Full dissertation title: "Interaction between Academic Early Alerts and Motivation for Quarter-to-Quarter Persistence in a Community College Setting"
Many community colleges use early academic alert systems as part of their overall retention strategy. Early alerts are issued to students who are underperforming academically, with the intent of motivating them to act in ways that will lead to academic success. Early alerts are understood to be effective, but most studies have been quantitative examinations of the correlation between alerts and eventual retention and persistence. A review of the literature indicates that little is known about how students react to early alerts, and how that reaction affects their academic outcomes. Attribution motivation theory predicts that students have affective, cognitive and behavioral reactions when they receive information about their academic performance, and that those reactions lead to an attribution of cause, which in turn affects students' behaviors. This study used a qualitative approach, phenomenography, to determine whether early alerts motivate students to pursue support, how their reactions to the alerts affect their behaviors, and what might make early alerts more effective for some students than others. Interviews were conducted of nine students who received academic alerts at a community college in rural Washington state. The interviews were recorded and transcribed. Leximancer software was used for the analysis. The researcher created narrative descriptions of each student's experience to allow confirming and disconfirming of the early alert system for the same purpose. The purpose of this exploratory study was to identify and categorize students' initial reactions to early alerts at one institution and determine how they affected their behavior.
Dissertation completed by Andrew Tudor.
Students with intellectual disability are mandated to have school-based transition planning to support them as they age into adulthood, and many school districts develop transition programs for students between ages 18 and 21. Both law and practice dictate that transition planning be done in collaboration with students and their families. However, culturally and linguistically diverse families may have differing values and beliefs than the school systems and staff that support their children. Such differences may indicate that transition programs are not adequately preparing students with intellectual disability for the lives they will live as adults.
This study examines how schools can develop more culturally responsive transition programs in order to better serve culturally and linguistically diverse students, their families, and their communities. It uses a qualitative method using disparate focus groups of teachers, parents, and community members. Analysis of the focus groups utilizes Barry Johnson's principles of Polarity Management to establish five polarity sets: Safety and Risk, Independence and Interdependence, Monoculture and Multiculture, Trust and Advocacy, and Expectation and Possibility. Findings support the hypothesis of incongruity between the transition goals of teachers and diverse families. Recommendations for developing culturally responsive transition programs are provided for various stakeholder groups.
Dissertation completed by Darren Spencer.
Full dissertation title: "The Effect of Biodata and Perceptions of Support on Catholic School Teacher Voluntary Turnover Intentions"
The cost of replacing a valued teacher who voluntarily transfers or terminates employment negatively impacts the school budget by diverting money that could be used for staff development, building operations, or even salary line items. Turnover may impact student learning, and challenges staff morale and trust. This study examined pre-hire historical biographical variables (biodata), along with post-hire employee Perceived Organizational Support and Perceived Supervisor Support, to predict voluntary turnover in Catholic school teachers. Researchers have found that employee biodata is one the best predictors of voluntary turnover (Barrick & Zimmerman, 2005, 2009; Breaugh, 2014). This study collected historical commitment biodata, embeddedness biodata, and employment motivation biodata that had been previously shown to predict employee intent to quit and found that motivation biodata is significantly related to turnover intentions in Catholic school teachers. Additionally, this study collected teacher Perception of Supervisor Support (PS S) and Perception of Organizational Support (POS) data and found them to be collinear and significantly negatively related with intent to quit. This study measured the mediated effect of POS and PSS on pre-hire biodata which failed to produce significant results. By using pre-hire employee biodata, hiring professionals may select employees with a pre-existing understanding of job demands, who match the organizational culture and who intend to stay. Studying the effect of POS and PSS on turnover intentions and studying their mediated effect on biodata added to the field of research on predicting teacher intent to voluntarily terminate employment. This study added knowledge that may create a tool to be used to improve retention of teaching professionals in Catholic schools.
Dissertation completed by Matthew Eisenhauer.
This research provides new insight into stereotype threat by examining a real-world intervention in community college classrooms. Practitioners need information about which interventions work in authentic school settings to implement them and begin to bring educational equity to historically marginalized students.
The experimental study examined an intervention in college math classrooms. Students enrolled in introductory calculus at two metropolitan community colleges were given a diagnostic exam the first day of class. Students were randomly assigned to experimental or control groups. The experimental instructions contained the stereotype threat intervention. Exam scores were analyzed using analyses of variance. Means were compared for women and men, and White and Asian students. While results were not statistically significant, the intervention may have mitigated the impact of stereotype threat for women and Asian students.
Dissertation completed by Joelle Pretty.
There is a growing societal need for civic-minded leaders, and undergraduate students are poised to become the future leaders and decision makers for a global society. This dissertation explores the demographics and experiences of undergraduate students and their perceived civic-mindedness at a predominantly White, urban, Jesuit-Catholic, liberal arts university in the Northwest United States. It also examines the relationship between the students' social and civic identities, suggesting that an identity-neutral Civic-Minded Graduate (CMG) construct fails to account for the role of social identities. This examination of the personal and social identities of gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status on the development of civic-mindedness and civic identity contributes to the literature and to the institution's ability to support and nurture students by building individual leadership capacity through civic engagement on campus, in the local community, and beyond.
Using a critical, emancipatory, and participatory action research lens that centers the views of excluded groups, this explanatory sequential mixed methods case study involves undergraduates in the arts and sciences and science and engineering colleges who have been at the institution for at least two academic terms. An online survey, based on the CMG Scale, and focus groups were administered to gain a deeper understanding of the relationships between social identities, civic identity, and civic-mindedness, in support of the center for community engagement at the case study institution.
Six hundred and ninety-nine participants completed the Modified CMG Scale and two focus groups yielded nine participants. The results of the study indicate that the salience of social identities relates to civic-mindedness and to non-dominant/underrepresented groups, which in turn influences the ways in which civic engagement is enacted. Students' sense of self as determined through salient social identities also impacts the types of communities in which these students engage. This engagement can be defined as civic self-authorship, in which civic action and social identity development converge. Ultimately, the researchers suggest the full consideration of social identities in civic development and engagement efforts on campus and in the community and offer recommendations for practice and future research that emerged from the investigation of the case study population.
Dissertation completed by Audrey Hudgins and Gina Lopardo.
How a new graduate nurse transitions from the student role to one of a practicing nurse has been studied for the Registered Nurse (RN) and not for the Licensed (LPN). This research was needed to address whether an LPN may benefit from a nurse residency program during the first-year employment.
This study's purpose was to analyze responses from recent graduates who attended a community college LPN program and see if they identify similar areas related to transitioning to practice using Casey-Fink Graduate Nurse Experience Survey Revised© 2006. A convenience sample of 26 recent graduates received surveys at the end of their academic program in August 2016, and an email invitation to participate in a follow-up survey was sent out electronically during winter 2017.
This study sought to identify which skills LPNs felt most uncomfortable performing, how confident and competent they felt exiting the program, and whether they were satisfied with their employment. The majority of responding participants in the long-term survey reported feeling confident and competent to enter the workforce and felt prepared upon leaving their academic program.
Keywords: nurse residents, Practical Nurse, transition to practice, Casey- Fink
Dissertation completed by Lauren Cline.
This report provides an analysis of barriers experienced by first-generation students attempting to enroll in a two-year college. This multi-strand, mixed methods action research used both quantitative correlation and qualitative semi-structured interviews to explore the interaction between first-generation students and the two-year college. The quantitative analysis looked for correlation between enrollment, demographic factors, and satisfaction and importance of various elements of the enrollment process. The semi-structured interviews used a phenomenological approach to seek the individuals' lived experience. The synthesis of these two methods revealed three key findings:
Because of these findings, researchers make the following recommendations for the Pierce College District:
The report acknowledges that there are limitations in the analysis due to relatively small sample size for both survey and interviews, and that those participating were not entirely representative of the population.
Keywords: first-generation, access, barriers, two-year college, mixed-methods, action research, college choice.
Dissertation completed by Kerry (Francesca) Nisco (Lukjanowicz), Kristina McCormick (Neill), Myung Park, Janie Sacco, Dana Stiner, and James Walker.
Dissertation full title: "Examining The Relationship Between Law Student Engagement with Professional Development Services and Post-Graduate Employment Outcomes"
In order to provide effective career and professional development services for law students, law schools must build a better understanding of whether student engagement with school-provided career services bears a relationship to post-graduate employment success. The following research examined the relationship between law student engagement with career and professional development services and post-graduate employment outcomes through analysis of archival data of particular student job search behaviors, along with their employment outcomes, in the ten months following graduation from law school. The study specifically examined data provided by recent graduates (the classes of December 2015 through August 2016) of a mid-sized, diverse, private, religiously-affiliated law school in the Pacific Northwest.
