Reading in a Foreign Language
Volume 14, Number 2, October 2002
Redefining Motivation to Read in a Foreign Language
Contrasted with an abundance of literature on motivation to communicate or interact in a second language, little work can be found on reading motivation in a second/foreign language. Hypothesizing that motivation to communicate may be different from motivation to read, the present study attempts to investigate foreign language reading motivation. The data for this study was obtained from an original questionnaire, which largely drew upon Wigfield and Guthrie's (1995, 1997) theory of reading motivation in L1. The results of a statistical analysis suggest that motivation to read in English may be divided into four sub-components, namely Intrinsic Value of Reading in English, Attainment Value of Reading in English, Extrinsic Utility Value of Reading in English, and Expectancy for Success in Reading in English.
In the field of second language acquisition (SLA), a great deal of research has been done in order to investigate second language learning motivation ever since Gardner and Lambert first shed light on the role of attitudes and motivation in second language acquisition (Gardner & Lambert, 1959). Gardner and his associates (e.g., Gardner, 1985, 1988, 2000, 2001; Gardner & Smythe, 1975; Gardner & MacIntyre, 1991, 1993) proposed a model referred to as the Socio-Educational Model of Language Learning. Underscoring the importance of the socio-psychological aspects of second language acquisition, Gardner's model includes integrative motivation, defined as a combination of attitudes toward the target group, interest in foreign language, and integrative orientation, as a key component of the socio-educational model.
Although no one seems to argue against the significance of socio-psychological aspects of motivation in language learning, it is this concept of integrative motivation that has often been an object of criticism. Some researchers (e.g., Crookes & Schmidt, 1991; Dörnyei, 1994) argue that Gardner's definitions of integration-related terms are ambiguous whereas other researchers (Clé ment & Kruidenier, 1985; Crookes & Schmidt, 1991; Dörnyei, 1990; Oxford & Shearin, 1994) claim that the integrative motivational subsystem is more multifaceted than originally proposed. In addition, another criticism has been raised with reference to the degree to which an emphasis has been placed on integrative motivation in Gardner's socio-educational model. Summarized in Au (1988) as the integrative motive hypothesis, Gardner and his associates (Gardner, 1979, 1985, 1988; Gardner & Lambert, 1959) consistently found that integrative motivation plays a significant role in second language acquisition. However, many studies (Au, 1988; Crookes & Schmidt, 1991; Dörnyei, 1990; Ely, 1986; Gardner & Lambert, 1972; Gardner, Smythe & Clément, 1979; Kraemer, 1993; Lukmani, 1972; Muchnick & Wolfe, 1982; Oller, 1981; Oller, Baca & Vigil, 1977) carried out in different contexts, especially in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) contexts, found contradictory results. In part due to such dissatisfaction with Gardner and his associate's dominant models of motivation, there have been numerous attempts to redefine second/foreign language learning motivation in the past decade, (e.g., Crookes & Schmidt, 1991; Dörnyei, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2001; Dörnyei & Otto, 1998; MacIntyre, Clé ment, Dörnyei & Noels, 1998; Oxford & Shearin, 1994, 1996; Schmidt, Boraie & Kassabgy, 1996).
However, most research, including Gardner's, focuses on students' motivation to interact or communicate with target language speakers. Therefore, many of their findings may not be directly applicable to students in EFL contexts, where limited contact with the target community is the norm. Furthermore, students with limited opportunities to use the target language inevitably have to rely on written texts as a major source of input, as is the case with the present study. Despite this, in the field of SLA, to my knowledge, Day and Bamford (1998) are the only ones who have attempted to create a theoretical model of motivation to read in a second language. In an effort to reflect the multi-faceted nature of second language reading motivation, their model included expectancy and value components. The former is concerned with constructs regarding materials and reading ability whereas the latter contains attitudes toward reading in the second language and socio-cultural environment. They further argue that materials and attitudes are major influences on motivation, which in turn may influence the decision to read in a second language (L2). Their model, however, lacks empirical evidence.
