Going Beyond “That was fun”: Measuring Writing Motivation
- Aim: The use of validated measures of writing motivation is imperative to improving our understanding and development of interventions to improve student writing utilizing motivation as a mechanism. One of the most important malleable factors involved in improving student writing is motivation, particularly for secondary school students. This research note systematically examines the measures of writing motivation for students in grades 4–12 used by researchers over the last ten years and summarizes their psychometric and measurement properties to the extent provided in the underlying literature. This collection of measures and their properties and features is designed to make researchers more aware of the various options and to point out the need for additional measures.
- Problem Formation: Writing is crucial to college and career readiness, but adolescents are inadequately prepared to be proficient writers. Grades 4–12, once students have generally learned the basics of writing, are when students begin to develop more fluent and sophisticated writing abilities. They turn from learning to write to writing to learn, and writing is increasingly done across content areas and in multiple genres. Unfortunately, writing is a difficult skill to master, and students in middle and high school suffer from declining motivation. The ability to measure changes in writing motivation at this developmental stage will allow researchers to more effectively design and assess writing interventions. What are the current, validated measures of writing motivation available for researchers working with adolescents? Motivation research has grown significantly in the last ten years, and a variety of motivation constructs (e.g., self-efficacy, expectancy-value) and related measures are used across the field. In addition to the variety of motivation constructs used in research today, researchers require domain- or context-specific measures of motivation (e.g., science motivation) to enable an accurate understanding of the role of motivation in achievement. Despite increased developments in both motivation and writing research over the past few decades, the intersection of these two fields remains relatively unexplored (Boscolo & Hidi, 2007; Troia, Harbaugh, Shankland, Wolbers, & Lawrence, 2013).
- Information Collection: A thorough literature search was done to find measures of writing motivation used for this age group within the last 10 years. Psychometric properties, to the extent available in the underlying articles, of each measure are described.
- Conclusions: Ultimately, seven discrete measures of adolescent writing motivation were found, but only limited psychometric details were available for many of the measures. No “gold standard” measure was found; indeed, the measures utilized varied motivational constructs and rarely reported more than the Cronbach’s alpha of the underlying instrument. Researchers need to carefully parse through the related motivation literature to understand the most likely constructs to be implicated in their intervention. They need to consider factors specifically related to their study, such as how stable the construct being targeted is developmentally, whether the term and type of intervention will be sufficient to make an impact on the students’ motivation as suggested by the underlying motivational literature, and what the target of the intervention is. Appropriate motivational constructs to be measured will vary depending on the intervention and its anticipated theory of change.
- Directions for Further Research: Several underlying motivation constructs have been used in the measures described in this review, particularly self-efficacy. However, a number of important motivation constructs, such as interest and self-determination theory, were not captured by the measures found. This review of currently available measures will give researchers options when wanting to include validated measures of writing motivation in their studies and suggests that additional, validated measures are needed to adequately cover the relevant motivational constructs.
Almond, R., Deane, P., Quinlan, T., Wagner, M., & Sydorenko, T. (2012). A preliminary analysis of keystroke log data from a timed writing task. (ETS Research Report 12-23). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.
Applebee, A. N. (2011). Issues in large-scale writing assessment. Journal of Writing Assessment, 3(2), 81–98.
Ball, A. F. (2002). Three decades of research on classroom life: Illuminating the classroom communicative lives of America’s at-risk students. In W. G. Secada (Ed.), Review of research in education (Vol. 26, pp. 71–112). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association Press.
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Bazerman, C. (2011). Standpoints: The disciplined interdisciplinarity of writing studies. Research in the Teaching of English, 46(1), 8–21.
Berninger, V. W., & Swanson, H. L. (1994). Modifying Hayes and Flower's model of skilled writing to explain beginning and developing writing. Children's writing: Toward a process theory of the development of skilled writing (Vol. 2, pp. 57–81). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press Inc.
Berninger, V. W., Whitaker, D., Feng, Y., Swanson, H. L., & Abbott, R. D. (1996). Assessment of planning, translating, and revising in junior high writers. Journal of School Psychology, 34(1), 23–52.
Boscolo, P., & Hidi, S. (2007). The multiple meanings of motivation to write. Writing and Motivation, 19(1).
Bossuyt, P.M. et al. (2015). STARD 2015: An updated list of essential items for reporting diagnostic accuracy studies. Radiology, 277(3).
Bouffard, T., Marcoux, M., Vezeau, C., & Bordeleau, L. (2003). Changes in self-perceptions of competence and intrinsic motivation among elementary schoolchildren. British Journal of Educational Psychology 73, 171–86.
Brandt, D. (2014). The rise of writing: Redefining mass literacy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Brouwer, K. L. (2012). Writing motivation of students with language impairments. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 28(2), 189–210.
