School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Reginald Kimball


Achievement, Amotivation, Self-Determination Theory, Self-Limitation, Value


Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | Other Education


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the phenomenon of academic post-secondary self-limitation of rural high school students in northeast Georgia. The theory guiding this study was based upon self-determination theory, as described by Deci and Ryan (2008). Most high school students must make a decision as to whether or not they continue their education into the post-secondary years. This transcendental phenomenological study examined post-secondary academic self-limitation of high school students in rural, northeast Georgia. This type of phenomenology suggests that the whole of human experience is descriptive and leads to absolute knowledge (Moustakas, 1994). This approach was appropriate because the researcher sought to describe how the identified phenomenon manifested itself in the lives of the subjects. The participants were purposefully selected to ensure that all research participants experience the phenomenon (see Appendix A). Therefore, the participants were students who had chosen not to pursue post-secondary education even though they may have had the academic and financial ability to do so. The participants were surveyed, individually interviewed, and interviewed in a focus group setting in an attempt to determine the essence of the phenomenon. The data were analyzed using methods such as phenomenological reduction, systemic coding, horizonalization, and thick descriptions, all considered appropriate for this qualitative study. The results supported major elements of self-determination theory, and suggested a strong link between the effects of parental values and support, and a student's values and motivational growth. The results of this study may be used to develop programs that will assist in decreasing the incidence of academic self-limitation among this population.