Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • The Acquisition of Conventional Spelling Patterns by Pre-Conventional Spellers: A Developmental Analysis

    Author:
    Mark Lauterbach
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Linnea Ehri
    Abstract:

    This study involves a comparison of the experiences that enable young children who are still in the phase of "inventing" spelling to acquire conventional spelling patterns. A micro-genetic methodology was employed to analyze students' acquisition of specific spelling patterns over a 3-week, 6-session training period in order to identify factors that affected the rate of acquisition. Kindergarten and first grade students underwent a series of seven literacy pretests and were given exposure to nine words that contained difficult spelling patterns. Three of the words contained spelling patterns where the underlying phonology makes it challenging to identify the correct grapheme, three contained targeted spelling patterns where the orthographic patterns have no phonological trace and the final three words were non-words with either uncommon or illegal English spelling patterns. One group of students was taught to read the words containing the targeted spelling patterns on flash cards. A second group was taught to segment the same words by moving letters into Elkonin boxes. A third group of students, the minimal treatment control, group was asked to practice inventing spellings of these same words. Spelling tests were administered at the beginning and end of each training session and used to model growth curves of the acquisition of the conventional spelling patterns Results indicated that students trained in segmentation and word reading outperformed those in the minimal treatment control but were not statistically different. When analyzed by the three different types of spelling patterns, students who received the segmentation training did better learning the phonological spelling patterns, those who practiced reading the words on flashcards did better learning the non-word spelling patterns, and both groups performed similarly on the orthographic spelling patterns. Literacy skills also differentially predicted by spelling pattern--phonological skills best predicted learning phonological spelling patterns, word reading best predicted learning orthographic words and vocabulary knowledge had a negative effect on learning non-words. Word reading was found to be the best predictor of overall growth over the training period.

  • Health Habits, Wellness, and Behavior of Male Student Athletes Participating in High School Sports

    Author:
    Michelle Lividini
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    Muscle Dysmorphia (MD) is a pathological preoccupation with muscularity, more common in men than in women. MD is estimated to affect several hundreds of thousands of individuals. There has been little research related to MD in the male adolescent population and the prevalence is unknown. The mean age of onset of MD is estimated to be 19 years, and sports participation increases the risk for developing MD as well as other psychological difficulties. The pilot study revealed a potential relationship between MD symptoms and athletic and academic performance, low levels of self-esteem, high levels of perfectionist qualities, and use of performance-enhancing drugs. This study was conducted to substantiate previous findings and to understand MD symptomatology among male adolescent student athletes and its relation to athletic and academic performance as well as media influence, low levels of self-esteem, high levels of perfectionist qualities, and the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Participants included 67 male student athletes ages 14 through 18 who completed a four-page questionnaire. Results showed that MD symptomatology is prevalent among male high school athletes and is positively correlated with perfectionism and media influence. Current findings indicate the need for school programs and treatments to address MD symptoms. Further, the results offer important implications for school psychologists to make meaningful contributions in the school system through professional development to staff, counseling for students, and collaboration with parents.

  • Validating Use of a Symptom Assessment Scale in Palliative Care Using an Argument-Based Approach

    Author:
    Elayne Livote
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Jay Verkuilen
    Abstract:

    Validation of patient-reported outcomes (PRO) scales has not kept up with contemporary views on validity and validation. For example, validity is not considered to be a binary state and it is the proposed use or interpretation of scale scores that is validated, not the scale itself. In this dissertation, I attempted to validate the use of a symptom assessment scale in a Veterans Affairs (VA)-based palliative care program to measure program outcomes using an argument-based approach to validity. In the first step of this approach, I developed the interpretive argument which specifies the claims and assumptions that are inherent in the proposed use. I then conducted three investigations to generate supporting evidence for the claims. The first was a basic psychometric analysis, the second was an assessment of measurement invariance, and the third was an examination of item directionality. In the validity evaluation, I assessed the plausibility of the claims incorporating the results of the investigations. I found that a bifactor model provided good fit to the data and concluded that while the psychometric properties of the scale were fairly well maintained in this new use, the degree of missing data may be biasing outcomes and also prohibits use of the scale to measure outcomes. I also concluded that it may be more appropriate to treat some of the items of the scale as formative and this new formulation may help promote complete administration of the scale.

  • The Effects of Deployment on a Child's Academic and Behavioral Functioning

    Author:
    Alice Loo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Mary Kopala
    Abstract:

    Potential disruption of family life due to a military deployment is a significant concern of U.S. armed forces, as well as to service members. In addition to the effects of parental absence, periods immediately surrounding the military family member's deployment and return may have deleterious effects on children. This study proposed a 7-phase definition of the cycle of deployment, and suggested that strain on the family due to the cycle could be grouped into four levels. A sample of 201 families with fathers in the Navy and children ages 5 to 12 supplied information on deployment, family functioning (FACES IV), family stress levels (Perceived Stress Scale), family coping skills (F-COPES), and child behaviors (Devereux scales). Current and prior reading and math grades and teachers' ratings of the child were also obtained. Greater deployment strain and poorer family functioning were associated with poorer child behavioral and academic performance and greater family stress. Predictors interacted such that child problems occurred primarily when deployment strain was combined with poor family functioning or coping skills. The negative effects were substantial in real-world terms; up to 1/3 SD on the Devereux-Parent or a difference in reading grades of B+ to B-. It was demonstrated that the deleterious effects of deployment were mainly due to increased family stress, and not simply parental absence. Reading grades were much more sensitive to stressors than math grades. Age and gender of the child had minimal effects. Results suggested that deployment strain can have serious adverse consequences for children, but that healthy family functioning and/or coping skills largely mitigate these effects.

