Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Kathleen Hargiss


Recent research clearly demonstrates that a decrease of physical activity has occurred among young people. Hence, the purpose of this study was to examine the impact of external motivation on physical activity. Drawn from self-determination theory, the specific research question examined if academic incentives effectively motivated 7th grade students to participate in a 3-week fitness program. A quasi-experimental pre-post design examined treatment and control groups drawn from a sample of 24 students from three physical education classes. The treatment group received academic incentives whereas the control group received no external incentives but were asked to complete the same fitness Program. Independent-sample t-test of the physical activity section of the 2005 Youth Risk Behavior System Survey (YRBS) revealed no group differences on the posttest. Dependent-sample tests indicated little pretest-posttest change in YRBS scores, leading to the conclusion the academic incentive had no major effect on students' motivation to be physically active outside the school environment. This research contributes to positive social change by provided additional insight into what motivates or does not motivate 7th graders to be physically active.