Using Perusall to Motivate Students’ Curriculum-based Academic Reading

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Journal of Computers in Education






Social annotation tools hold great potential in facilitating students’ academic reading by transforming solitary reading tasks into collaborative experience, but little is known about how social annotations can affect students’ academic reading motivation. This study examined the use of Perusall, a social annotation tool, among students in three university classes. It specifically explored how Perusall affected the students’ motivation for curriculum-based academic reading and what factors accounted for the changes in their reading motivation. Informed by Guthrie et al.'s (2011) Motivations for reading information books school questionnaire (MRIB-S) and motivation for reading information books non-school questionnaire (MRIB-N), we devised the Motivation for Curriculum-based Academic Reading (MCAR) questionnaire to examine the students’ pre-task and post-task reading motivation. We also created prompts for both the midterm and final written reflections to elicit the students’ perspectives on using Perusall for curriculum-based academic reading. The results revealed that social annotations enhanced the students’ reading motivation, particularly extrinsic motivation, and students showed stronger preference for reading academic texts online toward the end of the study. The changes in their motivation can be attributed to multiple opportunities that Perusall affords, including peer interaction/coaching, interaction between readers and texts, and ongoing automated grading. The students appreciated the transformational role of Perusall, reflected in simultaneity of reading and discussion, the affordance of equal/wider student participation, and collaborative reading of course contents. This study sheds light on the impact of social annotation tools on students’ collaborative relationships, the growth of online learning communities, and the improvement of students’ reading motivation.


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