Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • The Effects of Cardiovascular Exercise on College Students' Learning, Recall, and Comprehension

    Author:
    Andrea Salis
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Barry Zimmerman
    Abstract:

    Research on physical activity and cognition is based on the existing theoretical and empirical evidence which indicates that engaging in cardiovascular exercise improves cognitive capabilities, by increasing neural functioning which improves learning (cognitive development). The question this research sought to answer was to determine whether or not (a) increased amounts of exercise improves cognitive recall and comprehension and (b) there is a difference in cognitive recall and comprehension abilities when engaging in exercise occurs before a learning activity as compared to after a learning activity. This experimental pretest-posttest study examined whether or not a cardiovascular exercise intervention improved community college students' recall and comprehension of recently learned information. The cardiovascular exercise intervention included two levels: moderate and light exercise. In one sequence the rehearsal of information (i.e., learning) took place before the students' engaged in exercise and in an alternate sequence, after the students have engaged in exercise. The results of the study demonstrated that performing a moderate amount of exercise before or after rehearsing for a comprehension test significantly improved test results. The moderate exercise group also scored higher on the recall posttest than the no exercise group, yet this difference was not found to be significant. Performing a light amount of exercise demonstrated improvement in comparison to not performing any exercise. Yet, this difference was not found to be significant. Overall, the results of the research demonstrated a significant positive linear trend between increased levels of physical activity and comprehension.

  • Comparing and Combining Accommodation and Remediation Interventions to Improve the Written Language Performance of Children with Asperger's Syndrome

    Author:
    Ariane Schneider
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    This study examined the relative effectiveness of two writing accommodations (word processing and speech recognition technology) as compared with handwriting alone on improving the writing fluency of four boys with Asperger's Syndrome (AS). This study also examined whether the pairing of the most effective writing accommodation with a widely used and empirically supported writing intervention (SRSD; Self-Regulated Strategy Development) would further improve fluency as well as accuracy and story quality. A multiple phase alternating treatments design with a final treatment phase was used to first compare the two accommodations with handwriting (first phase) and then the most effective accommodation with SRSD (second phase). Four variables were used to assess writing skills, two measuring fluency (total words written and number of words in a complete sentence), one measuring accuracy (percentage of correct word sequences), and one measuring story quality and completeness (number of story parts). It was hypothesized that the use of the speech recognition accommodation would result in the most fluently written stories but that the addition of the SRSD intervention would further improve fluency but also improve writing accuracy and story quality. In addition, these gains would generalize to the participants' creative writing assignments. Outcomes indicated that the speech recognition accommodation improved writing fluency and writing quality far better than the word processing and handwriting accommodation. Speech recognition alone also improved writing accuracy for two of the participants who struggled with spelling. Results further suggested that word processing, although frequently recommended for this population, was not an effective accommodation for these participants. SRSD with handwriting did not improve fluency for these participants, though the intervention did improve story quality. It was the combination of the SRSD intervention with speech recognition that resulted in lengthier, most fluent, and highest quality written work when compared to SRSD with handwriting, speech recognition alone, and handwriting alone. Although SRSD with speech recognition had very little impact on improving writing accuracy, it was more helpful for the participants who struggled with spelling As hypothesized, writing improvements were generalized to participants' creative writing homework assignments.

  • Parents' Perceptions of School Psychologists' Use of Social Power and Interpersonal Influence in School Consultation for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

    Author:
    Seth Sebold
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Ida Jeltova
    Abstract:

