Catherine Reynolds Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education announces the final Dissertation of

Catherine Reynolds

for the degree of Doctor of Education

March 29, 2018 at 2:30 pm  / Virtual

Major Advisor: Clif Mims, PhD


ABSTRACT: The purpose of this cross-sectional survey study was to determine the level of teacher self-efficacy to teach in a blended learning environment after receiving blended learning professional development (PD). The study used secondary analysis of existing data and interviews to answer the following research questions: 1. What is the level of self-efficacy to teach in a blended learning environment for secondary teachers after receiving blended learning PD? 2. What component of the blended learning PD contributed the most to teacher’s level of self-efficacy? 3. How can the blended learning PD be improved to assist the teachers in improving their level of self-efficacy? The study used two instruments: 1) Teachers’ Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES) comprised of 24 Likert-style items designed to assess three self-efficacy factors: student engagement, instructional strategies, and classroom management, and 4 opened-ended items to assess quality of the PD, and 2) a semi-structured interview protocol to answer questions 2 and 3. Existing data were derived from TSES surveys completed by 19 secondary teachers who participated in the blended learning PD. Interview data were collected from 5 of the 19 who were randomly selected for interviews. Findings revealed teachers reported more confidence in areas that they can control, which were instructional strategies and classroom management, and less confidence in student engagement, which although teachers may be able to influence, the students themselves are the determining factor rather than the teacher. Results of open-ended questions and interviews suggest the most beneficial PD components were learning how to teach with the blended learning software and how to differentiate instructional strategies, whereas participants also revealed that more face-to-face time might be beneficial to raise teacher self-efficacy to teach in a blended environment. This study has implications not only for the school district involved in the study, but also for other schools wishing to implement a more personalized approach to instructional strategies through a blended learning curriculum. Future research could involve a larger and more diverse group of participants and showcase secondary schools implementing a successful blended learning program.

Stephanie Cage Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education announces the final Dissertation of

Stephanie Cage

for the degree of Doctor of Education

March 22, 2018 at 12:00 pm  / 123 Ball Hall

Major Advisor: Wendy Griswold, PhD

Education on the Inside: Incarcerated Students’ Perceptions of Correctional Education Programs

ABSTRACT: The United States has alarmingly high incarceration and recidivism rates. Many of those incarcerated have less education than their general population counterparts. Correctional education programs have a proven ability to reduce incarceration and recidivism rates by helping rehabilitate people. Current research on incarcerated students primarily focuses on the external benefits of correctional education programs such as recidivism. A limited amount of research is represented in the literature on incarcerated students’ perceptions about their academic experiences. The purpose of this study was to explore incarcerated students’ perceptions regarding their correctional education experiences. The study particularly investigated students at a Louisiana correctional institution. A qualitative case study methodology was utilized to examine the lived experiences of seven incarcerated students who participated in semi-structured interviews, which were analyzed using thematic content analysis. The study found that several barriers prevented students from earning a high school diploma prior to incarceration. Findings of the study indicated ways in which incarcerated students are motivated to participate in correctional education programs. Study findings revealed how students’ self-reflections have shaped their academic experiences. Findings in this study will have implications for practice and policy by providing an understanding of the issues incarcerated students encounter. Recommendations for future studies were made based on outcomes of the study and address ways in which research could be expanded to address the existing knowledge gap regarding incarcerated student perspectives.