Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Virginia Foley

Committee Members

Pamela Scott, Bethany Flora, Laura Robertson


Educational administration is such a demanding field, so it is important to understand why an aspiring principal would self-select to commit to an optional yearlong, intensive professional development activity with very little compensation and no promotion. Motivation may prove to be a key component of the recruitment and sustainability of professional development activities. By discovering the factors affecting both personal and professional motivation of beginning administrators to participate in a professional development led by the collaboration among the Tennessee Department of Education, Vanderbilt University, and Governor Bill Haslam, the researcher hopes to gain an understanding that may apply to future professional development activities in educational leadership.

This qualitative study was based on the phenomenological inquiry research design. The study was open to all recent members of the Governor’s Academy for School Leadership (GASL) program. Eleven of the members chose to participate in the study. Participants completed an online, open-ended questionnaire followed by an in-depth one-on-one interview using Google Hangouts. Participants were asked to share both personal and professional factors related to their motivation to participate in the GASL program.

Through analysis of the data, the researcher identified five factors that influenced personal motivations. These included a desire for self-improvement, self-motivation, the novelty of the experience, competitive nature of the program, and the honor to be considered. The researcher identified three factors that influenced professional motivations including advancement of license, networking opportunities, and marketability.

When comparing responses based on gender, females noted the novelty of the experience while males noted the exclusivity of the program as motivational factors. Females in this study tended to relate networking as personal connectedness while males related it to professional connectedness. The intensive year long program and affiliation with Vanderbilt University were also found to positively impact the motivation of individuals to participate in the program.

Two main themes emerged from the study: relatedness and competence. Both of these related directly back and support findings of Deci and Ryan’s Self Determination Theory.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.