Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • STUDY TO INVESTIGATE SELF-REPORTED TEACHER ABSENTEEISM AND DESIRE TO LEAVE TEACHING AS THEY RELATE TO TEACHER-REPORTED TEACHING SATISFACTION, JOB-RELATED STRESS, SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION, IRRATIONAL BELIEFS, AND SELF- EFFICACY

    Author:
    Georgina Green
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Shick-Tryon
    Abstract:

    This study aimed to examine teacher-reported absenteeism and intention to leave the profession by investigating the relationships between teachers' demographic characteristics, self-rated teaching-related stress, job satisfaction, symptoms of depression, irrational beliefs, and self-efficacy. According to Steers and Rhodes' (1978; Rhodes & Steers, 1990) theory of employee absenteeism, employees are absent from or leave their jobs because of personal factors that influence or are associated with their ability to attend work, and motivational factors that relate to job satisfaction. Teacher characteristics such as age, gender, number of children, ethnicity, education level, and years of teaching experience frequently relate to absenteeism and attrition (Borman & Dowling, 2008, Bobbitt, Leich, Whitener, & Lynch, 1994; Boe, Bobbitt, Cook, Barkanic, & Mailsin, 1998; Grissmer & Kirby, 1987, 1992, 1997; Hafner & Owings, 1991; Murnane, Singer, & Willett, 1988), and are included in this dissertation. A sample of 252 NYS teachers completed an online survey. Correlations existed between variables whereby lower job satisfaction contributed to teachers desire to take a sick day due to perceived teaching related stress. Depression and irrational beliefs were associated with less teacher self-efficacy and job satisfaction and greater intention to leave the teaching profession. In this study, it seems that a fairly high percentage of participants met suggested cut off score for symptoms of depression (approximately 40% of teachers). Regression analyses showed that as depression increased, the desire to take a day off work due to self-perceived, teaching-related stress also tended to increase. Irrational beliefs were also a significant predictor, of self-perceived, teaching- related stress, suggesting that as irrational beliefs increased, the desire to take a day off work due to stress also tended to increase. No significant relationships existed between self-efficacy, depression, irrational beliefs, and job satisfaction and participants' years of experience and level of education. This study supports the existing research as well as Steers and Rhodes' theory of absentee behavior and job-satisfaction (Ahlgren & Gadnib, 2011; Collie et al., 2012; Klassen & Chiu, 2010; Markow et al., 2013; Schonfeld, 1990a, 1990b, 1996).

  • 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.

  • 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 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.