The paucity of research on L2 reading motivation is also an interesting contrast with the abundance of work done to probe the correlation between extensive reading and achievement (e.g., Cho & Krashen, 1994; Elley, 1991; Hafiz & Tudor, 1990; Krashen, 1993; Mason & Krashen, 1997; Robb & Susser, 1989). Therefore, on the assumption that students' motivation is an important factor in the success of any reading program, this study attempted to investigate what constitutes foreign language reading motivation.
In exploring foreign language reading motivation, Gardner's concept of integrative orientation was incorporated into the present study. Despite the fact that it is not directly linked to L2 reading motivation, it was included to see whether this somewhat controversial concept could be a distinct construct in the domain of reading in an EFL context.
Motivation to Read in First Language
The general theoretical basis of this study rests on the theory of first language (L1) reading motivation proposed by Wigfield and Guthrie (1995) based on the hypothesis that students' motivation may be, to a certain extent, domain-specific. That is, students may be, for example, motivated to speak or listen, but not to read in English. Furthermore, this L1 reading motivational theory was used as a model instead of L2 theory because almost no theories or models can be found in the area of L2 reading aside from Day and Bamford (1998).
Wigfield and Guthrie tried to conceptualize the nature of motivation specifically for reading, arguing that motivation to learn can be domain-specific. However, due to a lack of literature dealing specifically with reading motivation, they sought support for their model by drawing upon a number of general motivational constructs that are relevant to engaging in reading. One of the theories Wigfield and Guthrie referred to was an influential model of motivation in mainstream psychology known as expectancy-value theory (Eccles, Adler, Futterman, Goff, Kaezala, Meece & Midgley, 1983; Eccles, Adler & Meece, 1984; Eccles, Lord & Midgley, 1991; Eccles & Wigfield, 1995; Wigfield, 1994; Wigfield & Eccles, 1992).
Expectancy-value theory claims that achievement behavior is predicted by two constructs: expectancy for success in a given task and the value the individual associates with success in that task. According to this theory, expectancy for success can be predicted by perceptions of task difficulty, and by task-specific self-concept, that is, an individual's expectation of their ability to do a domain-specific task. Eccles et al. (1983) argue that the former is negatively related with expectancies for success whereas the latter is positively related with expectancies for success. They further contend that the task-specific self-concept of ability and perceptions of task difficulty are dependent upon how students interpret past events, and how they perceive attitudes and expectations of others.
Eccles and Wigfield (1995) hypothesize that the value the individual associates with success in that task consists of four components: Attainment Value, Intrinsic Value, Extrinsic Utility Value, and Cost. Attainment value refers to the individual's perception of importance of success in a given task. The importance of success in a task is consciously determined by the individual with reference to their perception of how significant a task is to their self-schema or identity. Intrinsic value refers to enjoyment that task engagement brings about whereas extrinsic utility value refers to the usefulness of the task. Both intrinsic value and extrinsic utility value in expectancy-value theory are similar to the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in Deci and Ryan's model (1985). The former is defined as motivation to do a task for its own sake while the latter is defined as motivation to engage in a task in order to obtain external rewards such as getting good grades. The last component of value in this theory is cost. Eccles and Wigfield (1995) define cost as the perceived negative consequences of engaging in the task. These include not only the effort required for the task but also perceived emotional states such as anxiety. Cost refers to extended effort, time and emotional expenditures.
Other motivational theories Wigfield and Guthrie consulted include self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1986, 1989, 1993; Schunk, 1984, 1991), achievement goal theory (Battle, 1966; Crandall, 1969; Crandall, Karkovsky & Preston, 1962), and intrinsic motivation theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Self-efficacy theory is a model that includes self-efficacy as a major construct where self-efficacy is defined as an individual's evaluation of their capacity to organize and execute courses of action. This definition is quite similar to Eccles and Wigfield's definition of task-specific self-concept described above. Unlike self-efficacy theory, achievement goal theory focuses more on the individual's perception of how important achievement of different tasks are to them whereas intrinsic motivation theory emphasizes intrinsic motivation, which is doing a task for its own sake.
Using these motivational theories as reference points, Wigfield and Guthrie (1995) divide L1 reading motivation into the following three categories, which entail 11 sub-components:
The first category concerns an individual's sense of efficacy and beliefs about their ability, and consists of Reading Efficacy, Reading Challenge and Reading Work Avoidance. The notion of Reading Challenge refers to the satisfaction of understanding complicated ideas in a text whereas the notion of Work Avoidance refers to aspects of reading the informer dislike.
