Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Committee Chair

Sydney Brown


This mixed-methods study addressed the generational differences in intrinsic and extrinsic motivation among elementary teachers in North Carolina. Intrinsic motivation to persist in the profession was examined through the lens of Pink’s theory that autonomy, mastery, and purpose determine a person’s degree of intrinsic motivation. Information relating to extrinsic motivation was also examined. Data were collected through a 33-question survey distributed via email and social media. Quantitative data were analyzed using the Kruskal Wallis H Test to determine significant differences. Qualitative data were coded and analyzed for themes leading to insight into internal and external motivations of elementary school teachers. Significant differences were found on multiple items and within the purpose construct. Triangulation of data indicate more similarities than differences among the three generations. All teachers indicate high levels of altruistic motivations; however, all generations are critical of policy direction in North Carolina, with only 10% of teachers agreeing or strongly agreeing with current state direction. Recommendations for further research include replication of this study, focusing on classroom teachers only, and comparison of traditional public and charter school teachers. Recommendations to encourage retention include investment in education for all of North Carolina’s children; significantly raising salaries of all teachers; abandonment of bonus/merit pay linked to test scores; restoration of Master’s Degree pay and providing opportunities for differentiated pay for assumption of additional duties; significantly increasing human capital and other resources in schools to meet student needs; full restoration of North Carolina Teaching Fellows program; and abandonment of high stakes testing.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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