Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • The Effect of Story Contexts on Complex Verb Learning in Third Grade Students

    Author:
    Molly Chilton
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Linnea Ehri
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this study was to compare the impact of more and less connected semantic contexts on third graders' learning of complex verb meanings. An experimental design was used. Middle class SES third grade students (N=40) were assigned to one of two conditions to learn complex verbs. Students were matched based on word reading ability (WRMT) and members of pairs were randomly assigned to one of the two conditions. The experimental group (cohesive story context) was presented with four sets of sentences. Each set consisted of a brief synopsis of a story followed by six connected sentences containing target verbs telling the story. The comparison group (unconnected context) was exposed to the same sentences without the synopsis and with different agents presented in a different order to minimize connections between the sentences. Based on connectionist theories, it was hypothesized that students presented with target verbs in a cohesive story context would learn more verb meanings than those assigned to the unconnected context. Students completed word reading and receptive and expressive vocabulary pretests prior to being assigned to a learning condition. Performance during learning as well as on five posttests one day after training were examined in order to assess students' abilities to spell, define, and use target verbs in sentences. The contribution of students' existing vocabulary knowledge and word reading skill to their verb learning was also examined. Students in the cohesive context condition outperformed students in the unconnected condition on most learning and posttest measures. Significant differences between the groups were detected on the more demanding posttest measures (definition production and sentence generation), with students in the connected context condition outperforming those in the unconnected condition. Word reading skills but not vocabulary explained significant unique variance on several measures. Results are discussed in regard to various learning theories, and recommendations are made for vocabulary and general reading instruction.

  • Improving the Acquisition and Retention of Science Material by Fifth Grade Students Through the Use of Imagery Interventions

    Author:
    Marisa Cohen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Helen Johnson
    Abstract:

    A strong base of knowledge in vocabulary is imperative for all students as they are exposed to a great deal of novel words throughout their academic careers, especially in content areas such as science. By devising effective interventions to teach science vocabulary, literacy and science can be integrated and students' mastery of novel words will improve. This study examined the effect of imagery interventions for the presentation of novel science vocabulary to fifth grade learners. Eighty-nine students from two schools in Long Island participated in this study and were randomly assigned to four different instructional interventions: a Picture Presentation method, in which a word was paired with a picture; an Image Creation- No Picture method, in which the participants were told to create an image of the word and draw it on paper; an Image Creation- Picture method, in which the students were presented with the picture and then told to draw it; and a Word Only method, which involved the simple verbal presentation of the word. These interventions were developed taking into account the ability of images to facilitate vocabulary learning, the theory of dual coding, and depth of processing. Participants' acquisition of the words was measured one day after instruction and retention was examined two weeks later. The students were given word fill-in and definition word match tasks at both time points. Results demonstrated that students in the imagery intervention groups (Picture Presentation, Image Creation- No Picture, and Image Creation- Picture) scored higher on the outcome measures at both immediate and delayed recall. It was also shown that the deeper the students processed the "to be learned" vocabulary words, the higher they scored on the outcome measures. Based on the mean outcome measure scores at both time points, students in the Image Creation- Picture intervention scored the highest, followed by the students in the Image Creation- No Picture intervention, those in the Picture Presentation intervention, and finally the Word Only intervention students. Such a study has implications as to the most effective way to integrate science and literacy and successfully present novel concepts in the classroom.

  • Improving the Acquisition and Retention of Science Material by Fifth Grade Students Through the Use of Imagery Interventions

    Author:
    Marisa Cohen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Helen Johnson
    Abstract:

    A strong base of knowledge in vocabulary is imperative for all students as they are exposed to a great deal of novel words throughout their academic careers, especially in content areas such as science. By devising effective interventions to teach science vocabulary, literacy and science can be integrated and students' mastery of novel words will improve. This study examined the effect of imagery interventions for the presentation of novel science vocabulary to fifth grade learners. Eighty-nine students from two schools in Long Island participated in this study and were randomly assigned to four different instructional interventions: a Picture Presentation method, in which a word was paired with a picture; an Image Creation- No Picture method, in which the participants were told to create an image of the word and draw it on paper; an Image Creation- Picture method, in which the students were presented with the picture and then told to draw it; and a Word Only method, which involved the simple verbal presentation of the word. These interventions were developed taking into account the ability of images to facilitate vocabulary learning, the theory of dual coding, and depth of processing. Participants' acquisition of the words was measured one day after instruction and retention was examined two weeks later. The students were given word fill-in and definition word match tasks at both time points. Results demonstrated that students in the imagery intervention groups (Picture Presentation, Image Creation- No Picture, and Image Creation- Picture) scored higher on the outcome measures at both immediate and delayed recall. It was also shown that the deeper the students processed the "to be learned" vocabulary words, the higher they scored on the outcome measures. Based on the mean outcome measure scores at both time points, students in the Image Creation- Picture intervention scored the highest, followed by the students in the Image Creation- No Picture intervention, those in the Picture Presentation intervention, and finally the Word Only intervention students. Such a study has implications as to the most effective way to integrate science and literacy and successfully present novel concepts in the classroom.

  • The Relationship of Primary Caregiver Perceptions of Language and Behavioral Levels of Children with Autism to Primary Caregiver Stress and Ratings of Family Climate

    Author:
    Abigail Connolly
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Shick Tryon
    Abstract:

    The present study explored language and behavioral levels in a sample of 85 children on the Autism Spectrum between the ages of 6 to 12 years. It also studied the relationship of these levels to the primary caregiver's ratings of parental stress and family environment. Participants were primary caregivers of children diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. Language levels were measured by primary caregiver ratings of non verbal, pre verbal, phrase speech and verbal as defined by the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS; Lord, Rutter, DiLavore & Risi, 2002). Primary Caregivers of verbal children also completed the Children's Communication Checklist-2 (CCC-2; Bishop, 2006). Behavioral levels were measured as Externalizing and Internalizing by the Children's Behavior Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001) completed by the primary caregivers and 71 of the children's teachers. Primary Caregivers also completed the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form (PSI-SF; Abidin, 1995) and the Familly Environment Scale (FES; Moos & Moos, 2002) to measure primary caregiver stress and family environment respectively. Results found a wide range of language functioning. Both primary caregiver and teacher behavior ratings did not reach Borderline Range. Externalizing and Internalizing behaviors were highly correlated among primary caregiver scores, but not for teacher scores. CCC-2 General Communication Composite (GCC) score yielded moderate correlations with both Exteralizing and Internalizing primary caregiver ratings. Teachers' Externalizing scores yielded a mild negative relationshipwith primary caregiver rated language levels and teacher Internalizing scores were negatively assosciated with the CCC-2 Social Interaction Difference Index Score (SIDI). In terms of Primary Caregiver stress, CCC-2 language scores suggested a differential effect of language functioning on Primary Caregiver stress. GCC scores produced moderate negative correlations with 3 of the 4 stress measures. The CCC-2's SIDI score produced a negative moderate correlation with the fourth stress measure: Parent Distress. Primary Caregiver behavior scores yielded moderate correlations across all parental stress measures. Teacher behavior scores paralleled the pattern of the language scores: Externalizing scores correlated significantly with 3 of 4 stress measured while Internalizing scores were associated with Parental Distress. Language functioning did not seem to play a significant part in family climate. However, behavioral ratings suggested there was some link between the children's behavior ratings and family communication among its members. Overall, this study explored the differential effects of varying language and behavior levles on Primary Caregiver stress and ratings of family functioning in a sample of children on the Autism Spectrum