    This study explored parents' attitudes towards school psychologists' use of social power and interpersonal influence in the school consultation process for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Previous research has examined school psychologists' perceptions, as well as teachers' perceptions, of social power and interpersonal influence in school consultation, but to date, parents' perceptions in this regard have been given limited attention in the literature. Study questions addressed (a) which social power techniques parents perceived as most effective when used by school psychologists to elicit their compliance, (b) how parents' perceptions of these techniques compared to school psychologists and teachers, whom were both studied previously, (c) whether a soft-harsh, two-factor solution among these power techniques existed among parents, and (d) whether parents' ratings on the soft power techniques predicted ratings of consultant effectiveness and ratings of satisfaction with children's consultation outcome. One-hundred and sixty-nine parents of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders completed measures of social power (IPI-Form CE; Erchul, Raven, & Whichard, 2001), consultant effectiveness (CEF; Erchul, 1987), and satisfaction with their children's consultation outcome (GAS; Kiresuk, Smith, & Cardillo, 1994). Results indicated that parents, like school psychologists and teachers, generally endorsed soft social power strategies, compared to those that are harsh or coercive, with the exception of impersonal reward power, a traditionally harsh social power strategy. The results of an Exploratory Factor Analysis on the IPI-Form CE did not reveal a clear, soft-harsh, two-factor solution among the social power techniques, as parents' ratings on several of the individual strategies did not completely conform to the expected model structure. In addition, multiple regression models revealed that parents' ratings on positive expert power, one of the five soft power strategies, significantly predicted their ratings of consultant effectiveness, but that no significant relationships existed between parents' ratings on the five soft power strategies and ratings on their satisfaction with their children's consultation outcomes. Implications for school psychologists working with this unique parent population are provided, as well as study strengths, limitations, and suggestions for future research.

  • Do pictures impair sight word learning in beginning readers?

    Author:
    Alicia Senia
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Linnea Ehri
    Abstract:

    In two experiments, the impact of pictures on learning to read words was examined in kindergartners, first graders, and second graders (N=72). The written words were either simplified spellings (e.g., DLR for dollar) or conventional spellings. The words were learned either with or without pictures of their meaning. In the first experiment, forty kindergarten and first grade students were assigned to groups and were taught to read 10 words. One group was taught to read simplified spellings of the words, half accompanied by pictures, and half without pictures present. The other group was taught the 10 words in their conventional spellings, also with pictures either present or absent. It was hypothesized that kindergartners, presumed to be in the partial alphabetic phase of reading would learn to read simplified spellings of words by sight equally well either with or without pictures, whereas they would learn to read conventional spellings better without pictures present. It was hypothesized that first graders, presumed to be full alphabetic readers, would not be distracted by the pictures in either the simplified or conventional spelling conditions because they would process the conventional spellings automatically. Results indicated that both kindergarteners and first graders were distracted by the presence of pictures when learning sight words, both in the simplified and conventional spelling conditions. Experiment 2 utilized the same design with full alphabetic students in the second grade. In addition, half of the students' attention was directed at the spellings of the words. Results provided mixed support for the hypothesis that the second graders would not be distracted by the pictures in learning to read the words. Pictures did not distract sight word memory when students' attention was directed at letter-sound correspondences in the words during learning. However, second graders were distracted by the presence of pictures when they had learned conventional spellings of words without attending to letter-sound relations in words during word learning.

  • Analyzing ecological momentary data using growth mixture modeling

    Author:
    Mariya Shiyko
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    David Rindskopf
    Abstract:

    Real-time data capture, also known as ecological momentary assessment (EMA), is a unique data collection technique, which records moment-to-moment changes in human behavior as they occur in real time and in naturalistic settings. EMA is typically collected by electronic devices that prompt study participants to report behaviors (e.g., smoking) in real time, thereby minimizing problems associated with retrospective recall and reactivity. EMA has been heralded as a promising research tool in education, psychology, and behavioral medicine. It provides the needed data to examine patterns of behaviors as well as their temporal characteristics. Growth mixture modeling (GMM) is a statistical solution to many challenges associated with analyzing intensive EMA data. GMM estimates individual developmental profiles and classifies them into latent homogenous groups based on similarities in trajectories. This dissertation is a secondary data analysis of daily smoking rate of 74 newly-diagnosed cancer patients, who were enrolled in a randomized smoking cessation clinical trial prior to their cancer-related surgery. Patients' daily smoking rate was recorded over an average period of two weeks, yielding 896 assessments in total. The exploratory data assessment demonstrated substantial differences in patterns of smoking reduction across individuals during the intervention period. The goal of the GMM analysis was threefold: 1) to identify distinct smoking cessation patterns in a sample of patients awaiting a cancer-related surgery, 2) to investigate whether differences in tapering profiles are associated with differential smoking abstinence at surgery, 3) to identify personal and situational characteristics that are associated with each of the smoking cessation approaches. The final model identified three latent developmental classes, which included abrupt, gradual, and slow reducers, varying in their personal characteristics and smoking cessation rates. This model is contrasted with a single-class solution alternative. Challenges of model enumeration and model identification processes are discussed. While growth mixture modeling widens the spectrum of research questions that can be addressed, it also poses technical and conceptual challenges for future research.

