Reading comprehension program focuses on motivation to read

iStock_000008693718XSmallMotivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it, Dwight Eisenhower once said. In a recent issue of Educational Psychologist, a team of researchers from the University of Maryland says motivating students to read is an important but neglected step in improving students’ reading comprehension.

Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction (CORI), a reading comprehension program the researchers designed for students in grades 3-5, is effective in both increasing motivation and improving comprehension, the researchers report based on their meta-analysis of 11 studies.

Motivation to read predicts reading achievement relatively well, the researchers say, which is a powerful incentive for teachers to focus on motivation to read. Unfortunately, student motivation for reading in the U.S. appears to be at an all-time low.

Outside reading

“Compared to students in other countries, U.S. fourth  graders are ranked astonishingly low in intrinsic motivation for reading,” they write. “In reading for their own interest outside of school, which is an indicator of intrinsic reading motivation, the U.S. students ranked 32nd.”

Recent surveys of U.S.fourth graders found that 65% did not cite reading as a favorite activity, 73% did not read often for enjoyment and 59% did not believe they learned very much when reading books.

CORI seeks to increase student motivation to read by incorporating five instructional practices in the reading comprehension program:
• relevance;
• choice;
• success;
• collaboration; and
• thematic units.

The reading engagement goals of CORI include:
• intrinsic motivation;
• efficacy;
• perceived autonomy;
• social interaction;  and
• mastery goals.

The reading goals for CORI include the following comprehension strategies:
• understanding the main idea;
• making inferences;
• monitoring comprehension; and
• using fix-up strategies for information and narrative texts.

CORI structure

The CORI interventions in the 11 studies were conducted for 12 weeks in some studies and for 36 weeks in others. Daily instruction was for 60-90 minutes. The program was on environmental science and reading materials included both information books and novels and poetry.

Each CORI lesson was structured into five segments:
• For the first 10 minutes, students read orally. For two days per week, instead of oral reading fluency students studied science concepts and/or participated in hands-on activities such as drawing horseshoe crabs, for example, from observation.
• In the next 10 minutes, the teacher gave a mini-lesson on comprehension to set the stage for organized guided reading.
• For the next three 15 minute-segments, students engaged in small-group guided reading, writing and independent reading.

For guided reading, appropriate-level texts were used for modeling, scaffolding and guided practice of the reading comprehension strategies. During the writing segment students made entries into their portfolios based on their informational books. These five segments totaled 65 minutes–some teachers added 5 minutes to each activity to extend instruction to 90 minutes. Team work and collaboration are important features of the intervention.


Among the measures used in the 11 studies were the Self-Efficacy scale in the Motivation for Reading Questionnaire (Wigfield & Guthrie, 1997), student self-reports of use of reading strategies or interest in books, multiple choice tests of science knowledge and measures of word recognition and reading fluency. The researchers evaluated effectiveness of CORI with 75 effect sizes on 20 outcome variables.

In one study, the authors report, the researchers observed practices that enhanced as well as suppressed student autonomy.  Autonomy-enhancing practices included teaching content that interested students and was relevant to them, and enabling students to see the connection between school reading and “real life” out of school. Practices that tended to disengage students included intruding by constantly telling students what to do, interfering with students’ completion of meaningful tasks and limiting choices for reading and writing activities.

“Contributions of Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction to Knowledge About Interventions for Motivations in Reading,” by John Guthrie, Angela McRae and Susan Lutz Klauda, Educational Psychologist, Volume 42, Number 4, pp. 237-250.

Published in ERN January 2008 Volume 21 Number 1

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