Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Enhancing self-regulated learning on a novel mathematical task through modeling and feedback

    Author:
    Adam Moylan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Barry Zimmerman
    Abstract:

    The power of feedback has been widely acclaimed in research on learning and motivation. However, in educational practice, feedback has typically been conceptualized as an outcome of learning efforts, and not enough attention has been given to its self-reflective role--as a beginning point in cyclical self-regulatory efforts to understand, motivate, and improve one's efforts to learn. This experimental study investigated the influence of various forms of feedback on college students' strategic efforts to learn to solve complex math problems. Participants were assigned randomly to one of five conditions: 1) control, 2) strategy instruction, 3) strategy instruction plus summative feedback, 4) strategy instruction, summative feedback, and formative feedback, and 5) strategy instruction, summative feedback, formative feedback, and adaptive feedback. Summative feedback indicated whether a solution was correct or incorrect, while formative feedback involved an indication of the sources of errors, and adaptive feedback referred to the student's application of feedback to correct errors plus the experimenter's indication of accuracy on adjustments made by the student. Students attempted to solve multiple examples of a novel mathematic task during an instruction phase, learning phase, and posttest phase. The results showed a positive linear trend between increasing levels of elaborative feedback students received and their performance accuracy. In addition, there was a positive linear trend for increased elaborative feedback and strategy adaptation after making errors. Thus, the optimal level of feedback during learning involved information about the source of errors accompanied by self-reflective practice in making strategic adaptations. Progressively elaborative feedback also had additive effects on the important self-reflection phase processes of self-evaluation and self-satisfaction. As hypothesized, self-efficacy predicted performance accuracy and strategy adaptation, as well as self-evaluation and self-satisfaction. Understanding about contexts that help students' to adaptively use feedback to self-regulate has significant implications for classroom assessment that directly fosters learning.

  • Parental knowledge and beliefs in relation to early child development: Perspectives from Tanzania

    Author:
    Nilofer Naqvi
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Helen Johnson
    Abstract:

    The study assessed mothers' knowledge and beliefs about child development and compared these results to their children's performance on a child outcome measure. It was conducted under the auspices of Save the Children, the non-profit agency. Data was gathered in both rural and urban areas of Tanzania, and included typically developing children, and children identified with developmental delays. The study also examined the relationship between the mothers' income and education levels and their knowledge and beliefs in respect to child development, the relationship between parenting style and self-efficacy beliefs, the development of the construct of self-efficacy in the Tanzanian context, and the effects of birth location and maternal age on child developmental outcome. Participants included 103 mothers and their children. Forty-nine resided in the urban location and 54 in the rural location. Parental knowledge and belief were assessed using the Health and Safety, Milestone and Parenting subscales from the Knowledge of Infant Development Inventory (MacPhee, 1981), the Maternal Self-Efficacy Scale (Teti & Gelfand, 1991), the Parenting Tasks Checklist (Sanders & Wooley, 2005), and the Parent Modernity Scale (Schaefer & Edgerton, 1985). Child developmental outcome was assessed using the Battelle Developmental Inventory Screening Test (Newborg, 2005). All measures were translated into Kiswahili and piloted on a small sample. Results indicated that a combined measure of parent beliefs was more reliable than results from the individual measures, however no relationship was found between scores on this combined measure and results on the child outcome measure. Significant differences were found in the scores of all the parent measures between mothers from urban versus rural areas of the country when controlling for other demographic variables. There was also a positive relationship between maternal education and scores on the combined belief measure. Item analyses on the measures highlighted parental beliefs about child-care and child development within the Tanzanian context. Findings from the study demonstrate the lack of intervention services for children with disabilities/developmental delays in rural areas of the country and highlighted the health and policy implications associated with this.

  • Knowledge and Use of Vowel Letter-Sound Relations by Beginners to Read and Spell Words

    Author:
    Simone Nunes de Carvalho
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Linnea Ehri
    Abstract:

    The objective of this study was to explore beginners' knowledge of short vowel letter-sounds and its relationship to children's word reading and spelling abilities. Twenty-four five and six-year-old children completed several tasks assessing knowledge of vowel letter-sound and sound-letter associations, word and pseudoword reading, and spelling. Performance on the vowel tasks was used to separate children into high and low vowel knowledge groups. All children learned to read two sets of simplified spelling words to criterion: one set with vowels, and the other set without. It was expected that children with high vowel knowledge would learn words containing vowels faster and with more ease than words without vowels, whereas children with less vowel knowledge would learn words without vowel letters with more ease. Findings suggested that order of acquisition of short vowels reflects not only teaching, but also the distinctiveness of articulatory features among the vowels. Children's mistakes in short vowel sound production showed usage of a letter name strategy. Short vowel knowledge was significantly correlated with reading and spelling performance. Children with high short vowel letter-sound knowledge learned significantly more words and in fewer trials than children possessing low short vowel letter-sound knowledge. Contrary to our expectations, however, vowel letters in the target words did not affect learning. Individual analysis of children's performance revealed that children who reached criterion in the learning task in fewer than ten trials had achieved mastery or near mastery to at least three vowel letter-sounds. Findings are discussed in terms of the role of automatization of letter-sound knowledge in word recognition theories, and the role of decoding in helping children acquire more vowel knowledge. Acquisition of the idea of a vowel system to represent letters and sounds may be particularly helpful in enhancing word learning and spelling.