The data were collected by the law school's career office using an adaptation of a standard graduate employment survey provided to American law schools. Using SPSS, data were then analyzed using Fisher's Exact Test, with engagement with the career office as the presumptive independent variable, and employment status as the dependent variable. Though the calculations revealed overall higher rates of the highest standard of employment for graduates who used school-provided career services, the results were, for the most part, not statistically significant.
Dissertation completed by Erin Fullner.
No leader or leadership institution—particularly no educator or educational institution—can presume that fostering active citizenship to prolong our democracy ... is someone else's business. (O'Connell, 1994).
Declining civic engagement has been cited as an impediment to effective participatory democracy (Niemi & Junn, 1998; Putnam, 2000). After nearly twenty years of dedicated efforts and resources, American colleges and universities continue to struggle to reconcile their responsibilities between educating students for active roles in society and preparing students for employment. Twenge, Campbell, and Freeman (p.1060, 2012) found a considerable intellectual, cultural, and economic interest in discovering and predicting generational trends. They recognized that the decrease in civic engagement has generated concerns amongst educators, researchers, and community stakeholders that students and citizens over time will not develop sufficient disposition for Civic-mindedness.
Higher education institutions have sought to address the decline in civic engagement by developing curricula and establishing community engagement centers to integrate classroom theory and practical experiences for students, specifically by establishing partnerships with the surrounding host communities. This emphasis on engagement between the higher education institutions and host communities has shifted the perspectives of the institutions such that the host communities are now perceived to provide co-educational opportunities for students beyond that of the classroom experience itself, thus expanding the campus boundaries. This recognition of benefits of undergraduate student participation and service has allowed for host communities to willingly partner with colleges and universities and help address the issue of declining civic engagement.
How higher educational institutions and community partners collaborate and utilize their expertise to construct the authentic learning experiences for students jointly is as essential as the experiences themselves. Respective to both the educational institution and community partners, such expertise serves as an invaluable component of the co-educational experience by extending and contextualizing classroom instruction with real-world application, thereby creating an indelible impression on the student's collegiate experience. Despite the demonstrated significance of framing the authentic, real-world community-based experiences for students, community partners continue to struggle in their attempts to create genuine partnerships with educational institutions as equal educational partners.
This mixed-methods study, utilizing descriptive statistics and thematic content analysis, sought to examine the perceived significance of the collaboration between a Jesuit university and its community stakeholders, to co-create experiences that form Civic-mindedness (Steinberg et al., 2011). The researchers explored how the university and community partners perceive the engagement and influence the development of student Civic-mindedness. Through action research, the researchers learned more about the conditions for engaged scholarship that institutions of higher education and community partners perceived to be better catalysts for instilling a more profound sense of civic responsibility in undergraduate students. Using findings from the university's and community's perceptions, the final line of inquiry synthesized the similarities and differences in perspectives. Conclusions from this research were intended to help the community partner, Seattle University, and its Center for Community Engagement, by providing empirical data to help align strategies and resources, engage differently with the community, and produce more civically-minded student graduates.
Dissertation completed by Orstell Jackson, Rajesh Natarajan, and Frederick Rundle.
An evaluation of refugee access to mental healthcare services at the Village Spirit Center of the Catholic Community Services in King County. It was discovered that refugee care and support systems are worthy of improvement. Barriers identified include limited English language proficiency and inadequate numbers of culturally and linguistically competent mental health therapists; refugee cultural attachment; challenging socio-economic conditions of refugees; and a lack of trust between the patients and healthcare providers.
The study may:
Dissertation completed by Francis Gadigbe.
The purpose of this dissertation project was to study "giving back" as a retention influence of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) women who live in urban areas and attended community college in the United States. Three women who had completed at least one year of college and had identified as AI/AN took part in the study. A qualitative design was used to answer the role giving back played as a retention influence for AI/AN women living in urban areas who attend community college. Qualitative interviews were conducted with the women. The findings of the study suggest giving back was one of the most fulfilling things the women had done in the progress toward degree completion. Giving back had been identified as their goal in the process of their academic pathway and the careers they had studied for. The participants' narratives also suggest goal identification with academic pathways was essential for completing their degree. All of the participants had at least one positive K-12 experience, had shown resiliency in overcoming self-doubt in terms of completing studies at the community college-level and accessed some level of campus support toward completion of their degrees.
Keywords: American Indian, Alaska Native, urban, community college, education, retention, giving back.
Dissertation completed by Tanya Powers.
Full dissertation title: "Challenges In Transitioning From Practitioner To Educator In Occupational Therapy Assistant Programs".
The purpose of this study was to identify challenges faced by occupational therapy practitioners when they transition from working in a clinical setting to working as occupational therapy assistant (OTA) faculty members. It also attempted to find relationships between the level of challenge faced by transitioning OTA faculty members and various demographic characteristics.
This descriptive mixed-methods study consisted of an online survey instrument with quantitative and qualitative measures. The purposive sample included all current OTA faculty members nationwide who taught at least two classes during their first year of teaching. The survey was distributed through the ACOTE Program Directors' and Academic Fieldwork Coordinators' listservs, and direct e-mail to faculty members. Out of a possible sample of 945 people, 223 individuals participated, allowing data to be reported at the 90% confidence level with a 5% margin of error.
Participants were asked to rate the level of challenge of 29 tasks, required of OTA educators during their first year of teaching, as "Not Challenging at All," "A Little Challenging," "Moderately Challenging," "Very Challenging," or "Not Applicable." Challenge was defined as: Difficulty in your job requiring either extra time, effort, resources, cognitive or emotional energy. Of those 29 items, over 60% of participants rated 8 as "moderately" or "very" challenging, with 6 of the items concerning Curriculum and Class Development, 2 of the items concerning Learning the Educator Role, and none of the items concerning Interacting with Students. Participants were also given space to write in comments and expand qualitatively on their quantitative ratings. Qualitative results indicated that each item which reached the 60% threshold of challenge was considered challenging for multiple reasons. No significant relationships were found between the level of challenge experienced by OT practitioners transitioning to OTA educators and participation in previous educational activities, number of years practicing as an OT clinician prior to transitioning to OTA educator, or type of OT degree earned.
Dissertation completed by Tiffany Sparks-Keeney.
Full dissertation title: "The High School Experience of Students with Disabilities: Factors that Influence Their Predicted Likelihood of College Graduation".
The purpose of this research is to study college planning practices, skills and activities in the secondary school experience of undergraduate students with disabilities that were important to their self-predicted college graduation. This study is limited to exploring factors within the transition programming domains of student-focused planning, family involvement and interagency collaboration. This mixed methods study used an electronic 33- item survey to gather data. Participants (N = 286) included undergraduate students with disabilities registered with a disability services office at a selective large public four-year university in the Pacific Northwest. Qualitative and quantitative results demonstrate that undergraduates with disabilities who predict a high likelihood of college graduation report certain secondary school practices, behaviors and experiences as important to their eventual degree attainment. Findings generated from this study provide insight into how to better prepare students with disabilities in secondary school for successful baccalaureate degree completion.
Keywords: special education, postsecondary education, disability services, college graduation
Dissertation completed by Julia Schechter.
Full dissertation title: "On Track for Success: Detracking Classes within a Middle School as an Exercise in Organizational culture and Change".
The dynamic nature of K-12 education requires schools to employ contemporary pedagogies to address students' needs. To ensure success, schools frequently focus on the problem they are trying to fix. If schools are to truly initiate a new pedagogical shift, attention must be given to other change variables. This study examines how a middle school detracked two of its three tiers of learners. The research examined how the initiative was perceived by teachers and leaders in addressing issues of inequity in academic rigor. Research questions were answered through surveys and interviews distributed to both the piloting cohort of teachers and the school's leadership team. Instruments were developed using the frameworks of Fair Process (Kim & Mauborgne, 2003) and the 8 Steps for Change (Kotter, 1995/2007) from organizational culture and change management. Data points also included the detracking effort as an exercise of fairness and social justice; academic rigor; and school and classroom practices. The research team developed actions steps by triangulating research from detracking and change management with information provided by the piloting cohort of teachers and leaders. Further research could be undertaken to examine how change management scholarship could be better incorporated in K-12 settings.
Dissertation completed by Samuel Procopio, Colin Ryan, and Brian Taberski.
This mixed-method study explores and examines the perceptions of community service providers and the effectiveness of regulations and protocols in regard to Limited English Proficiency (LEP) clients in King County, Washington State. People of color, immigrants, refugees, and other disenfranchised groups face difficult barriers when seeking necessary community services. Many immigrants and people of color struggle with English and must overcome major challenges to understand vital community service information. These difficulties are frequently influenced by language and cultural barriers. This study is based on a sample population within the City of Seattle, King County. Washington State, and includes agency workers who have direct contact with LEP clients, and management and policy-makers. It examines common policies, service agency regulations, and existing protocols. It includes (a) constraints that regulatory agencies maintain for business and service delivery practices, (b) staff perceptions in relation to established business practices and policies, and (c) demographic comparisons between clients and service providers. This study was based on data collected from two survey instruments. The first survey was provided to service agency staff who have direct contact with LEP clients and work with agencies within King County. The second survey was given to the leaders and experts in the sector. All respondents were asked for demographic information. Findings are described in Chapter 5.
