Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School Psychology

Major Professor

Christopher H. Skinner

Committee Members

Merilee McCurdy, R. Steve McCallum, David F. Cihak


This three-study dissertation was designed to: 1) extend the research on Parkhurst’s (2013) Academic Work Ethic-Student (AWE-S) scale, 2) develop and analyze reliability of the Academic Work Ethic-Teacher (AWE-T) scale, and 3) expound on the construct validity of academic work ethic by comparing AWE-S and AWE-T scores to external factors (i.e., grades, perceived support, and parental work ethic) and Grit (Duckworth, 2007), a similar construct. Research was conducted in both rural and urban middle schools in Tennessee and included student, teacher, and parent participants.

Both scales were found to have high reliability coefficients and stable factor structures. Student scale (AWE-S) means were moderately, significantly correlated with a variety of variables, including persistence in a math task, classroom grades in math and an elective course, teacher scale (AWE-T) means, and students’ perceived support in pursuing postsecondary education. The AWE-S was also found to be significantly related to the Grit Scale for Children. The AWE-T, completed by teachers regarding students’ academic work ethic, was found to be highly, significantly correlated between teachers and predictive of classroom grades. In fact, up to 87% of variance in classroom grades was accounted for by the scales combined.

The ability to accurately and consistently measure academic work ethic, as well as the construct’s predictive relationship to student behavior and grades, gives rise to a variety of practical applications for these scales. Future researchers and administrators should consider using the AWE-S and AWE-T to measure academic work ethic in middle school students, screen for students at academic risk or with a lack of support in academic achievement, and inform programs designed to teach positive work ethic skills and behaviors, in order to promote success in school and beyond.

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