Susan Farris Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education announces the final Dissertation of

Susan Farris

for the degree of Doctor of Education

March 28, 2018 at 10:00 am  / 123 Ball Hall

Major Advisor: Reginald Green, EdD

The Investigation of the Relationships between Teacher Job Satisfaction and Retention and Green’s Four-Dimensional Model of Educational Leadership

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to investigate relationships between teachers’ perceptions of their schools’ implementation of Green’s four-dimensional model of educational leadership, their level of satisfaction with their schools as “a good place to work and learn” and their intent to remain professionally employed there. Represented by responses to twenty items selected from the 2013 state-wide administration of the Teaching, Empowering, Leading, and Learning survey in Tennessee (TELL Tennessee), school-level means at 248 high schools were obtained for each of four five-item scales that were intended to measure each dimension of Green’s model. Along with a grand mean computed across all twenty items and denoting a school’s overall implementation of the model, school-level indices were also computed for the mean level of satisfaction that the respondents expressed as well as for the percent of respondents who indicated their intention to keep working at the same school the following year. After merging these all of these data with covariates pertinent to student and faculty characteristics, five sets of two hierarchical multiple regressions were conducted to determine the effect of model implementation on each outcome. Across all ten regressions, higher scores on Green’s four-dimensional model of educational leadership proved to be systematically related both to higher percentages of faculty intending to remain at the school and to higher levels of satisfaction with the school as “a good place to work and learn.” While demographic variables pertinent to faculty appeared to have no relationship to either of the two outcomes, the percent of minority students at the school evidenced consistently negative associations with them both. Although the school-wide percent of students on free and reduced lunch was also systematically negatively linked to teacher satisfaction, this was not to the case for teacher retention.

Whitney Stubbs Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education announces the final Dissertation of

Whitney Stubbs

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

April 3, 2018 at 11:00 am  / 103 Ball Hall

Major Advisor: Elin Ovrebo, PhD

The Frontal Assessment Battery: Relationship with Functional Status Indicators and Caregiver Burden in a Veterans Affairs Memory Clinic

ABSTRACT: Neurocognitive screening measures reflective of functional independence, often measured by basic activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), are needed for accurate detection of executive dysfunction. The Frontal Assessment Battery, a measure designed to assess executive functioning at bedside, lacks sufficient research establishing its relationship with measures of ADLs and IADLs, particularly in United States veterans. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the ecological validity of the Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB) by examining its relationship with the Functional Status Interview (FSI), a measure of basic activities (ADLs) and instrumental activities (IADLs), and caregiver burden. Participants in the primary sample were 168 veterans with a mean age of 81.3 years (SD = 7.6). The majority of participants were White (63.1%) and male (97.0%). Prior to the main analyses, principal axis factoring examined the factor structure of the Functional Status Interview (FSI) and confirmed the existence of two subscales assessing ADLs and IADLs. Correlations were calculated to examine relationships between FAB and the other measures. Two FSI factors (ADL and IADL) were identified with all items having strong loadings with the expected scale (absolute values of > 0.40) and factors accounting for 56.4% of the variance. ADL and IADL were strongly correlated. Main findings indicated a significant relationship between FAB and ADL, which slightly increased when controlling for demographic variables. A strong significant relationship was found between FAB and IADL. FAB and caregiver burden subscales were unrelated; however, when controlling for demographic variables, a weak relationship emerged with dependency burden. This study provides initial support for the ecological validity of the FAB in a sample of United States veterans. Cultural and clinical implications are discussed.

