School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Denise Nixon


motivation, interpersonal relations, extrinsic factors, intrinsic factors, teachers, school leaders


Educational Leadership


This transcendental qualitative phenomenological study examined how 10 teachers experienced workplace motivation from school leaders at one kindergarten – eighth-grade school in northern Virginia. The theory guiding this study was Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory, as it explains the relationship between the extrinsic and intrinsic factors that influence workplace motivation. The motivation-hygiene theory provided the theoretical framework for this study to answer the central research question and sub-questions: (a) How do teachers who interact with school leaders experience workplace motivation; (b) What experiences, if any, with school leaders have promoted workplace motivation; (c) What experiences, if any, with school leaders have decreased workplace motivation? A transcendental phenomenology was used to understand the lived experiences of teacher motivation as a result of interactions with school leaders. Purposeful sampling was used to target teachers who were knowledgeable about the issues under investigation and met the inclusion criteria. Snowball sampling was used to recruit additional participants. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and a private journal entry of the participants. Upon completion of the interviews and focus groups, the accounts were transcribed. The researcher analyzed interviews, focus groups, and private journal entries for related themes. Five themes emerged during the study: effective communication, valuing staff, supporting staff, modeling leadership behaviors, and negative interactions with school staff. Results indicated that teachers experienced motivation when school leaders frequently interacted with staff in both formal and informal ways by demonstrating interpersonal behaviors that were professional, caring, supportive, and equitable.