Keywords: Limited English proficiency (LEP), public service agency, service provider, stereotypes, culture, acculturation, Americanization, cultural humanization, cultural competency, and linguicism.
Dissertation completed by Raymond Padilla.
Full dissertation title: "How the Marital and Parenthood Status of Women in Graduate School Affects Their Satisfaction with University Support Services".
Women in the United States increasingly seek graduate degrees and represent the largest population of potential applicants. However, they have challenges not faced by their male counterparts, particularly if they are also raising families. Institutions of higher education will benefit from better understanding the hurdles students who are women and mothers encounter. The institutions that are best able to meet the needs of this population may have an advantage in attracting the highest quality applicants.
This research examined the relationship between marital and parental statuses and satisfaction with more traditional university support services including the library, parking availability and cost, bookstore services, computer support, financial aid, health center, disability services, the collegium (a gathering place for adult students), campus ministry, and food service choices and availability. Participants were women, graduate students. The research methodology was non-causal, and comparative, with quantitative and qualitative elements.
The study found graduate women to be satisfied with the support services they used; however, several of the services have low rates of use by graduate women. Those using financial aid, the collegium, campus ministry, and disability services were highly satisfied. Marital and parenting status did not impact the level of satisfaction.
Dissertation completed by Barbara Slack.
Full dissertation title: "Best Practices for Onboarding New Nursing Faculty: The Role of the Nurse Administrator".
This study explored best practices for onboarding new faculty in nursing programs in Washington State of the United States. The purpose of this study was to examine, (a) onboarding practices to orient new faculty currently used at nursing programs that provide an Associate Degree, (b) the perceived nurse administrator's role in providing evidence-based orientation and training for new faculty and (c) the perceived barriers in providing evidence-based orientation and training for new faculty and how these barriers might be overcome.
This study employed a predominantly qualitative survey design. Participants were nurse administrators in Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs in Washington State of the United States. The survey was based on the Klein and Heuser (2008) Inform-Welcome-Guide framework. Surveys were electronically sent to 27 nurse administrators in all of the community and technical colleges in Washington State that offered ADN programs. These nurse administrators were asked about onboarding practices related to new nursing faculty.
Onboarding of new nursing faculty needs to be examined because nurses transitioning from the role of expert clinician to novice faculty are often ill prepared to deal with the realities of what is entailed in the faculty role and pedagogy (Jaradat, 2013). The results in this study overall indicate that nurse administrators perceived that new nursing faculty were experiencing orientation/onboarding activities, especially in the area of informing relevant to communication, resources, and training. Areas to focus on for strengthening orientation/onboarding practices particularly were in the welcoming and guiding activities as described by items in the Inform-Welcome-Guide (IWG) Survey administered in this study. These results may be useful as a springboard for conversation within each participating ADN program to determine which specific activities are in place and should be continued as well as ways to advance areas that may benefit by becoming formally implemented as part of the norm of the organizational culture.
Dissertation completed by Antwinett Lee.
Full dissertation title: "Pursuit of STEM for Latinos and Caucasian Students with Disability Status in Secondary and Higher Education".
This study examined course enrollments for female and male Latino and Caucasian students with disabilities (SWD) in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) to establish baseline data in one region of the state of Washington. The study analyzed five academic years of STEM course enrollment in one high school Career and Technical Education (CTE) program and one comprehensive community college. The study uncovered the following findings: (a) Latino and Caucasian SWD STEM enrollment percentages were not significantly different in the high school CTE program, but were significantly different in the STEM program in the comprehensive community college; (b) more females enrolled in Science and males in Engineering than anticipated, (c) Mathematics had the smallest enrollment pattern by ethnicity and gender in both settings, and (d) more males than females enrolled in Technology courses in the comprehensive community college. This research suggests the use of universal design of learning, theory of mind, and the ecological learning theory to encourage STEM enrollment for students with disabilities.
Keywords: Career and Technical Education (CTE), Caucasian, comprehensive community college, disability, enrollment, female, high school, Latino, male, STEM, student enrollment, and students with disabilities.
Dissertation completed by Laurel White.
As schools move from more traditional educational curricula and systems to practices more innovative and relevant to 21 st-century learning, it is necessary to understand the actions and attributes that are effective for creating innovative learning environments. This study explored how 21 st-century learning environments and practices are conceptualized in selected independent schools in the Pacific Northwest as well as the influence of administrative leadership in helping create and sustain these innovative practices.
This descriptive study focused on the experiences of teachers and school leaders, and the implementation of innovation practices at five independent schools. Two survey instruments, Dimensions of the Learning Organization Questionnaire and the Microsoft Partner in Learning Self-Reflection, were used to solicit information regarding institutional learning and innovative practices. A third instrument, the Kouzes and Posner's Leadership Practices Inventory, was used to assess administrative leadership behavior. Descriptive and correlational statistics were used to analyze the relationship between leadership practices and the adoption of innovative practices.
Findings suggest that faculty from the participating schools were involved and held positive perceptions regarding their school's learning environments and faculty learning opportunities. The responses also indicated that faculty were aware of the possible areas for innovation and reform in their respective schools. School administrators in the study saw themselves as engaging in positive leadership behaviors as identified in the leadership practices inventory.
Correlational analyses between the leadership practices and the defined learning dimensions and areas for innovation found some positive relationships and some inverse relationships. The majority of these were not statistically significant. A cross comparison between leadership practices and learning dimensions and areas of innovation for each school provided an opportunity to examine existing patterns. Possible relationship patterns were observed for four of the five schools. Exceptions to the pattern were also noted. It appears that individual leadership behaviors most likely support and influence specific learning dimensions and areas of innovation and reform.
Dissertation completed by Victoria Butler.
Full dissertation title: "Community Cultural Wealth and Higher Education Success: An Analysis of the Latina Experience at a PWI".
The goal of this phenomenological, qualitative research is to contribute to the growing number of studies on Latina success in higher education. Through the use of counter-stories, the purpose is to challenge the deficit theories, narratives, and research models, which present a limited view of Latinas and their families and fail to capture the full range of their lived experiences, aspirations, dreams, challenges, obstacles, and resilience. This study analyzes the forms of Community Cultural Wealth (Yosso, 2005) cisgender Latinas access to enhance their academic and social experiences at predominantly White institutions, and how the administration of those institutions can best support the success of Latinas. The participants of the study included six cisgender, Latinas at the junior and senior level in college. Each participant completed a demographic survey to determine eligibility and participated in open-ended, semi-structured interviews. Each of the interviews was transcribed and processed through open, axial, and selective coding, which sifted through each interview to discover common narratives and emerging themes, of which three were identified: family—as force and purpose, engagement—as campus climate fostering negative experiences with faculty and peers, and success—as the resiliency to pursue higher education in spite of circumstances and obstacles. A second phase of coding occurred through the lens of Community Cultural Wealth (Yosso, 2005), which noted that four forms of capital were predominantly accessed. They were aspirational, social, navigational, and resistant capitals. Another finding demonstrated that the best way to support Students of Color at predominantly White institutions is by creating a welcoming and engaging community with faculty and staff possessing the physical diversity of their students, cultural fluency, and the intention to engage and mentor Students of Color.
Keywords: Latinas, Community Cultural Wealth, Latin@s, Students of Color (SOC), counter-stories, dominant culture, White privilege, Critical Race Theory (CRT).
Dissertation completed by Douglas Leek.
Full dissertation title: "Implementing Innovations within K-12 Systems: Perceived Barriers and Supports for Standards-Based Education at the High School Level".
This dissertation identified the components of Standards-Based Education (SBE) and examined the implementation of SBE at the high school level. It employed a valid and reliable instrument used for teacher-focus groups, a site-based administrator-focus group, and district-administrator paired interviews. This instrument identified perceived barriers and supports for success when implementing Standards-Based Education at the high school level. The findings from this study include recommendations for both practitioners and researchers, and may assist policymakers, site-based leaders, and district leaders by laying the foundation for future research on implementing standards-based reform in an era of accountability.
The design of this study was a qualitative case study where two samples of participants were included: (a) a purposive random sampling of teachers, and (b) a purposive sampling of site-based and district administrators. Keywords: Standards-Based Education, standards-based instruction, classroom-based assessment practices, formative assessment practices, standards-based grading, criterion-based grading, criterion-referenced grading, criterion-based education, standards-aligned curriculum, implementing change, Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, professional learning, professional development, educational change.
