Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

(Leaf) Li Zhang


The increase in collegiate enrollment, yet bleak graduation rates, poses a significant problem for students and educators alike. Contributing to the high attrition rates, a lack of academic motivation often leads to poor performance in gateway mathematics courses. Factors influencing academic motivation include self-efficacy, anxiety, perceptions about the importance and utility value of math, and soft skills. To heighten student motivation and improve academic success, educators have implemented active-learning strategies, such as service-learning, which have shown positive effects on academic performance. The self-determination theory guided this study as a theoretical framework for student motivation. During the spring 2019 semester, 615 undergraduates completed an online survey instrument. Of these respondents, 140 students were enrolled in a service-learning section of Elementary Statistical Analysis, and 475 were enrolled in non-service-learning sections. Results indicate that student’s sociodemographic characteristics, academic backgrounds, participation in service-learning, and motivational factors have significant relationships with the probability of student success in their gateway math course. Implementing service-learning curricular components that attend to the basic psychological needs of competence, autonomy, and relatedness can facilitate student success in mathematics courses and the attainment of undergraduate degrees.


Service learning, Mathematics, Post-secondary, Higher education, Self determination, Motivation, Statistics, Active learning, Self efficacy, Math anxiety, Utility value, Soft skills


Education | Educational Leadership


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington