Paper — 3 Pages Please read the attached dissertation. 1. Summarize the literature of this dissertation in 300 words or less. 2. Identify the purpose, res

Paper — 3 Pages Please read the attached dissertation. 1. Summarize the literature of this dissertation in 300 words or less. 2. Identify the purpose, research question(s), and the essential problem being solved. 3. State the organizational structure (chronological, methodological, topical, etc.). 4. Describe seminal works and their importance to the argumentation presented in the literature review. 5. Reflect on the quality of this literature review. A Qualitative Study Exploring the Influence of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation on the

Transition of Low-Income Students to Higher Education

A Dissertation by

Rowlanda N. Cawthon

Brandman University

Irvine, California

School of Education

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership

August 2014

Committee in charge:

Philip Pendley, Ed.D., Dissertation Chair

Glenn Worthington, Ed.D.

General Davie, Ed.D.

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BRANDMAN UNIVERSITY

Chapman University System

Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership

The dissertation of Rowlanda N. Cawthon is approved.

 

iii

A Qualitative Study Exploring the Influence of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation on the

Transition of Low-Income Students to Higher Education

Copyright © 2014

by Rowlanda N. Cawthon

 

iv

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First, I would like to acknowledge Jesus Christ, my source of strength and reason

for being. Without the guidance of my Savior, I could not have embarked on this

dissertation journey.

Second, I would like to recognize Dr. Glenn Worthington, a mentor with

unparalleled commitment and professionalism, who inspired me to pursue my doctoral

degree and served on my dissertation committee. I would also like to thank Dr. Philip

Pendley who did an extraordinary job as my dissertation chair as well as Dr. General

Davie who provided support as a cohort mentor and committee member.

Third, I acknowledge my parents, Rufus and Debbie Kennedy, and my siblings,

Brendan Nelson, Rowland Nelson, and Alfred Nelson, who unrelentingly supported me

during this entire process.

Fourth, I recognize Daniel Russell who provided spiritual support, did the

preliminary edits of my dissertation, and offered profound insights related to scholarly

writing. I would also like to acknowledge Surjit Hayer and Janice Thompson for their

persistent inspiration along with Felicia Haecker, my accountability partner, for her

support and encouragement as we navigated through this dissertation journey as dynamic

duo.

Fifth, I acknowledge my friend, Alexander Moncada, who raised my awareness

about the preeminence of this work and pursuing my passion.

Sixth, I recognize Felix Braffith, Dawn Reed, and Stephon Harris for assisting me

with the coordination of my research study at their respective worksites as well as the

participants who voluntarily participated in this study.

 

v

Last, I acknowledge a host of other friends and colleagues who encouraged me to

exceed my own expectations. I am eternally grateful for every person who supported me

during this effort. May the God of heaven and earth bless each of my supporters

abundantly today and in the years to come!

 

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ABSTRACT

A Qualitative Study Exploring the Influence of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation on the

Transition of Low-Income Students to Higher Education

by Rowlanda N. Cawthon

This research study sought to explain the impact of intrinsic and extrinsic

motivation on low-income college students during their successful transitions to a public

two-year or four-year college in Washington State. This investigation was designed to

gain a greater awareness of low-income students’ concerns and better understand how to

increase educational attainment among low-income students who may or may not

consider higher education a viable option.

This study deployed a qualitative case-study methodology to gather in-depth and

detailed data from participants that conveys a holistic perspective of their experiences.

Detailed information was gathered from multiple cases at The Evergreen State College, a

four-year college in Olympia, Washington; Pierce College, a two-year college in

Lakewood, Washington; and the University of Washington Tacoma, a four-year college

in Tacoma, Washington. Five focus groups were conducted to accumulate data that

encapsulated how intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors influenced 33 students’

successful transitions to college in the students’ own words.

