Date of Award

Fall 11-2008

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education

First Advisor

Scot Headley, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Beth LaForce, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Margi Macy, Ph.D.


This study examined the themes associated with the lack of motivation for school in middle school students, specifically among Heritage Speakers of Spanish. The researcher used two methods to examine student and parent attitudes and beliefs about school and education, as attitudes and beliefs are strongly linked to motivation. The researcher did face-to-face interviews of Mexican parents with direct questions about education and school, and asked middle school students of Mexican descent to read the first part of a short selection about a Mexican immigrant boy in school, then complete the story using their imagination. The researcher compiled the parents' responses, and used content analysis to identify eight themes in the students ' narratives. Four findings emerged from the data: Mexican immigrant parents are perceived by their children as ineffective adults, parental expectations regarding school and the future are in conflict with student expectations, students have more extrinsic motivation (rewards) than intrinsic motivation (learning for itself), and students perceive many obstacles to school success.

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