Middle Grades Teachers' Use of Motivational Practices to Support Their Visions and Identities as Middle Grades Educators

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Middle Grades Research Journal




This qualitative case study explored 4 middle grades teachers' naïve theories of motivation, and the links between these theories and their thoughts and actions related to motivation. Their naïve theories of motivation stemmed from their overall visions for teaching, and their strong identities as middle grades educators. These naïve theories also informed motivational practices enacted in their classrooms. Data included interviews and observations over an extended time period. Each teacher demonstrated a unique teaching style and drew on different practices and techniques to support student motivation. Each teacher revealed a naïve theory of motivation focused on supporting students' success. Teachers also scaffolded success for students by supporting student belonging through such means as understanding individual students, relating academic tasks to their interests, and structuring class to support self-worth and self-efficacy. Teachers also noted their own sense of belonging in middle grades, a level which resonated with their identities as middle school teachers. They connected their naïve theories of motivation to their overall visions for teaching at this level.