  • The Effects of Deployment on a Child's Academic and Behavioral Functioning

    Author:
    Alice Loo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Mary Kopala
    Abstract:

    Potential disruption of family life due to a military deployment is a significant concern of U.S. armed forces, as well as to service members. In addition to the effects of parental absence, periods immediately surrounding the military family member's deployment and return may have deleterious effects on children. This study proposed a 7-phase definition of the cycle of deployment, and suggested that strain on the family due to the cycle could be grouped into four levels. A sample of 201 families with fathers in the Navy and children ages 5 to 12 supplied information on deployment, family functioning (FACES IV), family stress levels (Perceived Stress Scale), family coping skills (F-COPES), and child behaviors (Devereux scales). Current and prior reading and math grades and teachers' ratings of the child were also obtained. Greater deployment strain and poorer family functioning were associated with poorer child behavioral and academic performance and greater family stress. Predictors interacted such that child problems occurred primarily when deployment strain was combined with poor family functioning or coping skills. The negative effects were substantial in real-world terms; up to 1/3 SD on the Devereux-Parent or a difference in reading grades of B+ to B-. It was demonstrated that the deleterious effects of deployment were mainly due to increased family stress, and not simply parental absence. Reading grades were much more sensitive to stressors than math grades. Age and gender of the child had minimal effects. Results suggested that deployment strain can have serious adverse consequences for children, but that healthy family functioning and/or coping skills largely mitigate these effects.

  • Do Coping Behaviors Moderate the Adjustment of Elementary School Children who are Victimized by Relational Aggression?

    Author:
    Erica Maniago
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Marian Fish
    Abstract:

    This study explored whether coping strategies had an impact on the adjustment of third through fifth grade students (N = 88) who experienced conflict with their peers. The victimized students' level of adjustment and strategies used to cope with bullying, were additionally investigated. Self-report data was gathered on the students' victimization experiences, coping strategies and level of school and peer adjustment. A measure of school and peer adjustment was also obtained by the participants' teachers, as a means of validating the student reports. Victims of peer aggression were anticipated to exhibit poorer adjustment due to their tendency to rely on more maladaptive ways of coping and less often on adaptive ways of coping. Statistical support was found for several direct relationships, but not for any of the mediated effects. Specifically, both overt and relational victimization were related to lower rates of peer adjustment. Coping was also found to have a direct impact on adjustment. The use of avoidant coping was associated with lower rates of school and peer adjustment and the use of approach coping was associated with higher rates of school and peer adjustment.

  • Teacher and School Variables that Impact Special Education Preschool Teacher-Family Involvement Behaviors

    Author:
    Louise Marchini
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Marian Fish
    Abstract:

    The present study examined taecher attitudes, teacher preparation/training, teacher experience, and school support and their relationship to reported family involvement behaviors, using the Epstein framework as a six part definition for family involvement. Participants included 283 teachers in 20 different special education preschool programs within the New York City area. Four measures were used, the FITS-P that measures reported teacher attitudes, the FITPQ that measures reported teacher family involvement behaviors, a questionnaire that measures reported teacher experience and teacher preparation/training, and the Program Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Guide (Section 3) that measures reported school support for family involvement. A multilevel survey data set was collected from multiple teachers within multiple schools. Correlational analyses were conducted to assess the direction and strength of variable relationships among three predictors: years of teaching experience, teacher preparation/training, and teacher attitudes. The data were also analyzed using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM). This was conducted in order to determine if teacher attitudes, teacher preparation/training, years of teaching experience impact teacher family involvement behavior differently across schools. Further, it was investigated whether degree of school support contributes to this difference across schools.In general, the hypotheses in this study were supported by the results and provide preschool educators with valuable information to help develop strategies, identify facilitators and obstacles, and improve the working partnership between schools and families, with a goal of increasing family involvement. One of the clearest findings was that teacher attitude was predictive of reported teacher family involvement behaviors. Teachers who exhibited more positive family involvement attitudes actually reported using more family involvement practices in their classrooms. A second finding was that only one of the three types of teacher preparation/training, in-service training, was predictive of reported teacher family involvement behaviors. Also, teachers who had taken a course primarily focused on family involvement in their pre-service training had more positive reported attitudes towards family involvement. Teachers who reported not attending a course dedicated to family involvement but rather had family involvement integrated or embedded throughout a number of courses reported fewer or less frequent family involvement behaviors. Teacher experience was negatively related to teacher attitude towards family involvement; however, it was not deemed a predictor of teacher family involvement behaviors. In this study, the degree of school support as measured by the SED/VESID was positively correlated and significantly predictive of reported teacher family involvement behaviors. In this study, principals who reported to offer more administrative support for family involvement in their schools did have teachers who reportedly offered more positive attitudes and applied more family involvement practices in their classrooms. Implications of these findings are discussed.

