Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership and Curriculum

First Reader/Committee Chair

Dr. Bonnie Piller


The student population of the Southern California community college used for this study was just over 10,000 students in 2011. While retention rates for all community college students are a matter of concern, retention rates for Basic Skills students are particularly alarming. The college used for this study reports that 97% of their students assessed into developmental education courses. Currently, California community colleges are working towards implementing several types of intervention strategies with the objective of positively influencing Basic Skill student persistence. Summer bridge programs are one of these strategies. Students completing summer bridge programs are showing signs of immediate academic improvement. However, there is a gap in knowledge regarding the continuing retention rates for students participating in the programs and the motivational factors that influenced the students to participate in, and complete, the programs to begin with. This study focused on student retention and motivational factors through the lens of Self-Determination Theory. While external motivation factors are sometimes viewed as a means to an end and not necessarily conducive to long-range success, Self-Determination Theory supports the concept that extrinsic motivation factors can merge into intrinsic motivation and can therefore be productive. Researchers have suggested summer bridge programs should be evaluated over a longer period of time and should incorporate additional measures rather than relying solely on pre-test/post-test data. With this in mind, this study examined one summer bridge program over a four-year period and focused on student survey data and interview data, which asked students to self-report their motivational influences for attending one of four summer bridge programs. Using the lens of Self-Determination Theory, the researcher analyzed the data looking for intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors. One of the significant outcomes of the study is that the researcher was able to identify motivational factors relating specifically to one summer bridge program. Some eternal factors reported included retaking the assessment test, receiving school supplies, and meeting the requirements of specific scholarships. Intrinsic motivational factors focused on building relationships and improved academic competence. Finally, continued research regarding intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors can also expand to the larger community college student body since motivation in higher education is a multilayered concept.