Prospectus Presentation – Mahogany L. Swanson @ College of Education - Room 981
Dec 17 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

The Role of Positive Affect as a Viable Protective Factor for Women Survivors of Sexual Assault within an Economically Disadvantaged, Urban, African American Female Sample

by Mahogany L. Swanson

Screening for risk factors in the development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an important task of mental health professionals working with individuals at risk for exposure to traumatic life events, due to the potential for negative health outcomes in this population (Weiss, Skelton, Phifer, Jovanovic, Gillespie, & Smith, 2011; Wilcox, Storr, and Breslau, 2009). Traumatic life experiences do not necessarily lead to PTSD (Ehlers & Clark, 2000; Teldeschi & Calhun, 2004; Zoellner, Rabe, & Maercker, 2011). However, the rates of exposure to traumatic life events within the economically, disadvantaged African American community evidences the need to identify protective mechanisms (Kemeny, Reed, & Gruenwald, 2000). The purpose of the proposed study is to investigate the role of Positive Affect (PA) as a viable protective factor for women survivors of sexual assault within the African American community.

This study will analyze archival data collected as part of a larger ongoing NIMH, Howard Hughes study. Primarily low-income African American persons were recruited from waiting rooms of a primary care clinic and an obstetrics/ gynecology clinic of an inner-city hospital. Individuals presenting with psychotic disorders and, or cognitive disabilities were excluded from the study. Data analysis will include responses from the Traumatic Events Inventory (TEl; Gaben et a!., 201 I; Schwartz et al., 2005, 2006), the Modified Posttraumatic Stress Scale (MPSS; Falsetti, Resnick, Resick, & Kilpatrick, 1993), and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; Merz et al., 2013).

The following questions will be investigated:
1) Does the presence of childhood sexual abuse and adult sexual assault predict the presence of PTSD related symptoms
2) Does positive affect predict PTSD related symptoms.
3) Does positive affect mediate the relationship between sexual trauma and PTSD related symptoms.

Bivariate correlation, stepwise linear regression, and mediation analysis will be used to answer these questions.

Prospectus Presentation – Marian Nourollahi @ College of Education Forum - Room 630
Jan 22 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

How Preservice and Mentor Science Teachers’ Interactions Affect Their Beliefs and Science Teaching Practices

by Marian Nourollahi

The purpose of the this study of preservice and mentor science teachers’ interactions and beliefs is tri-fold: 1) to distinguish between knowledge, or what the preservice and mentor teachers “know” to be true about science teaching based on research or experience, and their beliefs or true opinions, 2) to determine how preservice and mentor teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs concerning their ability to effectively implement inquiry-based, and other reform-based practices in the classroom impact their science teaching practice, and 3) to determine how preservice and mentor teacher interactions shape beliefs of science teaching and how this may affect their teaching practices. The main research question is: How do the interactions between preservice science teachers and their mentor teachers affect their beliefs and science teaching practices? This question will be explored through a symbolic interactionism/grounded theory lens. Symbolic interactionism provides a theoretical framework in which to study the preservice and mentor teachers’ interactions and the subsequent meanings regarding science teaching that may occur as a result of those interactions. A conversion parallel mixed methods design will be used to compare and analyze qualitative interview and observation data and quantitative survey data on teacher beliefs. One-on-one interviews of the preservice and mentor teachers will be analyzed for emergent themes on teacher self-efficacy and science teaching beliefs. Videotaped observations of preservice and mentor teachers while planning and discussing lessons will be analyzed to determine the meanings on science teaching practices that emerge through their interaction and subsequent discourse. The meaning making that results from the written and verbal communication between the preservice and mentor teachers may provide important insight into their relationship and the possible subsequent influences on science teaching practices. This may also have important implications for the future design of preservice teacher field experiences in science teacher education programs.

Prospectus Presentation – Sharon R. Duhart @ College of Education Forum - Room 481
Jan 23 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Educators’ Perceptions of Low Achieving Schools in Atlanta Public Schools

by Sharon R. Duhart

This study is part of a larger blueprint from Atlanta Public School’s (APS) Race To The Top (RT3) comprehensive educational reform that aims at improving and sustaining student achievement through instructional and student support systems. The district’s five-year strategic plan is the foundation for this study. While APS is laying out a clear and comprehensive plan for implementation, turning around their lowest achieving schools is essential for plan execution. The purpose of this study is to examine educators’ perceptions of school and student outcomes in Low Achieving Schools (LAS) in APS. In particular, I will employ qualitative research to examine how educators construct meanings of the barriers and challenges low achieving schools face and their views on how to overcome those obstacles. I will use multi-case multi-method case study as my methodology for investigating data, which will primarily include interviews from principals and teachers, document analysis, and field notes from observations. The following research questions will guide the study: (l) What are the characteristics of APS LAS schools; (2) What are educator’s perceptions of what influences student and school outcomes in APS LAS schools; and (3) What recommendations do educators provide for overcoming barriers and challenges in their school? Finally, understanding educators’ perceptions about what is causing LAS to perform the way they do will be value added to APS’s RT3 strategic plans of significantly improving the performance of LAS in their district and setting them on a path for continued improvement.


