Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • 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.

  • AN EXAMINATION OF THE EFFICACY OF CLASSICAL AND BAYESIAN META-ANALYSIS APPROACHES FOR ADDRESSING IMPORTANT META-ANALYSIS OBJECTIVES

    Author:
    Jill Findley
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    David Rindskopf
    Abstract:

    This paper examines the efficacy of classical versus Bayesian meta-analytic models for addressing the five important meta-analytic objectives that were proposed by Higgins, Thompson, and Spiegelhalter (2009). In addition, it presents and examines a sixth important meta-analytic objective within the classical and Bayesian frameworks - a consideration of how meta-analytic inferences may change depending upon the uncertainty in the estimate of the amount of heterogeneity. In order to meet this sixth objective, this study uses a classification system which follows the guidelines proposed by Rothstein, Sutton, and Borenstein (2005) for describing the impact of publication bias. Here, the impact of the way meta-analytic results may change depending upon the uncertainty in the heterogeneity is classified with the use of qualitative indicators akin to those used by Rothstein et al. (2005). Thus, the discrepancy between the best-fitting meta-analytic model and the alternative meta-analytic models used for heterogeneity sensitivity analyses is described as: (a) "minimal", when the fitted meta-analytic models and the estimates remain similar; (b) "modest", when the fitted meta-analytic models remain the same, but the estimates change to a moderate degree; and (c) "severe", when the fitted meta-analytic models and estimates differ substantially from each other. This research suggests that Bayesian hierarchical linear modeling offers the most complete and accurate approach for addressing all relevant meta-analytic objectives. The project uses five different meta-analytic datasets as illustrative examples. It also provides examples of the code for the classical models for the metafor package, the Bayesian code for the WinBUGS package, and the S-PLUS code for the Bayesian hblm function. Given the complexity and nuances associated with Bayesian model development, a Bayesian quality assurance meta-analysis checklist was refined for this research project. The use of meta-analytic trace plots produced with the hblm function, which depict the dependency of meta-analytic results on the values of the standard deviation of the between-study variance, is shown to summarize the essence of a fully Bayesian meta-analysis. In a single picture, these plots summarize four out of five of Higgins et al.'s (2009) important meta-analytic objectives. Furthermore, meta-analytic trace plots also provide the additional, important, (though underappreciated) advantage of representing how meta-analytic estimates change depending upon the uncertainty in the estimate of the heterogeneity variance. This paper suggests that the future design of meta-analytic trace plots should also include inlaid curves that depict the estimates for the predicted effect in a new study so that all six important meta-analytic objectives could be addressed in a single graphic display.

  • Principals' Perceptions of Teacher Ineffectiveness in Elementary Classrooms and How They Relate to Specific Content Areas

    Author:
    Steven Franklin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    The current dissertation was effected to contribute to the existing literature on teacher evaluation. More specifically, the study utilized principals' perceptions to identify what principals, who often evaluate teachers, believe are the most frequent causes of teacher ineffectiveness. For this dissertation, the researcher extended a study by Torff and Sessions (2005). In that study, the authors measured principals' perceptions of the causes of teacher ineffectiveness within high school classrooms. This study extended Torff and Sessions' (2005) research by including elementary school principal perceptions, investigating whether differences exist in elementary school principals' perceptions when asked to rate teacher ineffectiveness across specific academic content areas. Utilizing an ordinal probit model the researcher determined that the only variable that significantly predicted principal perception was Dimension (rating criterion). In addition, the results revealed that, when the researcher controlled for principals' propensity to use the scale in different ways, Implementation Lesson Plans and Writing Lesson Plans were the most frequently rated causes of teacher ineffectiveness across all Domains.

  • ADJUSTMENT TO COLLEGE: THE RELATIONSHIP AMONG FAMILY FUNCTIONING, STRESS, AND COPING IN NON-RESIDENTIAL FRESHMEN STUDENTS

    Author:
    Dalia Gefen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Marian Fish
    Abstract:

    This study examined the relationships among family functioning, stress, and coping strategies and their predictive utilities in student adjustment to non-residential colleges. Four research questions were explored: (a) What types of stressors do freshmen students in non- residential colleges face? (b) Is family functioning associated with specific coping strategies? (c) Do coping strategies mediate the relationship between perceived stress and freshmen student adjustment to college? (d) Do family functioning, perceived stress, and coping strategies predict freshmen student adjustment to college? One hundred and sixty seven college freshmen (ages 18- 23) were recruited from the departments of psychology at two large urban commuter colleges in the Northeast. Participants completed an online survey that was composed of a demographic information sheet and 5 questionnaires. The Undergraduate Stress Questionnaire (USQ; Crandall, Preisler, & Aussprung, 1992) was used to measure life event stress in college students. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS; Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983) was used to measure self-appraised levels of stress experienced in the last month. The 56-item Young Adult Coping Orientation for Problem Experiences (YA-COPE; Patterson, McCubbin, & Grochowski, 1983) was used to assess coping styles of students. Students filled out the 42-item Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales (FACES-IV; Olson, Gorall, & Tiesel, 2007) to measure family cohesion and adaptability. Students also filled out the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (SACQ; Baker & Siryk, 1984), a 67-item self-report measure that assesses adjustment to college across four domains: academic, social, personal/emotional, and goal commitment-institutional attachment. Overall, results suggest that freshmen students experience a number of stressors related to academics, finances, personal relationships, and other issues. Balanced family functioning was associated with specific coping strategies, mainly ones that are problem-focused. Coping strategies did not mediate the relationship between perceived stress and adjustment to college. However, academic adjustment, social adjustment, personal-emotional adjustment, and institutional attachment were predicted by family functioning, stress, and specific coping strategies. Implications for personnel working with college freshmen such as mental health counselors are provided as well as directions for future research.