Findings revealed the emergence of aspirations, determination, wellbeing,

confidence, capability, and autonomy as moderately to highly frequent intrinsic

motivational factors. Parental support, peer support, faculty/staff support, and college-

transition support repeatedly surfaced as moderately frequent extrinsic factors. Based on

the scoring system employed, the data yielded an absence of any highly frequent extrinsic

 

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factors. The major findings suggest that the aforementioned intrinsic and extrinsic

motivational factors contribute to low-income students’ successful transitions to higher

education.

This study resulted in the proposal of the Transition and Persistence Model, a

model that proposes a practice for promoting the intrinsic and extrinsic motivational

factors that emerged in this study to increase educational attainment among low-income

students who desire to pursue higher education. Parents, educators, public schools,

policymakers, and society at large can employ this model in their everyday interactions

with low-income students.

 

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter I: Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1
 
Background …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 2
 

Theoretical Framework ……………………………………………………………………………………. 3
 
Characteristics of Low-Income Students ……………………………………………………………. 5
 
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivational Factors for Low-Income Students …………………. 6
 
Higher Education Act of 1965 ………………………………………………………………………….. 7
 
Higher-Education Efforts for Low-Income Students in the 21st Century ………………… 9
 
Higher-Education Efforts for Low-Income Students in Washington State ……………. 10
 
Gaps in Research on Motivation and Higher-Education Transition ……………………… 12
 

Statement of the Research Problem ………………………………………………………………………. 13
 
Purpose Statement ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 13
 
Research Questions …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 14
 
Significance of the Problem …………………………………………………………………………………. 14
 
Definitions …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 15
 
Delimitations ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 17
 
Organization of the Study ……………………………………………………………………………………. 19
 

CHAPTER II: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE …………………………………………………. 20
 
Review of the Literature ……………………………………………………………………………………… 20
 

Theoretical Framework ………………………………………………………………………………….. 20
 
Characteristics of Low-Income College Students ………………………………………………. 28
 
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivational Factors for Low-Income Students ……………….. 31
 
Higher Education Act of 1965 ………………………………………………………………………… 34
 
Higher-Education Efforts for Low-Income Students in the 21st Century ………………. 42
 
Higher-Education Efforts for Low-Income Students in Washington State ……………. 53
 
Gaps in Research on Motivation and Higher-Education Transition ……………………… 58
 

Conclusions ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 60
 

CHAPTER III: METHODOLOGY ………………………………………………………………………. 64
 
Overview …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 64
 
Purpose Statement ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 64
 
Research Questions …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 64
 
Research Design …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 65
 
Population …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 66
 
Sample ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 67
 
Instrumentation ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 69
 

Reliability and Validity ………………………………………………………………………………….. 71
 
Data Collection ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 73
 
Data Analysis …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 75
 
Limitations ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 77
 
Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 78
 

CHAPTER IV: RESEARCH, DATA COLLECTION, AND FINDINGS ………………….. 79
 
Overview …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 79
 

 

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Purpose Statement ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 79
 
Research Questions …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 79
 
Research Methods and Data-Collection Procedures ………………………………………………… 80
 
Population …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 81
 
Sample ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 82
 
Demographic Data ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 83
 
Presentation and Analysis of Data for The Evergreen State College …………………………. 85
 

Observations of Participants and Study Setting for Focus Group 1 ……………………… 85
 
Findings by Research Question for Focus Group 1 ……………………………………………. 87
 
Observations of Participants and Study Setting for Focus Group 3 ……………………. 104
 
Findings by Research Question for Focus Group 3 ………………………………………….. 106
 
Conclusions ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 119
 

Presentation and Analysis of Data Findings for Pierce College ………………………………. 121
 
Observations of Participants and Study Setting for Focus Group 2 ……………………. 121
 
Findings by Research Question for Focus Group 2 ………………………………………….. 123
 
Conclusions ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 141
 

Presentation and Analysis of Data for University of Washington Tacoma ……………….. 142
 
