How do classroom characteristics influence intrinsic motivations for literacy?

Mary M. Ng, John T. Guthrie, Peggy Van Meter, Ann McCann, Solomon Alao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We examined students’ motivations for participating in literacy tasks. We were interested in which motivations prevailed and how these motivations varied in different contexts. From previous literature, we expected that contexts in which student perceived that they had autonomy, opportunity for social interaction, and coherence (connections to other learning activities) would be likely to arouse intrinsic motivations, such as involvement and curiosity. We videotaped students in grade 3 and grade 5 classrooms. In their usual team groups, small teams participated in normal classroom literacy lessons and also in investigator-designed activities. Immediately after the videotaping, we interviewed the students to determine their motivations and their perceptions of the characteristics of the context. Grade 3 students reported more intrinsic motivations when they perceived the context to be socially supportive than non-social contexts; however, grade 5 students did not report intrinsic motivations in response to their perceptions of the social characteristics. Grade 5 students responded positively when the context was perceived as autonomy supportive; but grade 3 students did not show different motivations based on the perceived autonomy-support. The findings are discussed in relation to previous investigations of how the classroom environment sustains intrinsic motivations for literacy learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-398
Number of pages80
JournalReading Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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