Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Robert Stupnisky


Accounting programs face the challenge of attracting and retaining the best students in accounting degree programs in order to meet the current and future demands of the accounting profession. Most of the past research into this issue has lacked theoretical foundations and rigor found in other disciplines. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between business students’ motivations and achievement emotions, and to test how these constructs predict accounting major selection and academic achievement. To achieve this purpose, two complimentary theoretical frameworks not previously applied within the accounting domain, were used: the control-value theory (CVT) of achievement emotions (Pekrun, 2006), and the self-determination theory (SDT) (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

This quantitative study involved a longitudinal survey design administered at two time intervals during the spring, 2015, semester. Participants were enrolled in either the Elements of Accounting I or II compulsory courses, with a total of 386 participants at Time 1, and 241 at Time 2. A series of statistical tests were completed to analyze the data. Significant findings emerged based on intended major: accounting or non-accounting.

Regarding the CVT framework, the results indicated value predicted accounting major likelihood for both groups of majors, and joy emerged as a mediating influence on this this relationship for the non-accounting majors. Perceived academic control predicted

academic performance for both majors, and anxiety partially mediated this relationship. Regarding SDT, autonomy predicted accounting major likelihood for both groups, amotivation completely mediated this relationship for accounting majors, and intrinsic motivation partially mediated this relationship for non-accounting majors. Competency predicted academic performance for both majors, and amotivation partially mediated this relationship for non-accounting majors.

Results also suggest that group affiliation based on intended major selection moderated value, autonomy, competency, and amotivation. Furthermore, interaction effects for these variables emerged, which indicated that non-accounting majors fair experience more negative effects during the semester when compared to accounting majors. Finally, this study supported the assertion that CVT and SDT are complimentary frameworks, and suggests that value is a connecting variable between the two frameworks.