Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • 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 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.

  • 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.