A multidimensional measurement approach and analysis of children's motivation for reading, attributional style, and reading achievement
Fulmer, Sara M.
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The present study investigates the usefulness of a multi-method approach to the measurement of reading motivation and achievement. A sample of 127 elementary and middle-school children aged 10 to 14 responded to measures of motivation, attributions, and achievement both longitudinally and in a challenging reading context. Novel measures of motivation and attributions were constructed, validated, and utilized to examine the relationship between ~ motivation, attributions, and achievement over a one-year period (Study I). The impact of classroom contexts and instructional practices was also explored through a study of the influence of topic interest and challenge on motivation, attributions, and persistence (Study II), as well as through interviews with children regarding motivation and reading in the classroom (Study III). Creation and validation of novel measures of motivation and attributions supported the use of a self-report measure of motivation in situation-specific contexts, and confirmed a three-factor structure of attributions for reading performance in both hypothetical and situation-specific contexts. A one-year follow up study of children's motivation and reading achievement demonstrated declines in all components of motivation beginning at age 10 through 12, and particularly strong decreases in motivation with the transition to middle school. Past perceived competence for reading predicted current achievement after controlling for past achievement, and showed the strongest relationships with reading-related skills in both elementary and middle school. Motivation and attributions were strongly related, and children with higher motivation Fulmer III displayed more adaptive attributions for reading success and failure. In the context of a developmentally inappropriate challenging reading task, children's motivation for reading, especially in terms of perceived competence, was threatened. However, interest in the story buffered some ofthe negative impacts of challenge, sustaining children's motivation, adaptive attributions, and reading persistence. Finally, children's responses during interviews outlined several emotions, perceptions, and aspects of reading tasks and contexts that influence reading motivation and achievement. Findings revealed that children with comparable motivation and achievement profiles respond in a similar way to particular reading situations, such as excessive challenge, but also that motivation is dynamic and individualistic and can change over time and across contexts. Overall, the present study outlines the importance of motivation and adaptive attributions for reading success, and the necessity of integrating various methodologies to study the dynamic construct of achievement motivation.