Reading for understanding is a challenging task for many upper elementary struggling readers, and their attitudes toward such challenges can make a difference in their subsequent engagement and reading achievement. Mindset and achievement goals provide a useful explanatory framework for understanding struggling readers’ engagement and reading comprehension. This study examined the extent to which mindset and achievement goals are associated with reading comprehension; as well as the mechanism through which engagement mediates this relation, controlling for the effects of vocabulary, word recognition, and limited English proficiency status. Structural equation modeling of four and fifth grade struggling readers (N = 107) demonstrated the importance of achievement goals in predicting reading comprehension. Effects of mindset on engagement and reading comprehension were completely mediated by mastery and performance-avoidance goals; further, these goals had indirect relations to reading comprehension through emotional engagement. Performance-approach goals had a direct, negative relation to reading comprehension. Findings highlight the importance of including motivational variables in understanding sources of individual differences in reading comprehension for struggling readers.
This is a preview of subscription content,to check access.
Access this article
Reliabilities are based on the final scale, modified based on the confirmatory factor analyses results.
Although, path from fixed mindset and mastery goals was marginally significant (p = .05), p value for standardized coefficient was statistically significant (β = − 0.22, SE = 0.10, p = .03) and this path becomes statistically significant in the models with reading comprehension.
Ames, C. (1992). Classrooms: Goals, structures, and student motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84, 261–271.
Ames, C., & Archer, J. (1988). Achievement goals in the classroom: Students’ learning strategies and motivation processes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 260–267.
Baird, G. L., Scott, W. D., Dearing, E., & Hamill, S. K. (2009). Cognitive self-regulation in youth with and without learning disabilities: Academic self-efficacy, theories of intelligence, learning vs. performance goal preferences, and effort attributions. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 28, 881–908.
Baker, L., & Wigfield, A. (1999). Dimensions of children’s motivation for reading and their relations to reading activity and reading achievement. Reading Research Quarterly, 34, 452–477.
Becker, M., McElvany, N., & Kortenbruck, M. (2010). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as predictors of reading literacy: A longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 773–785.
Bergin, D. A. (1995). Effects of a mastery versus competitive motivation situation on learning. Journal of Experimental Education, 63, 303–314.
Bernacki, M. L., Byrnes, J. P., & Cromley, J. G. (2012). The effects of achievement goals and self-regulated learning behaviors on reading comprehension in technology-enhanced learning environments. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 37, 148–161.
Blackwell, L. S., Trzesniewski, K. H., & Dweck, C. S. (2007). Implicit theories of intelligence predict achievement across an adolescent transition: A longitudinal study and an intervention. Child Development, 78, 246–263.
Bong, M. (2009). Age-related differences in achievement goal differentiation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 879–896.
Brophy, J. (2005). Goal theorists should move on from performance goals. Educational Psychologist, 40, 167–176.
Bulotsky-Shearer, R. J., & Fantuzzo, J. W. (2011). Preschool behavior problems in classroom learning situations and literacy outcomes in kindergarten and first grade. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26, 61–73.
Butler, R. (1988). Enhancing and undermining intrinsic motivation: The effects of task-involving and ego-involving evaluation on interest and performance. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 58, 1–14.
Chapman, J. W., & Tunmer, W. E. (1995). Development of young children’s reading self-concepts: An examination of emerging subcomponents and their relationship with reading achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87, 154–167.
Cho, E., Lee, M., & Toste, J. R. (2018). Does perceived competence serve as a protective mechanism against performance goals for struggling readers? Path analysis of contextual antecedents and reading outcomes. Learning and Individual Differences, 65, 135–147.
Christenson, S. L., Reschly, A. L., & Wylie, C. (2012). The handbook of research on student engagement. New York, NY: Springer.
Cimpian, A., Arce, H.-M., Markman, E. M., & Dweck, C. S. (2007). Subtle linguistic cues impact children’s motivation. Psychological Science, 18, 314–316.
Conradi, K., Jang, B. G., & McKenna, M. C. (2014). Motivation terminology in reading research: A conceptual review. Educational Psychology Review, 26, 127–164.
Corno, L., & Mandinach, E. B. (1983). The role of cognitive engagement in classroom learning and motivation. Educational Psychologist, 18, 88–108.
Crouzevialle, M., & Butera, F. (2013). Performance-approach goals deplete working memory and impair cognitive performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142, 666–678.
Dinger, F. C., Dickhäuser, O., Spinath, B., & Steinmayr, R. (2013). Antecedents and consequences of students’ achievement goals: A mediation analysis. Learning and Individual Differences, 28, 90–101.