  • Bridging the Gap: Relational Aggression in the College Environment

    Author:
    Irene Delgado
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Helen Johnson
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this study is to expand the limited research on bullying behaviors and their consequences in the college environment; specifically, frequency of exposure, explanation for bullying behaviors, attribution of blame and help seeking responses. The negative trajectory that has been seen throughout elementary school, middle school and high school is expected to continue through into the college environment. This investigation was conducted in two parts. In Study A, participants were 348 college students from an ethnically diverse, suburban private college which consisted of 203 females and 153 males. Students self-selected to participate in filling out a sixty-item survey to gain demographic and basic knowledge about their frequency of exposure to bullying in the college environment. Study A provided key evidence that females and males reported bullying/relational aggression, as a witness, in the college environment. In addition, females did not engage in relational aggressive behaviors in higher frequency than males, and females did not blame the victim more often for relationally aggressive victimization as compared to males. In Study B, participants were thirty-two college students who self-disclosed their interest in participating in in-depth interviews regarding personal accounts of bullying and its effects. Questions were aimed at understanding students' explanations for bullying behaviors, and evaluating their personal experiences with bullying and help seeking as they matured. Each student was individually interviewed by this investigator. The main conclusions drawn from Study B are: 1) females endorsed jealousy as the most relevant reason for bullying as compared to males who endorsed gaining acceptance as the most frequently cited explanation; 2) in elementary school, high school, and college, females reported a higher percentage of help seeking as compared to males; and, 3) college students reported experiencing negative feelings from being exposed to bullying in the college environment, in addition to feeling negatively in the classroom. This study illuminates the continued need to provide bullying intervention programs at the college level, including but not limited to: training professors and staff on how to identify and respond to bullying episodes, provide bullies and victims with individualized support, and, develop and enforce a disciplinary code of conduct.

  • Bridging the Gap: Relational Aggression in the College Environment

    Author:
    Irene Delgado
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Helen Johnson
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this study is to expand the limited research on bullying behaviors and their consequences in the college environment; specifically, frequency of exposure, explanation for bullying behaviors, attribution of blame and help seeking responses. The negative trajectory that has been seen throughout elementary school, middle school and high school is expected to continue through into the college environment. This investigation was conducted in two parts. In Study A, participants were 348 college students from an ethnically diverse, suburban private college which consisted of 203 females and 153 males. Students self-selected to participate in filling out a sixty-item survey to gain demographic and basic knowledge about their frequency of exposure to bullying in the college environment. Study A provided key evidence that females and males reported bullying/relational aggression, as a witness, in the college environment. In addition, females did not engage in relational aggressive behaviors in higher frequency than males, and females did not blame the victim more often for relationally aggressive victimization as compared to males. In Study B, participants were thirty-two college students who self-disclosed their interest in participating in in-depth interviews regarding personal accounts of bullying and its effects. Questions were aimed at understanding students' explanations for bullying behaviors, and evaluating their personal experiences with bullying and help seeking as they matured. Each student was individually interviewed by this investigator. The main conclusions drawn from Study B are: 1) females endorsed jealousy as the most relevant reason for bullying as compared to males who endorsed gaining acceptance as the most frequently cited explanation; 2) in elementary school, high school, and college, females reported a higher percentage of help seeking as compared to males; and, 3) college students reported experiencing negative feelings from being exposed to bullying in the college environment, in addition to feeling negatively in the classroom. This study illuminates the continued need to provide bullying intervention programs at the college level, including but not limited to: training professors and staff on how to identify and respond to bullying episodes, provide bullies and victims with individualized support, and, develop and enforce a disciplinary code of conduct.

  • A microanalytic study of self-regulated learning processes of expert, non-expert, and at-risk science students

    Author:
    Maria DiBenedetto
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Barry Zimmerman
    Abstract:

    The present investigation sought to examine differences in the self-regulated learning processes and beliefs of students who vary in their level of expertise in science and to investigate if there are gender differences. Participants were 51 ethnically diverse 11th grade students from three parochial high schools consisting of 34 females and 17 males. Students were grouped as either expert, non-expert,or at-risk based on the school's classification. Students were provided with a short passage on tornados to read and study. The two achievement measures obtained were the Tornado Knowledge Test : ten short-answer questions and the Conceptual Model Test : a question which required the students to draw and describe the three sequential images of tornado development from the textual description of the three phases. A microanalytic methodology was used which consists of asking a series of questions aimed at assessing students' psychological behaviors, feelings, and thoughts in each of Zimmerman's three phases of self-regulation: forethought, performance, and reflection. These questions were asked of the students while they were engaged in learning. Two additional measures were obtained: the Rating Student Self-Regulated Learning Outcomes: A Teacher Scale (RSSRL) and the Self-Efficacy for Self-Regulated Learning (SELF). Analysis of variance, chi square analysis, and post hoc test results showed significant expertise differences, large effect sizes, and positive linear trends on most measures. Regarding gender, there were significant differences on only two measures. Correlational analyses also revealed significant relations among the self-regulatory subprocesses across the three phases. The microanalytic measures were combined across the three phases and entered into a regression formula to predict the students' scores on the Tornado Knowledge Test. These self-regulatory processes explained 77% of the variance in the Tornado Knowledge Test, which was a significant and substantial effect. Prior to this investigation, there have been no studies which have tested Zimmerman's three phase model on an academic task, such as science, within an expertise framework. Implications from the present study suggest that students varying in expertise level in science achievement also vary in self-regulatory behavior, and that gender is not a significant factor.

