Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Middle Grades Education (B.S.Ed.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Faculty Mentor

Meca Williams-Johnson


The purpose of this study was to explore middle school students’ thoughts on what keeps them motivated to learn in the classroom, and what they want to see from their teachers in terms of engagement and stimulation. Also reviewed in the study is how teachers encourage pupils and their success filled suggestions for motivating and engaging them. White conducted a student based survey investigating their beliefs on what makes good teaching. The top five perceptions were teachers’ well explained material, interesting and attention grabbing lessons, approachability, encouragement, and choice flexibility. Mensah and Atta explored middle school target perceptions and identified five main themes that drove their goals: engaging classroom lessons, teacher dispositions, personal connections, student-teacher relationships, and caring instructions. Also, Mensah and Atta found that teachers considered student-teacher relationships and student choice to be key factors in engagement and motivation because it helps build trust as well as collaboration, conceptual and analytical thinking skills. In a mixed methods study, pupils were randomly selected from six classrooms and surveyed during homeroom or during silent sustained reading time. Before school, during their planning, or after school, six teachers were then interviewed with varying questions dependent on student survey responses.