School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Phyllis Anne Booth


Extrinsic Motivation, Hermeneutical Phenomenological Study, Intrinsic Motivation, Online Programs, Secondary Students, Virtual Academies


Education | Online and Distance Education


The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to determine what motivates secondary students to enroll in virtual academies. Students at the Tennessee Virtual Academy (TeViA) were contacted via email to determine participation interest in this study. Students that chose to participate from TeViA were asked to complete a reflective journal and participate in a semi-structured interview at their residence. In vivo coding and initial coding were conducted on the reflective journals and semi-structured interviews. In vivo coding was also conducted on observation notes before theming of the data. The theory guiding this study was Ryan and Deci’s Self-Determination Theory directed by intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Identifying motivating factors of secondary students that enroll in virtual academies directly relate to the Self-Determination Theory in that social and environmental factors contribute to one’s intrinsic motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Results of the data analysis point to that more than one factor, intrinsic or extrinsic, motivated the majority of secondary students to enroll in virtual academies with parents being a large influence. The research utilized van Manen’s hermeneutic phenomenological research theory in defining unique themes in determining what motivates secondary students to enroll in a virtual academy. After theming the data, five unique themes evolved from this study with a large amount of wasted time in a brick-and-mortar school converging as the most noted theme that motivated secondary students to enroll in a virtual academy.