Brunning, R., Dempsey, M., Kauffman, D. F., McKim, C., & Zumbrunn, S. (2013). Examining dimensions of self-efficacy for writing. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(1), 25–38.
Collie, R. J., Martin, A. J., & Curwood, J. S. (2016). Multidimensional motivation and engagement for writing: Construct validation with a sample of boys. Educational Psychology, 36(4), 771–791.
Common Core State Standards Initiative (“CCSSI,” 2018). English language arts standards. Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/
Crossley, S. A., Roscoe, R., & McNamara, D. S. (2014). What is successful writing? An investigation into the multiple ways writers can write successful essays. Written Communication, 31(2), 184–214.
Deane, P. (2011). Writing assessment and cognition. (ETS Research Report 11-14). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.
Deane, P., Odendahl, N., Quinlan, T., Fowles, M., Welsh, C., & Bivens-Tatum, J. (2008). Cognitive models of writing: Writing proficiency as a complex integrated skill. (ETS Research Report 08-55). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.
DeBono, T. Husseini, A., Cairo, C., Ghelani, K., Tannoch, R., & Toplak, M.E. (2012). Written expression performance in adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Reading & Writing, 25, 1403–1426.
Deci E.L., Hodges R., Pierson L., & Tomassone, J. (1992). Autonomy and competence as motivational factors in students with learning disabilities and emotional handicaps. Journal of Learning Disabilities 25, 457–71.
Deekens, V. M., Greene, J. A., & Lobczowski, N. G. (2017). Monitoring and depth of strategy use in computer‐based learning environments for science and history. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(1), 63–79.
De La Paz, S. & Graham, S. (2002). Explicitly teaching strategies, skills & knowledge: Writing instruction in middle school classrooms. Journal of Education Psychology, 94(4), 687.
Dempsey, M., Bruning, R., & Kauffman, D. (2010). An empirical test of a new model of self-efficacy for writing. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver, CO.
Eccles, J. S. (2005). Subjective task value and the Eccles et al. model of achievement-related choices. In A. J. Elliot & C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp.105–121). New York: The Guilford Press.
Eccles, J. (2011). Gendered educational and occupational choices: Applying the Eccles et al. model of achievement-related choices. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 35(3), 195–201.
Eccles (Parsons), J. S., Adler, T. F., Futterman, R., Goff, S. B., Kaczala, C. M., Meece, J. L., & Midgley, C. (1983). Expectancies, values and academic behaviors. In J. T. Spence (Ed.), Achievement and achievement motivation (pp. 75–146). San Francisco: Freeman.
Eccles, J., & Midgley, C. (1990). Changes in academic motivation and self-perception during early adolescence. In R. Montemayor (Ed.), Early adolescence as a time of transition (pp. 1–29). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publishing.
Eccles, J. S., & Roeser, R. W. (2011). Schools as developmental contexts during adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21(1), 225–241.
Eccles, J. S., Wigfield, A., Flanagan, C., Miller, C., Reuman, D., & Yee, D. (1989). Self-concepts, domain values, and self-esteem: Relations and changes at early adolescence. Journal of Personality, 57, 283–310.
Elliot, A. J., & Church, M. (1997). A hierarchical model of approach and avoidance achievement motivation. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 72, 218–232.
Flavell, J. H. (1979). Metacognition and cognitive monitoring: A new area of cognitive–developmental inquiry. American Psychologist, 34(10), 906.
Flower, L., & Hayes, J. R. (1981). A cognitive process theory of writing. College Composition and Communication, 32(4), 365–387.
Fredricks, J. A., Blumenfeld, P. C., & Paris, A. H. (2004). School engagement: Potential of the concept, state of the evidence. Review of Educational Research, 74, 59–109.
Gee, J. P. (2001). A sociocultural perspective on early literacy development. Handbook of Early Literacy Research, 1, 30–42.
Graham, S. (2012). Introduction to special issue on writing assessment and instruction. Exceptionality, 20, 197–198.
Graham, S. (2018). A writer(s) within community model of writing. In C. Bazerman, V. Berninger, D. Brandt, S. Graham, J. Langer, S. Murphy, P. Matsuda, D. Rowe, & M. Schleppegrell (Eds.), The lifespan development of writing (pp. 271–325). Urbana, IL: National Council of English.
Graham, S., Berninger, V., & Abbott, R. (2012). Are attitudes toward writing and reading separable constructs? A study with primary grade children. Reading & Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 28(1), 51–69.
Graham, S., Berninger, V., & Fan, W. (2007). The structural relationship between writing attitude and writing achievement in young children. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 32, 353–361.
