Date of Degree


Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)


Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology, and Foundations (LEPF)


Benjamin M. Creed

Committee Members

Summers, Kelly; Lee, Louis


Onboarding, leadership, teacher, retention, SDT, Self-determination Theory, Belonging, Autonomy, Competency, Attrition


This dissertation examines the onboarding practices implemented in several schools within a district and their impacts on teacher retention and the culture and climate of the schools. The theoretical lens of self-determination theory was used to determine areas of strength and growth of onboarding with respect to the three basic human psychological needs of autonomy, belonging, and competence. Drawing on this theory, the research aimed to reveal how onboarding practices support or hinder fulfillment of these basic psychological needs in a school setting. By examining how teachers perceive their onboarding experiences, the study sheds light on the relationship between the onboarding process and teacher motivation within the theoretical framework. The methodology involved qualitative data collection. In-depth interviews were conducted to capture qualitative insights into the subjective experiences of onboarding providers during the onboarding process in all three settings of a kindergarten–12th-grade school district: elementary, middle school, and high school. Findings reveal a greater need for relatedness and belonging in high school. In contrast, elementary and middle schools demonstrated a better balance of autonomy, competence, and relatedness in their onboarding goals and practices.


Northern Illinois University

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ABCs of SDT - Onboarding.pdf (108 kB)
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