  • Teacher and School Variables that Impact Special Education Preschool Teacher-Family Involvement Behaviors

    Author:
    Louise Marchini
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Marian Fish
    Abstract:

    The present study examined taecher attitudes, teacher preparation/training, teacher experience, and school support and their relationship to reported family involvement behaviors, using the Epstein framework as a six part definition for family involvement. Participants included 283 teachers in 20 different special education preschool programs within the New York City area. Four measures were used, the FITS-P that measures reported teacher attitudes, the FITPQ that measures reported teacher family involvement behaviors, a questionnaire that measures reported teacher experience and teacher preparation/training, and the Program Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Guide (Section 3) that measures reported school support for family involvement. A multilevel survey data set was collected from multiple teachers within multiple schools. Correlational analyses were conducted to assess the direction and strength of variable relationships among three predictors: years of teaching experience, teacher preparation/training, and teacher attitudes. The data were also analyzed using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM). This was conducted in order to determine if teacher attitudes, teacher preparation/training, years of teaching experience impact teacher family involvement behavior differently across schools. Further, it was investigated whether degree of school support contributes to this difference across schools.In general, the hypotheses in this study were supported by the results and provide preschool educators with valuable information to help develop strategies, identify facilitators and obstacles, and improve the working partnership between schools and families, with a goal of increasing family involvement. One of the clearest findings was that teacher attitude was predictive of reported teacher family involvement behaviors. Teachers who exhibited more positive family involvement attitudes actually reported using more family involvement practices in their classrooms. A second finding was that only one of the three types of teacher preparation/training, in-service training, was predictive of reported teacher family involvement behaviors. Also, teachers who had taken a course primarily focused on family involvement in their pre-service training had more positive reported attitudes towards family involvement. Teachers who reported not attending a course dedicated to family involvement but rather had family involvement integrated or embedded throughout a number of courses reported fewer or less frequent family involvement behaviors. Teacher experience was negatively related to teacher attitude towards family involvement; however, it was not deemed a predictor of teacher family involvement behaviors. In this study, the degree of school support as measured by the SED/VESID was positively correlated and significantly predictive of reported teacher family involvement behaviors. In this study, principals who reported to offer more administrative support for family involvement in their schools did have teachers who reportedly offered more positive attitudes and applied more family involvement practices in their classrooms. Implications of these findings are discussed.

  • The Relationship between Mindfulness and Emotion Regulation in Children

    Author:
    Elizabeth McLaughlin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Marian Fish
    Abstract:

    Emotional competence is a core component of school success for all children, and the ability to regulate one's emotions is an important skill in developing emotional competence. Dispositional mindfulness may be an underlying cognitive orientation that allows children to be successful at regulating their emotions, because it involves both attention and cognitive components that influence how individuals perceive and react to their emotions. Mindfulness has been shown to have a robust relationship with emotional functioning in adults and is being incorporated into many treatment approaches for a variety of physical and psychological difficulties. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between dispositional mindfulness and emotion regulation in children in grades 5-7. Ninety-one students completed self-reports of dispositional mindfulness and emotion regulation and completed a performance assessment of emotional awareness. In addition, one parent for each child completed a parent report of the child's emotion regulation. Path analysis demonstrated that dispositional mindfulness predicted emotion regulation, both through the child's self-report and the parent's assessment of the child's emotion regulation abilities. Emotion regulation as assessed by the parent report also predicted a child's level of emotional awareness and sophistication of emotional understanding. Identifying the factors that help children become successful regulators of their emotions may inform the ways in which school psychologists and teachers support the emotional development of the students they serve.

  • Training Students' Self-regulation of Motoric Flexibility: The Effects of Modeling and Self-evaluation

    Author:
    Gloria Mcnamara
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Barry Zimmerman
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this research was to determine if technique modeling and self-evaluation had an impact on college students' self-regulation of motoric flexibility, measured through physiological assessments and surveys of stretching practices, flexibility outcome expectations, self-efficacy, and knowledge. In order to measure the impact of the treatments, students were randomly assigned to three conditions: 1) control lecture condition, in which flexibility fitness was taught using a scripted lecture format; 2) technique modeling condition, in which flexibility fitness was taught using the same script in addition to the researcher modeling proper stretching technique; and 3) technique modeling and self-evaluation condition, in which flexibility fitness was taught using the same script and technique modeling in addition to students being taught to measure their own motoric flexibility and to record their progress. It was hypothesized that the three treatment conditions would produce the following linear trend: condition 3 > condition 2 > condition 1 on the outcome measures. The results of this research study did demonstrate that flexibility training had a significant positive linear effect on college students' right upper body motoric flexibility, stretching practices, outcome expectations, self-efficacy and flexibility procedural knowledge.