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Alumni Dissertations

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  • Does Discovery-Based Instruction Enhance Learning?

    Author:
    Louis Alfieri
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Patricia Brooks
    Abstract:

    Since Bruner's (1961) call for research into discovery-based learning, controversy has surrounded the efficacy of such a constructivist approach to instruction (e.g., Tobias & Duffy, 2009). For decades, research has investigated to what extent discovery-based instruction enhances learning tasks or conversely, detracts from them. Research has included wide varieties of domains and discovery-based instructional approaches. Samples have included both children and adults and both novices and experts within their specific domains. It seems that what the field needs is a definition of discovery learning from a practical perspective because a review of the literature reveals that although there might be an implied sense of what discovery learning is, the methodologies employed vary greatly. Furthermore, the characteristics of effective discovery methodology(s) need to be examined with careful consideration of the domain involved, the age of the sample, the comparison condition, and the outcome assessments. Therefore, two meta-analyses were conducted using a sample of 164 studies: the first examined the effects of unassisted discovery learning versus explicit instruction and the second examined the effects of enhanced and/or assisted discovery versus other types of instruction (e.g., explicit, unassisted discovery, etc.). Random effects analyses of 580 comparisons revealed that outcomes were favorable for explicit instruction when compared to unassisted discovery under most conditions, d = -.38 (95% CI = -.44/-.31). In contrast, analyses of 360 comparisons revealed that outcomes were favorable for enhanced discovery when compared to other forms of instruction, d = .30 (95% CI = .23/.36). The findings suggest that unassisted discovery does not benefit learners, whereas feedback, worked examples, scaffolding, and elicited explanations do.

  • The Temporal Relationship between Daytime Napping and Memory Consolidation

    Author:
    Sara Alger
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    William Fishbein
    Abstract:

    An extensive body of literature exists substantiating the idea that sleep facilitates the strengthening, stabilization, and protection of newly formed memories, aiding in consolidation from short-term to long-term stores. However, research as to the temporal boundaries of the benefit of sleep to declarative memory is deficient. It has been established that sleep benefits memory compared to equal time spent awake, but when sleep needs to occur relative to the learning period, as well as how much and what type of sleep is necessary, has been little explored. Additionally, researchers have focused on how the brain works on previously encoded information during sleep, but very few have addressed whether sleep prepares the brain to take on new information when it occurs prior to learning. Using efficient daytime naps, the present series of studies addressed these shortcomings and the results provided support exclusively to an active role for sleep in memory processing. Study I unexpectedly demonstrated superior performance for recognition memory with increased delay before sleep onset, resulting in increased slow wave sleep (SWS) in the later nap groups. Study II determined that sleep must progress into SWS, rather than merely Stages 1 and 2, for better short-term retention, subsequent protection from stimulus-related interference, and long-term consolidation, although even a brief nap provides temporary retention benefits over remaining awake. Examining sleep prior to learning in Study III, it was found that a 60-minute nap prepared the brain to more efficiently consolidate information, despite the fact that nap and wake groups encoded material equally. Overall, the present research provides clarification, although perhaps task-dependent, to the existing questions regarding the temporal relationship between sleep and learning. Additionally, the results proffer support for active processing during sleep potentially through standard consolidation and/or homeostatic downscaling of synaptic potentials, the major mechanistic theories ascribing a role for SWS in declarative memory processing.

  • Ridiculous Geographies: Mapping the Theatre of the Ridiculous as Radical Aesthetic

    Author:
    Kelly Aliano
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Theatre
    Advisor:
    James Wilson
    Abstract:

    Abstract Ridiculous Geographies: Mapping the Theatre of the Ridiculous as Radical Aesthetic by Kelly Aliano Adviser: Professor James Wilson This dissertation is a comprehensive study of the artists associated with the Theatre of the Ridiculous. The discussion begins with Charles Ludlam, the most famous practitioner of the form and then extends to artists with whom he collaborated, including Jack Smith, the Play-House of the Ridiculous, Ethyl Eichelberger, and Charles Busch. The argument traces the overlapping aesthetic qualities of all of these theatre practitioners; they all shared a reverence for popular culture of the twentieth century; they all blended references from high and low culture in their dramaturgy; and they all created performances that took a unique approach to cross-dressed performance. The objective of this project is to "map" the Theatre of the Ridiculous in order to display that it was a coherent and cohesive theatrical movement that contained a radical, queer quality. To do this, this dissertation engages Ludlam as a kind of apotheosis of Ridiculous play making, displaying how his works exemplified all three of these key aesthetic elements. Then, the discussion turns to Ludlam's inspiration, experimental artist Jack Smith, who was preoccupied to the point of obsession with twentieth-century cinema. I then look at the Play-House of the Ridiculous, headed by director John Vaccaro and playwrights Ronald Tavel and Kenneth Bernard, as the site for the genesis of Ridiculous Theatre. Here, I highlight a preoccupation with textual collaging, or remixing, in playwriting, especially insofar as it valued popular references alongside of or even over highbrow ones. I then study gender performance in the Ridiculous, looking at the mashed up performances of Ethyl Eichelberger, which create identities that defy gender categorization. Finally, I consider the legacy of the Ridiculous, tracing both direct inheritors of the form as well as those whose more contemporary work appears to be influenced by it.