Observations of Participants and Study Setting for Focus Group 4 ……………………. 142
 
Findings by Research Question for Focus Group 4 ………………………………………….. 144
 
Observations of Participants and Study Setting for Focus Group 5 ……………………. 158
 
Findings by Research Question for Focus Group 5 ………………………………………….. 160
 
Conclusions ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 178
 

Comparison and Summary …………………………………………………………………………………. 180
 
Description of Study Sites ……………………………………………………………………………. 181
 
Comparison of Findings by Research Question ……………………………………………….. 182
 
Key Findings ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 188
 

Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 189
 

CHAPTER V: CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS .. 190
 
Overview …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 190
 
Purpose Statement …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 190
 
Research Questions …………………………………………………………………………………………… 190
 
Research Methods and Data-Collection Procedures ………………………………………………. 191
 
Population ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 192
 
Sample …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 192
 
Major Findings …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 193
 

Major Findings from Review of Literature ……………………………………………………… 194
 
Major Findings for Research Question 1 ………………………………………………………… 196
 
Major Findings for Research Question 2 ………………………………………………………… 200
 
Major Findings for Research Question 3 ………………………………………………………… 203
 
Major Findings for Research Question 4 ………………………………………………………… 204
 

Unexpected Findings ………………………………………………………………………………………… 205
 
Implications for Action ……………………………………………………………………………………… 213
 
Recommendations for Further Research ………………………………………………………………. 222
 
Concluding Remarks and Reflections ………………………………………………………………….. 224
 

REFERENCES ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 227
 

 

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APPENDICES …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 239
 

 

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LIST OF TABLES

Table 1. Strategies to Enhance Validity …………………………………………………………………. 73
 

Table 2. Participant Demographic Data …………………………………………………………………. 84
 

Table 3. Intrinsic Motivational Factors by Participant for Focus Group 1 ………………….. 87
 

Table 4. Extrinsic Motivational Factors by Participant for Focus Group 1 …………………. 95
 

Table 5. Value of Intrinsic Motivational Factors Compared to Extrinsic Motivational
Factors by Participant for Focus Group 1 …………………………………………………………….. 103
 

Table 6. Intrinsic Motivational Factors by Participant for Focus Group 3 ………………… 106
 

Table 7. Extrinsic Motivational Factors by Participant for Focus Group 3 ……………….. 111
 

Table 8. Value of Intrinsic Motivational Factors Compared to Extrinsic Motivational
Factors by Participant for Focus Group 3 …………………………………………………………….. 118
 

Table 9. Intrinsic Motivational Factors by Participant for Focus Group 2 ………………… 124
 

Table 10. Extrinsic Motivational Factors by Participant for Focus Group 2 ……………… 131
 

Table 11. Value of Intrinsic Motivational Factors Compared to Extrinsic Motivational
Factors by Participant for Focus Group 2 …………………………………………………………….. 140
 

Table 12. Intrinsic Motivational Factors by Participant for Focus Group 4 ………………. 145
 

Table 13. Extrinsic Motivational Factors by Participant for Focus Group 4 ……………… 151
 

Table 14. Value of Intrinsic Motivational Factors Compared to Extrinsic Motivational
Factors by Participant for Focus Group 4 …………………………………………………………….. 157
 

Table 15. Intrinsic Motivational Factors by Participant for Focus Group 5 ………………. 160
 

Table 16. Extrinsic Motivational Factors by Participant for Focus Group 5 ……………… 170
 

Table 17. Value of Intrinsic Motivational Factors Compared to Extrinsic Motivational
Factors by Participant for Focus Group 5 …………………………………………………………….. 176
 

Table 18. Study Site Descriptions ……………………………………………………………………….. 181
 

Table 19. Scoring Range Guide for Comparative Analysis …………………………………….. 182
 

Table 20. Focus-Group Comparison of Intrinsic Motivational Factors …………………….. 183
 

