Special Education M.A.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Elliott, Nathan


Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) struggle academically and appear to have lower levels of academic motivation than their peers. This paper reviews the literature and evidence proving that lower academic motivation is associated with ADHD. The causes of the motivational deficits are both behavioral and explained by neurological differences in the brain. Research shows that children with ADHD lack the ability to inhibit their own reactionary behaviors and allow for executive functions to consider all the information available to make good decisions. In addition, children with ADHD have a strong preference for immediate rewards over waiting for long-term rewards. Behaviorally, students with ADHD have received negative feedback so often that they do not think they can be successful and therefore are not motivated to try. The biggest motivator of children with ADHD is to avoid failure which looks like work refusal and low motivation in the classroom. Research shows that academic motivation is best improved with behavioral therapy approaches and by using growth goals with students. Teachers help students with ADHD by providing consistent short-term rewards and immediate positive feedback. They should also find ways to increase the likelihood of success that students experience and remove or decrease the amount of failure experienced.

Degree Name

Special Education M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis