Award Date

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology & Higher Education

First Committee Member

Gwen C. Marchand, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

LeAnn G. Putney, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Kim Nehls, Ph.D.

Fourth Committee Member

Jori Beck, Ph.D.

Number of Pages



Student motivation is central to educational outcomes such as achievement, engagement, well-being, and educational attainment. Current trends in education show that students’ overall level and quality of motivation decline throughout the years of schooling, particularly in middle school. Framed by Self-Determination Theory (SDT), the purpose of this multiple case study is to understand how teachers support the fulfillment of student’s basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness which is required for active engagement, positive school functioning, and self-determined forms of motivation. Teachers’ sense of efficacy and conceptualizations of their role in supporting their students’ motivational needs were also examined. Through multiple sources of data, the perspectives of eight teachers from three middle schools in the Midwest United States were illustrated in individual case reports and interpreted from cross-case analysis. Findings suggest that teachers reported motivational efforts closely align with autonomy-supportive, structured and involved educational approaches. The results of this study contribute to existing literature by shedding light on the issues related to translating theory in to practice when faced with the challenge of motivating adolescents. The study concludes with a discussion of implications and future directions for research.


basic psychological needs; embedded multiple case study; need-supportive teaching; self-determination theory; student motivation


Education | Educational Psychology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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