Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • An Investigation of Teachers' Beliefs About Relational Aggression Among Girls

    Author:
    Elizabeth Hammel
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    Relational aggression, a specific kind of aggression seen among children and adolescents, is characterized by the primary intention of strategically damaging and/or manipulating social relationships (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995). The dynamics of relational aggression are so subtle and complex in nature that they are difficult for teachers and school officials to identify, and are often dismissed as normative social behavior, or ignored because of lack of knowledge about appropriate interventions (Yoon & Kerber, 2003). Given the dearth of initiative from teachers and school officials surrounding acts of student relational aggression, further understanding of their beliefs about the behavior is warranted. The purpose of this study was to examine teachers' beliefs about the seriousness of relationally aggressive behaviors, their likelihood and degree of intervention, and the type of intervention they would impose (if any). Eighty-four middle school teachers participated in a confidential online survey. Three different types of relationally aggressive behaviors (social exclusion, threats to relationships, and gossip) were presented to teachers through vignettes developed for the study. The study then considered how situational and global empathy, self-efficacy for teaching, and degree of teacher/student emotional involvement, were related to teacher responses. Results of this study give a detailed analysis of what teachers do and do not do when faced with relationally aggressive behavior among their students. Correlational and regression analysis statistically analyzed the relationships among variables in the study. Results from the study found that teachers tended to be most emotionally impacted by the RA vignettes that involved social exclusion. However, teachers were more likely to intervene in the situations that involved gossip when compared to social exclusion. As predicted, the more situational empathy a teacher feels for the victim of relational aggression, the more likely the degree of intervention. Self-efficacy for teaching was found to be related to the degree to which a teacher would intervene in a situation that involved gossip behavior. Additionally, positive relationships were found among some dimensions of global empathy, situational empathy for the victims of RA, as well as perceived closeness to students.

  • Use of an Interspersal Technique to Enhance Work Completion Rates, On-Task Behavior and Accuracy on Independent Math Assignments

    Author:
    Teresa Hatfield
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    Abstract USE OF AN INTERSPERSAL TECHNIQUE TO ENHANCE WORK COMPLETION RATES, ON-TASK BEHAVIOR AND ACCURACY ON INDEPENDENT MATH ASSIGNMENTS by Teresa A. Hatfield Adviser: Dr. Georgiana Tryon Previous research supports the positive educational effects for students when briefer, easier problems are interspersed into independent mathematics worksheets (Skinner, 2002). A concern with the previous research is whether the positive effects would generalize when implemented with large classroom groups over a prolonged period of time. The current study sought to extend this research and determine whether the interspersal procedure would increase accuracy rates, problem completion rates, and on-task behavior rates for a diverse elementary school student population (73% non-Caucasian) in the Northeast United States over a period of 16 days. The participants (n = 66) were randomly assigned either a traditional worksheet or an interspersal worksheet on a daily basis after an acclimation period of 3 days. Research assistants recorded accuracy rates, problem completion rates, and on-task behavior rates while students worked until completion on the teacher chosen target problems. On-task behaviors were disaggregated into three behavior types: verbal (e.g., any time that a student made an v utterance to oneself, a peer, or called out to the teacher), visual (e.g., any time that a student broke eye contact from his or her paper while expected to be completing the assignment), and kinesthetic (e.g., any time that a student broke contact with his or her seat to move around or walk around; accompanied by not working on the assignment) during the observations. Students completed a 4-point Likert scale survey to assess preferences for assignment type. Mathematical content varied frequently from session to session, as the study was completed at the end of the school year. Visual on-task behavior levels were found to be significantly higher when students were working on the interspersal assignments. Students did not perform significantly better on the interspersal assignments on the dependent measures of accuracy, problem completion rates, and the other on-task behavior areas (i.e., verbal and kinesthetic). Students did not indicate a preference for the interspersal assignments over the control assignments on the student survey. The current study data support the results of previous studies using the interspersal procedure in that student visual on-task behaviors were improved.

  • The relationship between parental opinion of school-based sex education, parent child communication about sexuality, and parenting styles in a diverse urban community college population.

    Author:
    Janet Heller
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Helen Johnson
    Abstract:

    One hundred and ninety-one parents attending an urban, community college were surveyed about what topics schools should teach their children about sexuality education, and how they communicate with their child about sexuality topics. The quantitative data was collected using a School Sexuality Education Questionnaire (SSEQ), and the Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire (PSDQ) (Study A). The majority of sex education topics were supported by 80% of parents. This finding was surprising because the sample population was diverse in terms of ethnicity, and the majority had immigrated from countries considered socially conservative. There was a significant negative correlation between attendance at religious services and support for school sex education (r = -.20). These results were consistent with previous national and state-wide surveys. There was no correlation between support for school sex education and race/ethnicity, country of origin, religion, or parenting style. Twenty parents with a range of demographic characteristics were selected for in-depth interviews based on their responses to the PSDQ in Study A. They responded to common questions children ask about sexuality (Study B). Parental responses to children's questions about sexuality were considered in relation to the democratic and authoritarian patterns of communication identified by Baumrind (1967). The majority of parents were labeled authoritarian based on their responses to 5 common sexuality topics. Themes that emerged from the qualitative analysis included lack of sexual information, support of school sexuality education, differences in opinion of sexual orientation, personal experiences with family members and friends being infected with HIV/AIDS, and issues related to cultural appropriateness. Parental support for school sex education seemed to be primarily motivated by having the schools handle topics parents were uncomfortable talking about themselves.

