Date of Award

Spring 2-9-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Cherie Gaines


Since the 1960s, business leaders and educators used the idea of goal setting theory as a guide to success. Teachers who implemented goal setting strategies contributed to student success and achievement. During my study, I found little existing literature focused on academic goal setting implementation for students in Tennessee rural middle schools containing grades six through eight. The purpose of this qualitative interpretive study was to investigate Tennessee rural middle school teachers’ perceptions about implementing academic goal setting for students. I sent an online Google Forms questionnaire to 117 certified and licensed teachers in varying Tennessee rural middle schools. After 21 teachers completed the questionnaire, I found participants did not have the same experiences with academic goal setting implementation for students in their middle schools or districts. All 21 participants answered all the questions; however, I only used 20 participant responses for data analysis. I analyzed the data using open, axial, and selective coding to generate themes. The results included varying benefits in implementing student academic goal setting at the middle school level, including increased student motivation and accountability. Professional Learning Communities and various strategies were also perceived as benefits by teachers. On the contrary, additional results yielded perceived barriers to academic goal setting implementation for students, which included a lack of teacher training and experience, time, and student buy in. Rural Middle School teachers needed opportunities to collaborate, hear success stories, and learn strategies behind academic goal setting implementation for students.


Tennessee, middle school, teacher perceptions, academic goal setting, implementation, rural