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Why Motivation Is so Important in Teaching Learners to ReadResearch Paper

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Leading a Professional Development Event: Current Trends and Issues With Fluency Instruction: Using the Core Adult Learning Principles

Researchers have found that praising and motivating individuals actually helps them to improve fluency (Bogner, Raphael, Pressley, 2002). The reason for this is that individuals tend to respond in a positive manner when they are positively motivated and encouraged to engage in an activity that they might otherwise find to be challenging or oppressive. Sanders (2006) has shown how likeability is an effective tool in management and the same applies to teachers who wish to achieve a specific aim in the classroom or for adults who wish to promote literacy in their own lives: by being appealing (i.e., by maintaining an air of positivity, praise and motivation) they can be a powerful way to enhance fluency. This paper will discuss current trends and issues with fluency instruction by using the 6 Core Adult Learning Principles. These principles will address the learner's need to know, the self-concept of the learner, the prior experience of the learner, the readiness to learn, the orientation to learning, and most importantly the motivation to learn. It is this final point that we have discussed briefly in this introduction. Next, we shall examine each of the six points in more detail.

Learner's Need to Know

One major way in which researchers have found that enhancement is most successful is through engagement with students that focuses on constructive and affirmative methods of helping rather than on tutorial exercises that emphasize rightness and wrongness. This trend in fluency training is significant and points to one of the major breakthroughs that researchers have uncovered in recent years. Students who learn fluency under teachers who are prepared to motivate them through positive discourse gain an advantage over others whose teachers fail to make an equally positive impact through praise and motivation (Guthrie, Wigfield, 2009, p. 404). What do learners need to know? They need to know that they can do this -- that they are capable of achieving fluency. They need to know the basics, of course, too -- but they also need to know that this is not something that is beyond their grasp. All too often individuals will hit a wall and give up, not realizing that they can overcome almost any obstacle if they put their mind to it.

But there is also the learner's need -- as in the learner has a need to know this about him or herself. The learner is there for a reason, but the learner will not always comprehend that reason in every instance. Sometimes learning can be aggravating. So it is up to the teacher to remind the learner of this need -- of the reason that he or she is there to gain fluency. This is akin to having the teacher keep the student on track. The learner has a real need to know and be fluent. Thus, the teacher has to help the student to meet this need and to keep it before their eyes at all times. This is the first core principle of adult learning. It leads directly into the second, which deals with the learner's self-concept, which is another important aspect that needs to be cultivated.

The Self-Concept of the Learner

Developing a Self-Concept is essential in fluency building skills. That is why it is necessary for teachers to impress on their students the power of fluency and what an understanding of it can mean for them. Engaging them in this manner provides adult learners with a reason for wanting to learn and can assist in self-motivation, which as Tough (2012) shows is what really counts in the long run when it comes to success and growth in the classroom or even simply as an individual coming to terms with life's challenges. Motivating them to independence requires instilling in them the confidence to be able to understand words and how they are used. It requires familiarizing them with concepts and forms of expression by using them oneself and then encouraging the learners to use them on their own.

Really the self-concept is best developed over time by meeting and facing challenges. The adult learner should already have developed some sort of self-concept through life, which is brought to the classroom; however, this concept may need to be tweaked or redefined to allow for best growth in each situation. The self-concept is about reinforcing the ability of the learner to reach new heights in fluency and to make real what the teacher insists -- which is that the learner can do this. As Allington and Gabriel (2012) note, the self-concept is essential for success, because ultimately it is the self that must do the work, the self that must learn, and the self must be self-motivating in the long run. The teacher is there to facilitate and to guide, but ultimately if the self is unwilling to do the work, the teacher will not make any headway. Thus, the self must be aware of his or her self-concept, which should be positive, affirmative, driven, directed, and determined.

Prior Experience of the Learner

To this end, prior experience of the learner is a great boon. Rasinski (2012) notes that current trends in fluency training are focused on "reading fast and instruction that is focused on having students read fast" -- however, this is only one aspect of fluency, and just because one can read fast does not mean that they are comprehending what they are reading (p. 516). Comprehension is very important in fluency; therefore it is one thing that needs to be stressed for adult learners. Reading fast should not come at the expense of comprehension, because then the purpose is self-defeating.

To this end, the past experiences of the learner can be of significant and substantial use. The learner comes with a lifetime of experience that can be drawn upon in order to facilitate the learning process. That data and self-awareness can be tapped into by the teacher in order to highlight the importance of comprehension over simple quickness, which is meaningless if the ability to understand is not there alongside the speed of the individual.

Thus, one trend that should be adopted for the sake of better fluency training should be to emphasize comprehension first and, at the same time as the self-concept is emphasized -- because that element is linked to all the elements, and from there the ability to pick up speed, which is one aim of fluency will be easier.

Readiness to Learn

The student's readiness to learn will also factor into the learning process. If there is still work to be done to get the learner up to a point where he or she can be at a certain level, then that will require more time. But that is not all that is meant be readiness. Also meant by this term is the desire of the learner to be there, to be committed and to put in the effort. Just like in a team sport, there is a coach and a player. If one or the other is not committed, the team will suffer (Knight, 2011). Therefore, it is essential that both teacher and learner be "ready" -- mentally, emotionally, fundamentally, and in every way possible.

Beers (2002) identifies three challenges struggling students face: cognitive challenges, negative attitudes, and lack of inspiration, pleasure, or energy. A good teacher will be one that can help students overcome each challenge. To this end, Beers indicates that simply telling the student what a text means is counterproductive. A better way to teach, she implies, would be to using an approach such as the Socratic Method, which is used to engage the student and get him to think about what he has read. It is based on logic, which learners appreciate because it relates to sense. But it also appeals to the "kindness effect," which Socrates developed with significant results: by listening to his pupils and never acting in a condescending way towards them by steering them by means of questions and answers in a one-on-one format, Socrates was able to use praise and motivation to encourage his students to achieve philosophical aims. All of this can help the student to get to a point where he or she is "ready" to learn, where he or she has the confidence in him or herself to take those steps towards self-fulfillment.

Orientation to Learning

The orientation to learning is the fifth core principle and it is important because it focuses on an obstacle found in today's training methods, which is that there is a lack of proper orientation (Beers, 2002). Fluency is all the more difficult to acquire if the perspective from the beginning is off or the student and teacher are not oriented together towards the same goal. Thus, goal setting should be performed in the beginning and both student and teacher should be striving towards that goal as one.

One example of how to orient… [END OF PREVIEW]

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