Factors That Motivate Fifth-Grade Students To Read During Sustained Silent Reading (SSR)
Newman, Terry Harlowe
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One of the most widely accepted ideas is that the more you read the better reader you become. Research has demonstrated a positive link between frequent reading and reading achievement. Because of this relationship, popular programs like Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) would appear to be an effective instructional strategy to improve students' reading ability. However, there is little empirical evidence to support SSR as a means to increase student achievement. One concern is the amount of time students spend reading during SSR. Utilizing both qualitative and quantitative designs, this study examined teacher and student perspectives to find factors that motivated students to read during SSR. Three exemplar fifth-grade teachers were interviewed and observed to learn more about their purpose and methods of implementation for SSR. One class of above average readers, one class of average readers, and one class of below average readers, for a total of 68 students participated by being observed and completing surveys. Overall, teachers reported that teacher modeling and student choice were important for increasing student participation during SSR. Teachers provided additional instructional support based on their students' ability level. Students in the below average classroom appeared to receive more instructional support to sustain silent reading with the average and above average classrooms receiving less instructional support. Students across the three classes reported that choice and interesting texts were important factors for motivating them to read during SSR, whereas having to write about what they read during SSR was a least favorite activity. Teacher modeling may also positively influenced the below average and average readers more than the high ability readers. While females were on-task during SSR more than males across all three classrooms, overall student participation during SSR varied based on ability level with both the high and low ability readers participating at lower rates than average readers. Findings from this study revealed instructional strategies that appear to increase student participation during SSR. However, it may be that SSR, as originally conceived, is not effective for students of all ability levels. Rather, the effects of SSR may be much more complex requiring varying amounts of different types of instructional support for students to sustain silent reading based on ability level.