Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name



Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Geralyn E. Stephens


The purpose of this dissertation is to understand student perceptions and motivations regarding performance character qualities (i.e., assertiveness, perseverance, resilience, and self-control) at an urban high school. In examining these relationships, students' perceptions and motivations towards performance character qualities were identified. The study is important because students' poor academic performance, low test scores, low high school graduation rates, and employers reporting that high school graduates do not possess the necessary performance qualities needed to excel on the job indicate that urban high school students may lack the proper orientation toward performance qualities. Research is needed to understand types of skills that students need to be prepared for the world of work and beyond, and to determine the best way that high schools can provide instruction in these skills. A descriptive quantitative research design approach was used to collect data on students' perceptions and motivations toward performance character qualities. The findings revealed a statistically significant relationship between students' perceptions of performance character qualities and their motivations towards these qualities. The findings also indicated that male and female students did not differ in their perceptions of these qualities. In addition, female students possessed a greater motivational orientation towards task and effort than male students. Lastly, it was found that students' self-reported academic grades can be predicted from students' perceptions of performance character qualities.

Two main conclusions that were drawn from this research are (1) without being aware of students' perceptions and motivations regarding performance character qualities, character educators may find it difficult to make learning relevant to students' understanding of performance character qualities; and (2) results of the correlations between students' perceptions of performance character qualities and their motivation for performance character qualities can be used to improve student orientations towards a particular performance character quality. It is recommended that urban schools develop and implement comprehensive character education programs that are designed to teach and instill performance character qualities in students.