  • The Effects of Parenting Style and Psychological Control on Relational Aggression in African American Girls

    Author:
    Yolanda Slade
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Shick Tryon
    Abstract:

    This dissertation explored the relationship of parenting styles and psychological control on relational aggression in African American girls. Specifically, it examined African American girls' perpetration and victimization of relational aggression and the influence of their mother's parenting style on their behavior. This study also investigated if parenting style is predictive of relational aggression and relational victimization. This dissertation sought to answer the following questions: (a) How well do parenting style and psychological control predict relational aggression in African American girls? (b) How well do parenting style and psychological control predict relational victimization in African American girls? (c)Which is the best predictor of relational aggression: psychological control or parenting style? (d)Which is the best predictor of relational victimization: psychological control or parenting style? (e) If the possible effects of parent age and income level are controlled, are parenting style and psychological control be able to predict relational aggression? (f)If we control for the possible effects of mother's age and income level, are parenting style and psychological control still able to predict a significant amount of the variance in the relational victimization score? I confirmed that psychological control was negatively associated with authoritative parenting style. Additionally, girls' perceptions of their mothers' degree of psychological control was not significantly related to either their daughter's use of relational aggression or their relational victimization. In contrast, parenting style was associated with relational aggression. Additionally, after controlling for age and annual household income, psychological control and parenting style did not significantly predict relational aggression. With regard to relational victimization, after controlling for age and annual household income, an authoritarian parenting style significantly predicted relational victimization.

  • The Relationship of Self-Concept and Academic Engagement to Each Other and to School Outcomes of Students with Disabilities

    Author:
    David Steinke
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK Abstract The Relationship of Self-Concept and Academic Engagement to Each Other and to School Outcomes of Students with Disabilities by David P. Steinke, M.Ed. Advisor: Georgiana Shick Tryon, Ph.D. The present study examined the relationship between self-concept, engagement, and school outcomes for students with educational disabilities in grades 10 to 12. Participants included 105 students in grades 10 to 12 in a large suburban high school who were classified as having an educational disability which qualified them for special education services. Self-concept was measured using the Self Description Questionnaire II (SDQ II, Marsh, 1992b). Engagement was measured using the Motivation and Engagement Scale (MES, Martin, 2004). School outcome measures for achievement consisted of PSAT verbal scores and PSAT math scores. Other school outcome variables were the number of student absences, number of student discipline referrals, and number of extracurricular activities in which a student participated. Other student and family information was gathered by means of a Demographic Questionnaire and a student data form that was used to gather information about student classification and class placement. Statistical analyses using Pearson Correlations and Canonical Correlation Analysis indicated that academic self-concept was more related to academic achievement and extracurricular participation than engagement measures. Variables of student discipline and attendance were not significant. Overall, academic self-concept was more important in the relationship with academic outcomes for special education students than academic engagement.

  • Curriculum-Based Measurement Performance Indicators: A Tool for Undergraduate Calculus Students to Inform and Direct their Learning Behavior

    Author:
    Linda Sturges
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Barry Zimmerman
    Abstract:

    The present study investigated the extent to which providing students with individualized performance feedback informed and directed their learning behavior. Individualized performance feedback was delivered to students using curriculum-based measurement progress indicators, either as a visual representation of ongoing performance in the form of a progress graph or as a progress graph supplemented with a qualitative analysis of topic mastery. Participants were 67 students enrolled in a first course in engineering calculus at a specialized public 4-year college. The College's specialization is within the maritime industry. Intact sections of Calculus I were randomly assigned to each of the feedback conditions. A contrast group of students who did not receive individualized performance feedback was formed. The impact of individualized performance feedback was examined in terms of measures of calibration accuracy, relearning, and academic performance when contrasted to corresponding measures from students who did not receive individualized performance feedback. Mixed-model analysis of covariance and mixed-model analysis of variance revealed differences between the feedback groups and the no feedback group. Differences for calibration accuracy approached statistical significance; however differences were statistically significant for measures of relearning and academic performance. For each measure, the students who received individualized performance feedback used that information to better judge their calculus capability, relearn topics not mastered more often, achieve at a higher level on course exams. When comparing the two feedback groups, there was evidence of differential self-monitoring activities. When students used the supplementary information gleaned from the mastery analyses, they studied non-mastered topics more often and had consistent study habits. Additionally, the group that received the supplementary mastery analyses not only reported more positive expressions of the usefulness of the feedback information, they also had strong associations between their perceptions of the usefulness of the feedback and corresponding measures of time engaged in academic activities and instances of relearning. Implications of the findings of this study suggest performance indicators appear to empower the student with the information to inform and direct one's learning behavior to become a successful learner.

  • Effects of Self-Directed Analogical Comparison and Generation of Factual Hypotheticals on Multi-Case Legal Reasoning

    Author:
    Moon Sue
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Barry Zimmerman
    Abstract:

    Drawing on analogical reasoning theories, this study sought to determine whether learner-directed generation of factual hypotheticals coupled with the briefing of court decisions would be better than briefing alone in engaging in legal reasoning from two or more cases. Thirty-seven students and recent college graduates, who had been previously enrolled in pre-law programs that emphasized the reading of court decisions, were recruited. They were randomly assigned to two training groups--a structured hypotheticals training group, which used a grid to prompt the generation of factual hypotheticals from court cases--and a briefing group which summarized the court cases in response to questions regarding the parties, facts, issues and ruling/disposition of a court case. After training and reading of three court decision, both groups were required to provide a solution to a factual hypothetical --a transfer task. Measures on case comprehension, self-efficacy and self-evaluation beliefs regarding comprehension were also assessed to determine whether the intervention would interfere with comprehension and motivation. Univariate analyses showed that the hypotheticals group outperformed the briefing only training group in solving the factual hypothetical. Multivariate analysis also showed that the intervention did not interfere with comprehension, as both training groups did not significantly differ in comprehension subprocesses. Finally the two training groups did not differ on self-efficacy and self-evaluation beliefs in connection with their perceived ability to comprehend court decisions.

  • Grandchildren's Autistic Spectrum Disorders and Family Functioning as Predictors of Grandmothers' Strengths and Needs

    Author:
    Alison Sullivan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Marian Fish
    Abstract:

    Literature on intergenerational relationships clearly illustrates the importance of the grandparent role in the family. While much research has been done on the grandparent role when children are typically developing, little research has been done on the grandparent role when children have special needs. This study looked at grandmothers of children with ASD. The investigator collected data from 34 mother - grandmother dyads from children who were typically developing, 31 mother - grandmother dyads from families of children who were diagnosed with HFA/AS, and 19 mother - grandmother dyads from families of children who were diagnosed with AD. First, the study looked at consistency between mothers' and grandmothers' report of grandmothers' strengths and needs. Second, the study looked at the impact of grandchildren's ASD on grandmothers' strengths and needs. Finally, the study looked at the impact of family systems variables on grandmothers' strengths and needs. The study also looked at background variables that may impact grandmothers' strengths and needs. Results from the study partially supported the hypothesis that grandmothers will view circumstances as good as or better than mothers view circumstances. To a large extent there was agreement between grandmothers' and mothers' reports of grandmothers' strengths and needs. Where there were significant differences, grandmothers' reports of grandmothers' strengths and needs were more favorable than mothers' reports of grandmothers' strengths and needs. Grandmothers reported more strengths and fewer needs than mothers reported. Results from this study strongly supported previous research showing that grandparents of children with special needs are different from grandparents of children with typical development in terms of their role and experience. Results showed that grandmothers of children with ASD have fewer reported strengths and more needs than grandmothers of children with typical development. Results partially supported the hypothesis that family functioning will be associated with greater strengths and decreased needs for grandmothers, indicating that these variables, when unbalanced, hinder inclusion of grandmothers' involvement and satisfaction. Directions for future research and implications for education are also discussed.