The second category is derived from theories of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, achievement goal orientation, and achievement values, and is further sub-categorized into two parts. The first is mostly concerned with intrinsic motivation, and the second with extrinsic motivation and performance goal orientation (Ames, 1992; Nicholls, Cheung, Lauer & Patachnick, 1989). The former entails Reading Curiosity, Reading Involvement, and the Importance of Reading. Reading Curiosity refers to the desire to learn about a certain idea, and is related to work on reading interest (Renninger, 1992; Schiegele, 1996) whereas Reading Involvement refers to the enjoyment involved with reading different kinds of texts, and, thus, corresponds to Schallert and Reed's work (1997) and the notion of intrinsic motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985). On the other hand, the concept of the Importance of Reading or subjective task value is grounded in Wigfield and Eccles' (1992) work.
The second sub-category includes Competition in Reading, Reading Recognition, and Reading for Grades. These three aspects are separate from one another in that Reading Competition is concerned with an individual's attempt to outperform others in reading, Reading Recognition is related with tangible forms of recognition such as teacher or peer approval, and Reading for Grades is associated mainly with the teacher's evaluation of learners' reading performance.
The last category consists of Social Reasons for Reading and Reading Compliance, based on the assumption that reading can be a social activity in a way that children often read in social settings and, thus, read to achieve social goals. Social Reasons for Reading are concerned with the process in which children share the meanings of the text with significant others, whereas Reading Compliance refers to the kind of reading required by the teacher.
Based on their 11 theoretical aspects of reading motivation, Wigfield and Guthrie (1995) developed the Motivation for Reading Questionnaire (MRQ). They administered it to 105 fourth- and fifth graders in the United States in an attempt to identify empirically aspects of reading motivation (Wigfield & Guthrie, 1997). The statistical analyses of the MRQ results implied that, although the 11 aspects Wigfield and Guthrie identified did not always cluster as predicted, children's reading motivation is in fact multidimensional. Baker and Wigfield (1999) also administered the MRQ to 371 fifth- and sixth-graders in the United States. The statistical analyses of the data obtained confirmed Wigfield and Guthrie's claim for the multidimensionality of L1 reading motivation.
Considering these findings that suggest the multidimensionality of reading motivation, this study
attempted to investigate what comprises foreign language reading motivation, albeit with a different
sample. This study was designed to fit an EFL context, drawing upon the model proposed by
Wigfield and Guthrie (1995, 1997). It was hypothesized that foreign language reading motivation,
although different in some respects from L1 reading motivation, would be a multidimensional
construct, and, to a certain degree, independent of general motivational constructs. Consequently,
the research question for the present study was:
What are the major sub-components of motivation to read in English for a sample of university students in an EFL setting?
A total of 447 students at a women's university in Japan participated in this study. All of the students were in intact groups and separated into 15 different reading classes with approximately 30 in each class.
At the beginning of the semester, a 30-item seven-point Likert scale questionnaire was administered in Japanese as a means of investigating students' foreign language reading motivation. (See Appendix A for the original questionnaire, and Appendix B for its English translation.) The internal consistency estimate of reliability for the questionnaire was calculated, and Cronbach's Alpha was .93.
Many of the questionnaire items were written referring to the theory of reading motivation proposed by Wigfield and Guthrie (1995, 1997). Although Wigfield and Guthrie identified and included 11 components in their MRQ, three components, Competition in Reading, Reading Recognition, and Social Reasons for Reading, were not included in this study as these three components did not seem relevant to the participants. This irrelevance is due to the fact that Wigfield and Guthrie's motivational scales were specifically developed for primary school students learning to read in their L1. Because some items appearing in the MRQ were not considered directly applicable to university students, based on some results of my earlier studies (Mori, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002) individual items were created so that they would be relevant to the participants and the context in which this study was carried out (see Appendix C for details).
