Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Secondary Education - English (Ed.D)


Secondary English Education

First Advisor

Dr. Dawn Kirby

Second Advisor

Dr. Angela Blaver

Third Advisor

Dr. Darren Crovitz


High levels of motivation contribute to significant learning for high school English students in rural school settings. The current qualitative study examined the attitudes surrounding the motivation of six rural high school students and their teachers. These students had been identified as reluctant learners and placed in a remedial writing class during their ninth grade year. The students, two 12th graders and four 10th graders, discussed their perceptions of the motivational practices used by their English teachers and other teachers, revealing what they did and did not find to be personally motivational in the classroom. This study also investigated the attitudes and practices of the four teachers who taught these students English, comparing the teachers’ motivational teaching practices with the students’ perceptions. Data were collected through interviews, focus groups, classroom observations, and a student survey. The findings indicated that the teachers’ motivational teaching strategies and attitudes, though reflective of current research on productive methods to motivate learners, had little influence on the success of these students, who produced products below their level with little academic effort. Recommendations stemming from this study include building intrinsic motivation by promoting student autonomy, challenging students to explore their own interests, incorporating engaging interactions with reading and writing, and holding students to a high standard of achievement.