This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An examination of motivational factors influencing high school dropouts participating in General Education Degree (GED) programs




Herring, Angela

Type of Degree



Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


According to the GED Testing Service (2011), over 18 million people have earned a GED credential since 1942. The results from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2007) show that 89% of Whites, 80% of Blacks, and 76.5% of Hispanics reported having a high school diploma. Therefore, individuals who have dropped out of school, but later realize they need to further their education, have an opportunity to better themselves by seeking to earn a General Education Development Degree (GED). GED programs offer students an opportunity to further their education, but oftentimes there are motivational barriers which prohibit them from taking the necessary steps to enter and persist in such programs. In an effort to better understand why students would drop-out of high school, yet enroll in a GED program, this quantitative study was conducted to examine which factors, whether autonomous or controlled, influenced dropouts to pursue the equivalency of a high school diploma after leaving the traditional school setting. This study provides a summary of detailed results obtained from a questionnaire which posed questions to students that related to active participation, instructor suggestions for earning a GED, skills’ enrichment, and self-determination. The results of the study could lead to a better understanding of the motivations of those who pursue a GED, and the needs they have while in such program. The results revealed that Pearson correlations determined a low, weak, positive relationship between autonomous regulation and controlled regulation. A two-way ANOVA determined a significant main effect for the variable Gender and the variable Autonomous Regulation. No gender and ethnic differences were found in GED students’ self-regulation behaviors. Overall, there was a weak to moderate, positive correlation between autonomous regulation and controlled regulation. Increases in autonomous regulation scores were correlated with increase in controlled regulation scores.