  • Enhancing Self-monitoring and Self-reflection through a Self-regulatory Skills Intervention Embedded in a Middle School Mathematics Curriculum.

    Author:
    Gregory DiGiacomo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Peggy Chen
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a self-regulatory strategy intervention designed to improve participants' calibration accuracy, self-regulatory skills, and math achievement. Monitoring and self-reflection processes were the main focus of this intervention as they are key processes in many well-validated models of self-regulated learning and have been found to impact academic achievement and overall self-regulatory skill (Bol et al., 2010; Dunlosky & Rawson, 2011; Hacker et al., 2008; Nietfeld et al., 2005). The participants were 30 sixth and seventh grade students who were learning about probability as part of their normal math curriculum during the study. They were randomly assigned to a treatment group or a control group. The treatment group received an intervention that was built upon previously successful monitoring and self-regulation interventions. Results show that participants who received the intervention had higher predictive and postdictive calibration accuracy and higher math performance as compared to the control group, but did not report using more self-regulatory and metacognitive strategy use. Qualitative data suggest that participants use different sources for their calibration judgments depending on how accurate their calibration judgments were and fell largely in line with previous theoretical understandings. The educational implications of the findings for school psychologists and educators were considered.

  • Using the Internet With A Structured Think-Aloud Methodology to Enhance College Students' Vocabulary

    Author:
    Rachel Ebner
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Linnea Ehri
    Abstract:

    The present study built upon an earlier study by Ebner and Ehri (in press), which examined the Internet's potential as a learning tool for enhancing college students' vocabularies. The current research sought to extend that study by determining how to make online vocabulary learning more effective. An experiment was conducted to investigate a structured think-aloud methodology that encouraged participants' metacognitive focus on an online vocabulary task. Participants were 70 students from a New York City public university. They were randomly assigned to either a treatment condition to learn about particular terms contained in an online text using a structured think-aloud method, or to a control condition using an unstructured think-aloud method. Analyses of variances revealed that structured think-aloud participants demonstrated significantly greater vocabulary gains, both overall and within specific dimensions of word knowledge, compared to the control group. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses revealed that differences between conditions in vocabulary gains were attributable to structured think-aloud participants' greater metacognitive focus on the task (e.g., greater instances of reminding themselves about the online vocabulary goal; planning and evaluating their online actions in relation to achieving the goal). Correlations and regression analyses also showed that participants showing the best performance in the online vocabulary task had more extensive vocabularies going into the activity, had some prior familiarity with the terms, and were assigned to the structured think-aloud condition. Results offer strong support for the structured think-aloud methodology as a scaffold for making online vocabulary learning more effective.

  • THE APPLICATION OF PROPENSITY SCORE ESTIMATES IN HIERARCHICAL LINEAR MODELS FOR CAUSAL INFERENCE

    Author:
    Patricia Eckardt
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    David Rindskopf
    Abstract:

    This research investigated a causal estimate of the impact of zero tolerance policy adoption on individual students' cognitive outcomes by modeling multilevel propensity score estimates within a potential outcomes framework. This estimate was obtained using a large, nationally representative non-experimental sample. Proponents of zero tolerance policy assert that the mandatory expulsion of students for listed offenses leads to a learning environment that supports cognitive growth for the remaining students. Results indicated that zero tolerance policies do not have the desired positive effect on not-at-risk students' cognitive outcomes.