Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • PREDICTORS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL HELP-SEEKING ATTITUDES, WILLINGNESS TOWARD PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICE UTILIZATION, AND LEVELS OF PREVIOUS PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICE UTILIZATION AMONG ORTHODOX JEWISH PARENTS

    Author:
    Binyamin Tepfer
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Marian Fish
    Abstract:

    ABSTRACT PREDICTORS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL HELP-SEEKING ATTITUDES, WILLINGNESS TOWARD PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICE UTILIZATION, AND PREVIOUS LEVELS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICE UTILIZATION AMONG ORTHODOX JEWISH PARENTS by Binyamin Tepfer Adviser: Professor Marian C. Fish The current study explores factors that predict levels of attitude toward psychological help-seeking, intention of utilizing psychological services, and levels of previous psychological service utilization among Orthodox Jewish parents. Attitude levels were measured using the Attitudes toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale (ATSPPH), developed by Fisher and Farina (1995). Level of intention was measured by the Intention of Seeking Counseling Inventory (ISCI) (Cash et al., 1975). Predictor factors included in the study were gender, level of education, group affiliation within Orthodox Judaism, level of social stigma measured by the Stigma Scale for Receiving Psychological Help (SSRPH) (Komiya, Good & Sherrod, 2000), and scores on the Openness toward Western Values Scale (OWVS), a scale developed in the current study. Participants included 157 Orthodox Jews from various Orthodox Jewish communities across New York State. Logistic regression, multiple regression, and correlations were used to analyze the data. The current study found that scores on the Attitudes toward Seeking Professional Help Scale (ATSPPH), the Intention of Seeking Counseling Inventory (ISCI), and levels of previous treatment utilization were all positively correlated with each other. In addition, various demographic factors were important in predicting attitude levels, intention levels, and whether previous treatment was sought. Attitude, group affiliation, and level of openness toward Western values were all significantly predictive of previous treatment levels. Those with lower attitude levels, self-affiliated with more insular and less acculturated Orthodox Jewish subgroups, as well as those who scored lower on the openness toward Western values scale, tended to have significantly lower levels of previous mental health treatment utilization. Levels of stigma toward seeking psychological help were predictive of levels of intentions to seek counseling, but not of levels of attitude or levels of previous treatment utilization. Those with higher levels of stigma tended to have lower levels of intentions to seek counseling. In addition, gender was significantly correlated with level of attitudes toward help-seeking. Women tended to have more positive attitudes than men. Within the construct of attitudes, the level of attitude that parents had toward seeking psychological help for themselves was found to correlate positively with attitudes levels they had for seeking psychological help for their children. These findings are important in providing insight and understanding in psychological help-seeking behaviors and attitudes among Orthodox Jews, a population not previously researched. Schools and mental health clinics that serve this population need to understand potential causes of initial resistance to treatment, as well as low treatment utilization levels from a socio-cultural perspective. Appropriate interventions to increase utilization levels should be formulated and implemented addressing the underlying causes of resistance to treatment.

  • Effects of Video-Based Peer Modeling on the Question Asking, Reading Motivation and Text Comprehension of Struggling Adolescent Readers

    Author:
    Kallen Tsikalas
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Barry Zimmerman
    Abstract:

    Struggling adolescent readers are distinct from others in two important ways: (1) They are adolescents; and (2) they have a history of struggle with reading. Good pedagogy prescribes that effective programs "meet students where they are." For middle-school students, this means meeting them in adolescence. Adolescents are more concerned with social norms and more susceptible to peer influence than younger children. Additionally, the fact that these youth are still struggling after years of reading instruction suggests that their motivation to persist at reading is likely to have suffered. To fully support and engage such adolescents, reading programs must leverage social processes and include explicit support for motivation and strategy use. This dissertation investigated the effects of a peer modeling instructional intervention on early adolescents' question asking, reading motivation and comprehension. Videotaped peer models demonstrated the use of question asking for comprehension and motivated participants to use the strategy. Participants were 48 sixth graders who attended public schools in New York City. Eighty-five percent were classified as reading below grade level. After completing an interactive tutorial on question asking, all students read a moderately challenging, computer-based science text. While doing so, participants in the Peer Modeling condition observed same-age, similar-ability peer models asking authentic questions about the text. After reading, all participants generated their own questions, completed a short survey, and were assessed for reading comprehension. The research found that peer modeling had a positive effect on the quality of questions that students asked and their text comprehension. Participants exposed to peer modeling asked more questions that were not answered in the text and more deep-level "I'm Confused" questions. They better understood the solution component of the text and recalled more critical idea units. Peer modeling did not affect participants' motivation or accuracy of comprehension judgments. In contrast to previous research, the study also found that students asked numerous deep-level questions, but that these questions were not necessarily linked to greater understanding. Additionally, higher motivation was not associated with greater comprehension. These findings have implications for the design of systems to support struggling readers and for theory-building about reading comprehension.

  • Grandmother Support, Family Functioning, and Parenting Stress in Families with a Child with a Disability

    Author:
    Natasha Tumbarello
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Marian Fish
    Abstract:

    This study examined the relationship among grandparent support, family functioning, and parental stress on families with children with and without disabilities between the ages of 2 and 12 years. Families are viewed as an ever&ndashchanging complex system with reciprocal interactions. One possible stressor on the family system is the birth of a child with a disability. Parenting stress levels seem to fluctuate in the family system over time depending on the age of the child with a disability, developmental stage, and demands of the age and stage. Studies show that social support, specifically that from grandmothers, can buffer some of the stress related to parenting a child with a disability (Kuster & Merkle, 2003; Mitchell, 2007; Trute, 2003). The current study addressed the following research questions: 1) Do families with a child with a disability differ from families without a disabled child with regard to grandmother support, family functioning, and parental stress? 2) What are the relationships among grandmother support, family functioning, and parental stress in families with a child with a disability? Fifty&ndashthree mother&ndashgrandmother dyads completed surveys regarding their support, parent stress, child stress, life stress, family cohesion, and family flexibility. Results for the current study revealed that the groups were comparable on most family demographic variables, such as mother age, grandmother age, ethnicity, and highest level of education. Significant differences were observed in the ages of the target child and annual income between groups. Significant differences were also observed between groups with regard to overall stress, parenting stress, and child stress. Total stress, parent stress, and child stress were higher in families with a child with a disability than in families with a child without a disability. Grandmother support was positively associated with family flexibility and inversely related to life stress. Grandmother support abated some stress related to major life events and enhanced family flexibility. Support from grandmothers did not, however, enhance family cohesion or reduce stress related to raising a child with a disability. In sum, the experience of parenting stress, child stress, and overall stress was higher in families with a child with a disability, and grandmother support was associated with reduced life stress and enhanced family flexibility; however, grandmother support was not found to enhance family cohesion, or diminish parenting stress, child stress, or overall stress experienced by mothers.

  • Detection of Unmotivated Test Takers through an Analysis of Response Patterns: Beyond Person-fit Statistics

    Author:
    Tara Twiste
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    David Rindskopf
    Abstract:

    The identification of patterned responding in unmotivated test takers was investigated through the formation of a novel method. The proposed method relied on marginal proportions of answer choice options as well as the transitional proportions between responses on item pairs. A chi square analysis was used to determine the degree of significance of each participant's patterned responding. The method was compared to the existing person-fit statistic lz (Drasgow, Levine & McLaughlin, 1987). Three publically available data sets - including a political science survey, an elementary school arithmetic scale and a general college course final exam - were used to test the occurrence of patterned responding and the ability of the proposed method to identify such unmotivated behavior.

  • Predicting Success in Teacher Education CertificationTesting: The Role of Academic Help-Seeking

    Author:
    Marie White
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Barry Zimmerman
    Abstract:

    Abstract PREDICTING SUCCESS IN TEACHER CERTIFICATION TESTING: THE ROLE OF ACADEMIC HELP-SEEKING by Marie C. White Advisor: Dr. Barry Zimmerman This study was designed to identify the help-seeking behaviors of preservice teachers who are at risk for failure of state certification examinations through use of a scale adapted to the arena of teacher education. In the past, self-report measures of help-seeking behavior patterns were not designed to be used in teacher education. The participants were 50 preservice teachers drawn from a small private college in lower Manhattan of New York City. The college maintains an open enrollment policy, giving students from minority populations an opportunity to enter higher education. Many of these students were underprepared for college level work and had to take remedial liberal arts courses before they could enroll in education courses. The student body is predominantly minority group members who have mainly attended New York City Public Schools. The students who participated in the study were second semester freshmen, and first and second semester sophomores. The help-seeking scale (White,2007) in the present research was adapted to provide a reliable and valid measure of students' use of this important self-regulatory strategy. This Preservice Teacher Help-Seeking Scales (PTHSS) was administered to preservice teachers who were preparing for the first of three state certification exams. In addition to reliability assessments, the validity of the scales was measured using three other instruments: (1) Instructor Help-Seeking Scale (IHSS), an adapted version of the help-seeking scales that is completed by participants' instructors (2) an observational measure of help-seeking behavior in teacher education classroom contexts (DOHS), and (3) scores on the New York State teacher certification exam entitled the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test (LAST). None of these indices of validity were included in prior research by Pajares and his colleagues. These results indicated the student questionnaire (PTHSS) demonstrated high levels of reliability and concurrent validity with an Instructor (IHSS) and an in-class observational measure (DOHS) of help-seeking. It also provided significant predictive validity in terms of scores on the LAST. Finally, the PTHSS also displayed construct validity in conjunction with the Instructor (IHSS). These results provide support for use of the scales by teacher educators to evaluate aspiring teachers' potential to pass the teacher certification exams. Once students with low PTHSS scores are identified, and their PTHSS profiles can be used to guide specialized training in help-seeking (Young, 2004).

  • Assessment Practices of School Psychologists

    Author:
    Sarah Whitney
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    The present study examined the factors related to school psychologists' use of projective tests and what trade-offs practitioners were willing to make between psychometric properties, convenience, and clinical judgment in their choices of hypothetical social-emotional tests. Further, the study explored the variables of professional identity, cognitive dissonance, extraversion, and self-efficacy as they related to practitioners' reported use of projective tests and to their preferences between hypothetical choices. Participants included 116 presenters at the 2010 Annual Convention of the National Association of School Psychologists. Data were collected with an online questionnaire that included measures of cognitive dissonance (Elliott & Devine, 1994; Matz, Hofstedt, & Wood, 2008), extraversion (John & Srivistava, 1999; Matz et al., 2008), and self-efficacy (Chen, Gully, & Eden, 2001; Huber, 2006). Correlational analyses indicated that the explanatory variables sometimes related to practitioners' use of projective tests. Conjoint analysis, using logistic regressions, indicated that when faced with hypothetical test choices, respondents generally showed a preference for the test with the best psychometric properties, most convenience, and least required clinical judgment. In general, most respondents indicated a preference for hypothetical tests that have robust psychometric properties, but they also reported using actual projective tests in practice. The constructs of professional identity, cognitive dissonance, self-efficacy, and extraversion, and the relationships among those variables and between those and the usage of projective tests provided some explanation for this phenomenon.

  • Measuring self-regulation in a computer-based open online inquiry learning environment using Google.

    Author:
    Christoph Winkler
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Barry Zimmerman
    Abstract:

    This dissertation investigated the impact of expert-modeling of a self-regulatory strategy in an open online inquiry learning environment (Google) on forty (n = 40) community college students' performance on an online inquiry task, the role of key self-regulatory measures, and calibration (accuracy of performance judgment) during the online inquiry phases searching/evaluating, and synthesizing. Theory-driven data for the study was gathered by employing both microanalytic and trace data methods. The results generally supported the hypotheses and showed that expert-modeling of a self-regulatory strategy helped students to improve performance during the online inquiry phases searching/evaluating and synthesis. In addition, the study showed that the key self-regulatory measures planning, self-efficacy, and attribution were predictive of students' writing scores. A comparison of mean-bias scores as a measure of calibration universally showed that student overestimated their performance at key points during their online inquiry (presentation of task, search completion, essay completion). Self-regulatory strategy instruction, however, helped students in the Expert-Modeling group to significantly better calibrate their performance after the presentation of the task and completion of the essay. The study further showed that students in the Expert-Modeling group entered qualitatively higher search terms and selected qualitatively higher websites for their inquiry. An exploratory analysis of the students' search patterns (self-efficacy and self-evaluation for websites selected for inquiry) showed lower mean variances for students who received the self-regulatory strategy training during phases searching/evaluating, which is indicative of a more consistent and successful search pattern during their online inquiry.

  • THE APPLICATION OF LATENT CLASS ANALYSIS AND LATENT TRANSITION ANALYSIS TO LARGE SCALE DISASTER DATA: MODELING PTSD IN A POPULATION OF DISASTER WORKERS

    Author:
    Katarzyna Wyka
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Jay Verkuilen
    Abstract:

    Sophisticated statistical methodologies are needed in order to analyze large, population-based datasets, such as screening projects, following disasters. Currently, the most common methodology applied to disaster research uses marginal or population-averaged models. However, mixture models with latent variables have versatile applications that may provide additional insight into the psychiatric outcomes following disasters and capture population heterogeneity that is usually overlooked. Thus, this dissertation conducts a novel application of these methodologies to a longitudinal database following a disaster. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, the Weill Cornell Screening Project conducted annual psychological screenings with over 3,000 non-rescue, World Trade Center (WTC) disaster workers from 2002-2008. This dissertation applies two types of categorical mixture models to this dataset: latent class analysis (LCA) and its longitudinal extension, latent transition analysis (LTA). Both models are particularly well suited for the analysis of psychiatric screening data, because they allow individuals to be grouped into classes based on their symptomatology. Furthermore, these methods permit the course of symptoms to be examined over time by modeling individuals' developmental trajectories. The goal of this dissertation was to assess the utility and feasibility of applying LCA and LTA in large scale disaster research, specifically within a study of the longitudinal course of posttraumatic stress symptoms in WTC disaster workers. The LCA model successfully captured the heterogeneity of posttraumatic stress symptoms in this population. Additionally, the LTA model yielded unique information regarding patterns of symptom changes over time. The multiple-group analysis provided information about racial and ethnic differences in PTSD presentation and longitudinal course. The application of LCA and LTA methodologies in this dissertation yielded practical findings in the field of psychiatric and disaster research. These findings have the potential to inform criteria selection for diagnostic manuals and offer insight into the mechanisms involved in the maintenance and remission of posttraumatic stress symptoms. Challenges associated with the analysis of complex longitudinal data from large screening databases and future directions are discussed.

  • Examining Contributing Factors of Effective General Education Teachers of Inclusion Students

    Author:
    Tammy Zielinski
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Helen Johnson
    Abstract:

    This study used student evaluation data as a way to measure teacher effectiveness in inclusive settings. Student evaluations of teacher effectiveness have traditionally been used at the college-level. This study used student input regarding teacher effectiveness at the high school level. The sample included 58 special education students with mild educational disabilities and 31 general education teachers from a medium-sized public high school in rural New Hampshire. Students filled out a survey of teacher effectiveness as measured by organization, learning, enthusiasm, and instructional strategies. Teachers filled out a survey that contains items relating to their attitude, efficacy, school climate, and instructional practices. Statistical analyses were used to find relationships between the data collected from the student survey and teacher survey. This study supported the use of student evaluations of teacher effectiveness at the high school level. It was found that teacher effectiveness must be used as a multi-dimensional construct. Teacher gender as well as years of graduate studies, both contribute to enhancing overall teacher effectiveness.