  • THE ROLE OF GOAL SETTING AND AUTOMATICITY IN NOVICE ATHLETES' DEVELOPMENT AND PERFORMANCE OF A TENNIS SKILL: A COACHING INTERVENTION

    Author:
    Saul Petersen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Barry Zimmerman
    Abstract:

    This dissertation tested the varying branches of research that have explored the issue of automaticity and its relation to goals in sports. One view shows support for a process avoidance perspective on athletic skill development. Another contends that skill development is enhanced when deliberate attention is paid to the execution of a skill's sub-processes. A third social-cognitive view is represented in the current dissertation. This view is reflected in self-regulation theory and suggests that, while both views are valid, the learner must be capable of shifting adaptively from processes to outcomes following extended practice for optimal skill development to occur. Extended attention to processes and attributing errors to strategy are both proposed to represent expert self-regulatory practice methods. Forty novice participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups: a) Extended Process, b) Intermediate Process, c) Self-Shifting, or, d) Outcome Goal. Each group received identical demonstrations of a beginner forehand tennis stroke, followed by sixty attempts at the stroke. The Extended Process Group attended to process goals for forty of sixty attempts then shifted to outcome goals for the final twenty attempts. The Intermediate Process Group attended to processes for twenty attempts then shifted to outcome goals for the remaining forty attempts. The Outcome Goal Group attended to outcomes throughout the sixty attempts. A Self-Shifting Group determined for itself when to shift from processes to outcomes. Results generally supported hypotheses, with the Extended Process Group outperforming other groups on measures of forehand skill and accuracy, in particular following the final phase of practice.

  • Teaching Reading: The Contribution of Multisensory Training to the Knowledge and Thinking of First-Grade Teachers

    Author:
    Constance Petropoulos
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Linnea Ehri
    Abstract:

    Studies by Moats (1995), Mather, Bos, and Babur (2001), and McCutchen, et al (2002) have begun to identify the relationship between teachers' linguistic knowledge and what is known, scientifically, about how literacy is acquired by learners. Findings from these studies support the idea that linguistic knowledge--particularly knowledge of English phonology and orthography--is important for teachers of reading and can improve student outcomes in the early elementary grades. Moats (1995) and Mather et al (2001) found that teacher participants in their studies did not have the levels of linguistic knowledge that would enable expert teaching of reading. The present study takes the research on teachers' linguistic knowledge as its thematic source and examines how linguistic knowledge enhances teachers' thinking about early literacy. Three groups of first-grade teachers participated in the present study. The first two groups were recruited from organizations that offer training in multisensory methods of teaching reading such as the Orton-Gillingham, Spalding, or Wilson methods. Multisensory (MS) methods of reading instruction involve teaching students to use more than one sense to internalize the relationships between phonemes and the letters that represent them in print. Training courses for teachers generally involve a thorough analysis of English orthography as well as practice and feedback in use of the teaching methods. This study compared three groups of teachers: teachers who had received recent multisensory training (n=8), teachers who had received multisensory training more than one year ago (n=8), and teachers who had not been trained in multisensory methods (n=8). Participants responded to surveys that measured their level of linguistic knowledge, familiarity with popular children's literature, and their theoretical orientation toward the teaching of reading. They also watched two segments of a video, each featuring a child reading aloud with a teacher. For each segment, teachers responded to six prompts that were designed to tap their on-task thinking about beginning reading acquisition and instruction. While the three groups of teachers in this study did not differ significantly in their measured levels of linguistic knowledge, they did differ in the ways in which they responded to the video and prompts. Multisensory trained teachers made more specific comments about the readers in the video and suggested more teaching strategies in their responses to the prompts. Multisensory trained teachers also showed higher levels of approval for basic skills practices, and used specific information about the readers in the video to formulate teaching strategies. Implications for future research on the teaching of reading are discussed.