Dissertation Defense – Souraya Mansour @ College of Education, room 830
Feb 4 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Language and Literacy Multilevel Constructs in Young Nonmainstream American English Speakers

by Souraya Mansour

According to the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP, 2011), children from race and language minority groups continue to perform significantly lower than their peers on reading achievement tests. Current perspectives suggest that multiple factors (e.g., household income, parent education) likely contribute to the achievement gap between African American children and their White peers and children from low income and middle income households (Barton & Coley, 2010; Chatterji, 2006; Jencks & Phillips, 1998), leading to multiple approaches (e.g., Head Start Early Reading First) to prevent or alleviate the trend (Barnett, Coralon, Filzgerald, & Squires, 2011). However, African American children continue to perform lower than their White peers, and continue to be over-represented in special services. It has become increasingly important to understand the contribulors to variance in early reading development among African American children. The purpose of this study was to provide a descriptive view of early language and literacy among typically developing children in prekindergarten who speak Non mainstream American English at child and classroom levels.

Dissertation Defense – Dackri Davis @ College of Education, room 409
Feb 5 @ 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Navigating Discrimination: A Historical Examination of Women’s Experiences of Discrimination and Triumph Within the United States Military and High Educational Institutions

by Dackri Dionne Davis

Amelia Earhart opened the skies for many female pilots in the 1930s. It was because of her that many young women followed their reverie to become a pilot. This dream led many to answer the call when the United States Army Air Force needed ferrying pilots when World War II began. Female aviators were contracted as civil service personnel and placed in different units to ferry planes across the country and to tow targets during live ammunition practice by combat soldiers. These units were later combined to form the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs). The anomaly of the WASPs was that they were the only women’s unit who joined a men’s only division of the Army, though they were not considered to be full military personnel.

Never before had the United States government allowed female pilots to participate in the military. While providing aerial support services for the United States Air Force, the WASPs were not granted military benefits, nor were they considered partof the military, despite being required to follow all military protocols. In 1977, after Congressional hearings, the WASPs were finally granted full military honors. This dissertation examines the experiences of those women within the context of the institutions of higher education where they were trained and in terms of the varied forms of discrimination that they faced, highlighting the ways in which they navigated those challenges.

Dissertation Defense – Kori L. H. Maxwell @ College of Education, room 608
Feb 10 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

The Effects of Using Visual Statistics Software on Undergraduate Students’ Achievement in Statistics and the Role of Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Factors in Their Achievement
by Kori Lloyd Hugh Maxwell

This study examined the effects of visual statistics software on undergraduate students’ achievement in elementary statistics and the role of cognitive and non·cognitive factors in their achievement. An experimental design as
implemented using ViSta- a visual stalislics program. A sample of 273 undergraduate students at a leading urban southeastern research university enrolled in six sections of Elementary Statistics were selected and randomly assigned to experimental and comparison groups. The participants completed four surveys, with pre- and post-test measures, which assessed their attitudes, statistics self-efficacy, perceptions of their learning environment, and statistical reasoning abilities. To further guide this study, the modified trichotomous framework (Beyth-Marom, Fidler, & Cumming, 2008; Elliot & McGregor, 2001) of goals, cognition, and achievement was used as the theoretical foundation to categorize the cognitive and non-cognitive predictors in relation to student achievement. Three quantitative data analysis methods were utilized. Mann-Whitney tests were employed to determine if there were any statistically significant differences in overall achievement and cognitive and non-cognitive sub-scales between the experimental and comparison groups. Exploratory factor analysis was used to group test items into latent sub-scales for analysis and correlation analysis was used to determine if there were any statistically significant associations between the overall grade in the course and the cognitive and non-cognitive sub-scales. For the qualitative data, error analysis was used to determine any underlying processes or misconceptions evident in students’ problem-solving application. Additionally,  reliability analysis determined the internal consistency of the data and fidelity of implementation analysis ensured that the intervention was being applied appropriately. In this study, no statistically significant differences in achievement were noted. However, a significant difference was noted in students’ statistics self-efficacy between the comparison and experimental groups. Finally, using the Pearson product moment correlation (r), a statistically significant correlation was found between the overall grade and attitudes towards the course, attitudes towards statistics in the field, interpreting and applying statistical procedures, identifying scales of measurement, and the negotiation scale of students’ learning environment. Implications of the research results were identified and recommendations were suggested to improve statistics instruction at the undergraduate level.

Dissertation Defense – Jessica W. Trussell @ College of Education, room 830
Feb 27 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Effects of Morphographic Instruction on Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students’ Morphographic Analysis Skills

by Jessica W. Trussell

Deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH) students have delayed morphographic knowledge (Gaustad, Kelly, Payne, & Lylak, 2002) that negatively affects their morphographic analysis (Gaustad & Kelly, 2004) and decoding abilities (Carlisle, 2000). Morphographic analysis entails separating words into their component morphographs to determine meaning and allows readers to decode in orthographic chunks (Carlson, Jenkins, Li, & Brownell, 2013). According to the automatic information processing reading theory (LaBerge & Samuels, 1974), proficient readers must decode in orthographic chunks to allow for hlger quality lexical retrieval (Perfetti, 2002) and to develop automaticity. Morphographic analysis instruction may improve DHH students’ morphographic knowledge (Nunes, Burman, Evans, & Bell, 2010). Spelling through Morphographs (Dixon & Engelmann, 2007) is a Direct Instruction curriculum that teaches morphographic analysis and affix meanings through scripted lessons and planned practice. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of morphographic instruction modeled after the Spelling through Morphographs (Dixon & Engelmann, 2007) curriculum on the morphographic analysis skills of reading-delayed DHH students. The study Included three student participants and one teacher participant from a local school district. The researcher used a mulliprobe multiple baseline across participants design (Kazdin, 201 0) followed by a visual analysis of the dala. The instruction improved the participants’ morphographic analysis skills and affix knowledge. Limitations of this study and future research are discussed.

Prospectus Presentation – Cassandra C. Matthews @ College of Education, room 509
Mar 7 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Examining Mentoring from the Perspective of New Teacher Residents
by Cassandra C. Matthews

Education reform efforts targeting improved student outcomes have resulted in discourse about how to influence instructional quality, one of the key variables in student achievement (Darling-Hammond, 2010). Research shows that new teachers are less likely than more experienced teachers to help students reach their full potential (Moir et al., 2009). Comprehensive induction programs (including mentoring) have emerged as a promising strategy to support new teacher development (Achinstein & Athanasas, 2006). The purpose of this qualitative case study is to examine the construct of mentoring from the perspective of new teachers. It aims to give voice to new teachers currently being mentored in order to understand and describe their mentoring experiences. New teachers enter with an expectation or at least an idea of what they believe should be the role of an effective mentor. If the supports offered do not align with teachers’ needs, the goals of improved teacher quality and student learning may not be realized. The study is situated within a New Teacher Residency Project, a grant-supported collaboration between an urban charter school and a local university. Resident Teachers’ participation in the project affords them the opportunity to complete their undergraduate studies, but unlike other graduates who then transition into their own classrooms for their first year of teaching, these teachers continue their “residency” by participating in a team-teaching partnership with an experienced cooperating teacher. Residents are further supported by a trained mentor and it is the Resident Teacher/Mentor relationship that will be the focus of this study. The theoretical framework is situated learning and communities of practice. The research question is, How do Resident Teachers describe their expectations and experiences of mentoring?

Dissertation Defense – Sanjuana C. Rodriguez @ College of Education, room 650
Mar 10 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Emergent Bilinguals’ Use of Social, Cultural, and linguistic Resources In a Kindergarten Writing Works
by Sanjuana C. Rodriguez

While many research studies have examined the early literacy development and experiences of monolingual children (e.g. Clay 1982, 1991, 2001; Dyson, 1984, 1993, 2003), there are few studies that investigate the early literacy development of young emergent bHingual students (Dworin & Moll, 2006; McCarthey, 2004; Moll, Saez, Dworin, 2001). Drawing on sociocultural theory (Rogoff, 1990; Vygotsky, 1978), culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy (Gay, 2000; Ladson-Billings, 1994, 1995), ethic of care perspectives (Noddings, 1984), and Latino critical race theory (Yosso, Villalpando, Delgado Bernal, & Solrzano, 2001), this case study examined emergent bilingual students’ writing development during writing workshop in the context of an “English only” official curriculum. Questions guiding the study were: (1) How do emergent bilingual writers participate in writing events? (2) What social, cultural, and linguistic resources do emergent bilingual writers draw upon when engaged in the composing process? and (3) What impact do these resources have on emergent bilingual writers’ understandings of the writing process?

Dissertation Defense – Leslie Stewart @ College of Education, room 1025
Mar 10 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Competencies in Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling: A Qualitative Investigation of the Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes Required of Competent Animal Assisted Therapy Practitioners
by Leslie A Stewart

Existing authors (Reichert, 1998; Watson 2009) have described the unique positive impact of Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling (MT-C) on the client’s perception of the therapeutic alliance as well as the professional counselor’s ability to build positive alliances quickly. When implemented with appropriate education and training, AA T-C can positively impact the therapeutic experience of a diverse range of clients across a wide variety of settings (Chandler, 2012; Fine, 2004). AAT-C requires a specialized set of skills and competencies that allows professional counselors to incorporate specially trained animals into the counseling process to influence the therapeutic process in ways that are beyond the scope of traditional counselor-client helping relationships (Stewart & Chang, 2013). However, there is currently no definition of counseling-specific competencies to guide practitioners in this specialty area. To address this gap, the presenters conducted an investigation using the Grounded Theory Method (Charmaz, 2006; Guba & Lincoln, 1989) to address the following research question: What knowledge, skills, and attitudes are required of competent practitioners of AAT-C? Based on the themes and subthemes that emerged from the data, the authors constructed a theoretical framework which represents competencies in AA T-C. Using this theoretical framework, the authors uncovered a total of nine essential competency areas for professional counselors utilizing AAT-C. They are divided into three domains in accordance with the competency framework that includes Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes (Myers & Sweeny, 1990).