Date of Conferral







Susana Verdinelli


Teacher attrition contributes to teacher shortages in public school systems throughout the United States. Some teachers leave the profession because of low salary, job dissatisfaction, lack of administrative support, and infrequent professional autonomy. Researchers have focused on attrition from the perspective of why teachers leave the profession. However, in current literature little is known about what motivates teachers to remain in the profession, including their race and gender. The purpose of this study was to explore African American women middle school teachers’ motivation to stay in the profession. In this study, self-determination theory was used as the theoretical framework to address motivation and its various components. Ten African American women teachers at public middle schools in North Carolina voluntarily participated in this study. Participants’ voice and perspectives were sought in individual face-to-face interviews to understand their lived teaching experience. This phenomenological investigation explicates the experiences of African American women teachers using an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). IPA was used to aid in explaining and describing African American women teachers’ motivation. A thematic analysis was used to analyze data. The themes that emerged were motivation, inspired by others, support, and challenges. This indicated that African American women middle school teachers were motivated by their self-determination to be a teacher. The implication for positive social change is the development of policies that support teachers professionally and financially to remain in education