  • Too Few Symptoms to Diagnose? A Managed Care Ethical Dilemma

    Author:
    Amy Racanello
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    Managed care rations health care to populations by using gate keeping methods to counterbalance cost. Subsequently, managed care dictates treatment decisions made by practitioners. Managed care has been implicated in damaging relationships within the clinical practice of psychology that unethical and fraudulent practitioner behaviors, and undesirable the client-practitioner relationships. The present study built on the design and results from the pilot study. It was an attempt to explore the relationship between managed care and psychologists' &rsquo: unethical behaviors, and understand the characteristics, specifically empathy and narcissism, of psychologists who behave unethically when assigning diagnosis required by managed care companies. Of particular interest to this research was an examination of individuals who report incongruous personal ethical personal standards and behaviors. The pilot study revealed a sample of the participants who reported that they acted ethically and abided by professional ethical standards all of the time. These same individuals also reported that they would incorrectly diagnose a client who did not meet diagnostic requirements to receive payment for services through managed care. Participants included 101 mental health practitioners. Data were collected with an online survey, that included measures of personal characteristics, professional ethics, empathy (Spreng et al., 2009), narcissism (Corry et al., 2008), motivated reasoning, and diagnostic decisions. Correlational analyses indicated that personal and professional characteristics are positively related to practitioners reporting that there are reasons to assign unmerited diagnoses to clients. Conjoint analysis, using logistic regression, indicated that practitioners who reported that there are reasons to assign unmerited diagnoses to clients and unwavering adherence to the APA ethics code most frequently assigned unmerited diagnoses to fictional clients. A sub-group of the participants from the current work again reported that they acted ethically and abided by professional ethical standards all of the time but demonstrated unethical behavior. This finding and practitioner individual differences related to diagnostic behavior are both topics for fruitful future research.

  • The Effectiveness of Intervention Programs To Help College Students Acquire Self-Regulated Learning Strategies: A Meta-Analysis

    Author:
    PATRICK RAGOSTA
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Barry Zimmerman
    Abstract:

    A meta-analysis was conducted to determine the effectiveness of interventions designed to help college students acquire self-regulated learning strategies. Fifty-five primary studies were included in the analysis, and ninety-three effect sizes were calculated and grouped into three outcome categories: academic achievement, strategy use, and self-efficacy. Total sample size consisted of 6, 669 students. The overall weighted effect size (Hedge's g) for all studies was 0.335 (95% CI = 0.240, 0.431), a significant small to medium effect. Interventions were coded based on their theoretical bases: metacognitive, social-cognitive, motivational, or an integration of these. Moderator analyses were conducted on several variables: content area, group work, type of assessment instrument, computer-mediated instruction, type of college/university, randomization of subjects, and intervention length. These analyses showed different effect sizes, although moderators accounted for little of the between-studies variation. Educational implications and recommendations for future research are proposed.

  • Improving Fifth Grade Students' Mathematics Self-Efficacy Calibration and Performance through Self-Regulation Training

    Author:
    Darshanand Ramdass
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Barry Zimmerman
    Abstract:

    This primary goal of this study was to investigate the effects of strategy training and self-reflection, two subprocesses of Zimmerman's cyclical model of self-regulation, on fifth grade students' mathematics performance, self-efficacy, self-evaluation, and calibration measures of self-efficacy bias, self-efficacy accuracy, self-evaluation bias, self-evaluation accuracy, time, and strategy use. The participants were 88 fifth graders and the task involved subtraction fraction problems. Students were randomly assigned to one of four groups, strategy training and self-reflection training, strategy training only, self-reflection training only, and the control group. A multivariate analysis of covariance showed significant main effects of strategy training with a large effect size. Follow-up univariate analyses of variance on each of the nine dependent measures revealed significant main effects for eight variables with the exception of self-efficacy accuracy. The effects sizes for these significant effects ranged from medium to large. Path analysis results also indicated that strategy training had direct and indirect effects on math performance. Self-efficacy bias was a mediating variable between strategy training and math performance. A second path analysis showed the effects of self-reflection training were weak, and it was not possible to confirm the mediational role of math performance on self-evaluation accuracy. Correlation analyses indicated that all the variables correlated with math performance. Self-efficacy bias and self-evaluation bias correlated negatively with math performance. However, the multivariate analysis of covariance did not reveal significant main effects for self-reflection training nor was there any interaction between strategy and self-reflection training. Nonetheless, upon examining the means scores of the self-reflection and the non self-reflection groups, a consistent pattern emerged. The mean scores for the self-reflection groups were higher than the non self-reflection groups. To explore whether this difference was statistically significant, a nonparametric chi-square analysis was conducted. The results of this test showed that the self-reflection training exerted a consistent, albeit a weak influence, indicating that it resulted in better math performance, self-evaluative judgments, and calibration judgments. Overall, this research demonstrated that strategy training improved fifth grade students' math performance, self-evaluative judgments, and calibration measures of accuracy and less bias. The educational implications of the findings for educators were considered.

