Standing in the Gap: Research that Informs Strategies for Motivating and Retaining Rural High School Students

Patricia L. Hardré


Rural schools face the challenges of motivating and retaining students, often in the face of severe resource constraints. This paper synthesizes fifteen years of the author’s rural research on secondary students’ school-related motivation, distilling it into strategic principles for rural teachers and administrators. Effective motivational knowledge and strategies supported by both theory and research can help school staff fill the gap between potential and actual student achievement. Multi-level strategies for motivating individuals and groups include elements of classroom instructional practice, interpersonal relationships, and the broader school motivational climate including policy. By motivating students effectively, teachers and administrators can bridge the gap between what students do achieve and what they could achieve.


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