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.

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.

Madeline Capstick Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education announces the final Dissertation of

Madeline Capstick

for the degree of Doctor of Education

February 20, 2018 at 10:00 am  / 103 Ball Hall

Major Advisor: Steven West, PhD


ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the Academic Coaching for Excellence (ACE) program for academically at-risk students over the course of five academic semesters from Spring 2015 to Spring 2017. The study utilized archival data from 1,400 undergraduate students using a cohort-based, nonequivalent groups post-tests design. The students were on “academic warning”, meaning they had fallen below a 2.00 GPA in the previous academic semester and were within their first 59 credit hours of college. Results from the study found that full- and part-time students who participated in academic coaching had significant GPA increases, were more likely to earn at least a 2.00 GPA in the intervention semester, completed 76-100% of course credit hours, and were more likely to be retained at the university the following semester if they had attended five or more coaching sessions. Significant findings draw attention to Federal Pell Grant recipients and full-time traditional age (under 25 years old) student’s academic success and persistence, as these students were found to have lower GPAs and complete fewer course credits compared to their non-Pell Grant and non-traditional full-time student (25 years or over) counterparts. The number of sessions that students attended was also significant for students’ academic performance and persistence in course completion. Implications are discussed for higher education staff and administration working with academically vulnerable populations and for the counseling community. Considerations for future research and limitations are also provided.

Jacque Bradford Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education announces the final Dissertation of

Jacque Bradford

for the degree of Doctor of Education

March 1, 2018 at 2:30 pm  / 320 Ball Hall

Major Advisor: Amanda Rockinson-Szapkiw, EdD


ABSTRACT: The use of simulated patients is a developing instructional strategy in physical therapy education (PTE) programs. However, it is unknown if using simulated patients during instruction yields better outcomes than the traditional use of peer role-play. This two-arm randomized, experimental design investigated the effect of type of simulation-based instruction, simulated patients compared to peer role-play, on clinical reasoning and confidence of students enrolled in an entry-level physical therapy education program learning patient transfer skills. Upon the conclusion of two instructional sessions, clinical reasoning was measured by the Think Aloud Standardized Patient Examination (TASPE) during a simulation experience. Student confidence in performing future acute care skills was measured by the Acute Care Confidence Survey (ACCS) following the simulation experience. Two independent-samples t-test demonstrated that there was not a statistically significant difference in the students’ TASPE scores or the ACCS scores based on the type of simulation-based instruction. This study provides evidence that peer role-play can be just as effective in improving physical therapist student clinical reasoning and confidence outcomes compared to using simulated patients when instructing patient transfer skills. Although the use of simulated patients may appear to promote deeper learning by portraying a more real scenario for practicing patient care skills, it is no more advantageous than peer-role-play in terms of physical therapist students’ clinical reasoning and confidence skills when learning patient transfer skills.

Meghan Pfeiffer Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education announces the final Dissertation of

Meghan Pfeiffer

for the degree of Doctor of Education

March 1, 2018 at 11:00 am  / 123 Ball Hall

Major Advisor: Donna Menke, PhD


ABSTRACT: In the world of Division I intercollegiate athletics, much remains to be understood about lesbian student-athletes’ experiences, educational practices, and conditions that promote their development. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the academic and sport experiences of self-identified lesbian Division I student-athletes in the United States. In addition, the study aimed to understand how resources and strategies used by lesbian Division I student-athletes helped to establish or increase the level of comfortability and inclusivity within both environments. The research questions that guided this study were: 1) How do self-identified lesbian Division I student-athletes experience their higher education academic environment? 2) How do self-identified lesbian Division I student-athletes experience their sport environment? 3) How do resources and strategies used by self-identified lesbian Division I student-athletes help to establish or increase the level of comfortability and inclusivity within academic and sport environments? The underlying theoretical frameworks used in this study were interpretivism and phenomenology due to the study’s nature of understanding how participants experienced their academic and sport environments as lesbian Division I student-athletes. Data were gathered through semi-structured phenomenological interviews and document analysis then analyzed using open coding and thematic analysis in order to most accurately capture the essence of the participants’ academic and sport experiences. Three themes emerged from data analysis: 1) Self-Acceptance: Background of Support; 2) Visibility of the LGBTQ Community; and 3) Sense of Belonging. These themes encapsulated the full range of experiences in academic (i.e., interactions with faculty members, students, and experiences in the classroom and on campus) and sport (i.e., interactions with teammates, coaches, administrators, and experiences during team and athletic-related events) environments as well as resources and strategies used to establish or increase the level of comfortability and inclusivity within both environments. The experiences of the participants provided implications for practice so as to further establish and sustain environments of acceptance and respect so inclusion is the norm, not the exception. These recommendations for resource development continues the aim to make Division I intercollegiate athletics a growingly accepting and respectful place for lesbian student-athletes to thrive academically and athletically.

Michelle Bowen Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education announces the final Dissertation of

Michelle Bowen

for the degree of Doctor of Education

March 20, 2018 at 3:45 pm  / 405 Ball Hall

Major Advisor: Amanda Rockinson-Szapkiw, EdD


ABSTRACT: The introduction of low-cost hand-held devices has enabled K-12 teachers the opportunity to teach using virtual reality(VR); however, the efficacy of VR in K-12 classrooms for teaching and learning has not been established. Thus, the purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to examine the influence of virtual reality field trips on middle school students’ social studies academic achievement and motivation. Participants included 74 seventh grade students at two middle schools, who participated in social studies instruction using either the traditional lecture method or a virtual reality system. The virtual reality system used in this study was the Google Expeditions Virtual Reality System using smartphone technology and iBlue viewfinders. Before and after instruction was provided, participants were assessed using the Instructional Materials Motivation Survey (IMMS) and teacher created assessments. The results of the two one-way ANCOVAs demonstrated that students who used virtual reality scored significantly higher than students participating in traditional instruction on both their academic achievement and motivation. These findings provide support for the use of virtual reality in middle school social study classrooms.