Engagement as a Mediator of the Associations Among Expectancies and Values for Reading and Reading Outcomes
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Previous research studies have shown that cognitive engagement could be included in the Eccles et al. (1983) expectancy-value model as the indirect means, or mediator, by which motivational influencers drive achievement (e.g., Greene et al., 2004; Hardré et al., 2007; Skinner et al., 2008). To explore the associations between values, expectancies, cognitive engagement and reading performance, I conducted a study with 1197 seventh graders. Values, expectancies, and cognitive engagement were measured using survey data. Performance was measured using the informational text comprehension test (ITC) and Reading/Language Arts grades. The main finding of this study was that cognitive engagement was a significant mediator of both expectancies and values with reading performance. Guthrie et al. (2012) discussed how reading requires effort and attention. Expectancies and values partially drive engagement, which is to say, they initiate engagement and not that motivation stops when a student becomes engaged in a task. When reading is valued and students believe they can be successful, students will be more persistent and put in more effort in deducing meaning from passages, like the ITC test. If students are more motivated, they will put in more effort and will result in better Reading/Language Arts grades. As discussed, the indirect effects of values and expectancies, and the direct of values, expectancies, cognitive engagement, and demographic controls were the same across the ITC and Reading/Language Arts grades. One exception to this association was the effects of gender and race on the reading outcomes. For gender, girls had higher grades than boys, but boys and girls did the same on ITC. This finding replicated previous research that males and females do not differ on standardized tests at this age and girls often perform better in Reading/Language Arts grades, which are typically seen as favoring females than do other classes such as mathematics (Banks & Banks, 2010). For race, there was no difference in performance in Reading/Language Arts grades, but there was a race difference on ITC. From an expectancy-value framework, mediation may mean that through engagement, expectancies for success and values may be actualized into achievement.