Amelia Sanders Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education announces the final Dissertation of

Amelia Sanders

for the degree of Doctor of Education

March 28, 2018 at 12:00 pm  / Ball Hall

Major Advisor: Wendy Griswold, PhD


ABSTRACT: This experimental study reviewed the efficacy of a new classroom tool known as the Showcase Assignment. This assignment reduces public speaking anxiety in the public speaking classroom. This assignment asked students to pick a talent (poetry reading, singing, etc.) that is important to them in some way, give a brief description of what their talent is, disclose its importance to them, and perform it in front of the class. This study is based on literature related to communication apprehension, experiential learning and self-disclosure theories, and classroom environment. This study used pre-test post-test survey methodology of 179 students, split into treatment and control groups, enrolled in speech courses at two mid-sized universities in the Southern United States to answer five research questions: (1) How does the implementation of the Showcase Assignment effect public speaking anxiety as it relates to speech classrooms? (2) How does the Showcase Assignment impact grades on speaking assignments compared to those that are not exposed? (3) How do students describe the Showcase Assignment in relation to a supportive classroom environment? (4) How do students describe the Showcase Assignment in relation to creative learning? (5) How does perceived instructor personality and implementation of the Showcase Assignment compare to the students’ perception of instructor personality and implementation of the Showcase Assignment? The study found that the Showcase Assignment did not have a significant impact on students’ self-reports of anxiety overall but, the instructor teaching the Showcase Assignment did impact those reports. The study found that students reported positive feedback concerning the Showcase Assignment including its benefits in creating a supportive classroom environment and in enhancing creativity skills to help with other speech class presentations. Finally, the study showed that positive instructor personality and implementation of the Showcase Assignment will result in positive student feedback.

Jennifer Jackson-Dunn Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education announces the final Dissertation of

Jennifer Jackson-Dunn

for the degree of Doctor of Education

March 29, 2018 at 10:00 am  / Fountain View Room – University Center

Major Advisor: Steven Nelson, PhD

African American Female Leaders’ Perceptions of Obstacles Faced in Obtaining and Maintaining Principal Leadership

ABSTRACT: In the 21st century, an urban teenager sent to see the principal might find an African American woman—the chances are small. If these students are lucky enough to find a black woman in the chair, she fought to get there and fights to stay. This study examined the perceptions of a few of these women vis-a-vis the obstacles they faced while pursuing or working as principals or assistant principals in middle- or high schools. The study illuminated the intersectionality of race and gender according to Crenshaw (1989) pointing out how African-American female principals identify, understand, conceptualize, interpret, and overcome those obstacles in leadership. The questions this research sought to answer were: What are the major challenges faced by female African American principals? How does identifying as a black woman influence the way one is treated as an African American principal? What are the strategies utilized to overcome obstacles in the pathway to leadership? A phenomenological approach was selected to examine connections between leadership and barriers to career advancement. Eleven African American female principals and assistant principals in three urban school districts participated. All participants identified work-life balance and staff push-back as barriers. Interestingly, organic use of the Four Dimensions of Principal Leadership (Green, 2010) emerged among the strategies utilized to overcome these barriers. As theorized, study participants also identified racism and sexism to be obstacles in maintaining the leadership position of school principal/assistant principal, however, these were not identified as major barriers to obtaining leadership positions. Key words: education, African American, Principals, barriers, racism, sexism, Four Dimensions of Leadership, high school

James Barnes Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education announces the final Dissertation of

