Blue ribbon set against a gray background

CEHD students awarded dissertation support grants

Four doctoral students have been selected to receive College of Education & Human Development Doctoral Dissertation Awards.

Tianna Floyd, Xiang Ke, Chantrell Parker and Tammy Turner will receive $1,000 each to go toward their dissertation work.

Click on the names below to learn more about the awardees, their research and how the award will support their work.

Headshot of Tianna Chantel Sims FloydResearch Area: Research, Measurement and Statistics
Dissertation Advisor: T. Chris Oshima
Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2017

Dissertation: “A Comparison of IRTPRO3 and MPLUS 7 for Multidimensional Item Response Item Parameter and Examinee Ability Estimation”

Advances in computational ability have produced new software, such as MPLUS 7 and IRTPRO3, which can estimate multidimensional item parameters and examinee abilities. Due to its nascence, little research has been done on the ability of IRTPRO3 to estimate multidimensional item parameters and examinee abilities in comparison to other available software. Her dissertation will investigate the capability of MPLUS 7 and IRTPRO3 to recover multidimensional item parameter and examinee ability levels under different conditions, including different estimation techniques, different test length, different sample sizes, different correlations between dimensions and with a variety of test structures.  In addition, both MPLUS 7 and IRTPRO 3 will be used to analyze real test data and comparisons will be made on the item parameters and examinee abilities that are produced by each program.

Funding: Because of this grant, Floyd will be able to purchase the software needed to conduct her research, purchase required books and journal articles for continued research into the topic and to present her findings at scholarly conferences.

Headshot of Xiang KeResearch Area: Biomechanics
Dissertation Advisor: Jianhua Wu
Anticipated Graduation Date: Summer 2016

Dissertation: “Spatial-temporal Gait Pattern and Motion Strategy in Children With and Without Down Syndrome While Walking from Level Surface to Stairs”

Ke’s doctoral dissertation study will investigate the spatial-temporal gait parameters and motor strategies in children with and without Down syndrome when they walk from the level ground to the stairs. Ten children with Down syndrome and ten typically developing children aged 5-11 years will be recruited from the greater Atlanta area for this study. Three three-step wooden staircases with the riser height of 17 cm, 24 cm and 31 cm will be presented in the middle of a 10-meter level walkway in random order. Each subject will walk barefoot over the unobstructed level ground to the staircase and walk up to the staircase at their preferred pace and comfort level at least five times for each stair height. Thirty-five reflective markers will be placed on each subject’s body. Vicon Motion Capture System (Oxford Metrics Ltd., Oxford, UK) equipped with eight infrared cameras will be used for the data capture. The spatial-temporal gait parameters in the approaching phase (i.e. when approaching to the stairs) and in the stair ascent phase (i.e. when waking up to the stairs), including step width, step length, step time, stance time, step velocity, toe-to-stair horizontal distance, toe clearance over the stairs and highest clearance, will be measured. The motor strategy will be classified into four categories: step-over-step strategy, step-on-step strategy, crawling with step-over-step strategy, and crawling with step-on-step strategy. The percentage of each category will be calculated for each step during the stair ascent phase in each staircase condition. The knowledge gained from this dissertation research can be useful for the development of physical activity intervention which aims to help children with Down syndrome improve their motor function and get more activity involvement in their daily life.

Funding: Ke plans to use the CEHD Doctoral Dissertation Support Grant for data collection expenses, including subject payment and lab supplies.

Headshot of Chantrell Antoine ParkerResearch Area: Exercise Psychology
Dissertation Advisor: Rebecca Ellis
Anticipated Graduation Date: December 2016

Dissertation: “Examining the Effectiveness of Mobile Devices to Increase Aerobic Physical Activity Among Adults Aged 65 and Older”

Theoretically-based physical activity interventions that use mobile technology are warranted to assist older adults who are insufficiently active. Therefore, the primary objective of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of a theory-based physical activity intervention among adults 65 years and older. The theory of planned behavior (TPB) will be used to develop belief-based text messages to promote moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity. It is hypothesized that participants assigned to the 12-week intervention (treatment group) will increase TPB constructs from pre-intervention to post-intervention compared to participants in the control group. In addition, it is hypothesized that participants in the treatment group will report a significantly greater increase in minutes of aerobic physical activity and energy expenditure of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity from pre-intervention to post-intervention compared to the control group.

Funding: Because of the CEHD grant, Parker will be able to purchase a significant number of Fitbit Zips, wireless activity trackers that provide an objective measure of steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes of physical activity. This grant will allow her to increase the sub-sample size of participants in both the treatment group and control group that will be able to use the Fitbit Zip.

Headshot of Tammy TurnerResearch Area: Educational Psychology
Dissertation Advisor: Daphne Greenberg and Natalie Tindall
Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2017

Dissertation: “A New Frontier of the College Alcohol Culture: Twitter Hashtag Conversations”

The college alcohol culture at institutions of higher education (IHE) involves high-risk drinking among students and negative alcohol related consequences that impact the individual students and the campus community. College football games are event specific activities associated with higher rates of drinking and negative consequences among students. Social media is part of the college culture and Twitter is a social media platform that is popular during college football games. The purpose of this study is to explore the college alcohol culture within Twitter. IHE Twitter hashtag conversations will be used to explore factors related to the college alcohol culture. A quantitative research design will be employed using factor analyses and hierarchal linear modeling.

Funding: Turner will use the funding for HLM statistical software and to cover the registration fee for a national conference. She has submitted two abstracts to the 2016 National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media.

For more information about the doctoral dissertation award, visit