  • Effects of Teacher Efficacy and Student's Gender and Ethnicity on Special Education Referral and Response to Intervention

    Author:
    Archna Randall
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    This study examined the relationships among teacher efficacy, student gender, and student ethnicity (African American, Asian American, Latin American, and Caucasian) on teachers' decisions to use RTI versus referring immediately to special education. Kindergarten through eighth-grade teachers (N = 134) completed an anonymous survey online that included demographic questions, the Teachers' Sense of Teacher Efficacy Scale (TSES; Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk Hoy, 2001), a hypothetical case study of a student struggling academically, and questions about teacher referral decisions. Participants randomly received one of the eight hypothetical case studies that varied the student's gender and ethnicity. This study employed procedures similar to earlier studies (Meijer & Foster, 1998; Podell & Soodak, 1993; Soodak & Podell, 1993) that manipulated student characteristics. Results support previous research studies that found that high teacher efficacy relates to fewer special education referrals. Multiple logistic regression analyses show that teachers with higher teacher efficacy in student engagement and instructional strategies were more likely to use RTI versus referring to special education. Teacher efficacy for classroom management was not related to teacher referral decisions. There was a significant relationship among teacher efficacy, student's gender, and teachers' referral decisions. Efficacious teachers were more likely to use RTI for a struggling female student than for a struggling male student. Taken together, teacher efficacy, student's gender, and student's ethnicity did not relate significantly to teachers' decisions to use RTI versus referring to special education. This study demonstrated promising results related to teachers' efficacy and teachers' decisions to use RTI. Study limitations include sample size and demographics, validity of using vignettes, and teachers responding in a socially desirable manner that may have precluded significant results. It is recommended that educators be ready for the paradigm shift away from the refer-test model to the RTI approach. Future research is encouraged to develop an RTI teacher efficacy scale and examine teachers' integrity of implementing of RTI.

  • Factors that Account for Children's Variability in Social Skills: Temperament and Emotional Intelligence

    Author:
    Christine Rissanen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    The study of social skills in children has been a popular field of research for many decades. The popularity of this construct may be due, in part, to the importance of social skills. Investigators recognize social skills as an essential set of abilities that correlate with overall personal adjustment in both children and in adults (Agostin & Bain, 1997; Copeland, 2006; Dodge, Murphy, & Buschsbaum, 1984; Green, Forehand, Beck, & Vosk, 1980; Vinnick & Erickson, 1994). Some children learn to skillfully master social skills, whereas for others, their skills in interacting effectively with others are insufficient to achieve success in the social world. Knowledge of an individual's differences may be important in understanding an individual's level of social skills. One form of an individual's difference is his/her temperament and another is his/her level of emotional intelligence (EI). Currently, there is no research examining the relationship among EI, social skills, and temperament in preschool-aged children. One reason for this paucity is that until recently there was no assessment measure for EI of young children. The purpose of the present study, therefore, was to determine what accounts for the variability in preschool aged children's social skills. It was hypothesized that a child's level of social skills would be influenced by both his/her level of EI and their temperament. Parents of 94 preschool children, aged 4 years to 5 years 6 months participated in the study. Parents completed a demographic questionnaire and gave their child's teacher permission to complete three rating scales, Social Skills Rating Scale (SSRS), Temperament Assessment Battery for Children- Revised (TABC-R), and the Teacher/Parent Rating Scale for Emotional Intelligence (T/PRSEI). Based on the data collected, all the proposed hypotheses in this study were confirmed. Results of this study indicate that higher scores of EI were predictive of higher scores of social skills, t(90) = 1.84, p = .07. Although not significant at the customary p < .05 level, this positive relationship showed a trend toward significance. Scores on both temperament variables were also predictive of social skills. Specifically, there was a significant negative relationship between inhibition and social skills, t(90) = -5.24, p < .001. Thus, higher scores on the inhibition scale of the TABC-R predicted lower scores on the SSRS. Additionally, impulsivity and social skills scores were negatively related, t(90) = -6.07, p < .001. Therefore, high scores on the impulsivity scale of the TABC-R were predictive of lower scores on the SSRS. Analyses were also conducted to investigate whether or not gender may be influencing EI. Results showed that when gender was entered into the regression analysis, the variance accounted for significantly increased, t(89) = 4.77, p < .001. In addition, when gender was added as a predictor in the multiple regression, the t-test assessing the contribution of EI revealed it as a stronger predictor of social skills, t(89) = 2.87, p < .01. Thus, when gender was controlled for, EI significantly predicted students' social skills. Knowledge about what accounts for the variability in children's social skills may help School Psychologists to tailor interventions to assist the child in enhancing his/her social skills. Although a child's temperament is often stable across their lifespan and cannot be changed, skills that are deficits in the child's temperament traits can be taught and learned and in turn may help their level of social skills. Next, knowing a child's temperament will help professionals choose different strategies and interventions to work on social skills. Finally, although there is little research on teaching EI skills, it is possible that teaching EI skills to children who have deficits in social skills would lead to an improvement in their social skills.