Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Relationship between Mindfulness and Emotion Regulation in Children

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Effects of Group Coaching on the Homework Completion of Secondary Students with Homework Problems

    Author:
    Donald Merriman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    Homework is a staple in American education that accounts for a large percentage of the total time American students spend on academic task. Research on the effectiveness of homework provides ample evidence that homework has a positive effect on learning and academic performance, particularly for middle and high school students. Unfortunately, the rate of consistent homework completion, for students with and without disabilities, is dismally low. The current body of research on homework interventions suggests that self-management interventions may be the best type of intervention to help all students with homework difficulties. This study utilized a between groups design to examine the differential effectiveness of coaching, a self-management intervention, as compared with the local treatment-as-usual (homework center) on improving the homework completion of 50 middle school students (grades 6 to 8) with and without disabilities who were having substantial difficulty with homework. This study also examined the feasibility of implementing coaching in a group, rather than an individual format, as well as the impact of increased homework completion on academic performance. One parent and one teacher rating scale, as well as actual homework completion rates, were used to measure homework performance. A variety of methods were used to analyze the data, including descriptive analyses, MANOVA, and ANOVA. Results indicated that both group coaching and homework center (treatment-as-usual) were effective in significantly decreasing homework problems; with no clear indication that one intervention was, overall, superior to the other. Each intervention was differentially effective as a function of disability status. For the non-disabled students, the rate of change or improvement was faster for the coaching intervention than for the homework center condition. For the disabled students, the rate of change or improvement was faster for the homework center condition. Despite significant reductions in homework problems, academic performance, as measured by GPA, did not change significantly.

  • The Role of Self-Theories of Intelligence and Self-Efficacy in Adaptive Help-Seeking by College Students

    Author:
    Mildred Mihlon
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Barry Zimmerman
    Abstract:

    In this study the role of self-theories of intelligence and self-efficacy on adaptive help-seeking behavior was examined. One-hundred, first-year college students were asked to complete a highly difficult vocabulary task that would ensure universal failure. Performance attributions were assessed in order to determine the students' view of intelligence as either fixed or malleable. To obtain a measure for self-efficacy, a subsequent task was administered whereas participants were asked to indicate their confidence for the use of help-seeking to improve learning. During this task students were permitted to seek help in the form of a hint or direct answer. The students' bids for help were later coded as either maladaptive or adaptive forms of help. A final vocabulary posttest was administered immediately following to assess learning. Results from a multivariate analysis of variance yielded a main effect for self-theory of intelligence on all predicted variables. Post hoc tests revealed significant differences between the groups such that the students who attributed their performance to ability pursued less adaptive forms of help, did worse on the posttest, and had lower self-efficacy posttest ratings than those students who attributed performance to effort. Since no main effects were observed for self-efficacy, a bias score was calculated for each participant to control for calibration errors and used as a covariate in a subsequent analysis of covariance. With the inclusion of the covariate, bias score, significant effects for all predicted variables were obtained. Students in low self-efficacy group as compared to the high self-efficacy group pursued less adaptive forms of help, did worse on the posttest, and had lower self-efficacy posttest ratings. Overall findings from this study showed that view of intelligence directly impacts help-seeking behavior, which indirectly affects learning and performance.

  • The Effects of Self-Monitoring and Performance Feedback on the Treatment Integrity of Behavior Support Plan Implementation

    Author:
    Angela Mouzakitis
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Robin Codding
    Abstract:

    This study evaluated methods to improve and maintain treatment integrity (TI) for behavior support plans (BSP) for children with Autistic Disorder. While performance feedback (PFB) has been identified as the most effective method to support TI, it is time-consuming and expensive. This study examined self-monitoring (SM) as a way to maintain target levels of TI, possibly better than a PFB package that does not include SM. This study also examined generalization effects of training to a BSP for which no training occurred. Finally, this study explored the relationship of TI to student behavior. A four-tiered multiple baseline design with changing conditions was used to evaluate the effectiveness of SM compared to SM and PFB. Eight students with BSPs participated in the study. Teachers were trained with SM and PFB for four of the students' BSPs; the remaining four students were used to assess generalization effects of the training. Results indicate that SM was effective for two teachers to maintain target levels of TI following PFB, and sufficient for one teacher to achieve target levels of TI with no PFB. One teacher in the study required additional PFB to attain target levels of TI. Findings indicate that three of the four teachers generalized BSP implementation without additional training. It was also found that TI and student behavior are highly correlated.