  • IN THESE BONES THE ECONOMY OF THE WORLD: A MULTI-LOGICAL, MULTI-REPRESENTATIONAL CULTURAL STUDY

    Author:
    Carolyne Ali-Khan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Kenneth Tobin
    Abstract:

    In this work I offer critical interpretations of street skaters, images in schools, collaborative writing and discourses on Muslims in schools. Employing a phenomenological, hermeneutic approach, I have thought back on my experiences, made claims and supported them hermeneutically. As I have (in the tradition of critical pedagogy) told stories of being in the world, a critical perspective has anchored these stories to broader social, political and economic frameworks. Axiological concerns are at the forefront of this work, and the "so what?" question implicitly weaves through it. I do not seek to provide the answers, but rather to illuminate, through example, that asking questions of that which is taken for granted and connecting these questions to issues of power is a valid undertaking. In a world of truncated educational "accountability" this work joins those that seek to offer a counterpoints. This dissertation explores work that has been done over the past three years in a variety of pedagogical contexts. As a manuscript style dissertation, it sews together freestanding texts with the thread of critical pedagogy. Each chapter (including half of the first chapter) has been published, only the last chapter (which discusses future work) is new. In each of these research projects I set out to use interdisciplinary and multi-textual approaches to focus on "other" ways of being in the world, and to question privileging practices and discourses that have been normalized in everyday life. As a bricolage, this work brings together multiple disciplines and theoretical discourses. I draw from a range of critical pedagogies and visual and literary methods. Throughout, I employ autoethnography as an entry point, to render accessible the worlds and worldviews that I seek to shed light on.

  • IN THESE BONES THE ECONOMY OF THE WORLD: A MULTI-LOGICAL, MULTI-REPRESENTATIONAL CULTURAL STUDY

    Author:
    Carolyne Ali-Khan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Kenneth Tobin
    Abstract:

    In this work I offer critical interpretations of street skaters, images in schools, collaborative writing and discourses on Muslims in schools. Employing a phenomenological, hermeneutic approach, I have thought back on my experiences, made claims and supported them hermeneutically. As I have (in the tradition of critical pedagogy) told stories of being in the world, a critical perspective has anchored these stories to broader social, political and economic frameworks. Axiological concerns are at the forefront of this work, and the "so what?" question implicitly weaves through it. I do not seek to provide the answers, but rather to illuminate, through example, that asking questions of that which is taken for granted and connecting these questions to issues of power is a valid undertaking. In a world of truncated educational "accountability" this work joins those that seek to offer a counterpoints. This dissertation explores work that has been done over the past three years in a variety of pedagogical contexts. As a manuscript style dissertation, it sews together freestanding texts with the thread of critical pedagogy. Each chapter (including half of the first chapter) has been published, only the last chapter (which discusses future work) is new. In each of these research projects I set out to use interdisciplinary and multi-textual approaches to focus on "other" ways of being in the world, and to question privileging practices and discourses that have been normalized in everyday life. As a bricolage, this work brings together multiple disciplines and theoretical discourses. I draw from a range of critical pedagogies and visual and literary methods. Throughout, I employ autoethnography as an entry point, to render accessible the worlds and worldviews that I seek to shed light on.

  • Power Supply Considerations for Capacitive Deionization Water Purification Systems

    Author:
    Mohammad Alkuran
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Engineering
    Advisor:
    Professor Norman Scheinberg
    Abstract:

    This research is about the power supply considerations and energy recovery schemes in water purification systems utilizing the Capacitive De-Ionization (CDI) method. The first chapter is a general introduction about the ever rising need for water in the world. It also talks about the drive behind this research. The most common methods for water desalination are discussed in Chapter II. Then, the method of CDI is discussed in detail in Chapter III. The model, applications and design considerations for CDI are discussed. Energy recovery in desalination methods is talked about in Chapter IV, with emphasis on energy recovery in CDI. Then a novel method for energy recovery in CDI is presented, showing superior results to prior art. Simulation and experimental results confirmed the validity of the method, and are presented. Power supply considerations for the CDI method are presented in Chapter V. Then, a novel power supply scheme is suggested.

  • Marvel Comics and New York Stories: Anti-Heroes and Street Level Vigilantes Daredevil and The Punisher

    Author:
    Jesse Allen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Liberal Studies
    Advisor:
    Cindy Lobel
    Abstract:

    Abstract This thesis argues that the creation of street level, vigilante heroes The Punisher and Daredevil created by Marvel Comics authors and illustrators in the late 1970s and early 1980s reflected the socio-economic environment of New York City at this same moment in history. By examining an era of New York that was fiscally and socially tense along with the development of characters created by the New York based Marvel Comics, I aim to show how their creation was directly related to the environment which they were produced in.

