The purpose of this explanatory mixed methods study was to better understand how 9th grade honors and general education language arts students valued reading, and to discover if there were any connections between the types of reading values, expectancies for success, and the student’s ultimate language arts course selection. This study was grounded in the expectancy-value theory and considered all 4 task values including utility, attainment, intrinsic, cost, and the expectancies (e.g., past experiences and reader identity) of the participants as well. First, a survey was administered to 9th graders (N = 118) enrolled in either a general language arts course or in an honors language arts course, and who were attending a public high school. The surveys allowed for a general overview of how these 9th graders viewed their motivation to read (based on reported expectancies and values) and how this motivation either influenced or did not influence their course enrollment decisions related to their 9th grade language arts course. Overall mean scores from the survey indicated the participants reported fairly high reading motivation. The results of a t-test comparing the mean score between the two groups indicated that there was a statistically significant difference between honors and general education students when it came to their reading motivation, with a medium effect size reported. A point biserial correlation analysis was conducted next to determine if there were significant correlations between course selection and the values and expectancies. The results indicated that the higher a student’s reading motivation, which was based on the survey score, then the more likely the student was to enroll in an honors language arts course. Attainment was the only value that also reported a positive and statistically significant correlation. After the surveys, six participants were identified and invited to participate in semi-structured interviews. The interview participants were chosen using purposive sampling. Two of these 9th graders were identified as having a high score on the motivation survey, two 9th graders with a medium score on the motivation survey, and two 9th graders with low scores on the motivation survey. The interview findings revealed six themes that emerged from the data analysis including reader identity, perceived competence, cost and choices to read, conflicting emotions and feelings about reading, perceived reading usefulness and expectations for reading in life, and course enrollment decisions. The findings of this study provide information about how 9th graders see and value reading, how these 9th graders are motivated to read, and how teachers, school leaders, and counselors can better support 9th graders as they make decisions about which course to enroll in so that students may be able to reach their full academic and vocational potential.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Teacher Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





language arts, reading motivation, secondary school, course choice