Motivation Terminology in Reading Research: A Conceptual Review

Kristin Conradi, Bong Gee Jang, Michael C. McKenna

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


Despite the importance of motivation in understanding the development and practices of reading, problems persist in how motivation-related constructs are defined and investigated. This article reports a concept analysis of how 12 terms have been used in current reading research. Selection criteria resulted in the identification of 92 data-based articles published in 28 peer-reviewed journals from 2003 to 2013. Over the period examined, there was a steady increase in the number of studies reported. Most were conducted in North America and Europe. Only 17 % of the studies offered explicit definitions of the target constructs they examined. Another 64 % relied on various forms of implicit definitions, and 19 % provided no definitions of any kind. Usage problems frequently occurred as well. These included instances of vague associations among terms, occurring in 20 % of the studies, synonymous reference to distinctly different constructs in 32 %, and inaccurate statements made about constructs in 20 %. Although a variety of motivation theories were used to ground the investigations, some 22 % were essentially atheoretical. These difficulties were unrelated to the impact factor of the journals in which they appeared. Possible causes are discussed, together with suggestions for improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-164
Number of pages38
JournalEducational Psychology Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Conceptual review
  • Instruments
  • Motivation
  • Reading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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