The Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction for Reading (SDLMI-Reading)


Our research team aims to develop and test the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction for Reading (SDLMI-Reading) for upper-elementary students with or at risk for reading disability. Extensive support for the relation between reading achievement and motivation presents an opportunity to explore methods to intensify and individualize interventions for students with persistent reading challenges. We contend that facilitating students’ self-determination, as operationalized by Causal Agency Theory, has the potential to enhance motivation by promoting self-regulated goal setting and attainment in the context of reading instruction. Despite calls to address self-determination in the elementary years, research has primarily focused on secondary students until this point. We will adapt the research-based SDLMI in the context of intensive word reading intervention for fourth- and fifth-graders. SDLMI-Reading will focus on instruction to support self-regulated goal attainment and motivation to more effectively engage students with persistent reading challenges in the learning process—and, ultimately, improve both their self-determination and reading achievement.


The purpose of this project is to develop and test SDLMI-Reading to increase self-determination and reading achievement among fourth- and fifth-graders with or at risk for reading disability. This newly developed program will adapt the research-based SDLMI, originally designed to support secondary students in transition planning, addressing a critical need for self-determination interventions for upper-elementary students. SDLMI-Reading will focus on developmentally appropriate instruction in self-regulated goal setting and attainment to more effectively engage students with persistent reading challenges in the learning process. SDLMI-Reading has potential to enhance reading interventions by integrating self-regulated goal attainment and motivation, which will support students’ self-determination and reading achievement.

Project Activities

An iterative development phase process will be used to design, refine, and validate SDLMI-Reading. Researchers will develop intervention materials during the project’s first 2 years; the team will develop scaffolded instructional language for SDLMI-Reading aligned with reading content for elementary-aged students. Each lesson will undergo a series of design trials to examine feasibility. When the intervention is fully developed, researchers will conduct an exploratory implementation study to deliver the SDLMI-Reading package and ensure feasibility. Finally, they will conduct a randomized controlled trial pilot study to examine the efficacy, feasibility, and cost effectiveness of SDLMI-Reading. This pilot study will compare students who receive the same research-based reading intervention (REWARDS), with and without SDLMI-Reading. REWARDS was selected to reduce variability by providing consistent reading intervention across groups, but SDLMI-Reading will be designed to be used in conjunction with any reading intervention.