INTRINSIC vs. EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION IN READING: WHICH IS THE REAL DEAL?
This passage is taken from a published article in the 2013 New Jersey English Journal titled, "The Creative Imagination and Its Impact on 21st Century Literacies":
“On television I saw a radical new program in education called “Massage Therapy” which is used as a technique to build new pathways for learning in children. On the television screen there was a close-up of a boy lying down while a woman rubbed his temples. The child seemed very content. Afterwards, I said to myself: ‘Yabba, dabba, do! Dat’s what I wanna do. You know, soothe them into learning.”
─J.P. Pflaum (From a self-dialogue following a television promo for a report on “Massage Therapy” for kids, March 31, 1998)
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little “class massage” at the beginning of the day so kids would be calm, focused, and prepared for all the upcoming lessons? How sweet would it be?
Now, back to reality…I have always been a reader who felt an intimacy with words, books, and reading. I wanted to convey this experience, the passion, to my inner-city students, but without me telling them “how sweet it is.”
The journey to self- or intrinsic motivation in reading and learning in adolescents is about describing, demonstrating, and developing the skills, processes, and experiences for learning and learning how to learn. These inner reading-learning abilities, or really, what I like to call qualifications (intellectual, emotional, psychological, and experiential), are the channel settings kids dial up to read and learn.
I use the term “inner reading-learning skills” because that is where the action in reading happens: on the inside, in the mind and imagination. Reading and learning are about a child’s internal worlds. My purpose as a teacher or a literacy coach is to expose kids to the different ways they can survey and immerse themselves in this surreal landscape.
Think about this: A child picks up a book and starts reading the first word(s) on the page and suddenly she is in a wonder-land, or, depending on her attitude toward reading, in "Dante’s inferno." How does this happen? How do readers find themselves so quickly in the twilight world of reading? Once students read the first word they embark on an inner voyage as the outside world fades away, vanishes, in that instant. When kids step into their minds and imaginations, especially when reading, we need to show them the tools for navigating this cool, hypnotic, enchanting, mysterious, luminous, and miraculous world.
You don’t think reading is a little strange? How do children visualize and see the incredible mental images communicated by a writer? How do they feel what they feel? How do they think what they think? What are they thinking, feeling, and experiencing while reading? How do kids process so much information in the opaque caverns of the mind? What actions occur in a student’s head after words are decoded phonetically? What mechanisms, processes, and experiences do children have to bring into play while reading? What makes reading meaningful for a child? What makes them readers? By the term reader, I am not talking about the quantity of books read (as prescribed by many departments of education across the country), but the ability to put one’s self into a story or whatever they might be reading.
As a reading teacher and lover of reading, I want to know what students’ connections are to words, books, and reading: their qualifications to make themselves passionate leisure-time and lifelong readers. The upcoming vocabulary describes the internal nature of reading, what creates reading’s pleasures, and how it goes beyond the world of book clubs, oral readings, reading aloud, reading tests, and monetary rewards--the extrinsic motivation.
The complete brainstormed list (not included here) runs many pages and is a work-in-progress. I compiled it to prove to the education leadership that we are missing things in our teaching of reading and learning skills, which are the very things that trigger hope, promise, possibilities, optimism, wonder, involvement, curiosity, inspiration, meaning, belief, responsibility, and ultimately, inner wisdom or enlightenment.
A VOCABULARY LIST DEFINING AND DESCRIBING THE INTERNAL WORLDS
OF READING, THE READING PROCESS, AND READING LIFE EXPERIENCES
(35) attention span
(46) inner reading voice
(47) inner or mind's eye
(48) imaginary inner ear
(49) imaginary TV screen
(55) inner worlds
(82) virtual realities
(117) suspended time
(142) inner movies
(174) "reading self"
(175) streams-of-thoughts and feelings
(187) emotional intelligence
(190) thinking twice
Are there words you might want to add to this unfinished vocabulary list?
For more information on "intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in reading," you can Google these concepts to find articles and research studies on them. From my review, there were two basic results for the comparison: (1) Intrinsic motivation was found to be more effective than extrinsic motivation in reading; and, (2) Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are needed in combination to make strong readers.
FOR A COPY OF MY ARTICLE IN THE 2013 NEW JERSEY ENGLISH JOURNAL, "THE CREATIVE IMAGINATION AND ITS IMPACT ON 21ST CENTURY LITERACIES," PLEASE CONTACT ME AT MY GMAIL ADDRESS, firstname.lastname@example.org, AND A PDF VERSION WILL BE FORWARDED TO YOU.
FOR A COMPLETE "VOCABULARY LIST DEFINING AND DESCRIBING THE INTERNAL WORLDS OF READING, THE READING PROCESS, AND READING LIFE EXPERIENCES," YOU CAN CONTACT ME AT THE ABOVE GMAIL ADDRESS.
Another article titled, "Dazzling Your Mind With Reading," published in Skipping Stones, A Multicultural Literary Magazine (2012), can be forwarded on your request. This is a preface to my inspirational book for motivating adolescent readers: MOTIVATING TEEN AND PRETEEN READERS: HOW TEACHERS AND PARENTS CAN LEAD THE WAY (Rowman & Littlefield Education, August 2011). Again, go to my gmail address if you're interested in reading the article.
Check out my other BAM STREET JOURNAL posts on reading for further ideas about motivating reading from the inside out: "Reading as a Three-Dimensional, Holographic, Virtual Reality" is one example.