The rest of the items were written referring to the concept of integrative orientation in Gardner's socio-educational model of motivation (Gardner 1979, 1980, 1985, 1988, 2000, 2001). Integrative orientation is defined by Gardner as an integrative reason for learning the language, and is measured in the Attitude/Motivation Test Battery (Gardner & Smythe, 1981) by four items including "Studying French can be important for me because it will enable me to better understand and appreciate French art and literature," and "Studying French can be important for me because I will be able to participate more freely in the activities of other cultural groups." Thus, the questionnaire also included items that attempted to tap into some integrative reasons for learning to read in English.
In order to determine the interrelationship among items in the questionnaire, a principal components analysis was performed. The number of factors to be extracted was based on the following criteria:
Factor loadings of .32 and above (the minimum suggested in Tabachnick and Fidell, 1996) were initially examined. However, since in this study loadings of .32 produced several complex items that loaded on more than one factor, a loading of .45 or above was chosen as the criterion for interpretation. Any items which did not load on any factors at >.45 were eliminated (items 7, 9, 20, and 25. See Appendix B), and the correlation matrix was reanalyzed. The internal consistency estimate of reliability for the questionnaire with 26 items was calculated, and Cronbach's Alpha was .93. After varimax rotation, a four-factor solution was chosen, which accounted for 56.50% of the total variance in reading motivation (see Table 1).
Table 2 clearly shows which items loaded on which factors. Means and standard deviations can also be found in Table 2.
Factor 1 obtained high loadings from 12 items. Those include items that were expected to split into four components, but, in fact, loaded together on this factor: Reading Curiosity (1, 12, 16, 29), Reading Involvement (2, 15, 29), Reading Avoidance (8, 23, 30, 9), and Reading Challenge (22). This result indicates that there is communality among those four hypothetical reading motivational components. A close examination of the items revealed that the communality may represent degree of students' interest in reading in English or their perception of enjoyment involved in reading in English. If that is the case, the construct underlying these items is similar to intrinsic value in Eccles' expectancy-value theory. Thus, Factor 1 is best defined as Intrinsic Value of Reading.
Four items of Integrative Orientation for Reading in English, and two items of Reading Curiosity loaded on Factor 2. Close examination of the items, however, reveals that with items grouped under Integrative Orientation such as "I would like to get a job that uses what I studied in English reading class," and "By learning to read in English, I hope to be able to read English newspapers and/or magazines" seem to better fit the description of Extrinsic Utility Value or perceived usefulness as explained in expectancy value theory. Therefore, Factor 2 was named Extrinsic Utility Value of Reading.
Factor 3 obtained high loadings from five items, most of which are concerned with importance of reading in English. Factor 3 was defined as Importance of Reading in English. All Items originally grouped under the heading of Reading Efficacy loaded on Factor 4. Thus, Factor 4 was labelled Reading Efficacy.
This study drew upon the motivational theories derived from empirical research done by Wigfield and Guthrie (1995, 1997), and Gardner (1985). However, most of the questionnaire items included in the present study differ from those used by Wigfield and Guthrie due to the differences in setting and the participants of the studies. To be specific, the participants in this study were university students learning to read in a foreign language while the theory proposed by Wigfield and Guthrie is based on their data obtained from grade school students learning to read in L1; the theory proposed by Gardner is based on his data gathered in ESL settings. Nevertheless, the structural components of English reading motivation found in this study can be compared with those identified by those researchers.
The majority of the items were expected to cluster into factors that corresponded to eight of the 11 aspects of L1 reading motivation identified by Wigfield and Guthrie (1995). Those aspects include Reading Efficacy, Reading Challenge, Reading Curiosity, Reading Involvement, Importance of Reading, Reading for Grades, Compliance, and Reading Work Avoidance. However, among those eight aspects, only Reading Efficacy and Importance of Reading were clearly identified. Reading Curiosity, Reading Involvement, Reading Avoidance, and Reading Challenge clustered into one factor, defined as Intrinsic Value of Reading. It is not surprising, however, that Reading Curiosity and Reading Involvement loaded on this factor because they were claimed to be closely related to Intrinsic Value. It is also understandable that Reading Avoidance, which is defined as aspects of reading that students do not like, was found to be closely associated with Intrinsic Value, considering the fact that reversed scores for the items (e.g., "Long and difficult English passages put me off") were obtained for the calculation.