  • THE EFFECTS OF ENRICHMENT ON COGNITION IN RATS (RATTUS NORVEGICUS)

    Author:
    Amber Alliger
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Peter Moller
    Abstract:

    Abstract THE EFFECTS OF ENRICHMENT ON COGNITION IN RATS RATTUS NORVEGICUS by Amber A. Alliger Adviser: Dr. Peter Moller Animal models play an integral role in pharmaceutical research when developing drugs for human use. It is therefore imperative that animal models accurately represent human systems. In an attempt to reduce variability of test results, animals are often kept in barren, non-natural conditions. There is, however, a growing awareness that environmental enrichment will increase the validity of test results. The aim of the present study was to allow animals to control their environment using operant conditioning procedures, and to assess the effect of control on cognitive tasks. Four predictions were tested: 1. Rats (Rattus norvegicus) will control three stimuli (light, sound and a running wheel). 2. Animals will exhibit preferences for particular stimulus strengths. 3. Animals that exert control over the environmental stimuli will show increased performance in cognitive tasks compared to animals that lack control.4. Animals that can control environmental stimuli will have lower corticosterone levels than animals that lack such control, where corticosterone levels are used as an assessment of stress. Experimental subjects in both experiments did show control over a light stimulus, and performed significantly better in a discrimination task as compared with subjects that could not control their environment. There was no difference in corticosterone levels between control and experimental subjects. These results will contribute to an understanding how enrichment and control of environmental stimuli, in particular, affect the welfare of animals in captive environments, and aid in designing experimental conditions that will produce animal models that will increase validity and reliability in research.

  • FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT THROUGH WRITTEN FEEDBACK: EXAMINING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS' WRITTEN FEEDBACK BELIEFS AND PRACTICES, AND THE EFFECT OF MODELS ON WRITTEN FEEDBACK

    Author:
    Caterina Almendral
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Helen Johnson
    Abstract:

    The current study explored three main aspects relating to the use of written feedback as a formative assessment tool: the types (form or content) of written feedback provided by elementary school teachers and the levels (task, process-Self-Regulation) at which those types of feedback are provided; whether elementary school teacher beliefs about written feedback principles and their own written feedback practice correspond to the actual written feedback they provide; and whether exposure to a model of written feedback influences teacher written feedback practice. Data were collected from 188 elementary school teachers spirally assigned to five groups (four treatment, one control). Treatment groups were exposed to different written feedback models and subsequently all teachers were asked to provide written feedback on a fifth grade student's social studies writing sample. All teachers responded to a demographic survey as well as a questionnaire containing a series of questions related to their beliefs about written feedback and their written feedback practice. Findings showed that elementary school teachers provided form type comments almost ten times more frequently than content type comments. Teachers' beliefs regarding feedback practices did not match the actual feedback provided on the Written Task. Specifically, teachers believed that they provide content written feedback more frequently than was reflected in their actual feedback. There was no statistically significant relationship between teacher beliefs about process-SR related feedback principles and the actual number of process-SR level comments teachers gave on the Written Task. Exposure to written feedback models influenced the levels of written feedback participants delivered. Group 1 (form and task) provided significantly more task level feedback than Group 2 (form and process-SR) or the control group. Further, trend level differences were found between Group 2 and Group 1, with Group 2 providing more process-SR comments than Group 1. No differences were found by written feedback type or between Group 3 (content and task) and Group 4 (content and process-SR). Study findings suggest that teachers would benefit from support geared towards enhancing their written feedback practice to provide more content comments at the process-SR level. Practical and classroom applications are discussed.

  • Effects of Phonological Neighborhood Density on Lexical Access in Adults and Children with and without Specific Language Impairment

    Author:
    Diana Almodovar
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Speech & Hearing Sciences
    Advisor:
    Richard Schwartz
    Abstract:

    The present study was designed to examine how adults, children with typical language development (TLD), and children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) process words from sparse and dense phonological neighborhoods, using the Cross Modal Picture-Word Interference Paradigm. The participants were asked to label a picture presented on a computer screen, while ignoring auditory distractors (interfering words or IWs) presented over headphones. The target items were manipulated according to neighborhood density (high and low density words), and the auditory distractors were either identical to the target, a neutral distractor (good), phonologically related (by rhyme), or unrelated to the target item. The interfering words were presented either before the target item ( -750, -450, or -150 ms ) before the picture, or after the picture ( +150 ms ). Participants were asked to name the pictures as quickly as possible, while ignoring the auditory distractors. Reaction times and error rates were measured. Eleven children with SLI (6;5-10;1), ten children with typical language development (6;10-10;2), and 22 young adults participated in the study. The results revealed that adults demonstrated increased sensitivity to rhyme-related distractors in the Low Density condition only, reflecting less detailed phonological representations of low density words. Children with TLD and SLI both demonstrated less interference of related IWs in both the high and low density conditions. There were no significant group differences in reaction time or overall error rates. However, the SLI group produced significantly more errors on low density words than the TLD group. In addition, children with SLI demonstrated similar response time differences for the related and unrelated items for both density types, while the children with TLD appeared to benefit more from the related distractors in the low density condition. The results are discussed in relation to the Lexical Restructuring Model (Metsala & Walley, 1998).