Exploring intrinsic and extrinsic reading motivation among very good and very poor readers

Sarah McGeown, Roger Norgate, Amy Warhurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Research examining the relationship between reading skill and
reading motivation has typically been carried out among children with a wide
range of reading abilities. There is less research focusing on children who excel in reading or who are attaining very low reading scores.

Purpose: To examine whether there were differences between children identified
as excellent or very poor readers in the relationship between their levels of reading skill and intrinsic and extrinsic reading motivation.

Sample: In total, 1811 children (aged seven to 13 years) were tested, with good
readers (top 10%; n ¼ 194) or poor readers (bottom 10%; n ¼ 188) identified
within the group.

Design and Methods: All children completed a reading assessment and reading
motivation questionnaire in their classroom; good and poor readers were selected based on their scores in the standardised reading test.

Results: In the full sample, children’s intrinsic reading motivation and reading
efficacy correlated with their reading skill whereas their extrinsic reading
motivation did not. After co-varying for differences in group composition,
good and poor readers differed significantly in levels of intrinsic reading
motivation and reading efficacy but not extrinsic reading motivation. Among
the good readers, only extrinsic reading motivation correlated significantly with
reading skill, whilst among the poor readers, no aspects of motivation correlated
significantly with reading skill. Overall, poor readers’ intrinsic and extrinsic
reading motivations were more closely correlated.

Conclusions: The relationship between reading motivation and reading skill may
not be as straightforward as is commonly thought; extrinsic motivation and not
intrinsic motivation was associated with variation in reading skill among children
with excellent reading scores.
Original languageEnglish
Article number54
Pages (from-to)309-322
Number of pages13
JournalEducational Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • reading
  • motivation
  • ability


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