DiPerna, J. C., & Elliott, S. N. (2000). Promoting academic enablers to improve student achievement: An introduction to the mini-series. School Psychology Review, 31, 293–297.
Diseth, A. (2011). Self-efficacy, goal orientations and learning strategies as mediators between preceding and subsequent academic achievement. Learning and Individual Differences, 21, 191–195.
Diseth, A., & Martinsen, Ø. (2003). Approaches to learning, cognitive style, and motives as predictors of academic achievement. Educational Psychology, 23, 195–207.
Dupeyrat, C., & Mariné, C. (2001). Implicit theories of intelligence, achievement goals, and learning strategy use: A test of Dweck’s model with returning to school adults. Psychologische Beiträge, 43, 34–52.
Dweck, C. S. (1986). Motivational processes affecting learning. American Psychologist, 41, 1040–1048.
Dweck, C. S. (1999). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. Lillington, NC: Edwards Brothers.
Dweck, C. S. (2008). Can personality be changed? The role of beliefs in personality and change. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17, 391–394.
Dweck, C. S., Chiu, C., & Hong, Y. (1995). Implicit theories and their role in judgments and reactions: A word from two perspectives. Psychological Inquiry, 6, 267–285.
Dweck, C. S., & Leggett, E. L. (1988). A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological Review, 95, 256–273.
Elliot, A. J., & Church, M. A. (1997). A hierarchical model of approach and avoidance achievement motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 218–232.
Elliot, A., & Harackiewicz, J. (1996). Approach and avoidance achievement goals and intrinsic motivation: A mediational analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 461–475.
Elliot, A. J., & McGregor, H. A. (2001). A 2 × 2 achievement goal framework. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 501–519.
Elliot, A. J., McGregor, H. A., & Gable, S. (1999). Achievement goals, study strategies, and exam performance: A mediational analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91, 549–563.
Elliott, E. S., & Dweck, C. S. (1988). Goals: An approach to motivation and achievement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 5–12.
Fletcher, J. M., Foorman, B. R., Boudousquie, A., Barnes, M. A., Schatschneider, C., & Francis, D. J. (2002). Assessment of reading and learning disabilities a research-based intervention-oriented approach. Journal of School Psychology, 40, 27–63.
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.
Furrer, C., & Skinner, E. (2003). Sense of relatedness as a factor in children’s academic engagement and performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 148–162.
Gonida, E. N., Voulala, K., & Kiosseoglou, G. (2009). Students’ achievement goal orientations and their behavioral and emotional engagement: Co-examining the role of perceived school goal structures and parent goals during adolescence. Learning and Individual Differences, 19, 53–60.
Gough, P., & Tunmer, W. (1986). Decoding, reading, and reading disability. Remedial and Special Education, 7, 6–10.
Grigg, W. S., Daane, M. C., Jin, Y., & Campbell, J. R. (2003). The nation’s report card: Reading, 2002. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics (ED).
Guo, Y., Sun, S., Breit-Smith, A., Morrison, F. J., & Connor, C. M. (2015). Behavioral engagement and reading achievement in elementary-school-age children: A longitudinal cross-lagged analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107, 332–347.
Guthrie, J. T., & Klauda, S. L. (2014). Effects of classroom practices on reading comprehension, engagement, and motivations for adolescents. Reading Research Quarterly, 49, 387–416.
Guthrie, J. T., Wigfield, A., Metsala, J. L., & Cox, K. E. (1999). Motivational and cognitive predictors of text comprehension and reading amount. Scientific Studies of Reading, 3, 231–256.
Guthrie, J. T., Wigfield, A., & Perencevich, K. C. (2004). Scaffolding for motivation and engagement in reading. In J. T. Guthrie, A. Wigfield, & K. C. Perencevich (Eds.), Motivating reading comprehension: Concept oriented reading instruction (pp. 55–86). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
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., Barron, K. E., Pintrich, P. R., Elliot, A. J., & Thrash, T. M. (2002). Revision of achievement goal theory: Necessary and illuminating. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 638–645.
Hu, L. T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 6, 1–55.
Hulleman, C. S., Schrager, S. M., Bodmann, S. M., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2010). A meta-analytic review of achievement goal measures: Different labels for the same constructs or different constructs with similar labels? Psychological Bulletin, 136, 422–449.
International Reading Association. (2000). Excellent reading teachers: A position statement of the International Reading Association. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 44, 193–200.
