Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • 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 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.

  • Internalizing Disorders in Early Childhood: Professional Development Framework for Teachers

    Author:
    Danielle Guttman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Helen Johnson
    Abstract:

    Recent research indicates that internalizing disorders such as depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) manifest in young children. Since early childhood teachers spend a substantial portion of their day with young children, it is important to examine their beliefs and behaviors surrounding these disorders. The role of the school psychologist has come to include providing support for educators such as presenting up-to-date research through professional development (PD). The current investigation implemented an intervention designed to compare different forms of PD seminars ("Information" and "Strategies") designed to increase teachers' awareness of internalizing disorders in early childhood. Ninety-nine participants comprised the three groups. The Information approach focused on presenting symptoms and detailed an ecological and preventative approach. The Strategies approach presented tools and strategies for classroom management. Participants' perceptions were measured through pretests and posttests. Demographic results indicated that most participants reported receiving no training on social or emotional issues in the classroom. Significant time and group effects were found for assessing participants' self-perceptions of preparedness to tackle depression, anxiety, and PTSD in their classrooms. Although both intervention groups increased in self-perceived preparedness from pretest to posttest, significant differences were not found between the two intervention groups. Other findings and qualitative data suggested areas for future research. Implications within the practice of school psychology were addressed.

  • 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.