Graham, S., Bruch, J., Fitzgerald, J., Friedrich, L., Furgeson, J., Greene, K., Kim, J., Lyskawa, J., Olson, C.B., & Smither Wulsin, C. (2016). Teaching secondary students to write effectively (NCEE 2017-4002). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from the NCEE website: http://whatworks.ed.gov.
Graham, S., Kiuhara, S., Harris, K., & Fishman, E. (2017). The relationship among strategic writing behavior, writing motivation, and writing performance with young, developing writers. The Elementary School Journal, 118(1).
Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). A meta-analysis of writing instruction for adolescent students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(3), 445–476.
Graham, S., & Weiner, B. (2012). Motivation: Past, present, and future. In K. R. Harris, S. Graham, T. Urdan, C. B. McCormick, G. M. Sinatra, & J. Sweller (Eds.), APA educational psychology handbook, Vol. 1. Theories, constructs, and critical issues (pp. 367–397). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/13273-013
Hamilton, E. W., Nolen, S. B., & Abbott, R. D. (2013). Developing measures of motivational orientation to read and write: A longitudinal study. Learning and Individual Differences, 28, 151–166.
Harackiewicz, J. M., Canning, E. A., Tibbetts, Y., Priniski, S. J., & Hyde, J. S. (2016). Closing achievement gaps with a utility-value intervention: Disentangling race and social class. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111(5), 745.
Harris, K. R., Graham, S., & Mason, L. H. (2006). Improving the writing, knowledge, and motivation of struggling young writers: Effects of self-regulated strategy development with and without peer support. American Educational Research Journal, 43(2), 295–340.
Hidi, S., & Boscolo, P. (2006). Motivation and writing. In C. A. MacArthur, S. Graham, & J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of writing research (pp. 144–157). New York: The Guilford Press.
Hidi, S., & Renninger, K. A. (2006). The four-phase model of interest development. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 111–127.
Hyland, K. (2002). Authority and invisibility: Authorial identity in academic writing. Journal of Pragmatics, 34(8), 1091–1112.
Intersegmental Committee of the Academic Senates (ICAS) of the California Community Colleges, the California State University, and the University of California (2002). Academic literacy: A statement of competencies expected of students entering California public colleges and universities.
Jones, E. (2008). Predicting performance in first-semester college basic writers: Revisiting the role of self-beliefs. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 33, 209–238.
Kauffman, D. F., Zhao, R., Dempsey, M. S., Zeleny, M. G., Wang, S., Bruning, R. H. (2010, May). Achievement goals’ impact on 11th grade students’ affect, self-efficacy, and writing achievement. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting, Denver, CO.
Kim, Y. S. G. (2015). Developmental, component‐based model of reading fluency: An investigation of predictors of word‐reading fluency, text‐reading fluency, and reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 50(4), 459–481.
Kim, Y. S. G., & Schatschneider, C. (2017). Expanding the developmental models of writing: A direct and indirect effects model of developmental writing (DIEW). Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(1), 35.
Kirkland, D. E., & Jackson, A. (2009). “We real cool”: Toward a theory of black masculine literacies. Reading Research Quarterly, 44(3), 278–297.
Klassen, R. (2002). Writing in early adolescence: A review of the role of self-efficacy beliefs. Educational Psychology Review, 14(2), 173–202.
Kyllonen, P. C., Lipnevich, A. A., Burrus, J., & Roberts, R. D. (2014). Personality, motivation, and college readiness: A prospectus for assessment and development. (ETS Research Report 14-06). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.
Leu, D. J., Forzani, E., Rhoads, C., Maykel, C., Kennedy, C., & Timbrell, N. (2014). The new literacies of online research and comprehension: Rethinking the reading achievement gap. Reading Research Quarterly, 50(1), 37–59.
Levy, Y., & Ellis, T. J. (2006). A systems approach to conduct an effective literature review in support of information systems research. Informing Science, 9.
MacArthur, C. A., & Graham, S. (2016). Writing research from a cognitive perspective. In C. A. MacArthur, S. Graham, & J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of writing research (pp. 24–40). New York: Guilford Press.
MacArthur, C. A., Philippakos, Z. A., & Graham, S. (2016). A multicomponent measure of writing motivation with basic college writers. Learning Disability Quarterly, 39(1), 31-43.
McCutchen, D. (1996). A capacity theory of writing: Working memory in composition. Educational Psychology Review, 8, 299–325.
McKenna, M. C., Kear, D. J., & Ellsworth, R. A. (1995). Children’s attitudes toward reading; A national survey. Reading Research Quarterly, 30(4), 934–956.
Mislevy, R. J. (2018). Sociocognitive foundations of educational measurement. New York: Routledge.
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES, 2012). The Nation's Report Card: Writing 2011. (NCES 2012-4700) Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.
