Publication Date

Fall 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Counselor Education


This qualitative study investigates the perceptions of suburban middle school students’ on academic motivation and student engagement. Ten students, grades 6-8, were randomly selected by the researcher from school counselors’ caseloads and the primary data collection techniques included two types of interviews; individual interviews and focus group interviews. Findings indicate students’ motivation and engagement in middle school is strongly influenced by the social relationships in their lives. The interpersonal factors identified by students were peer influence, teacher support and teacher characteristics, and parental behaviors. Each of these factors consisted of academic and social-emotional support which hindered and/or encouraged motivation and engagement. Students identified socializing with their friends as a means to want to be in school and to engage in learning. Also, students are more engaged and motivated if they believe their teachers care about their academic success and value their job. Lastly, parental involvement in academics appeared to be more crucial for younger students than older students in order to encourage motivation and engagement in school.