Dissertation completed by Hannah Gbenro.
Full dissertation title: "Making Data-Driven Decisions: Teacher Perceptions About Using Student Assessment Data To Inform Instruction".
This mixed-methods study examined K-12 teacher beliefs about, use of, and confidence with using student assessment data to inform planning and instruction. The study also explored the factors that most support or inhibit teacher use of data-driven decision making practices. The sample for the study was K-12 school teachers with a variety of teaching experiences. Results found that overall, participants reported strong beliefs in the value of data use, regular use of data to inform instruction, and high levels of confidence with data use. Regarding supports and barriers to data-driven decision making, participants reported that structured time during the week to analyze data, collaborating with other teachers to interpret student assessment data, and interpreting student assessment data with a building administrator or coach were the strongest supports, and the biggest barrier to data use was a lack of time. Lastly, there is a statistically significant relationship between teacher reported beliefs about whether or not student data can lead to increased student growth and the extent to which they engage in and are confident with almost all components of data-driven decision making assessed by the survey instrument. Therefore, with the increased call for teachers to engage in data-driven decision making, the first step in accomplishing this goal may be to ensure that educational leaders understand and intentionally address teacher perceptions of data-driven decision because teacher beliefs have the potential to impact almost all areas of teacher use of and confidence with data-driven decision making. Educational leaders can then take steps to foster a culture of data use in their school, provide time for teachers to engage in data-driven decision making through collaboration or coaching, and provide differentiated supports for teachers based on teacher confidence, skills, and knowledge regarding data-driven decision making practices.
Key terms: data-driven decision making (DDDM), Data Cycle for Inquiry, data literacy, formative assessments, interim assessments, summative assessments, standardized assessments.
Dissertation completed by Kathleen Immen.
Full dissertation title: "Teacher Satisfaction Regarding the Use of Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) in Schools".
We find ourselves living in a country where many of America's public school teachers are experiencing great stress and are so disheartened that their level of job satisfaction has decreased over time (Fore, Martin, & Bender, 2002). This is an important concern and can affect students' academic learning as well as teachers' sense of efficacy. To address this problem, some schools have implemented a program called Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) that is a national framework which schools can use to design and implement supportive practices for students. PBIS is a three-tiered research-based practice designed to help schools create and sustain effective behavioral supports for students as well as encourage beneficial interactions between teachers and students. It involves all the teachers, staff, and students within a school system, and since teachers are the primary stakeholders in implementing PBIS, their support of the program may significantly increase its effectiveness and teacher satisfaction over time.
The purpose of this study was to examine teacher satisfaction relevant to use of PBIS in two schools in the Pacific Northwest region of the Unites States. The elementary school had implemented PBIS for 5 years and the middle school for 3 years; both were situated within the same urban school district. The teachers served students in Grades K-8 and were surveyed electronically to determine their level of satisfaction and efficacy with the use of PBIS. Overall, results indicate that participating teachers were satisfied with PBIS in both schools. Likert-scale responses to survey items measuring satisfaction with various aspects of PBIS implementation were predominantly positive. Unexpectedly, there were few statistically significant findings between the teacher responses across the two schools, despite that the Elementary School had implemented PBIS for 5 years and the Middle School for 3 years. It is speculated that perhaps the structured framework of PBIS may enable its implementation with greater fidelity early on, therefore reducing the probability for differences after 3 years of implementation with schools that have implemented PBIS for a greater number of years. Consistency in school leadership also may be a factor, as the administration at the Elementary School (5 years of PBIS implementation) changed, whereas the administration at the Middle School (3 years of PBIS implementation) was basically constant over time. Further research is needed to determine factors that may have influenced the predominant lack of statistical significance across items between the two schools. Finally, qualitative findings from teacher input on an open-ended survey item generally were consistent with the quantitative results in this study. These results may useful to administrators who are considering the implementation of PBIS in their schools.
Keywords: Teacher Satisfaction, Teacher Perceptions, Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies (PBIS).
Dissertation completed by William Keating.
Full dissertation title: "Enhancing the Art and Science of Teaching with Technology: A Model for Improving Instructional Quality for All Students".
The purpose of this study was to analyze archival qualitative data to better understand teachers' perceived effectiveness of the Enhancing the Art and Science of Teaching with Technology (EASTT) (Magaña & Marzano, 2014), professional development model aimed at increasing academic success for all students through the integration of technology in the classroom. This study examined teachers' perceptions of (a) the effectiveness of the EASTT professional development model implemented in the school, (b) its impact on instructional quality in classrooms (c) its impact on student engagement, (d) its impact on student achievement, and (e) the effectiveness of instructional coaching for EASTT. The EASTT model was designed to enhance how teachers integrate classroom educational technologies in the service of improving their implementation of the highly reliable instructional strategies articulated in The Art and Science of Teaching (Marzano, 2006). This qualitative study provides a unique contextual layer to prior quantitative student achievement results reported when EASTT was originally conducted over 3 years in the participating diverse, high-needs, low-performing elementary school situated in an urban setting in Southern California. During those 3 years, teachers and two administrators—the school principal and the district director of technology—also provided qualitative input that was archived. This dissertation study analyzes and reports the results of that qualitative archival data.
Dissertation completed by Anthony (Sonny) Magana.
Full dissertation title: "An Exploratory Study of Inquiry-Based Learning to Close the Achievement Gap in Reading and Writing at the Secondary Level".
This purpose of this study was to explore the phenomenon of one high school's closing of the achievement gap in reading and writing according to the Washington High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) in 2013 and 2014. Two of the interventions during the time the gap was closed were the leadership style of the principal and the instructional choice made by the teachers. In order to determine if either of these were a factor in closing the achievement gap, a case study was conducted to determine to what extent does a principal's leadership style affect the closing of the achievement gap in reading and writing at the high school level; and to what extent does inquiry-based learning influence the closing of the achievement gap in reading and writing at the high school level.
The leadership style of the principal was distributed (Sergiovanni, 1992). Distributed leadership was intertwined with servant leadership (Brumley, 2012) as defined by Greenleaf (Spears, 1998).
The inquiry-based learning implemented by teachers fit descriptions by Dewey (1938), Taba (1962) and Gall (1970) and used Robinson's SQ3R (1970) as a scaffold for the students into inquiry-based learning.
Using the Gall, Gall, and Borg (2007) definition of a case study, an analysis of what may have contributed to the closing of the achievement gap in reading and writing was conducted. The analysis included interviews, instructional artifacts, and student work from the school years 2012 through 2014.
Data from the analysis revealed strong alignment between the principal's leadership style and the students' achievement, and the teachers' instructional choices and the students' achievement. The principal's leadership style fit the definitions of distributed and servant and the teachers' instruction fit the definitions of inquiry-based learning as defined by research literature.
Dissertation completed by Karen Dickinson.
Full dissertation title: "Self-perceptions of Moral Leadership Among Catholic School Principals in the Archdiocese of Seattle".
For many years, research studies were conducted about the leadership of Catholic school principals (Griffin, 1993; Nsiah & Walker, 2013; Palestini, 2004; Schuttloffel, 2013; Shetler, 2006; Valadez, 2013). While there is much research on leadership, it appears that there is not much research related to moral leadership of Catholic school principals, especially in the Archdiocese of Seattle. The purpose of this research study was to identify self-perceptions of moral leadership among Catholic school principals, particularly, in terms of providing support to their teachers to be collegial, autonomous, self-managing, and to work collaboratively with common purposes and values.
The study focused on self-perceptions of moral leadership among Catholic school principals, in terms of providing support to their teachers. The researcher learned that there were no data pertaining to leadership of school principals in this particular area. The data collected from this research study might help the leadership team to identify the needs of school principals and the areas in which they need additional professional development to be more effective Catholic school leaders.
The researcher used quantitative methodology to collect data related to moral leadership of Catholic school principals. The data were collected using the leadership Sergiovanni's instrument (1992, pp. 65-66), and three open-ended questions. Responses to selected survey items and open-ended questions helped to answer the three research questions, and the primary research question. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The participants were 74 Catholic school principals in the Archdiocese of Seattle.
The research study provided important information about the moral leadership of Catholic school principals in the Archdiocese of Seattle. It found that many of the participant principals saw themselves as providing opportunities to their teachers to work collegially. The principals saw themselves as providing opportunities to their teachers to be autonomous and self-managing. The participant principals saw themselves as providing opportunities to their teachers to work collaboratively with common purposes and values. This study concluded that most of the participant Catholic school principals in the Archdiocese of Seattle perceived themselves as providing support to their teachers, which Sergiovanni (1992) regarded as another dimension of moral leadership.
Dissertation completed by Srinivas Khedam.
