The present thesis empirically and theoretically explores motivation for reading in Norwegian first-graders during their first year of formal reading instruction (N = 1,141).
Early motivation for reading is conceptualized in this study as interest in literacy-related activities and reader self-concept. The study investigates the dynamics of motivation for reading and emergent literacy at school entry and at the end of the first grade. In addition, it explores the potential effects that a substantial increase in reading skill and participation in an early intervention may exert on the reader self-concept of students considered to be at risk of reading difficulties.
The results show that a few weeks into the first year of formal reading instruction, students generally have a strong interest in reading but that, even at school entry, the children with the poorest emergent literacy have a significantly weaker reader self-concept than their high-performing peers. Further, interest was found to moderate the association identified between emergent literacy at school entry and reader self-concept at school entry, meaning that students who had a strong interest in literacy also had a strong reader self-concept. independently of their actual level of emergent literacy.
What is more, investigations across the first grade using cross-lagged modeling as between early motivation and reading skill show there to be reciprocal relationships. Evidence was found of significant bidirectional relationships between reader self-concept and early reading skill and between literacy interest and reader self-concept within the first year of formal schooling. This suggests that relationships between reader self-concept and early reading skill start affecting children’s reading development even before formal reading instruction begins. Further, stability was found in the students reading skills across the first grade and their literacy interest and reader self-concept were found to stay relatively stable from school entry to the end of the first grade. An intensive reading intervention carried out during the first grade was not found to affect reader self-concept when initial reader self-concept and the increase in reading skill across intervention and control groups were controlled for.
Finally, the present thesis adds some reflections on how the phenomena of motivation and skill could be understood at a foundational level.