 

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Table 21. Focus-Group Comparison of Extrinsic Motivational Factors ……………………. 184
 

Table 22. Focus-Group Comparison of the Value of Intrinsic Motivational Factors
Compared to Extrinsic Motivational Factors ………………………………………………………… 186
 

 

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1. Transition and Persistence Model …………………………………………………………. 211
 

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Chapter I: Introduction

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced the War on Poverty, an

ambitious effort to address the problem of persistent poverty in the United States. While

controversial, the War on Poverty resulted in the enactment of significant antipoverty

legislation including the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the Civil Rights Act of

1964, and the Food Stamp Act of 1964. These legislative measures were designed to

create social reform and economic opportunities for low-income families. As the primary

organizer of the War on Poverty, Johnson believed social reform called for a revolution

in higher education. In response to this need, he proposed the Higher Education Act of

1965, which was intended to eradicate economic barriers and open college doors to

students irrespective of income and wealth (Cervantes et al., 2005; Gladieux, 2004).

Research suggests that without this federal legislation, higher-education attendance rates

among the poor and disadvantaged would be significantly lower today (Cervantes et al.,

2005; Lingenfelter & Lenth, 2005; Levine & Nidiffer, 1996).

For nearly 50 years, the Higher Education Act of 1965 has been a primary source

of financial assistance for low- and middle-income students. Despite the monumental

impact of this legislation, low-income families continue to access higher education at

much lower rates than middle- and high-income families (Johnson, 2012; Long, 2010;

Sacks, 2009; Duffy, 2007; Gladieux, 2004; Kahlenberg, 2004). The National Center for

Education and Statistics (2013) reported that from 1975 to 2011, students from low- and

middle-income families enrolled in college immediately after graduating from high

school at lower rates than those from high-income families. In 2011, the immediate

college enrollment rate for students from low-income families who completed high

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school was 52 percent, 30 percentage points lower than that for students from high-

income families (National Center for Education Statistics, 2013). Students from middle-

income families enrolled at a rate of 66 percent, which is 14 percentage points higher

than that of students from low-income families (National Center for Education Statistics,

2013). Access to higher education continues to be a crucial problem in America for low-

income students whose futures will be plagued with social and economic upheaval due to

educational inequality. Wyner, Bridgeland, and DiIulio (2007) state, “Unless something

is done, many more of America’s brightest lower-income students will meet this same

educational fate, robbing them of opportunity and our nation of a valuable resource” (p.

4). It would be impossible to address every facet of this ongoing problem in this study.

However, understanding what intrinsically and extrinsically motivates higher-education

attainment among low-income college students is crucial to ensuring that necessary

resources and support are provided to students from low-income families who have not

yet made the transition to college.

Background

Researchers and theorists have proposed several models to explain the influence

of motivation on success and achievement. Researchers have compiled extensive data on

the relevance of motivation in academic achievement (Thomas et al., 2009, Wentzel &

Wigfield, 2009; Wigfield & Eccles, 2002; Grabowski, Call, & Mortimer, 2001). Yet

further research is needed to explore the influence of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in

educational attainment, specifically for low-income students. Berg (2010) postulates that

“motivation is a key characteristic of successful low-income students” who are in college

(p. 66). He further asserts that motivation is one significant factor that university

3

 

administrators regularly discuss and seek to assess in applicants because of its strong

positive correlation to academic and social success in the collegiate environment. Berg

(2010) discovered that properly motivated first-generation college students were more

likely to seek out resources and persevere regardless of the obstacles they faced.

Furthermore, during extensive interviews with university faculty, Berg (2010) was told

repeatedly, “self-motivation is a required element of successful low-income college

students” (p. 66). This research has profound implications for understanding the impact

of motivational theories in higher-education attainment for this population.

