Motivating young adolescents : Perceptions of students matter

Valuable information can be obtained through authentic and effective voice work with students. This information can lead to the understanding of how to motivate at risk young adolescents. Focus groups of low academically achieving students were interviewed to gather perceptions of school climate, the classroom environment, and their teachers. The organizational development method of appreciative inquiry was adapted to the interview questions. This allowed the participants to focus on positive change and systems currently working. A coding approach was applied to the interview data to find relationships among themes. Research sought to find what pathways best cultivate student achievement and motivation. Findings center on building school identity, connectedness, and support systems. The role of the teacher is important in fostering a sense of connectedness and building a strong support system for at risk students. Strong student - teacher relationships build upon the mechanisms that help lead students towards finding their identity within school and establishing a strong support system.