In the 21st century, it is clear that PreK-12 educational systems are seeing the importance of the development of the whole person. Children must be able to read, write, and solve math problems. They must also be socially strong, emotionally resilient, advocate for themselves, and be self-determined, thus creating a whole person and strong citizen of the future. Social-emotional learning aspects continue to be significant for the future and gain importance within PreK-12 educational systems and research.
This study will review archival data from a convenience sample of cohort schools implementing elementary and secondary school-wide positive behavior supports (SWPBS) and positive behavior intervention supports (PBIS). The research will assess the effectiveness, after year one implementation, and the impact this approach has on the school climate, specifically from the student and staff perspective. The study will also assess the effect on school-wide discipline and attendance. The basis of this research aligns with three conceptual frameworks grounded in positive behaviors for students, staff, and the school environment (culture and climate).
This study will contribute to the already established body of research supporting the education of the whole child through SWPBS, PBIS, and social-emotional learning frameworks in PreK-12 school systems, and the effects these approaches have on establishing positive school-wide conditions, culture, and climate.
Dissertation completed by Jennifer Kubista.
This qualitative study examined the practice of coaching among clergy, who face the challenges of developing competencies, enhancing high-quality relationships and maintaining resilience through the stressful nature of their work as leaders. Coaching purports to help clients achieve the results they desire. Intentional change theory explains sustainable change and renewal in terms of five discontinuous and emergent awarenesses. The first of these is the eliciting of the ideal self which is described as having a vision of who you want to be, and activates positive emotion, which increases capacity for learning and promotes wellbeing, leading to more sustainable change (Boyatzis 2006, 2008).
The main research question was: To what extent do coaches help clergy articulate their ideal self? Sub-questions included: What processes or methods do coaches employ to help clergy articulate their ideal self? In what ways, if any, does the coaching experience give clergy opportunities to set goals related to their ideal self? What effect does articulating an ideal self have on clergy's experience of sustainable change and renewal?
The study utilized both the Delphi method and select interviews with a purposeful sample of experts of both coaches who have coached clergy and clergy who have used coaches. The study found that coaches elicit the ideal self in clergy in the following perspective; (b) keeping the focus on the clergy—their desires, their thoughts, their resourcefulness; (c) ensuring conversations about ideal self lead to action steps for the client; (d) providing safe space and time for clergy to process what is often neglected or difficult to process in other relational contexts. Coaches utilize many processes and method for helping clergy articulate ideal self, including: (a) asking questions; (b) using various assessments and inventories; (c) and implementing planning and measuring tools. Over half of the respondents believed clarifying ideal self in a coaching context helped clergy experience sustainable change and renewal by reminding them of "why they are doing what they are doing and of what they hope to accomplish."
Keywords: Intentional change theory, coaching, clergy, Delphi method, ideal self, sustainable change, renewal.
Dissertation completed by Jeffrey Gephart.
The growing academic achievement gap disproportionately affects minority students, but can be defined more specifically as an economic achievement gap. Home income now serves as a key indicator as to whether a student will succeed or fail academically (Pagnani, Boulerice, & Tremblay, 1997). However, some successful high-poverty schools have emerged. What do these schools do that enables students to succeed?
Pierre Bourdieu's social theory of education is the framework through which the out-of school effects are examined. Using his concepts of habitus, field, and capital, the research on the impacts of poverty on cognition, brain development, and social wellbeing is reviewed. In-school effects are examined through the framework presented in Nine Characteristics of High Performing Schools (Shannon & Bylsma, 2007).
This descriptive case study explores the practices of principals of three high-poverty School of Distinction Award Winners selected by the Center for Educational Effectiveness. All three schools were found to use school-wide instructional frameworks that address issues identified in the research as effecting students from low-income families: habitus, executive function, and resilience.
Dissertation completed by Nancy Olsten.
This study implemented constructive controversy to examine its effects in graduate-level theology classrooms, a new context for such an application. Constructive controversy emerged from social interdependence theory and, over the years through numerous studies, it has been shown to increase academic achievement, creative innovation, critical thinking, academic self-esteem, and perspective-taking skills, all of which are valued in theological education.
This dissertation sought to examine (a) whether the controversy procedure is feasible for grappling with ethical issues in theological education, (b) its advantages or disadvantages in theology classrooms, (c) the extent to which complex thinking is enhanced, and (d) the extent to which social interaction is positive and thereby enhances the experience. This study employed a descriptive design to examine constructive controversy as a teaching method in two seminary classes at Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry. Data were collected by administering a pretest-posttest Achievement Measure and a posttest-only Reflection Questionnaire. Results were triangulated to determine alignment, credibility, and trustworthiness. Findings may provide useful implications for applying constructive controversy in theological education and add to the cooperative learning literature on constructive controversy.
Dissertation completed by Carolyn Poterek.
This dissertation outlines the need for more to be done to help general education students succeed in reading within the public school system. It presents current data surrounding public education and potential sources to improve reading among young students. It explores the research surrounding reading motivation, reading fluency, and Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) and the impact of AAT on reading scores and attitude toward reading through a study with boys who are general education students in a second grade classroom. The study employed a single-subject design and collected multiple baseline measures across subjects to determine the effects of students' reading progress and attitude towards reading when participating in reading sessions with a therapy dog. A Motivation Survey assessment was used to attempt to identify the participants' answer to how much they like to read and results in this study were shown to be suspect. Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) was used to measure students' oral reading fluency. In this study, AAT was shown to have a large effect on participants' oral reading fluency scores.
Dissertation completed by Jessica Conte.
Full dissertation title: "Preventing the Summer Slide: Using Closed Captioning and Same-Language Subtitling on Television as a Literacy Tool in the Home to Increase Reading Achievement".
This quantitative quasi-experimental comparative study asked to what extent the use of closed captioning and same-language subtitling used during regular television programming and on movies on DVD may be a supplementary literacy tool in the home during the summer months to increase reading achievement and prevent the "summer slide" (or loss of learning) that typically occurs during summer months when students are not in school. Parents of first graders from two Title 1 schools in the greater Seattle urban area constituted the voluntarily sample in this study. The treatment group used closed captioning and same-language subtitling as a literacy tool in the home during the summer months, while the control group did not use this tool in their homes during the summer months. All parents (treatment and control) gave permission to the school to report their child's first grade spring end- of-year (EndYear1) reading oral fluency scores and fall beginning-of-year (BeginYear2) oral reading fluency scores as measured by the DIBELS instrument commonly administered in schools. All parents also answered a parent survey about their child's reading and viewing habits during the summer. Treatment and control group DIBELS scores were compared by computing a 2x2 ANOVA. The treatment group did outperform the control group but these mean scores did not yield significant results.
However, t tests and effect sizes were calculated on change scores and provided promising results. The findings indicated that most of the children in the treatment group increased their fluency scores over the summer unlike the control where several experienced the summer slide in reading. This study is important because it is the first ever conducted in the home. Future studies need to be conducted with larger sample sizes to more definitively reveal the extent to which closed captioning and same-language subtitling could be used in the home as a practical, readily available, and cost-effective tool to increase reading achievement and prevent the summer slide in all types of children from all different backgrounds during the summer months.
Dissertation completed by Joy Brooke.
The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore to what degree there is currently agreement among a group of researcher, planning, and community practice experts from diverse fields on 1) the characteristics of a high-capacity community, 2) the best ways to build community capacity, and 3) what leadership models are most effective in the process. The researcher used a three-round Delphi method eliciting narrative responses from 16 experts in five categories: definitions, characteristics, indicators, best practices, and leadership related to community capacity. Participants then reviewed the major themes compiled from the group responses, revised or retained their initial responses, and ranked their agreement on those themes.
Over the three rounds, participant agreement grew from 23% to 100% on 44 themes or concepts that emerged. Participants further agreed on the importance of four concepts across all five categories. They were: building relationships, collective reflection, collective action, and expanding leadership. Participants also agreed that social justice and equity are core values for building true community capacity. The researcher concluded that there is a higher degree of agreement among diverse practitioners about building community capacity than the literature might indicate and that building authentic relationships is at the heart of the work. The study further suggested that when uncovering the strengths of community, a lack of agreement should not be confused with disagreement. Community capacity increases as a community becomes more able to identify and mobilize its diversities, not only its similarities.
Dissertation completed by Geoffrey Morgan.
Promise scholarships, which guarantee tuition assistance to entire student populations, have become a new trend in higher education financial aid. This study examined the demographics and academic achievement of students who attend a community college through a promise scholarship program. This retrospective case study used student enrollment records to describe the demographics and academic achievement of these promise scholarship students. Results found that the students who enrolled in the community college using the promise scholarship were predominantly students of color and students who were considered academically disadvantaged. Promise scholarships, especially at community colleges, appear to be an effective strategy to increase college enrollment for underserved students; however since many of these students struggled to make substantial progress toward a degree or certificate, it is strongly advised that additional student and academic support services be made available for these students and that educational leaders better understand and quantify the value of college attendance beyond persistence or completion.