  • The relationship between teacher training, perceptions of school violence, and burnout.

    Author:
    Kristi Geissler
    Year of Dissertation:
    2015
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Emilia Lopez
    Abstract:

    The present study seeks to contribute to the limited body of literature addressing teachers and school violence (SV). The development of SV is analyzed through an ecological perspective (i.e., Bronfenbrenner, 1979), that allows consideration of how SV is influenced by individual, classroom, school, and community factors. Literature suggests that few teachers report feeling prepared to respond to instances of violence prior to entering the field (Kandakai & King, 2002) and that it is not clear if teachers are receiving adequate training to equip them with strategies and coping skills for dealing with SV (Espelage et al., 2013; Sela-Shayovitz, 2009). The purpose of this study is to fill the gaps in the existing research by exploring training experiences related to SV that teachers have received, and how having such training influences teachers' perceptions of SV and their level of burnout. One hypothesis was that teachers who have received more training feel more confident (i.e., have higher self-efficacy) in appropriately responding to SV when faced with such situations. Another hypothesis stated that having training to prepare for SV assists teachers in coping with negative effects related to SV, and reduces teachers' perceived risk of victimization and levels of burnout. Since many factors influence SV under an ecological perspective, the current study also investigates how ecological variables may influence the relationship between teacher training and perceptions of SV, and burnout. These ecological variables include exposure to SV, exposure to teacher victimization, experiences of teacher victimization, attrition related to SV, school climate, teacher role expectations, perceptions of cultural similarities or differences from students, and the impact of such cultural differences. The current study used a mixed methods research design (i.e., Creswell, 2009) to answer both exploratory and confirmatory research questions. The final sample size for the study was 281 teachers from across the United States. Participants were recruited through teacher associations, teacher networking groups, graduate programs in education, and snowballing methods using email or internet postings via distribution lists and social media pages. Participants completed an online questionnaire developed for this study, the Teacher Experience with Violence (TEV) survey, and a published measure of burnout, the Maslach Burnout Inventory- Educators Survey (MBI-ES; Maslach, Jackson, & Schwab, 1986). Descriptive statistics, content analysis, correlations, and hierarchical multiple regression were used to analyze the data. Participants reported varying amounts of training related to SV received, with more training received through employer professional development compared to pre-service, self-sought, or mandatory certification training. About half of the teachers in the sample reported they had received training that helped them to feel more confident in responding to SV, feel safer and less at risk of victimization, or to manage work-related stress; and the majority reported that they felt having additional training would assist in these areas. The majority of participants reported their training had not prepared them to deal with their most stressful SV experience. Additional findings related to participants' perceptions of their training experiences and SV are discussed. The results of the regression analyses indicated that training predicted higher self-efficacy, perceived risk of victimization, and levels of the personal accomplishment dimension of burnout above and beyond the ecological factors included in the models; while no relationship was found between training and the emotional exhaustion and depersonalization components of burnout. Relationships found between the ecological factors included in the models with the dependent variables are discussed.

  • The Relationship between Disordered Eating and Coping Styles: Presentation of Disordered Eating in Ethnically Diverse Female College Students

    Author:
    Claire Golden
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    Disordered eating is defined as attitudes and/or behaviors related to eating that are atypical, including but not limited to restrictive eating, binge eating, and purging. The relationship between coping styles and disordered eating has been studied among Caucasian women. Positive relationships have been found between emotion-oriented coping strategies and disordered eating symptoms in this population (e.g., Denisoff & Endler, 2000; Garcia-Grau et al., 2002, 2004). Minimal research has explicitly examined the relationship between coping strategies and disordered eating symptoms among both racially and ethnically diverse individuals. Some cross-cultural research has found differences in the use of emotion-oriented coping strategies among minority ethnic groups in general (e.g., McCarty et al., 1999; Moore & Constantine, 2005; O'Connor & Shimizu, 2002). It is critical for school psychologists to work effectively with students of diverse ethnic backgrounds. School psychologists need to be aware of preexisting differences in adaptive emotion-oriented coping, as well as in disordered eating behaviors, and keep this in mind when working with students of diverse ethnic backgrounds. The dissertation aimed to add to the literature by exploring the relationships between disordered eating symptoms and coping strategies in ethnically diverse and Caucasian samples of college women. Asian participants were found to differ from South Asian participants in the relationship between coping styles and disordered eating, which raises questions about the validity of previous research combining the two distinct ethnic groups, as is often done. Additionally, differences were seen between participants of different regional ethnicities, calling into question broad characterization of the Caucasian and non-Caucasian dichotomy within the current body of research. With a more complete picture of eating disorders in minority college women, school professionals may be better able to identify diverse college females struggling with disordered eating symptoms.