysis (n = 8), and students and teachers (n = 2) were observed and interviewed. In addition, cross-case and cross-school analyses were conducted to determine key levers which may promote students’ motivation to read.
Conclusions: This study suggests that four distinct reading achievement/motivation profiles may exist. In addition, teachers have substantial influence on adolescents’ motivation to read. Teachers could benefit from gathering more information about students’ reading motivation and from promoting feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness.