Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • REEXAMINING LINGUISTIC RELATIVITY: WHAT ADULT BILINGUALS CAN TEACH US ABOUT CULTURE, LANGUAGE, AND COGNITION

    Author:
    Natalya Petroff
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Bruce Homer
    Abstract:

    Extending Whorf's popular notion of linguistic relativity (LR) to bilingual contexts, one would argue that a speaker's first language (L1) influences her thinking and behavior under second language (L2) conditions. According to one interpretation of LR, inter-language relativity, L1 instills in its speakers habitual ways of thinking and thus influences their perception and categorization in L2 contexts. Under intra-speaker relativity, bilinguals follow either L1 or L2 patterns of performance, depending on L2 proficiency. Finally, according to usage-based accounts of language, there is no qualitative difference between mono- and bilingual speakers, and a bilingual's performance under L2 conditions is best viewed in terms of their ongoing engagement with L2. To investigate how much each interpretation contributes to our understanding of cognition, language, and culture, two studies were conducted with a sample of 45 adult Russian-English bilinguals. Each study was based on a popular research paradigm and tested all three interpretations of LR for their explanatory value. Study one utilized a one-word association task conducted in both languages, a common way to examine the conceptual organization of the bilingual lexicon. Study two utilized a different kind of association task to investigate influences of L1 (grammatical gender) under L2 conditions. In both studies, there was no evidence in support of either inter-language or intra-speaker relativity. There was evidence in support of usage-based accounts of language: bilinguals' use of informal English appeared to moderate their performance under L2 conditions.

  • 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.

  • How Much Value is Added by Value Added Models, An Analysis of Teachers' Performance Over Time Using New York State Assessment Data

    Author:
    Mariana Ristea
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    David Rindskopf
    Abstract:

    There is a strong movement to evaluate teachers on the basis of students' performance. To compare teachers fairly, as each may have a mixture of students with different abilities in a given subject area, one should account for variables reflective of students' subject knowledge and background when entering a course. Most methods of control consist of highly sophisticated statistical models mostly difficult to explain to educators who are being evaluated using such methods. This research presents two value-added methods that could be replicated by using in-house resources and standardized student assessment data which are either continuous or ordinal. One method is simpler to implement if one's goal is to evaluate teachers' performance based on students' assessments scores reported as ordinal measures. The second method is similar to a more typical value-added approach and uses hierarchical linear structures to determine a classification of teachers' performance based on their students' assessment scores reported as continuous measures. Teachers' "value-added" in a given academic year is typically calculated using students' longitudinal New York State assessment data, reported in both ordinal and continuous forms. Comparison of results obtained from both methods, along with their interpretations, are used to examine trade-offs between accuracy of methods and their ease of use and transparency. The code used is included for practitioners who may wish to replicate this value-added methodology. Suggestions related to educational policy and feasibility of implementation of methods are also discussed.

  • The Relationship between a Sense of School Belonging and Internalizing, Externalizing, and School Problems in Adolescent Immigrants

    Author:
    Corinne Rivera
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    Research suggests that Latino adolescents, both native and foreign born, are at increased risk for the development of school, behavioral, and psychological problems. It also identifies a variety of factors associated with both risk and resilience in this population. There is, however, a scarcity of research that specifically examines risk and resiliency in recent Latino immigrant adolescents who have unique circumstances that may affect their functioning. This study was conducted to address this gap in the research literature by investigating the relationship between a sense of school belonging and internalizing, externalizing, and school problems in adolescent immigrants. Participants included 78 Latino adolescent immigrants between the ages of 11 and 18 who completed a number of instruments to assess their level of connectedness to their schools; internalizing, externalizing, and school problems; and overall psychological adjustment. One teacher for each student also completed a measure of academic effectiveness. Results showed that participants who reported a higher sense of school belonging indicated lower levels of depressive symptoms and higher overall psychological adjustment. Significant relationships between school belonging and anxiety symptoms, school/academic problems, and externalizing behaviors were not found. These findings have implications for school psychologists and other school mental health staff who are in a position to support youngsters in need and to foster a supportive and inclusive school environment for immigrant children.  

  • THE INFLUENCE OF CROSS-LINGUISTIC INPUT AND L2 PROFICIENCY ON L2 READING COMPREHENSION AMONG SPANISH-SPEAKING ADULTS LEARNING ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE

    Author:
    Astrid Rodriguez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Linnea Ehri
    Abstract:

    The present study investigated the effects of cross-linguistic input and second language proficiency on second language reading comprehension among Spanish-speaking adults enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at a community college in New York City. The main research question was whether language-minority adults would comprehend printed text better if they read it in Spanish (L1) followed by English (L2) than if they read the text twice only in English. An experimental study using a 2 (lower L2 proficiency vs. higher L2 proficiency) x 2 (think-aloud vs. no think-aloud) x 2 (Spanish/English vs. English/English) crossed factorial design was conducted. Eighty students were randomly assigned to the Spanish/English or English/English reading conditions within each L2 proficiency level and think-aloud conditions. Reading comprehension was assessed via a verbal recall task, eight open-ended questions, and a 43-item cloze task. The results revealed that students with lower L2 proficiency benefitted substantially from reading the text in both languages as evident by their performance on the recall and Q&A reading comprehension tasks. In contrast, L1 input did not provide an added advantage over reading the text twice in English for students with higher L2 proficiency. A reactive effect to the think-aloud procedure was found for students with lower L2 proficiency on the Q&A and cloze tasks. On the Q&A task, among those who completed the think-aloud procedure, students who read the text in both languages outperformed students who read the text only in English. On the cloze task, students who did not perform the think-aloud procedure outperformed students who did the think-aloud. In addition, it was found that the reading comprehension assessment methods had a differential effect on students' ability to demonstrate the degree to which they comprehended the text. Results showed that performance was lowest on the recall task across all groups. Other findings and implications are discussed.