Date of Award

Summer 7-26-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership (Ed.D)


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Mei-Lin Chang

Committee Chair

Dr. Susan Stockdale

Second Committee Member

Dr. Kimberly Cortes


A decline in academic motivation, organizational skills, and the desire to learn in adolescent students cause middle grade teachers to constantly look for ways of encouraging students to complete assignments on time and achieve academic growth. Tactics such as positive reinforcement and punishments are frequently offered to adolescent students with the purpose of encouraging academic motivation. The inclusion of zeros in the grade book, although a hodgepodge grading practice, is often used as a tool to boost student motivation in prompt assignment completion; however, there is a lack of research to support this. The current study was designed to analyze the impact that a working lunch session, where students have the opportunity to make up missing assignments, verses a zero in the grade book, without the opportunity to make up missing work, can have on adolescents’ completion rate and academic achievement in mathematics. The 13-week study focused on seventh grade mathematics students in a Title I middle school in North Georgia. Along with the numerical data, students’ pre- and post-interviews were conducted to get a qualitative perspective on students’ views of punishment and how they think and feel that a zero in the grade book verses a working lunch session impacts their motivation and self-regulation to complete assignments on time and grow academically in mathematics. The intended goal of the current study will be to add to the body of research related to the use of reinforcement and its impact on student motivation as well as determine if giving zeros or a working lunch session, common practices in adolescent education, can have an impact on assignment completion rate and academic achievement.

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