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Dean Barbara Marinak’s Work on Motivation to Read Published in Premier Journal for Elementary School Research

Barbara MarinakEMMITSBURG, Md. (April 24, 2018) – Mount St. Mary’s Barbara A. Marinak, dean of the Division of Education at Mount St. Mary’s University,  has been published by The Elementary School Journal (ESJ).

The Elementary School Journal publishes peer-reviewed articles that pertain both to education theory and research as well as their implications for teaching practice. Marinak, who joined the Mount’s faculty in 2011, is lead coauthor of “Upper Elementary Students’ Motivation to Read Fiction and Nonfiction,” a paper published in ESJ in March [118(3):505-523].  

“Educators across the country are benefitting from Barbara Marinak’s research on reading motivation,” said President Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D. “Our students are fortunate to be exposed to and learn from this rich research, conducted over the last 10-plus years.”

Marinak’s work on elementary students’ motivation to read spans more than two decades and involves numerous studies including work on the updated Motivation to Read Profile and The Me and My Reading Profile (MMRP). The MMRP, published in 2015 in The Reading Teacher, reversed the prevailing wisdom, finding that the intrinsic reading motivation of very young children in kindergarten through second grade is more complex than that of students in grades three to six. The instrument, well received by the practitioner and research communities, is being used across the United States and internationally and has been translated into five languages.

ESJ cover“It has been a privilege to collaborate with a group of esteemed practitioners and researchers from across the country,” Marinak said. “All are committed to understanding the complexities of reading motivation. Even after two decades, this work is still in its infancy. There is much more to be learned from young readers.”

The findings across these investigations, conducted with teams of researchers, indicated the complexity of reading motivation of elementary students. For example, in 2006, Marinak and Linda Gambrell of the University of Maryland found that books are much more motivating than tangible, extrinsic rewards. Two years later, they found gender differences in grade three with girls valuing reading far more than boys.

In 2015, the team of motivation researchers expanded.  Nine researchers from five states and seven universities came together to explore the intrinsic reading motivation of elementary students to read fiction and nonfiction. Two new instruments were designed, validated and published in The Reading Teacher in 2017. The results of this multi-state, multi-university investigation of text-specific intrinsic reading motivation was published in ESJ in March 2018.

Marinak and her colleagues verified that girls are more motivated to read fiction but found insignificant differences between girls’ and boys’ motivations to read nonfiction, indicating a need for further research on this topic. Marinak will be among the researchers who delve into this new area of research.

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