School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Susan Stanley


morale, climate, retention, attrition, accountability, self-efficacy, rural


Special Education and Teaching


The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to understand the factors that are related to low morale and retention as described by teachers who work in a rural, poverty-stricken school in Middle Georgia. The problem addressed in this study was high teacher attrition in rural, poverty-stricken schools. The theories guiding this study were Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene, two-factor theory, and Maslow’s theory of motivation. A purposive sampling strategy was used to recruit 10 teachers who are employed at a rural, low-income school for three or more years. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews conducted individually. The data were analyzed using open coding to identify themes or patterns based on recurring words or phrases from each interview transcript that related to the research questions and thus identified themes in the data that showed similarities and/or differences from the participants. Each theme or pattern was coded by names that described issues as related by the participants. The codes were then compared for consistencies, and the following themes emerged: lack of administrative support, school environment, lack of collaboration with colleagues, accountability, heavy workload, increasing violence among students, and discipline issues.