There is also a possibility that the items supposedly concerned with Reading Challenge (e.g., "I enjoy the challenge of difficult reading passages") might have been ambiguous and, therefore, could not be clearly distinguished from other intrinsic motivational items. However, another possible explanation is that it is actually intrinsic value that underlies those four reading motivational aspects. For example, students may enjoy the challenge of reading not so much because they have confidence in their reading ability, but rather because they simply like reading. In short, as in the case of Wigfield and Guthrie's study (1997), many of the aspects proposed by Wigfield and Guthrie (1995) and investigated in the present study did not cluster as predicted.
On the other hand, there are interesting similarities between the structural components of English reading motivation found in this study, and the motivational constructs delineated in expectancy value theory, upon which Wigfield and Guthrie's theory of reading motivation is largely based. As mentioned earlier, expectancy-value theory proposes that motivation is comprised of the following constructs: Expectancy for Success, Attainment Value, Intrinsic Value, Extrinsic Utility Value, and Cost. Considering that Expectancy for Success is the equivalent of efficacy beliefs, and Attainment Value is defined as students' perceived importance of engaging in a task, one can observe that four out of five constructs proposed in expectancy-value theory were identified in this study, i.e., Expectancy for Success (labelled Reading Efficacy in this study), Intrinsic Value (labelled Intrinsic Value of Reading), Extrinsic Utility Value (labelled Extrinsic Utility Value of Reading), and Attainment Value (labelled Importance of Reading). What can be speculated from the results of this data set is that different facets of reading motivation may be so interrelated that they can be better explained by a more encompassing motivational model such as the expectancy value theory.
In the present study, Gardner's concept of Integrative Orientation was also investigated in order to see whether integrative orientation, which is hypothesized to tap into the uniqueness of second/foreign language learning, could be a distinct construct in the domain of reading in an EFL context. Although many of the items indicative of Integrative Orientation loaded together on one factor, they were intermingled with other items concerning students' perceived usefulness of learning to read in English in terms of a future goal. When examining such Integrative Orientation items as "I am learning to read in English because I might study abroad in the future," and "By being able to read in English, I hope to more deeply understand the lifestyles and cultures of English speaking countries (such as America and England)," one can construe that they are also closely related with students' perceived usefulness of learning to read in English. The only difference between these two sets of items is that the former is associated with integratively oriented goals while the latter is not. If that is the case, Integrative Orientation may not be such a distinct construct, at least when it comes to motivation to read in a foreign language, and may be better explained, again, by a more all-embracing motivational construct, namely Extrinsic Utility Value. This may be due to the fact that the present study was carried out in an EFL setting. The result of this study corresponds to findings of some other motivational studies (Au, 1988; Crookes & Schmidt, 1991; Dörnyei, 1990; Ely, 1986; Kraemer, 1993; Muchnick & Wolfe, 1982; Oller, 1981) carried out in EFL contexts that also failed to find the significance of integrative motivation as suggested by Gardner. In Japan where EFL students have very limited contact with the target language and culture, it can be assumed that their desire to integrate themselves into the target community is rather weak, and consequently cannot be discriminated from other reasons for reading in English such as "getting a job that uses what I studied in English reading class" and "being able to read English newspapers and magazines."
In a nutshell, although the present study was designed and carried out in order to investigate whether the hypothesis that motivation to read in a foreign language may be, to a certain degree, independent of general motivational constructs, the findings did not support this. Instead, the results suggest that foreign language reading motivation closely resembles more general forms of motivation as laid out in expectancy-value theory. Although more research is needed to verify this point, the results of this research confirm the multidimensionality of reading motivation, and suggest that it is rash to label certain students as either motivated or not motivated to read. This line of research is also essential in order to explore the relationship between reading motivation and reading behavior.
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1. By learning to read in English, I hope I will be able to read English novels.
Note: Items with * are eliminated items.
Importance of Reading in English
Reading for Grades
About the Author
Setsuko Mori is a lecturer at Kyoto Tachibana Women's University. Her research interests include relationships between motivation and reading behavior.