Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


First Advisor

Stephanie Wessels

Date of this Version



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Education, Major: Educational Studies (Teaching, Curriculum, and Learning), Under the Supervision of Professor Stephanie Wessels. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2021

Copyright © 2021 Brent William Kelderman


Academic success has not been well defined consistently, and when definitions have been proposed (e.g. Kuh, Kinzie, Buckley, Bridges, & Hayek, 2006 ; York, Gibson, & Rankin, 2015), they are not always measured consistently. Is it good grades (Parker, Summerfeldt, Hogan, & Majeski, 2004), and if so, what constitutes a good grade and what should be graded? Is it understanding the material, and if so, is understanding shown by simply completing the academic tasks (Choi, 2005)? Is it perseverance and grit (Tang, Wang, Guo, & Salmela-Aro, 2019), and if so, why do many other definitions and views focus so much on grades? Alternatively, and perhaps even more importantly, how do students define academic success? By being able to better understand how students view and define academic success, educators can be better prepared to help students succeed within the classroom by better providing them with opportunities and feelings of success rather than defeat. In this research I investigated this problem of practice using qualitative methods through a case study of students within mathematical classroom settings.

Advisor: Stephanie Wessels