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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Predicting Reading Comprehension of 8th grade Struggling Readers: Fluency, Self-Efficacy, and Intrinsic Motivation

  • Author(s): Liao, Christy
  • Advisor(s): Swanson, Lee
  • et al.

Several theories contribute to explaining factors that influence text comprehension in struggling readers. Some authors assume a simple view in which fluent word recognition and adequate language comprehension leads to comprehension of text (Gough, Hoover, & Peterson, 1996). A broad base of research evidence supports the substantial impact of reading fluency in students’ reading comprehension in elementary grades (Fuchs, Fuchs, Hosp, & Jenkins, 2001). However, as students move from elementary school to middle school, fluency tends to account for less variation in comprehension (Denton et al., 2011) and other factors must be considered. A missing part of the puzzle concerns psychological factors that relate to reading comprehension. What role does motivation play in adolescents’ reading comprehension? Theories on the positive impact of self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation on academic achievement have been examined by several psychologists (Bandura, 1977; Deci & Ryan, 1985). Researchers have used these theories to build motivation assessments, which explore how motivation is related to reading outcomes. However, most of these studies have focused on elementary school students, and limited studies have been conducted with English Language Learners (ELLs), a population that has been shown to lag behind their peers in reading comprehension (Lesaux, 2006). Using a sample of 102 eighth grade struggling readers, this study addressed the relationship between silent reading fluency, oral reading fluency, language status, self efficacy, and intrinsic motivation in predicting reading comprehension. Hierarchical linear models were used to control for the effect of teacher on reading comprehension. The following major conclusions can be summarized about struggling readers in middle school from this study: (1) Silent reading fluency significantly predicts reading comprehension; (2) Oral reading fluency does not contribute significantly to reading comprehension; (3) Language status is a significant predictor of reading comprehension; (4) Self-efficacy and reading curiosity are not substantial predictors of reading comprehension scores; and (5) Language status moderates the relationship between reading involvement and reading comprehension scores. These conclusions will be discussed in light of the results of the study and practical implications for educators will be addressed.

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