Committee Chair

Rausch, David W.

Committee Member

Hinsdale, Bernard; Crawford, Elizabeth K.; Rich, Sonja M.


Dept. of Education


College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


“Lack of motivation is a real and pressing problem. Upwards of 40 percent of high school students are chronically disengaged from school” (Crotty, 2013, para. 3). This problem highlights the purpose of this research, which was twofold. First, the research was designed to develop an assessment to measure students’ level of needs satisfaction using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Secondly, the assessment instrument was used to investigate the relationship between the level of satisfaction of needs and the academic achievement of high school students. The theoretical basis for this research was Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which was classified as an aspect of humanistic motivation theory (Schunk, 2011; Weiner, 1992). Humanistic motivation is based on the study of the whole person, including self-awareness and personal choices (Schunk, 2011). The Hierarchy of Needs is a pyramid with the most primal needs at the base, and the more complex toward the top. This hierarchy consists of five tiers of needs: physiological, safety, belonging, esteem, and self-actualization (Maslow, 1943; Schunk, 2011; Weiner, 1992). The Need Satisfaction Assessment for Students (NSAS) was developed based on the seminal work of Abraham Maslow (1943) and his Hierarchy of Needs. A pilot was conducted in one high school in 2013 to ensure reliability and validity. This assessment was used to identify which of the students’ need(s) were satisfied. These needs and items from the NSAS were then analyzed with the students’ academic achievement in an attempt to find relationships. The results from this research revealed statistically significant findings. Two items from the NSAS had a statistically significant relationship with academic achievement: “When I use the bathroom it is not because I feel sick (p = .003).” and “I do not eat enough to stay healthy (p = .008).” There was also a statistically significant relationship between the father’s education level and the student’s academic achievement (p = .016). Another statistically significant relationship was found between athletic participation and the following need domains: Safety and Relationship Needs (p = .001) and Esteem and Physiological Needs (p = .008).


Ph. D.; A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.




Motivation in education; Achievement motivation


Motivation; High school; Academic achievement


Educational Leadership

Document Type

Doctoral dissertations




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