Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Literacy, Language and Culture

Committee Chair/Advisor

Jacquelynn A. Malloy

Committee Member

C. C. Bates

Committee Member

Susan King Fullerton

Committee Member

Janie Hodge


The purpose of this mixed methods study was to explore the literacy motivation of individuals with intellectual disability labels and to develop an instrument that will support teachers in understanding their students’ literacy motivations. This participatory social justice approach was conducted through the lens of Situated Expectancy Value Theory (SEVT; Eccles & Wigfield, 2020) and Disability Studies in Education (DSE; Connor et al., 2008). The target population of this research was students with an intellectual disability label and their teachers. The research occurred in three phases.

In the first phase of the research, student interviews were conducted to explore what individuals with intellectual disabilities say is motivation to them when engaging in reading and writing activities. These data informed the creation of the Literacy Motivation Student Survey (LMSS) in the second phase of research. Teacher participants administered the instrument to students in their classrooms. In the third phase of this study, teachers were invited to participate in interviews to provide feedback on the usefulness and usability of the LMSS.

A retrospective analysis suggests that the SEVT framework is a valuable lens through which to view the motivation of students with intellectual disability labels and that the LMSS provided an opportunity for teachers to discuss literacy motivation with their students. Further, motivational reciprocity demonstrates that a student’s motivation and person characteristics can influence a teacher’s instructional planning and decision- making, and a teacher’s instruction influences a student’s motivation to engage in literacy tasks in a fluid and dynamic manner. Students are the expert of their own experiences, and this research demonstrates the importance of presuming student competence, allowing students to discuss what is motivating to them when engaging in literacy tasks, and trusting what they say.

Author ORCID Identifier




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