Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Educational Technology


Educational Technology

Major Advisor

Ross Perkins, Ph.D.


Kerry Rice, Ed.D.


Jesús Trespalacios, Ph.D.


This case study explored the relationship between levels of content choice in three high school online English language arts courses and evidence of student motivation in student work and students’ thoughts about motivation. These courses were designed around the main components of Self-Determination Theory (autonomy, competence, relatedness) and with a personalized learning framework. During the 2020-2021 school year, students in the courses were given reading options and writing prompts that offered “no choice” (zero options), “low choice” (2-3 options), and “high choice” (4+ options). Forty students completed anonymous end-of-course surveys designed to gather details about the relationship between motivation and levels of choice. These surveys were analyzed using a two-step coding process. Five students consented to complete non-anonymous surveys asking similar questions about the relationship between choice and motivation; analysis of artifacts created by these five students also yielded valuable supporting data. A majority of respondents found a high level of choice to be most motivating; their explanations were usually linked to autonomy and intrinsic motivation. A minority of students found no-choice or low-choice assignments to be most motivating; their explanations were linked to a desire for simplicity. Survey responses and coursework showed a preference for choice, but also a need for both competence and autonomy support in course design. Additional research should investigate the influence of other factors influencing motivation in a course, the role of competence in relation to motivation, and the role of preferred literary genres.