Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Mary L. Morton


A rural middle school in Mississippi has been labeled at-risk of failing or failing by the Mississippi Department of Education for the past 5 years, and the parents, students, teachers, and administrators have been looking for ways to improve academic achievement. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate perceptions of students, teachers, parents, and administrators about single-gender grouping that was used to raise achievement levels in this Mississippi middle school. The theoretical framework for this qualitative case study was Deci and Ryan's work on student motivation for learning. The research questions focused on perceptions of single-gender classroom instructional settings in relation to students' motivation to learn. Interviews were conducted with 2 teachers, 2 administrators, 2 parents, and 5 male and 5 female students who were involved with 2 single-gender Grade 7 English and mathematics classrooms in the focus school. Transcribed interviews were analyzed for emerging ideas, coded, and organized into themes. The findings from this study showed that the single-gender setting had a positive influence on student achievement, and the students reported that this type of environment enabled them to be comfortable, more motivated, and focused. The culminating project is a program of professional development that applied participants' ideas for motivating learning such as active student engagement and working in teams. This study may stimulate positive social change by suggesting merits of single-gender instruction, helping teachers increase student motivation, and improving academic success in the classroom, which can allow students to maximize their learning potential and become more productive citizens in society.