Dissertation completed by Elizabeth Pluhta.
Full dissertation title: "The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Among African American Women Breast Cancer Survivors".
This study explores the perceptions and use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by African American women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer when making treatment decisions. The study also addresses to what extent African American women breast cancer survivors perceive themselves as strong advocates for their own health and as leaders in promoting self- health advocacy for other African American women.
Issues examined in this study are participants' knowledge, attitudes, and roles in relation to CAM as a treatment option for African American women living in greater metropolitan Seattle, Washington. Areas explored are (a) awareness and understanding of CAM modalities, (b) access/barriers to CAM providers, (c) access/barriers to good nutrition and exercise, (d) the benefits of integrating CAM into treatment plans, (e) how the attitudes of mainstream providers influence the choice of CAM, (f) how spiritual beliefs influence healthcare decisions, and (g) the leadership role of African American women in their own health advocacy.
The study design is mixed methods, using two surveys and key informant interviews. It is non-causal, instead focusing on the participants' personal experiences and perspectives relevant to CAM. The sample for the surveys was African American breast cancer survivors. The two key informants were physicians who treat breast cancer patients. All data were triangulated to determine alignment.
Keywords: better nutrition, breast cancer, complementary and alternative medicine, exercise, health advocacy, spirituality, western/conventional medicine.
Dissertation completed by Paula Houston.
Full dissertation title: "Me? A Leader? An Examination of African American Girls and Their Perceptions of Leadership".
Literature regarding African American girls and leadership development is scarce. With a preponderance of the literature focusing on issues such as teenage pregnancy and high school dropout rates among urban African American adolescent girls, this study sought to provide a healthy view of African American girls as leaders and agents of change. The purpose of this study was to give voice to African American girls to understand how they come to define, perceive, and express themselves as leaders. From different regions of the United States, 12 African American girls who were actively engaged in leadership roles were interviewed. Data collected through the interviews revealed that (a) family and upbringing was the strongest influence on respondents' self-perceptions as a leader (b) mentors and role models were not only highly valued among respondents, but were a critical aspect of their leadership formation, (c) respondents were keenly aware of the negative influences that mainstream and social media held on their self- and public perceptions as leaders, and (d) respondents expressed a desire for more practical leadership skills , such as conflict resolution, as part of their development as leaders.
Keywords: African American girls, Black girls, leadership, leadership development, mentors.
Dissertation completed by Michelle Majors.
Full dissertation title: "Macroergonomics Interventions: Influence of Referral Method, Psychosocial, and Demographic Factors on Outcomes".
Most mainstream ergonomics scholars concur that interventions work in eliminating the etiology and minimizing the exacerbation of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSD). Many advocate for participatory ergonomics (PE) as the preferred method of engaging employees in the intervention process. Currently, there is a paucity of research on the effectiveness of PE engagement processes. This study explored the efficacy of one PE engagement practice—referral method (self or mandated). The study examined the influence of referral method, psychosocial, and demographic factors on intervention outcome variables: engagement, intervention implementation, strains, workers' compensation claims, workstation satisfaction, and overall job satisfaction.
Data came from two sources: (a) archival records from 714 public sector office workers and (b) a new instrument used to collect data from 387 workers who comprised a convenience sample. The study reported two new findings: (a) referral method does not influence ergonomics interventions and (b) self-referred participants file fewer post-assessment workers' compensation claims. The study also confirmed three prior results: (a) there is a prevalence of WRMSD reporting by women (Armstrong et al., 1993; Hales et al., 1994; Noak-Cooper et al., 2009), (b) socioeconomic status reflected by educational level is less of a factor on WRMSD outcomes than psychosocial factors (Gillen et al., 2007), and (c) psychosocial factors are essential in managing employee safety (de Lange et al., 2003; Goodman et al., 2005). This dissertation study's findings, in the King County context in which it was conducted, underscores the agency's equity and social justice policies that ". . . do not favor one group over the other" (Joines & Sommerich, 2001, p. 334).
Dissertation completed by Onyenma (Dan) Nwaelele.
Full dissertation title: "School Performance within the Economic and Cultural Contexts of Nine Nations: An Exploratory Study of Education Indicators".
The purpose of this study is to examine the context, processes, and outcomes of education in eight nations roughly comparable to the United States. The prime focus is on the "G-7" countries, the nations (including the United States) with the largest economies. Due to widespread public interest in educational attainment in Finland and China, these two nations are also examined. Adopting a socio-economic view known as a deontological approach, this study examines: various measures of poverty and inequity in these nations, social stress, support for young families, support for schools, along with a variety of outcome measures, including assessments of student performance and measures of overall system performance. This study involves identifying several large national and international data bases, mining the information in them for comparative purposes, and developing graphics, tables, and charts to display nations' standing relative to each other on these indicators. The intent is to explore the possibility of developing a working model of a comprehensive and credible indicator system that helps citizens and policymakers in these nations (including the United States) better understand the context in which their schools function.
The main conclusion is that this exploratory approach holds promise of providing a more comprehensive and balanced understanding of the social and economic context within which national school systems pursue their missions. The research identifies 24 indicators distributed across six broad dimensions: economic inequity, social stress, support for young families, support for schools, student outcomes, and system outcomes. Although a comprehensive indicator system can be developed for each of the G-7 nations and Finland, only a partial indicator system can be developed for China for which reliable national information on a number of measures, including student outcomes, is not available.
Keywords: education indicators, international comparisons, international large-scale assessments (ILSAs), aggregating indicators, indicator development.
Dissertation completed by James Harvey.
Full dissertation title: "Focused Learning to Improve Teacher Effectiveness (FLITE): Evaluating a Professional Development Model at an Elementary School".
The purpose of this study was to determine the validity and reliability of Focused Learning to Improve Teacher Effectiveness (FLITE), a job-embedded professional development model implemented at an elementary school in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Two types of data were collected to examine effectiveness, namely archival school data spanning several years prior to this study and input from current teachers at the school on their perceptions of the extent to which this model embodies the Standards for Professional Learning (Learning Forward, 2011). Overall results indicated that FLITE is closely aligned with the Standards for Professional Learning, which have been validated through research. Furthermore, archival teacher learning reflections and principal observation notes suggest substantial increases in teacher learning and varying degrees of increase in teacher implementation of formative-assessment practices. Finally, an examination of the trend means for Washington State Measures of Student Progress (MSP) over 3 years while the FLITE model was implemented indicate increases in students meeting standard for two groups: students in the non-low-income group, and students in the low-income group.
Dissertation completed by Melinda (Wendy) Eidbo.
This dissertation is a case study examining the phenomenon of social entrepreneurship education in universities. Social entrepreneurship has been defined as a process whose goal is social change and/or the development of mission driven social ventures. This study used the primary lens of social entrepreneurship as a process whose goal is sustainability, that is, the resilience and survivability of human culture and the natural environment. The research questions focus on the perceived demand, need, obstacles, and leadership impacts relating to the development of multi-disciplinary, university social entrepreneurship curricula emphasizing leadership, business, and technical skills. The author used an online survey, with 136 faculty members responding, who were involved with social entrepreneurship teaching and/or research, and interviews with five directors and senior faculty of university social entrepreneurship programs to gather data for the study. While most of the faculty associated with social entrepreneurship studies were associated with schools of business, others were involved with schools of leadership and public policy, engineering, and liberal arts. Some social entrepreneurship programs were interdisciplinary to the extent of not being located in just one school or part of the university, but rather in several, or centrally located under the university administration. The similarities in the findings between the interview and survey data indicated a consensus that social entrepreneurship studies fit well with the mission of the respondents' universities, and are in demand by students. Respondents also indicated a perception that there is support for these types of programs on the part of university administrators. Respondents further indicated that while at the present time the numbers of their students interested in going into a dedicated career as a social entrepreneur is low, participation in social entrepreneurship coursework would make students more attractive to a variety of potential employers particularly in the area of social enterprise, nonprofit and social service organizations. Finally, the respondents report an apparent belief that social entrepreneurship education is efficacious for producing more ethical, reflective, and effective future leaders.
Keywords: social entrepreneurship; sustainability; university education; interdisciplinary; mission-driven; social change.
Dissertation completed by Mark Pomerantz.
Full dissertation title: "A Qualitative Study of Graduate Theological Administrator Support of Student Community Engagement".
The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate how graduate theological administrators can best support student community engagement. The findings were based on a Delphi process of graduate theological administrators identified as student community engagement experts as well as a focus group of graduate theological students. Delphi participants responded to seven open-ended questions through an online survey. Focus group participants were interviewed to assess the Delphi participants' synthesis.
