The effect of incorporating culturally relevant literature on levels of motivation in high school English class

Motivation and academic performance are falling because students do not feel the curriculum connects to their culture, background, or current issues. Many studies have found that culturally relevant curriculum can raise levels of motivation and in tum higher academic performance. This study examined the effect of culturally relevant literature on levels of motivation in a high school English class. Approximately forty participants completed a ten question survey that elicited both a Likert scale and written open ended response. Twelve participants volunteered for a ten-question interview. Participants came from diverse ethnic backgrounds and were students in eleventh grade Advanced Placement or College Prep English. The surveys and interviews indicated that students did feel their level of motivation would increase if the literature in their English class were more culturally relevant, and a large number of students felt that the literature read in their English class did not connect to their lives. They also felt that the schoolwork completed in English class was boring and busy work. These results echoed the results of previous studies. Future research should further study the effects of culturally relevant curriculum on student's levels of motivation and academic performance. Educators need to be aware of their curriculum choices and make the extra effort to make sure it reaches many cultures and connects to their students' lives. Keywords: culturally relevant literature, culturally relevant pedagogy, motivation, schema theory.