Date of Award

December 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Tania Mertzman-Habeck

Committee Members

Candance Doerr-Stevens, Michael P Ford, Aaron Schutz


This qualitative comparative case study sought to demonstrate how exemplary teachers motivate their adolescent students to engage in literacy experiences. The objectives and the themes of this research looked at what teachers understand about how adolescents are motivated, how they plan for that motivation, and how their planning emerges in their classrooms. Four exemplary teachers studied demonstrate multiple similar beliefs, while maintaining the unique ways these motivational practices emerged in their classrooms. This study shares each individual story, while generalizing common themes across the cases. While additional work can be done to find how exemplary teachers and motivation impact more diverse classrooms, the tension between curriculum and teachers, as well as a new understanding towards assessment practices, it reinforces current studies and adds to the breadth of knowledge when it comes to exemplary teachers motivating adolescents. The expansion of current research has led to an understanding of the need for exemplary teachers to constantly be working to develop their craft and reflect on their current practices. It also highlights the need for teachers to motivate their students by caring for their emotional and psychological well-being. Finally, it demonstrates the need for motivation to be a strategic process, ideally as a partnership between teachers and students. All in all, exemplary teachers are constantly reflecting on their practices in order to educate the whole student and meet their needs while creating an environment where students are motivated to engage in literacy practices due to the opportunities that these teachers provide.