The Relationship between English Language Arts Teachers’ Use of Instructional Strategies and Young Adolescents’ Reading Motivation, Engagement, and Preference

Michelle Varuzza, Richard Sinatra, Robert Eschenauer, Brett Elizabeth Blake


Conducted at 10 schools in four communities, this study investigated relationships of young adolescents’ reading
motivation, reading preference, and reading engagement as influenced by their English Language Arts teachers’
use of instructional strategies. Students in eight sixth grade (N=196) and nine seventh grade (N=218) classes
completed a post Reading Behavior Survey and the Motivation to Read Questionnaire (MRQ) and a Class
Strategies Checklist at the beginning and end of the academic year. The 17 teachers also completed a pre/post
Strategies Checklist and a Survey. Mean MRQ difference scores were averaged by ELA class group. Scores in
nine MRQ dimensions revealed a decline except for Challenge with a slight positive increase for seventh graders.
These results confirm prior research findings that as adolescents move along in grade level their reading
motivation decreases. However, 11 of the 17 class groups indicated some positive change in one or more MRQ
dimensions with five classes revealing positive reading motivation growth in four dimensions. Enjoyable reading
activities noted by all students involved receptive and expressive oral language. Such preference may have been
due to large class populations of Hispanic, subsidized lunch, and limited English proficient students who found
that oral language interaction helped them understand and enjoy the readings. The most preferred reading
activity during out-of-school time was that of a social nature involving text messaging. Both this current and
prior research suggest that successful teachers motivate their students through classroom interaction, challenging
literacy activities and discussion about what was read.

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Journal of Education and Learning   ISSN 1927-5250 (Print)   ISSN 1927-5269 (Online)


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