Date of Award





Doctor of Education


Counseling, Foundations & Leadership

First Advisor

Marguerite Yates

Second Advisor

Richard Rogers

Third Advisor

Deborah Gober


Student motivation in mathematics education can be affected by many variables, especially for at-risk students. Existing information is limited regarding teacher perceptions of their own pedagogy, instructional strategies, and at-risk student motivation in the area of mathematics for middle school and high school students. The purpose of this study was to analyze middle school and high school mathematics teachers’ perceptions of their own pedagogy, instructional strategies, and at-risk students’ motivation in mathematics. Deci and Ryan’s self-determination theory was the theoretical framework used to guide the current study, which focuses on psychological and instinctive needs of individuals. An explanatory, sequential mixed method design was used to examine data from two separate quantitative surveys and qualitative data gathered from eight one-on-one interviews. Using SPSS analytical computer software, descriptive statistics were obtained. Qualitative data were coded manually by the researcher using in-vivo coding and then again using axial coding. Some of the key findings of the study included participants perceived at-risk students were more motivated in mathematics when the curriculum made connections to students’ everyday lives and perceived teacher relationships with students had the greatest impact on student motivation. The results of this study may encourage mathematics teachers to develop relationships with their at-risk students and choose instructional strategies, which may promote at-risk student motivation in mathematics.