The theoretical frameworks included Tinto's (1975) interactionalist theory of retention as well as relevant commentaries (Baird, 2000; Bean & Eaton, 2000; Braxton, 2000; Elkins Nesheim et al., 2006; Kuh & Love, 2000), a framework of Schlossberg's (1989) marginality and mattering, and understandings of community in an interdependent and interconnected world (Block, 2008; Gardner, 1989; Peck, 1987; Wheatley, 2005, 2006).
Findings presented a synthesized definition of student community engagement, major benefits and challenges, best practices, and significance to graduate theological education. Two conclusions offered suggestions for how to best support student community engagement: graduate theological administrators should understand and communicate with students the educational and psychosocial benefits of student community engagement as well as faculty, administration, and staff should offer support and participate in student community engagement. Policy recommendations included: graduate theological education should advocate for student community; administrators, faculty, and staff should intentionally design, implement, and participate in student community engagement; administrators should offer students administrative and financial support to affect and build their student community as they deem necessary; and administrators of graduate theological education should routinely assess achieved student community engagement of their current student community.
Dissertation completed by Colette Casavant.
Full dissertation title: "Formal Testing Versus Teacher Identification: Models of Access to Advanced Learning Opportunities in Mathematics".
This research study investigated the achievement levels of elementary students identified for an advanced learning program by a school district's categorical model using a combination of ability and achievement testing, or by teachers with a developmental model using classroom performance and teacher observation. The purpose was to examine if there are differences in the students identified by the two models.
The study occurred in a public elementary school in the Northwestern United States. It examined the achievement of 373 students in first through fifth grades who were identified for advanced math classes using a categorical model of formal testing or a developmental model using teacher identification. Students' fall and spring MAP® test scores were collected from district servers and analyzed using paired t tests and ANOVA based on available demographic, grade level, and longitudinal data.
The results of the study show that both the categorically identified students and developmentally identified students increased their mean percentile rankings significantly during the study, demonstrating that these groups had benefitted from the advanced math classes. In addition, both groups of students showed significant increases in their mean percentile rankings at the fourth and fifth grade level as well as in the later years of the study, indicating that students may benefit from being in advanced math for longer time periods. Furthermore, using the developmental model, teachers were able to identify an ethnic population for the advanced math program that closely paralleled the school's population.
The data provide evidence that the developmental model may be an effective way to identify students for advanced learning opportunities, either alongside or in place of the categorical model. Further study on programs that use a developmental model to identify students may help to increase the range of key characteristics that can be used to effectively identify a diverse range of students who may benefit from advanced learning programs.
Dissertation completed by Martha May.
Full dissertation title: "Learning While Sick: Perceptions of Undergraduate Students with Chronic Illness on Their Academic Experiences".
The purpose of this exploratory qualitative study was to examine the perceptions of undergraduate students with chronic illness of their academic experience, including their perceptions of their experience with academic accommodations, and factors they perceived contributed to or obstructed their persistence to degree completion. Students with chronic illness are an emerging population in higher education.
Two theoretical frameworks provided the grounding for the study. The first was Rendon's (1994) construct of validation. The second framework identified seven critical factors for persistence to degree completion for students with disabilities and chronic illness, including (a) access to and use of academic accommodations, (b) self-determination and self-advocacy skills, (c) effective transition into higher education, (d) an academic environment that is engaging and validating, (e) positive relationships with peers, (f) skilled use of assistive and other technology, and (g) effective strategies to mitigate the effects of chronic illness.
Juniors and seniors who had registered with the disability services office at a 4-year private institution in the United States were invited to participate in the study. Students had an illness such as asthma, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, epilepsy, lupus, or multiple sclerosis. Chronic illnesses that were considered to be psychological disabilities were not the focus of this study. An online survey was designed for the study, which captured qualitative data. Survey data were analyzed using Creswell's (2009) approach to qualitative data analysis.
Findings indicated that students with chronic illness were engaged in a balancing act as they managed the dual roles of being a student and living with a chronic illness at the same time. Student actions, including strategic balancing of these roles, proactively addressing their chronic illness, willingness to seek help, and qualities such as being goal-oriented, determined and disciplined were factors which contributed to their persistence to degree completion. Institutional supports, including academic accommodations and supportive and understanding faculty members, were identified as significant. Obstacles to degree completion included chronic illness itself, negative interactions with faculty members, instances of lacking true academic accommodations, and structural issues.
Keywords: students with chronic illness, students with disabilities, persistence to degree completion, academic experience, undergraduate students, exploratory qualitative.
Dissertation completed by Elizabeth Skofield.
Full dissertation title: "Effects of Targeted Professional Development on Transition Services and Teacher Practice".
The purpose of this quantitative descriptive and correlational research was to study the effects of targeted professional development on teacher transition practice and documentation of how the Individual Education Plan (IEP) was implemented. Participants were secondary special education resource room teachers (n = 10) in a large urban school district in the Western United States. This study utilized the Levels of Use (Loucks, Newlove, & Hall, 1975) interview protocol from the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (Hall & Hord, 2015) to determine the level of change in teacher practice, which then was correlated with the transition services data documented in student IEPs. Overall results indicated that teacher participation in targeted professional development focused on providing student transition services does positively influence teacher classroom practice and compliance on student IEPs. These findings may inform transition technical assistance centers and state monitoring agencies by providing an effective professional development model for improvement in teacher practice and compliance.
Keywords: special education teacher, professional development, transition services, compliance.
Dissertation completed by Sue Ann Bube.
Full dissertation title: "Mapping and Meaning Making: A Portrait of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer College Undergraduate Experience".
This dissertation examined the meaning-making processes during undergraduate college experiences of students who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) and the role that various influences in their lives play when they make decisions about their social, academic, and environmental choices. To examine this process, a phenomenological, non-causal qualitative study was conducted, which involved a camera-based method called Photovoice, and then a 60-minute face-to-face interview followed. Data collection took place at a 4-year public university in the Pacific Northwest with five undergraduate participants who self-identified as LGBTQ. Results revealed that (a) meaning making occurs through application of lessons learned through previous experiences; (b) decision making occurs through the influence of family, peers, and heteronormative stereotypes; and (c) the Photovoice method is an affirming and reflective process for meaning making. Overall, this study indicates that providing opportunities for self-reflection in higher education can assist students who identify as LGBTQ in make meaning of their undergraduate experiences.
Keywords: self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, self-authorship, meaning making, decision making.
Dissertation completed by Ashlee Norris.
This dissertation examines and compares the level of effective communication amongst academic advisors in institutions in the Pacific Northwest. Effective communication was explored through the lenses of framing, listening, and developmental management. A quantitative study employing the Communication Assessment (COMSA-R2) questionnaire, which assesses the interpersonal skills needed for effective communication, was administered to document the analysis. The questionnaire specifically evaluates and summarizes the interpersonal skills of (a) verbal expression, (b) listening, and (c) emotional management as successful traits for effective communication. Data were collected from academic advisors in higher education, from Northwestern American states and provinces (Northwest Region 8). Overall results indicate that (a) academic advisors perceived that they model effective communication, (b) academic advisors perceive that they have specific components of communication effectiveness, (c) more experienced academic advisors did not perceive that they have higher levels of effective communication compared to entry-level advisors, and (d) comparisons did not show differences amongst demographic categories.
Dissertation completed by Nadeje Alexandre.
Full dissertation title: "Mindfulness in K-12 Education: Transforming Students, Schools, and Educational Leadership".
This study identifies the necessary conditions for K-12 educational leaders to integrate mindfulness education into K-12 school programs in the United States. Mindfulness-based interventions have demonstrated benefits in clinical settings and in neurological studies. Given these demonstrated benefits, mindfulness-based education is being introduced in K-12 public and private schools. However, there is little information about how this is being done. This qualitative study allowed the voices of educational leaders, educators, and facilitators of mindfulness who are integrating mindfulness education into K-I2 public and private schools to be heard.
The three-part methodological theoretical framework comprised of phenomenology, symbolic interactionism, and grounded theory employed a three-round Delphi process to analyze and interpret subjective responses of experts in educational leadership. The names of these experts were solicited from organizations that teach mindfulness in schools or to educators and educational leaders as well as from research professors in the field, presenters and attendees at a 2013 mindfulness conference, and three web-based groups: the Mindfulness in Education Network (MiEN), the Association for Mindfulness in Education (AME), and the Omega Mindfulness and Education Network. A combination of personal invitations and a snowball technique enhanced the purposive sample. The Delphi data collection and protocols consisted of three rounds of questionnaires.
The opinions of K-12 educational leaders created a framework of best practices for integrating mindfulness education into K-12 education. This dissertation study extends the efforts of educational leaders and offers directions and recommendations to those who have just begun or wish to begin integrating mindfulness education into K-12 public and private schools.
Keywords: education, educational leadership, mindfulness
Dissertation completed by Brody LaRock.
