THE EFFECTS OF REWARD PROXIMITY AND CHOICE OF REWARD ON THE READING MOTIVATION OF THIRD-GRADE STUDENTS.

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2004-11-22

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Title of Dissertation: THE EFFECTS OF REWARD PROXIMITY AND CHOICE OF REWARD ON THE READING MOTIVATION OF THIRD-GRADE STUDENTS.

		Barbara Ann Marinak, 2004

Directed by: Linda Gambrell, Professor

Clemson University

This study investigated the effects of reward proximity and choice of reward on the reading motivation of third-grade average readers. Seventy-five students participated in the study. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups (book/choice, book/no choice, token/choice, token/no choice) and a control group that received no reward. All students who participated in this study were invited to read from one of six trade books that were being considered for purchase in the school library. After making his or her recommendation about the book, each student received a reward or no reward based on treatment condition. The student was then invited to remain in the experimental room and was observed during a 10-minute free-choice period. During the free-choice period, the child could choose to continue reading from the library book array or choose a jigsaw puzzle or a math game.

The effect of the independent variables, proximity of reward and choice of reward, on intrinsic motivation to read was measured with three indicators of task persistence and a question of self-reported enjoyment. The indices of persistence were first activity selected, time spent reading, and number of words read. The self-report measure was the response to a question regarding the "most fun activity" in the experimental room.

The present study indicated that the students given a book (proximal reward) and the students who received no reward were more motivated to engage in subsequent reading than the students that received a token (less proximal reward). The findings from the present study indicate that the proximity of the reward to the desired behavior is a particularly salient factor in enhancing motivation.

In addition, the findings from the study suggest that less proximal rewards, such as tokens, undermine intrinsic motivation. Finally, although choice has been demonstrated to be a powerful aspect of intrinsic motivation (Deci, 2000; Rigby et al., 1992; Gottfried, 1985; Guthrie & Wigfield, 1997), the choice of reward was not found to be a salient factor in this study. The type of reward (book or token) was a significant factor, while choice of reward had no apparent effect on the intrinsic motivation to read.

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