Engagement in reading is essential if students are to become proficient and lifelong readers. As teachers, we know the truth of this statement but results from national and international assessments also underscore the importance of engagement. In the National Assessment of Educational Progress, students who identified themselves as interested in reading had higher achievement levels and high-school grade-point averages than peers who identified themselves as less interested (Donahue, Daane, & Grigg, 2003). On an assessment of ninth graders from 32 countries, engagement also predicted students' reading performances (Kirsch, De Jong, LaFontaine, McQueen, Mendelovits, & Monseur, 2003).
Often, we think of engagement as internal to students but recent work shows that the tasks of classrooms have a strong effect on engagement. The essential components of engaging tasks have been identified (Guthrie & Klauda, 2014): (a) choice, (b) importance, (c) collaboration, and (d) competence.
These three tasks support features of choice, importance, collaboration, and competence:
Donahue, P., Daane, M., & Grigg, W. (2003). The nation's report card: Reading highlights 2003 (NCES No. 2004452). Washington, DC: US Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement. National Center for Educational Statistics.
Guthrie, J. T., & Klauda, S. L. (2014). Effects of Classroom Practices on Reading Comprehension, Engagement, and Motivations for Adolescents. Reading Research Quarterly, 49(4), 387-416.
Kirsch, I., De Jong, J., LaFontaine, D., McQueen, J., Mendelovits, J., & Monseur, C. (2003). Reading for change: performance and engagement across countries: results of PISA 2000. Washington, DC: OECD.