The National Commission on Writing in America’s Schools and Colleges (2003). Report of the National Commission on Writing in America's Schools and Colleges: The neglected "R," The need for a writing revolution. College Board.
The National Commission on Writing in America’s Schools and Colleges (2004). Writing: A ticket to work or a ticket out. College Board. Retrieved from http://www.collegeboard.com/prod_downloads/writingcom/writing-ticket-to-work.pdf
Nicholls, J. G. (1989). The competitive ethos and democratic education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Pajares, F. (2007). Empirical properties of a scale to assess writing self-efficacy in school contexts. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 39, 239–249.
Pajares, F., Britner, S. L., & Valiante, G. (2000). Relation between achievement goals and self-beliefs of middle school students in writing and science. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(4), 406–422.
Pajares, F., & Cheong, Y. F. (2003). Achievement goal orientations in writing: A developmental perspective. International Journal of Educational Research, 39(4–5), 437–455.
Pajares, F., & Graham, L. (1999). Self-efficacy, motivation constructs, and mathematics performance of entering middle school students. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 24(2), 124–139.
Pajares, F., Hartley, J., & Valiante, G. (2001). Relation between achievement goals and self-beliefs of middle school students in writing and science. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling Development, 33, 214–221.
Pajares, F., Johnson, M. J., & Usher, E. L. (2007). Sources of writing self-efficacy beliefs of elementary, middle, and high school students. Research in the Teaching of English, 42(1), 104–120.
Pajares, F., & Valiante, G. (2006). Self-efficacy beliefs and motivation in writing development. In C. MacArthur, S. Graham, & J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of writing research (pp. 158–170). New York: Guilford Press.
Pintrich, P. R. (2000). An achievement goal theory perspective on issues in motivation terminology, theory, and research. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 92–104.
Rose, D. H., & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal design for learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2002). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68–78. https://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.68
Schunk, D. H. (1984). Enhancing self-efficacy and achievement through rewards and goals: Motivational and informational effects. The Journal of Educational Research, 78(1), 29–34.
Schunk, D. H. (1995). Self-efficacy and education and instruction. In J. E. Maddux (Ed.), Self-efficacy, adaptation, and adjustment (pp. 281–303). Boston, MA: Springer.
Shell, D. F., Colvin, C., & Bruning, R. H. (1995). Self-efficacy, attribution, and outcome expectancy mechanisms in reading and writing achievement: Grade-level and achievement-level differences. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87, 386–398.
Tate, T., Warschauer, M., & Abedi, J. (2016). The effects of prior computer use on computer-based writing: The 2011 NAEP Writing Assessment, Computers & Education, 101, 115–131.
Troia, G. A., Harbaugh, A. G., Shankland, R. K., Wolbers, K. A., & Lawrence, A. M. (2013). Relationships between writing motivation, writing activity, and writing performance: Effects of grade, sex, and ability. Reading and Writing, 26(1), 17–44.
Troia, G. A., Shankland, R. K., & Wolbers, K. A. (2012). Motivation research in writing: Theoretical and empirical considerations. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 28(1), 5–28.
Wang, Q., & Pomerantz, E. M. (2009). The motivational landscape of early adolescence in the United States and China: A longitudinal investigation. Child Development, 80(4), 1272–1287.
Webb, A. F., Vandiver, B. J., & Jeung, S. (2016). Does completing an enriched writing course improve writing self-efficacy of talented secondary students? Gifted Child Quarterly, 60(1), 47–62.
Webster, J., & Watson, R. T. (2002). Analyzing the past to prepare for the future: Writing a literature review. MIS Quarterly, 26(2), xiii-xxiii.
White, E. M., Elliot, N., & Peckham, I. (2015). Very like a whale: The assessment of writing programs. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.
Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (2000). Expectancy–value theory of achievement motivation. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 68–81.
Wigfield, A., Eccles, J., MacIver, D., Reuman, D., & Midgley, C. (1991). Transitions at early adolescence: Changes in children’s domain-specific self-perceptions and general self-esteem across the transition to junior high school. Developmental Psychology, 27, 552–565.
Wigfield, A., Tonks, S., & Klauda, S. (2009). Expectancy-value theory. In K. Wentzel & A. Wigfield (Eds.), Handbook of motivation at school (pp. 55–76). New York: Routledge.
Zimmerman, B. J., & Bandura, A. (1994). Impact of self-regulatory influences on writing course attainment. American Educational Research Journal, 31(4), 845–862.
Zimmerman, B. & Reisemberg, R. (1997). Becoming a self-regulated writer: A social cognitive perspective. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 22, 73–101.
Copyright (c) 2018 Tamara Powell Tate, Mark Warschauer
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.