Jang, H., Kim, E. J., & Reeve, J. (2012). Longitudinal test of self-determination theory’s motivation mediation model in a naturally occurring classroom context. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104, 1175–1188.
Jimerson, S. J., Campos, E., & Grief, J. L. (2003). Toward an understanding of definitions and measures of school engagement and related terms. The California School Psychologist, 8, 7–27.
Kintsch, W. (1998). Comprehension: A paradigm for cognition. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
Klassen, R. M. (2007). Using predictions to learn about the self-efficacy of early adolescents with and without learning disabilities. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 32, 173–187.
Kline, R. B. (2005). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (2nd ed.). New York: The Guildford Press.
Lee, M., & Bong, M. (2016). In their own words: Reasons underlying the achievement striving of students in schools. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108, 274–294.
Lee, W., & Reeve, J. (2012). Teacher’s estimates of their students’ motivation and engagement being in synch with students. Educational Psychology, 32, 727–747.
Liem, A. D., Lau, S., & Nie, Y. (2008). The role of self-efficacy, task-value, and achievement goals in predicting learning strategies, task disengagement, peer relationship, and achievement outcome. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 33, 486–512.
Logan, S., Medford, E., & Hughes, N. (2011). The importance of intrinsic motivation for high and low ability readers’ reading comprehension performance. Learning and Individual Differences, 21, 124–128.
MacCallum, R. C., Browne, M. W., & Sugawara, H. M. (1996). Power analysis and determination of sample size for covariance structure modeling. Psychological Methods, 1, 130–149.
MacGinitie, W. H., MacGinitie, R. K., Maria, K., & Dreyer, L. G. (2000). Gates-MacGinitie reading tests. Forms S and T (4th ed.). Itasca, IL: Riverside Publishing Company.
McGrew, K. S., Schrank, F. A., & Woodcock, R. W. (2007). Woodcock-Johnson III normative update technical manual. Rolling Meadows, IL: Riverside.
Meece, J. L., Anderman, E. M., & Anderman, L. H. (2006). Classroom goal structure, student motivation, and academic achievement. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 487–503.
Middleton, M., & Midgley, C. (1997). Avoiding the demonstration of lack of ability: An underexplored aspect of goal theory. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 710–718.
Midgley, C., Kaplan, A., & Middleton, M. (2001). Performance-approach goals: Good for what, for whom, under what circumstances, and at what cost? Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 77–86.
Midgley, C., Maehr, M., Hicks, L., Roeser, R., Urdan, T., Anderman, E., et al. (2000). Manual for the patterns of adaptive learning scales (PALS). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.
Miller, R. B., Behrens, J. T., & Greene, B. A. (1993). Goals and perceived ability: Impact on student valuing, self-regulation, and persistence. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 18, 2–14.
Molden, D. C., & Dweck, C. S. (2006). Finding “meaning” in psychology: A lay theories approach to self-regulation, social perception, and social development. American Psychologist, 61, 192–203.
Morgan, P. L., & Fuchs, D. (2007). Is there a bidirectional relationship between children’s reading skills and reading motivation? Exceptional Children, 73, 165–183.
Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998–2015). Mplus user’s guide (7th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.
Payne, S. C., Youngcourt, S. S., & Beaubien, J. M. (2007). A meta-analytic examination of the goal orientation nomological net. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 128–150.
Perfetti, C. A., Landi, N., & Oakhill, J. (2005). The acquisition of reading comprehension skill. In M. J. Snowling & C. Hulme (Eds.), Blackwell handbooks of developmental psychology. The science of reading: A handbook (pp. 227–247). New York: Wiley.
Petscher, Y., Al Otaiba, S., Wanzek, J., Rivas, B., & Jones, F. (2017). The relation between global and specific mindset with reading outcomes for elementary school students. Scientific Studies of Reading, 21, 376–391.
Phan, H. P. (2009). Exploring students’ reflective thinking practice, deep processing strategies, effort, and achievement goal orientations. Educational Psychology, 29, 297–313.
Ponitz, C. C., & Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. (2011). Contexts of reading instruction: Implications for literacy skills and kindergarteners’ behavioral engagement. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26, 157–168.
R Core Team. (2017). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. http://www.R-project.org/.
Raftery, A. E. (1995). Bayesian model selection in social research. Sociological Methodology, 25, 111–163.
RAND Reading Study Group. (2002). Reading for understanding. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation. www.rand.org/multi/achievementforall/.
Satorra, A., & Bentler, P. M. (2001). A scaled difference Chi square test statistic for moment structure analysis. Psychometrika, 66, 507–514.
