Friday, February 11, 2011

Use Novelty and Chice to Motivate Children

To motivate children with reading disabilities or other learning disabilities, use novelty and choice.
Novelty refers to anything new that’s slightly different from what children have previously liked and succeeded on.

If, for example, they enjoyed completing 100-piece puzzles of cartoon characters, let them choose 125-piece puzzles of familiar animals.

If they enjoyed reading articles about current baseball teams, let them choose to read one of several books, with attractive covers, about the history of baseball.

As they routinely achieve success, expand their choices. Instead of puzzles, introduce them to model making. Instead of baseball books, have them listen to stories about the hobbies of famous people; then encourage them to read a book about one of these people.

Which book? Their choice. And if you want to introduce a new concept, arouse children’s curiosity with a new, novel magic trick or two, which illustrates the concept. But be sure the trick and concept are not so removed from their experiences that they’ll get frustrated.

Is there a sound basis for recommending novelty and choice? Clearly, yes. So, if your child is not motivated to read or do other school work, and his program is at the right level of difficulty, but ignores novelty and choice, you might want to share the quotes below with his tutors, teachers, or Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team:
  • Novelty. What text features “arouse situational interest and promote text comprehension and recall [?]: personal relevance, novelty, activity level, and comprehensibility.” (Eccles &Wigfield, 2002, p. 115)
  • Novelty. People [including children] seek novel situations and situations that challenge their current skill levels or understanding, and then they strive to achieve mastery to conquer the challenge and experience feelings of competence or understanding. (Stipek, 1998, p. 122)
  • Choice. Almost all motivation theories suggest . . . choice increases motivation (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002, p. 298).
  • Choice. Choice produced an effect size of 0.95 on motivation for reading and 1.20 on reading achievement and comprehension. (Margolis & McCabe, 2004, p. 249; referring to Guthrie & Humenick) [These statistics show that choice can powerfully affect motivation for reading, reading achievement, and comprehension.]

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