Many things shape a student’s academic experience. The attitude towards education that students see modeled at home plays a significant role in this experience. Students motivation is often affected by their ability and ease at which they can perform in each class. Therefore, if students are struggling in reading and literacy finding new and innovative ways to engage them is the key to their success. Hsu (2014) found that project-based learning (PBL) has the “potential to enhance students’ reading skills” (p. 81). Studies found that this type of learning produced a positive attitude toward learning from the students involved and allows the merging of content area (Hsu, 2014). Working with many students that struggle with reading fluency and comprehension I have learned that providing instruction that meets their interests is one way to get them engaged.
Each student has different needs and learning styles. Therefore, finding what learning methods work best for them is essential. When differentiating instruction educators must provide learning activities that allow activities at various learning levels. PBL is one way to meet these needs and provide students with active, real-life learning (BIE, 2016). Studies show that students with speech sound disorders (SSD) will often have reading disorders decreasing their motivation to read (Anthony, Aghara, Dunkelberger, Anthony, Williams, & Zhang, 2011). For example, due to the difficulty in reading students with SSD can lose their motivation to read. Therefore, using PBL in literacy classrooms allows the students to take control of their learning creating within them a new excitement for learning.
Creating engaging and effective instruction means that educators consider the motivational needs of students (Malloy, Marinak, Gambrell, & Mazzoni, 2013). Malloy et al. (2013) stated that if students are not motivated, they will not learn. When students are engaged in what they are doing, they will be more enthusiastic about what they are learning, and will respond more efficiently (Malloy et al., 2013). Discovering new and innovative ways to get and keep students engaged in literacy learning is important. Hence, providing new learning methods is critical.
PBL helps students to take ownership of their learning causing them to become more engaged in their learning that in turn makes it more meaningful to them (Walsh, 2010). Bell (as cited by Walsh, 2010) stated that by taking ownership of their learning students are motivated to complete the given tasks. When students have no motivation to read and see no reason to do so, their learning is affected (Walsh, 2010). PBL is a student-directed learning approach that allows students to “choose and create projects” giving them ownership of their learning (Walsh, 2010, p. 3). Research shows that interacting with one another causes an increase in students reading proficiency skills (Walsh, 2010). When students are permitted to demonstrate their learning through creating their projects they will become more motivated and engaged in what they are learning (Walsh, 2010).
Tompkins (2010) stated that the goal of literacy instruction is that all students have what they need to reach their full potential in literacy. Good teachers make instructional decisions based on their knowledge of reading and writing, current research, appropriate expectations, and their understanding of individual student’s strengths and needs (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1998, p.8). Providing literacy instruction that is engaging and meets the interests of students can increase motivation along with reading proficiency skills.
Anthony, J. L., Aghara, R. G., Dunkelberger, M. J., Anthony, T. I., Williams, J. M., & Zhang,(2011). What factors place children with speech sound disorders at risk for reading problems? American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 20, 146-160. doi: 10.1044/1058-0360(2011/10-0053).
Buck Institute for Education (BIE). (2016). What is project-based learning (PBL)? Retrieved from www.bie.org/about/what_pbl
Hsu, L. Y. (2014). Integrating culture with project-based instruction in an EFL classroom. English Teaching & Learning, 38(1), 61-90. doi: 10.6330/ETL.2014.38.1.03.
Malloy, J. A., Marinak, B. A., Gambrell, L. B., & Mazzoni, S. A. (2013). Assessing motivationto read: The Motivation to Read Profile-Revised. The Reading Teacher, 67(4), 273-282. doi: 10.1002/TRTR.1215.
National Association for the Education of Young Children. (1998). Learning to read and write: Developmentally appropriate practices for young children. Washington, DC: Author.
Tompkins, G. E. (2010). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Walsh, K. (2010). Motivating students to read through project-based learning. EducationMasters. Retrieved from http://fisherpub.sjfc.edu/education_ETD_masters/5