Theoretical Framework

This study builds on two theoretical models to understand how motivation

impacts low-income students’ transition from high school to college. The first theoretical

model, self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985), “begins with the presumption that

human beings are inherently proactive and endowed with a natural tendency to learn and

develop as they engage not only in their outer environment, but also their inner world of

drives, needs, and experiences” (Ryan & Deci, 2009, p. 171). In this theory, there are two

different types of motivation—intrinsic and extrinsic. According to Ryan and Deci

(2000), intrinsic motivation means engaging in an activity or pursuing a goal purely for

self-stimulation, and extrinsic motivation means chasing a dream because it leads to a

separable outcome. This theory stresses the preeminence of intrinsic motivation because

external forces or rewards cannot dampen the student’s unrelenting zeal to accomplish his

or her goal and suggests that a student chooses to engage in a task or behavior solely

because it is inherently enjoyable (Ryan & Deci, 2009; Ryan & Deci, 2000). In contrast,

when extrinsically motivated, a student can engage in a task or behavior while

4

 

experiencing resentment, resistance, and disinterest (Ryan & Deci, 2009; Ryan & Deci,

2000). Covington and Dray (2002) state, “Self-determination theory is concerned with

the nature and nurturing of those basic needs thought to support intrinsic task

engagement, including a need for autonomy, a need for affiliation (relatedness), and a

need for competency” (p. 38). Consequently, when these needs are adequately addressed,

extrinsic motivation is transformed into intrinsic motivation, and feelings of self-

determination increase (Covington & Dray, 2002).

Complementarily, self-efficacy theory, which emerged from Bandura’s (1986)

social cognitive theory, is a motivational construct that underscores internal beliefs about

one’s ability to succeed or fail (Thomas et al., 2009; Schunk & Pajares, 2009; Eccles &

Wigfield, 2002, Schunk & Pajares, 2002; Bandura, 1977). In social cognitive theory, self-

efficacy is defined as “individuals’ confidence in their ability to organize and execute a

given course of action to solve a problem or accomplish a task” (Eccles & Wigfield,

2002, p. 110). The theory suggests that human beings are responsible for their own

development and can predict the results of their actions through the interconnectedness of

personal (e.g. thoughts, beliefs), behavioral, and environmental influences (Schunk &

Pajares, 2009; Schunk & Pajares, 2002). From a theoretical standpoint, there is an

assumption that low-income students’ successful transition to higher education can be

positively influenced by “improving emotional, cognitive, or motivational processes,

increasing behavioral competencies, or altering the conditions” under which these

individuals live (Schunk & Pajares, 2009, p. 36).

Taken together, these theoretical frameworks highlight the significance of

increasing intrinsic motivation among low-income students. Within this argument lies an

5

 

implied understanding that policymakers and educators will need to seek ways to provide

low-income students with extrinsic rewards that foster higher-education attainment while

simultaneously promoting increased self-determination and self-efficacy among these

individuals whose environmental conditions are often stifling.

Characteristics of Low-Income Students

Based on a review of literature, there are several characteristics associated with

low-income students. Research indicates that low-income students are less likely to enroll

in higher education than middle- and upper-class students (Johnson, 2012; Long, 2010;

Sacks, 2009; Duffy, 2007; Gladieux, 2004; Kahlenberg, 2004). The reasons for low

enrollment among this population vary. However, issues related to academic

unpreparedness (Reardon, 2013; Buszin, 2013; Engberg & Allen, 2011; Dickert-Conlin

& Rubenstein, 2007; Green, 2006; Kahlenberg, 2004), insufficient financial resources

(Johnson, 2012; Long & Riley, 2007; Choy & Bobbitt, 2000), and lack of awareness

about financial aid and college costs (Long, 2010; Dickert-Conlin & Rubenstein, 2007;

Corrigan, 2003) emerge as significant reasons why students from low-income families

fail to successfully transition to college.

For these families, poverty creates barriers that decrease parents’ ability to

financially support their dependent children in accessing higher education (Berg, …

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