James Barnes

for the degree of Doctor of Education

March 29, 2018 at 3:45 pm  / Virtual

Major Advisor: Andrew Tawfik, PhD


ABSTRACT: Mobile learning (m-learning) has begun its transition from focusing on technology devices to pedagogical approaches that guide the design, development, and implementation of teaching and learning. The trends in the literature have identified pedagogical approaches, professional development and instructional practices that have improved academic achievement with teachers’ abilities and perceptions as a contributing factor. However, a gap remains about the degree to which teachers effectively integrate and implement m-learning to make a significant impact on teaching and learning. To address this gap, this research was a causal comparative study examining two schools’ perceptions of implementing m-learning after receiving differing types of professional development. A survey created from an extended Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) and Mobile Learning Readiness Survey (MLRS) was delivered to K-8 teachers from two schools within a large urban school district. The participants included K-8 teachers (N = 39) who responded to 38 survey items consisting of demographics (i.e. age, years of experience, content area, grade level, educational degree, and stage of adopting technology), possibilities, benefits, external influences, perceived usefulness, and perceived ease of use in relation to mobile learning and mobile technologies. The research performed a MANOVA using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) to compare the variables of perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and mobile learning readiness. The analysis of the data was conducted to determine the statistical significant differences between the teachers from two schools’ perceptions of implementing mobile learning within a K-8 classroom. The results found that there were statistical significant differences in teachers’ perceptions in relation to the benefits and ease of use when it comes to implementing mobile technologies. The results of this study can provide evidence to educational administrators and teachers that equitable investments into purchasing mobile technologies and professional development can transform pedagogical beliefs in m-learning and improve student academic performance. Keywords: mobile learning, m-learning, mobile learning readiness, pedagogical approaches, professional development, TAM, teachers’ perceptions

Ashley Payne Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education announces the final Dissertation of

Ashley Payne

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

March 30, 2018 at 1:00 pm  / 205 Ball Hall

Major Advisor: Denise Winsor, PhD


ABSTRACT: Hip-hop has been shown to be a significant force of identity, knowledge, and cultural development, particularly for Black youth (Brown, 2009; Emdin, 2010; Hill, 2009; Love, 2012). Building on research surrounding identity and knowledge development within hip-hop, this Black/hip-hop feminist research study seeks to understand the role that hip-hop plays in the lives, identity and personal epistemology of Black adolescent girls. The following research questions will be answered: (1) What role does hip-hop (i.e., rap, dance, and graffiti) play in the lives of black girls? (2) How does hip-hop inform gender identity for Black girls? (3) How does hip-hop inform racial and gendered identity for black girls? (4) How do black girls negotiate their gender identities through hip-hop? (5) How does hip-hop inform black girl’s personal epistemologies and worldviews? This study includes 6 Black girls from an urban city in the mid-southern region of the United States. Pre-post semi-structured interviews, non-participant observations, and researcher journals were collected and analyzed using thematic analysis (Saldana, 2016). Results showed evidence for the following themes: hip-hop as a coping mechanism, hip-hop as a critique of hegemonic ideologies of Blackness and Black girl/womanness, hip-hop as community, and hip-hop as negotiating knowledges. This research study demonstrates the importance of hip-hop in promoting resiliency, challenging/critiquing/creating racial and gender identities, and using hip-hop as a community for learning.

Jennifer Knott Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education announces the final Dissertation of

Jennifer Knott

for the degree of Doctor of Education

March 27, 2018 at 3:45 pm  / Via BlueJeans

Major Advisor: Amanda Rockinson-Szapkiw, EdD


ABSTRACT: The United States community college student population is a broad demographic that continues to grow. The result is a higher demand for classes and an increasing reliance of college administrators on temporary, part-time adjunct instructors. Temporary employees are found to exhibit a low organizational commitment (OC) to their employers. The social exchange theory and the concept of reciprocity served as the framework for studying OC of adjunct instructors in a mid-south community college system. A predictive correlation study was conducted to predict OC based on three hiring orientation characteristics while controlling for years of teaching experience. The linear combination of mode, length, and content type was significantly associated with OC. Hiring orientation length was negatively correlated with OC (b = -.401). Content type teaching support was negatively correlated with OC (b = -.291); and content type campus contacts was positively correlated with OC (b = .361). A descriptive study was then employed to examine employment issues important to adjunct instructor commitment. Results demonstrated that adjunct instructors rated insufficient rates of pay, job insecurity, and a lack of respect as most still exist significant in their relationship with hiring institutions. Without making efforts to improve working conditions for adjunct instructors, hiring administrators risk losing their availability to other institutions or more satisfying work outside of higher education. The results offer administrators potential avenues for change.