Date of Award

Spring 3-15-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Barbara Strobert, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Anthony Collela, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gerard Babo, Ed.D.


At-risk, Motivation, Facilitate Motivation, Inhibit Motivation, Classroom Factors, Urban Students


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the perceptions of teachers of urban eighth-grade at-risk students in one New Jersey school district regarding the classroom factors that facilitate and inhibit at-risk student motivation to excel academically.

An interview protocol that included semi-structured, open-ended questions was utilized to capture the perceptions of 18 teachers of at-risk students in core content areas. Interview questions were designed in consultation with seminal research in the area of student motivation as well as Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of Needs. The latter also provided the conceptual framework through which the study’s findings were analyzed.

Rich qualitative data were gleaned from interviews. After careful analysis of interview transcripts, themes emerged which influenced the study’s conclusions. As it relates to the factors that facilitate motivation, the study’s first and second themes and conclusions held that urban eighth-grade at-risk students are motivated by caring and motivated teachers as well as student-directed learning experiences. Looking to the factors that inhibit motivation, the themes and conclusions were that teacher-centered learning approaches and indifferent and/or uncaring teachers inhibit urban at-risk student motivation. Finally, a fifth theme and conclusion underscored that teachers building meaningful relationships with at-risk students works to facilitate motivation.

This research has implications in the areas of education program funding, curriculum development and implementation, testing, hiring practices, and teacher training.