Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Kathleen Dimino


The intent of this qualitative study was to examine the impact of intrinsic motivators and extrinsic workplace experiences on the retention of beginning special education teachers of students with low incidence disabilities (LIDs). This study was designed in response to district leaders’ shared concerns of the continuous turnover experienced annually in several districts in a region of a southern state. Two research questions were developed to gain a deeper insight into the influence intrinsic and extrinsic factors have on beginning special education teachers’ decisions to stay in the self-contained, LID classroom. Ten beginning special education LID teachers participated in interviews to share their experiences of teaching in the self-contained classroom setting. Data analysis included open, axial and lean coding, which revealed a complicated cyclical pattern of intrinsic motivators and extrinsic experiences that are woven together. The initial, ingrained belief in student ability is supported by intrinsic motivators of competence, advocacy, and a sense of belonging to the school community, which are sustained through the extrinsic experiences of collaborative relationships with colleagues and leadership. These intrinsic motivators are perpetuated through the positive interactions with administrators who are trustworthy, flexible, and value teamwork and professional development. As a result of this study, a three-day workshop was developed for campus administrators. This workshop was based on the findings of this study to increase administrators’ knowledge about ways to support beginning special education LID teachers that can lead to increased retention. Implications for social change include improved student outcomes that result from enhanced teacher skills due to teacher longevity in the self-contained special education classroom.