  • The Relationship of Family Processes and Adolescent Moral Thought and Behavior

    Author:
    Shira Hochberg
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    The influence of family process variables (cohesion, flexibility, and communication) on ascribed sources of influence on adolescent thought was investigated using White's Family Socialization Model of Adolescent Moral Development. In addition, the relationship between sources of influence and school related behaviors such as disciplinary referrals, unexcused absences, and participation in extra-curricular activities was examinined. Participants included 82 public high school students from grades 9 through 12. Students completed Olson et al.'s (2006) Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale (FACES IV) to measure family process variables and White's (1997) revised Moral Authority Scale (MAS-R) to measure ascribed sources of influence. Students recorded information regarding school related behaviors on a demographic questionnaire. Information pertaining to absences and disciplinary referrals came from student records. Results indicate some significant relationships between family cohesion, flexibility, and communication, and the Family and Equlaity sources of the MAS-R. In addition, the probability of participation in extra-curricular activities was related to Society's Welfare and Self- Interest Sources of moral authority. In conclusion, family process variables have predictive value for ascribes sources of influence on adolescent thought. In turn, ascribed sources of influencesuch as Society's Welfare and Self -Interest have predictive value for school related behaviors such as participation in extra-curricular activities.

  • The Development and Validation of a Teacher Efficacy for Inclusion Scale

    Author:
    Ian Hollender
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Barry Zimmerman
    Abstract:

    Since the 1970's there has been a movement in the United States aimed at increasing the integration of students with disabilities among non-disabled peers in general education classes. The practice of inclusion--full integration of students regardless of the severity of disability--is not uniformly accepted. While many agree with the ideals and intent behind the practice, there is an almost unanimous belief among teachers that they are not sufficiently prepared to instruct and manage students in inclusion classes. There is research indicating that inclusion classes require additional instructional and managerial competencies of teachers' as well as their efficacy beliefs about those competencies. Despite the success of general teacher efficacy measures in assessing important areas of teacher functioning in regular classrooms, their role in inclusion classes have been left unaddressed to date. In the current study, I developed a new teacher efficacy scale--Teacher Efficacy for Inclusion (TEI). The items that comprised this scale were evaluated and modified initially for their face validity by an expert panel of inclusion teachers. The resulting teacher efficacy scale displayed a high level of alpha reliability (.94). Items that showed lower correlations with other items were deleted from the scale. In terms of the factorial structure of the TEI, an exploratory principal components analysis revealed the unitary factor structure of the instrument. The construct validity of the scale was demonstrated by its high correlation (r = .83) with a general measure of teacher efficacy. In terms of the concurrent validity of the TEI, there was significant evidence indicating that this scale predicted the On-Task Behavior of students with educational disabilities. The TEI also predicted teachers' requests for Emergency Support. These two effects of teacher efficacy for inclusion were demonstrated using regression analyses that controlled for the following background variables: Teacher Experience, gender, class size, and level of Push-In Support. These results suggest that the TEI has the potential for reliably and validly measuring teacher's feelings of competence in inclusion classes, and being used to provide teachers with feedback to improve the quality of their instructional practices.

  • The Impact of Serial Migration on the Psychological Adjustment and Academic Performance of West Indian Immigrant Children

    Author:
    Oshika Howell-Whittaker
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Marian Fish
    Abstract:

    For many years, serial migration, a pattern in which parents migrate first and send for their children at a later date, has become a common way of life for many West Indian immigrant families. This study examined the impact of serial migration on the psychological adjustment and academic achievement of West Indian children. Fifty-two parents of children (aged 7-18) who migrated within the past 10 years participated in the study. Twenty-one of the participants were parents from families who migrated with their children, while 31 were parents from families that migrated before, and were later reunited with their children in the United States. Participants completed three questionnaires comprised of: (1) The Child Behavior Checklist, (2) The Family Adaptability and Cohesion Scale and (3) a family demographic questionnaire. Each participant was compensated 20 dollars for completing the questionnaires. The results of the study showed that when compared to children who migrate with their families, children who migrate after their parents experience significantly more externalizing behavior difficulties. However, they did not exhibit more internalizing problems, nor were their grades affected. Among the sample of serially migrated families, the study found that it is the mother who typically migrates first leaving the children, and this results in the child demonstrating significantly more externalizing behavior problems after reunion. In addition, the results revealed that children who are reunited into a family with new members also exhibit more externalizing behavior problems than their counterparts. Other findings indicate that parents who are younger and less educated engage in serial migration, while parents who are more educated and older engage in family migration. In terms of family functioning for the sample of participants, the results showed that good family communication significantly reduces the risk of externalizing behavior problems in children following migration.

  • Familial Factors Associated with Symptoms of Depression in Preschool Children

    Author:
    Malka Ismach
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Marian Fish
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this study was to investigate whether or not preschoolers can be identified as at risk for depression, if there was agreement between parents and teachers regarding the symptoms that children display and to identify the familial factors that impact the development of depression in preschool children. Recent evidence suggests that preschoolers have symptoms indicating possible feelings of depression. In order to help these preschoolers, it is important to ascertain the factors associated with the development of depressive symptoms. The research consistently shows that parenting styles, discipline practices, and family functioning impact depression in school age children and adolescents. This study examined the relationship between these factors and depressive symptomatology in preschoolers. Low levels of flexibility and high levels of rigidity in the home were found to have a significant relationship with preschoolers who show signs of depression. Additionally, when all the familial factors were plotted on an ROC curve, they demonstrated the ability to make good predictions about preschoolers who may be at risk for depression. Educational implications of the study as well as limitations are discussed.

  • PARENTS' MOTIVATIONS FOR INVOLVEMENT IN THEIR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION

    Author:
    Deborah Jaspen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    This study sought to examine parents' motivations for involvement in the education of their 5th through 12th grade children. Using an online version of a questionnaire developed by Hoover-Dempsey, Sandler, and their colleagues (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 2005; Walker, Wilkins, Dallaire, Sandler, & Hoover-Dempsey, 2005), this study explored how well Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler's revised model of motivations for parent involvement (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 2005) predicted parents' reports of their home-based and school-based involvement. Predictor variables included parents' perceived role construction for involvement; self-efficacy for helping their children succeed in school; perceptions of general school invitations, specific teacher invitations, and specific child invitations to involvement; and perceptions of personal skills and knowledge and personal time and energy for involvement. Participants included 207 parents of 5th through 12th graders. Regression analysis confirmed that Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler's model (1995, 1997, 2005) significantly predicted parents' reports of both home-based and school-based involvement. Role construction and child invitations to involvement were significant predictors of parents' reports of both types of involvement. In addition, parents' perceptions of personal skills and knowledge for involvement significantly predicted reports of home-based involvement, and parents' perceptions of specific teacher invitations to involvement as well as personal time and energy for involvement significantly predicted parents' reports of school-based involvement. There was a trend toward lower levels of reported home-based and school-based involvement for parents of older students. Parents of older students also reported fewer perceived invitations from teachers to involvement, fewer perceived invitations from children to involvement, and lower perceptions of personal skills and knowledge for involvement. This study confirms the utility of Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler's model of motivations for parent involvement (1995, 1997, 2005) for predicting the involvement practices of parents of 5th through 12th graders.

  • A COMPARISON OF GENERAL AND SPECIAL EDUCATION HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS IN TRANSITION: THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL SUPPORT ON STUDENT OUTCOMES

    Author:
    Mira Jensen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    This dissertation study examined the differences between students in general education and in special education in their perceptions of the types of support they need from different sources during the transitions at the beginning and end of high school. Specifically, this study examined the role of social support in students' behavioral and academic functioning and their postsecondary-school aspirations. General and special education students in 9th and 12th grades (N = 89) completed (1) the Child and Adolescent Social Support Scale (CASSS; Malecki, Demaray, & Elliott, 2004), (2) the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC-2; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004) and (3) a brief questionnaire on students' goals and aspirations after high school. Participants' test scores on regularly administered standardized achievement tests measured academic functioning. Overall, there was little variation among participants regarding their perceptions of social support, academic achievement or behavioral adjustment, and post-secondary goals and aspirations, regardless of their age, gender, or educational placement. Social support predicted one aspect of students' behavioral well-being (i.e., personal adjustment). The lack of significant findings may reflect study limitations, particularly sample limitations. Overall, the study's participants attend a school where most of the student body was performing well academically and exhibited behaviors (i.e., attendance) that are important for school success. The study's limitations, suggestions for future research, and implications for school psychologists are discussed.

  • SPECIFICATION OF THE ERROR COVARIANCE STRUCTURE FOR LINEAR MIXED EFFECTS MODELS WITH AUTOREGRESSIVE CHARACTERISTICS: A SIMULATION STUDY

    Author:
    Jimmy Jung
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    David Rindskopf
    Abstract:

    This study examines the effects of specifying different error covariance structures on linear mixed models with autoregressive characteristics. Computer simulations were used to generate data varying magnitudes of autocorrelations, sample size, and series lengths. The data were fitted with error covariance structure specifications of compound symmetry, identity, autoregressive lag-1, Toeplitz, and unstructured. The effectiveness of using information criteria to correctly identify the error covariance structures was investigated and the impact of error covariance structure specification on estimates of fixed effects and tests of fixed effects were examined. In addition, a statistical power analysis of detecting the AR(1) autocorrelation parameter was conducted. Results provide recommendations on which information criteria to used for data with autoregressive characteristics, demonstrate how misspecifying the error covariance structure impact tests of fixed effects, and the data conditions necessary to accurately detect the AR(1) autocorrelation parameter.