School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


David Gorman


Student-athletes, preferential treatment, non-student-athletes, high school


Educational Leadership


The purpose of this exploratory case study was to understand students’ perceptions of teachers’ preferential treatment of high school student-athletes at two Georgia high schools using a multiple case design. Social cognitive theory and the social identity theory guided this study as they relate to high school students’ perceptions of the treatment of student-athletes by classroom teachers. The participants were seniors from two north Georgia high schools who were asked to complete a demographic survey. Purposeful sampling was used to select four student-athletes and four non-student-athletes from each school that then participated in interview sessions and created documentation in the form of letters to their teachers. The data collected from the surveys, interviews, and letters were transcribed and analyzed to identify patterns and themes within each school and using cross-case pattern analysis between schools. I determined that most students perceived that student-athletes received preferential treatment. However, while student-athletes had a positive view of this treatment, many of the non-student-athletes reported varying mildly to harshly negative feelings. By conducting this study, I added to the body of knowledge on perceptions of preferential treatment of student athletes by showing that high school students shared some of the same perceptions from previous research with college students and high school teachers. Recommendations for future research include performing studies at different school districts or private schools, increasing the scope of research by including all high school students instead of just seniors, focusing on just one specific group of students or just one set of student-athletes based on their sport, and using a more in-depth survey for quantitative analysis.