The dissertation being presented was a study of the impacts of wilderness education experiences on participant self-efficacy beliefs in subjects ages 11-18. The conceptual framework for the mixed methods study was developed by exploring two concepts: Nature Deficit Disorder (Louv, 2005) and Self-Efficacy Theory (Bandura, 1977, 1997). A non-experimental, pre-test, post-test design was used to study the impacts on N=27 participants in two different wilderness education programs. Implications for future research and an emerging theory in this area are included in this dissertation.
Dissertation completed by Rana Lokos.
Full dissertation title: " School district professional learning: Teachers' perceptions of instructional leadership, teacher practice, and student learning".
This dissertation study includes an evaluation of a school district model of professional learning that aims to improve school administrators' instructional leadership skills and teacher practice to positively impact student learning. This study employs a valid and reliable survey instrument that measures professional learning standards. The narrow content focus of this model of professional learning is formative assessment practices. The findings of this study may inform policymakers, professional learning developers, and school districts interested in an effective model of school administrator and teacher professional learning.
The design of this study is quantitative and a purposive convenience sample was sought. Participants include secondary school teachers ( n = 281). This dissertation study includes descriptive and bivariate correlational statistics to determine the relationships among variables.
Keywords: school administrator and teacher professional learning, model of professional development, instructional leadership, teacher practice, formative assessment practices, student learning, professional learning evaluation, professional learning standards.
Dissertation completed by Christine Avery.
Soccer officiating can be challenging, exciting, and rewarding. On the other hand, officials can also feel frustrated, abused, and unappreciated. Soccer officials face as much pressure and emotion—sometimes more—than the athletes and coaches.
The purpose of this study was to give both professional and amateur league referees in the United States Soccer Federation the opportunity not only to offer explanations, but also to respond to the criticisms and stressors they experienced both directly and indirectly from their officiating. This study also examined the relationship between officiating and leadership, and evaluated whether referees developed leadership skills resulting from their officiating experience. Three research questions about stressors, coping with the stressors, and if the referees perceived themselves as leaders were used to achieve the purpose of this study. A survey consisting of seven separate categories, including some open-ended questions, was provided to professional and amateur league soccer referees in the United States who participated in the annual Referee Training Seminars, local and regional soccer tournaments, or attended referee chapter meetings.
The survey had 79 Likert-style scale questions and four open-ended questions. Data from the 300 retuned surveys were analyzed using quantitative and qualitative techniques. The two most common stressors were (a) making an important decision and later realizing it was wrong, followed by (b) having a bad game. The top two responses for coping with stressors were (a) trying to learn something from errors and (b) analyzing what happened to understand it better. In the qualitative analysis, the preponderance of responses indicated that the referees perceived themselves as leaders and believed they applied attributes of a good leader while officiating. Ninety percent of participants in this study said they developed leadership skills as the result of their officiating experience.
Dissertation completed by Mohammad Zarrabi-Kashani.
High school religion teachers in Catholic schools are central to the mission of such schools and teach in every Catholic high school. Research on effective teaching has not traditionally included this subset of teachers. The overall purpose of this study was to research the best instructional practices for high school religion teachers in Washington State, explore how to best implement the best practices, and explore what opportunities for sharing best practices teachers currently have. The Survey of Instructional Practices (SIP) was created, piloted, revised, and administered in this study. The SIP provided information from high school religion teachers in Washington State about lessons deemed to engage students and enhance student learning, in addition to teachers' opportunities for sharing ideas on best practices for teaching high school religion.
The participants in this study reported on a best lesson taught in a high school religion class and many key findings emerged. The best instructional practices included: (a) discussion, (b) application to real-world situations, (c) application to student's own life, (d) questioning by teacher, (e) cooperative or collaborative learning, and (f) identifying similarities and differences. Each of these practices is highlighted in the research on best instructional practices for teachers. Furthermore, four major themes emerged for how teachers can implement these practices, which included: (a) clear guidelines and directions, (b) students engaged, (c) student-centered, and (d) students working together. Lastly, participants in the study highlighted the opportunities for sharing best practices as being informal, yet helpful and important. Overall, the findings highlight two important themes for high school religion teachers: (a) the importance of collaboration, both for students and teachers, and (b) the importance of being engaged in the learning process.
Key words: high school religion; Catholic schools; instructional practices; effective teaching.
Dissertation completed by Marianne McGah.
Full dissertation title: ""Empowering Pre-Adolescent Girls: An Exploratory Study of Girls on the Run Experiential Learning Program".
This dissertation examined the extent of long-term participation in Girls on the Run (GOTR), an international non-profit experiential learning program for pre-adolescent girls, and its effect on healthy living and self-esteem. To explore these relationships, an exploratory, mixed-methods study was conducted, which involved open- and closed-ended surveys and interviews. Data collection took place in Seattle, Washington with former Girls on the Run Puget Sound (GOTRPS) 2002, 2003, 2009, and 2011 participants who now range in age from 8 to 20 years old. Specifically, this study scrutinized the (a) long-term participation of the GOTR program, (b) self-perceptions and perceived behavioral changes as a result of GOTR, and (c) whether or not GOTR values are reinforced in the home. Even though the sample size was small (surveys n = 65; interviews n = 7), results concluded positive program impact on girls that participated both once (short-term) and multiple times (long-term). Correlations on long-term participation revealed a positive and statistical significant correlation (r = .350, p = 002).
Keywords: pre-adolescent, adolescent, single-sex, experiential education, experiential learning, self-esteem, running.
Dissertation completed by Stephanie Galeotti.
This study investigated the experience of spiritual direction utilizing videophone technology between a spiritual director and spiritual directees, all of whom are deaf. The interview questionnaire used to investigate the experience of spiritual direction was designed with four major sections: spirituality and the world of worship, spiritual direction, information and communication technology, and hearing loss/deafness. The content validity index (CVI) was employed to evaluate the content validity of the questionnaire. Twelve experts consented to participate in the content validity analysis of the questionnaire. As a result, the questionnaire was reduced from 81 to 77 items, resulting in a CVI of .99, suggesting a high level of content validity.
The spiritual and technological experiences of the spiritual directees and the spiritual director were examined utilizing the questionnaire. The four participants ranged in age from 37 to 91 years, were Caucasian, had a severe-to-profound hearing loss, and were raised in the Christian faith. The interviews were conducted via direct videophone to videophone where each of the participants was interviewed in his or her own homes. The interviews were recorded with a capture card and images were downloaded into the computer. Each interview was transcribed from sign language into written English and portraitures were developed for each participant. The questionnaire guided the heuristic inquiry and development of the spiritual director's portraiture.
Three different qualitative analyses were used in the study: an analytic inductive process, a computer-assisted analysis, and collaborative analysis. Relationship, spirituality, spiritual direction, and communication were four common thematic categories that emerged from the three analyses. Salient themes from the analyses were consolidated into eight major themes under the four thematic categories, supporting the four propositions inherent in the study's theoretical framework. The results from this study suggest that both communication technology and spiritual direction played an important role in empowering the spiritual directees who are deaf in their relationship with other people and with God.
Dissertation completed by Nancy Delich.
Full dissertation title: "K–12 education nonprofit employees' perceptions of strategies for recruiting and retaining employees".
This qualitative study explored the key reasons individuals who work in K-12 education nonprofit organizations enter the field of K-12 nonprofit education and their motivations for doing so. The purpose of this study was to find new strategies for recruiting and retaining K-12 education nonprofit employees by examining the obstacles that exist to entering this field and strategies for overcoming these obstacles through the perspective of the K-12 education nonprofit employee.
The data were collected through online questionnaires completed by 46 K-12 education nonprofit employees and in-depth interviews with 9 K-12 education nonprofit employees. During the interview, participants were also asked to draw or verbally walk through a timeline of significant events that led to their current position.
The findings revealed that participants were educated from a variety of educational backgrounds. The main ways participants discovered their passion for the field were through volunteering or community service, by taking a job in the field and then discovering a passion for the field, and by being a participant at a K-12 education nonprofit as a youth. The key motivations for being in the K-12 education nonprofit field were doing meaningful work, having a passion for the cause, and the ability to serve others.
The main obstacles for entering the field were low pay, fewer job opportunities, and long work hours. The first strategy for overcoming obstacles in the field was for K-12 education nonprofits to increase public exposure and community awareness of their organizations The second strategy was to better emphasize the rewards and sense of fulfillment the sector brings. The third strategy was to create clearer career paths for K-12 education nonprofit employees, most specifically at the college level.
Recommendations are that (a) Educational institutions offer more undergraduate and graduate nonprofit degrees and courses to students; (b) K-12 education nonprofits invest more time and energy in recruiting new volunteers and employees externally by connecting more with the community; and (c) K-12 education nonprofits create a culture that values and promotes self-care, a supportive environment, flexibility, and training opportunities in order to better offset obstacles to entering the field.
Dissertation completed by Tara Byrne Luckie.