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Writing Motivation in School: a Systematic Review of Empirical Research in the Early Twenty-First Century

Abstract

Motivation is a catalyst of writing performance in school. In this article, we report a systematic review of empirical studies on writing motivation conducted in school settings, published between 2000 and 2018 in peer-reviewed journals. We aimed to (1) examine how motivational constructs have been defined in writing research; (2) analyze group differences in writing motivation; (3) unveil effects of motivation on writing performance; (4) gather evidence on teaching practices supporting writing motivation; and (5) examine the impact of digital tools on writing motivation. Through database and hand searches, we located 82 articles that met eligibility criteria. Articles were written in English, focused on students in grades 1–12, and included at least one quantitative or qualitative measure of writing motivation. Across the 82 studies, 24 motivation-related constructs were identified. In 46% of the cases, these constructs were unclearly defined or not defined. Studies showed that overall girls were more motivated to write than boys. Most studies indicated moderate positive associations between motivation and writing performance measures. Authors also examined how students’ writing motivation was influenced by teaching practices, such as handwriting instruction, self-regulated strategy development instruction, and collaborative writing. Digital tools were found to have a positive effect on motivation. Based on this review, we suggest that to move the field forward, researchers need to accurately define motivational constructs; give further attention to understudied motivational constructs; examine both individual and contextual factors; conduct longitudinal studies; identify evidence-based practices that could inform professional development programs for teachers; and test long-term effects of digital tools.

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Notes

  1. Items were formulated in the entity version and therefore lower scores indicated more incremental beliefs.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Steve Graham and Hilde Van Keer for invaluable comments on earlier versions of this article. The authors thank also Mariana Silva for contributing to the study quality assessment.

Funding

This work was supported by a grant attributed to the first author from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (grant SFRH/BD/116281/2016).

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Camacho, A., Alves, R.A. & Boscolo, P. Writing Motivation in School: a Systematic Review of Empirical Research in the Early Twenty-First Century. Educ Psychol Rev 33, 213–247 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-020-09530-4

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Keywords

  • Writing
  • Motivation
  • Literacy
  • Systematic review
  • Teaching practices