School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Denise Nixon


AVID, Early College, Underrepresented students, Student motivation, Advancement Via Individual Determination, Early College High School, Academic middle


Education | Educational Leadership


The purpose of this qualitative, single case study was to understand the roles of the faculty at one Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) and Early College High School (ECHS) combined school and how the faculty motivate underrepresented students to achieve and pursue postsecondary education. Student motivation is generally defined as the overall need or enthusiasm of students to achieve specific goals through autonomy, competence, and relatedness. The theory guiding this study was self-determination theory, as it places emphasis on how educators can address students’ basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness) to increase students’ intrinsic motivation to achieve. Faculty at one AVID and Early College combined school in South Carolina were interviewed and observed to gain an understanding of how the strategies used through these programs work to motivate underrepresented students. Documents were also analyzed to support the work of the faculty with students. Qualitative data analysis procedures were used to understand, theorize, contextualize, and synthesize the data to establish a thorough understanding of how the school functions to motivate underrepresented students to achieve and pursue postsecondary education. Three themes emerged from the data that include relationships, a student-centered focus, and specific strategies, all of which faculty at the school utilize to motivate students to achieve and pursue postsecondary education.