Scarborough, H. S. (2001). Connecting early language and literacy to later reading (dis)abilities: Evidence, theory, and practice. In S. B. Neuman & D. K. Dickinson (Eds.), Handbook of early literacy research. New York: Guilford Press.
Schiefele, U., Stutz, F., & Schaffner, E. (2016). Longitudinal relations between reading motivation and reading comprehension in the early elementary grades. Learning and Individual Differences, 51, 49–58.
Selig, J. P., & Preacher, K. J. (2008). Monte Carlo method for assessing mediation: An interactive tool for creating confidence intervals for indirect effects [Computer software]. Available from http://quantpsy.org/.
Senko, C., & Dawson, B. (2017). Performance-approach goal effects on how they are defined: Meta-analytic evidence from multiple educational outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109, 574–598.
Shim, S., & Ryan, A. (2005). Changes in self-efficacy, challenge avoidance, and intrinsic value in response to grades: The role of achievement goals. The Journal of Experimental Education, 73, 333–349.
Shrank, F. A., McGrew, K. S., & Woodcock, R. W. (2001). Technical abstract (Woodcock-Johnson III Assessment Service Bulletin No. 2). Itasca, IL: Riverside Publishing.
Sisk, V. F., Burgoyne, A. P., Sun, J., Butler, J. L., & Macnamara, B. N. (2018). To what extent and under which circumstances are growth mind-sets important to academic achievement? Two meta-analyses. Psychological Science, 29, 549–571.
Skinner, E. A., Kindermann, T. A., Connell, J. P., & Wellborn, J. G. (2009a). Engagement and disaffection as organizational constructs in the dynamics of motivational development. In K. R. Wentzel & A. Wigfield (Eds.), Handbook of motivation at school (pp. 223–245). New York, NY: Routledge.
Skinner, E. A., Kindermann, T. A., & Furrer, C. J. (2009b). A motivational perspective on engagement and disaffection: Conceptualization and assessment of children’s behavioral and emotional participation in academic activities in the classroom. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 69, 493–525.
Stipek, D., & Gralinski, J. H. (1996). Children’s beliefs about intelligence and school performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 397–407.
Stutz, F., Schaffner, E., & Schiefele, U. (2016). Relations among reading motivation, reading amount, and reading comprehension in the early elementary grades. Learning and Individual Differences, 45, 101–113.
Taboada, A., Tonks, S. M., Wigfield, A., & Guthrie, J. T. (2009). Effects of motivational and cognitive variables on reading comprehension. Reading and Writing, 22, 85–106.
Torgesen, J. K., Wagner, R. K., & Rashotte, C. A. (2012). Test of word reading efficiency (TOWRE) (2nd ed.). Austin, TS: Pro-Ed.
Unrau, N. J., & Quirk, M. (2014). Reading motivation and reading engagement: Clarifying commingled conceptions. Reading Psychology, 35, 260–284.
Urdan, T., & Mestas, M. (2006). The goals behind performance goals. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 354–365.
Vrugt, A., & Oort, F. J. (2008). Metacognition, achievement goals, study strategies and academic achievement: pathways to achievement. Metacognition Learning, 30, 123–146.
Winne, P. H. (2010). Improving measurements of self-regulated learning. Educational Psychologist, 45, 267–276.
Wolters, C. A. (1998). Self-regulated learning and college students’ regulation of motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 224–235.
Wolters, C. A. (2004). Advancing achievement goal theory: Using goal structures and goal orientations to predict students’ motivation, cognition, and achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96, 236–250.
Wolters, C. A., Barnes, M. A., Kulesz, P. A., York, M., & Francis, D. J. (2017). Examining a motivational treatment and its impact on adolescents’ reading comprehension and fluency. The Journal of Educational Research, 110, 98–109.
Wolters, C. A., Denton, C. A., York, M. J., & Francis, D. J. (2014). Adolescents’ motivation for reading: Group differences and relation to standardized achievement. Reading and Writing, 27, 503–533.
Zhou, M., & Winne, P. H. (2012). Modeling academic achievement by self-reported versus traced goal orientation. Learning and Instruction, 22, 413–419.
This research was supported in part by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305F100013 to The University of Texas at Austin as part of the Reading for Understanding Research Initiative. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.
About this article
Cite this article
Cho, E., Toste, J.R., Lee, M. et al. Motivational predictors of struggling readers’ reading comprehension: the effects of mindset, achievement goals, and engagement. Read Writ 32, 1219–1242 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-018-9908-8