Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Gabriel Kuperminc

Second Advisor

Dr. Christopher Henrich

Third Advisor

Dr. Wing Yi Chan


The current qualitative study draws on Larson’s theory of positive youth development and on concepts from Self-Determination Theory to postulate that program participants will derive a sense of enjoyment and challenge in program activities when they perceive that the program supports their psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Self-determination theory suggests that when programs support participants’ need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, the participants will in turn experience a higher sense of motivation and engagement within the program. The emergent themes found from the thematic analysis helped to support this theory by suggesting that Cool Girls participants experience a sense of engagement and motivation through program activities that promote autonomy/independence and peer/adult connections. Further, possible variations in perceived needs fulfillment across age groups were explored.