Education Dissertations

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    (2022-05-19) Griffin, Nicole
    Teachers’ values, beliefs, and self-confidence are critical components of decisions educators make every day. The purpose of the study was to examine the relationship between secondary science teachers’ epistemology and self-efficacy on science instructional practices and conceptualization of student research experiences rooted in the Next Generation Science Standards. A mixed methods explanatory sequential design was utilized by administering the Science Teachers’Beliefs About Science (STBAS), Self-Efficacy to Teach Science in an Integrated STEM Framework (SETIS), and the Science Instructional Practice Survey (SIPS) to secondary science teachers. A follow up semi-structured interview was administered to gather an understanding of the conceptualization of science instructional practices related to student research experiences.Quantitative findings that emerged were that the SETIS total significantly predicts SIPS critique.The combination of predictor variables did not contribute significantly to SIPS instigating, SIPS data, SIPS modeling, SIPS traditional, and SIPS prior. Qualitative findings that emerged were that teachers conceptualized science instruction as a learner centric classroom environment that engages students, while recognizing student apprehension in exploring the nature of science. Teachers’ prior educational and professional experiences expand their skill set and influence beliefs despite the challenges of limited funding, time, and mandated curriculum. Additional findings that emerged were a description of how teachers’ conceptualization of scientific knowledge represents a paradigm shift occurring in science education as teachers use creative, inclusive instructional strategies to ensure that all students achieve higher order thinking skills at a high level of rigor. Teachers promote student engagement in authentic science practices that resemble the practices of professional scientists and act as guides to knowledge acquisition, whereas a subset of teachers may lack full understanding of the difference between authentic student research and library-based research.Qualitative findings informed how secondary science teachers conceptualized student research experiences in the classroom. The study expanded upon the understanding of the interactions between secondary science teachers’ epistemology, self-efficacy on science instructional practices, and conceptualization of student research experiences rooted in the Next Generation Science Standards.
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    The Impact of Teachers’ Self-Efficacy and Instructional Practices for English Language Learners: A Mixed Methods Approach
    (2022-02-22) Heath, Anne
    This mixed-methods study examinedthe impact of teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs and instructional practices when teaching English Language Learners(ELLs). The researcher utilized an integrated mixed-methods design. Quantitative and qualitative data were sequentially collected, concurrently analyzed, and triangulated. First, quantitative data were gathered with Research Question 1:To what extent and in what manner do teachers’ self-efficacy (efficacy in student engagement, efficacy in instructional strategies, and efficacy in classroom management), and instructional strategies (student-directed instruction, direct instruction, promotion of student thinking, and academic performance feedback) predict teachers’ adaptive instruction in K-12 classrooms that include ELLs? A sample of 126 experienced K-12 Connecticut educators completed (a) a demographic survey, (b) a teachers’ self-efficacy survey and (c) a classroom strategy scale. A stepwise multilinear regression procedure determined that (a) academic performance feedback, (b) efficacy in student engagement,(c) student-directed instruction, and (d) direct instruction significantly correlated with adaptive instruction. Second, qualitative data were obtained from ten participants (from the quantitative sample),who self-rated as having high self-efficacy and classroom strategy use.Research Question 2 inquired:For K-12 teachers with high self-efficacy and frequent usage of a variety of instructional strategies, how are these strategies used to support English Language Learners? Specific strategies and adaptive instruction using a culturally relevant pedagogy, technology, and appropriate feedback were identified. The triangulated results revealed that when leadership provided professional learning, an inclusive curriculum, and collaborative time, it positively impacted teachers’ self-efficacy to instruct English Language Learners.
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    (2020-12-15T00:00:00-08:00) Youngblood, Wendy

    This qualitative study was designed to explore how experienced teachers who love their work, find value in it, and contribute positively to the work environment sustain their positive mindset in the face of challenge and change in America’s public schools. Since the advent of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and subsequent educational reform measures, schools have turned increasingly to accountability measures around student testing, teacher evaluations, and other perceived metrics of performance. Since the implementation of NCLB, there has been an increase in teachers leaving the classroom due in part to these stressors. This phenomenon has been well documented in the research. Less understood is how and why some teachers not only stay, but thrive in challenging circumstances. This study applies grounded theory methodology to probe how thriving veteran teachers avoid pitfalls such as burnout and demoralization, and instead evolve and grow. All data were collected prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States. In-depth interviews with a nominated sample of ten thriving public school teachers in two states in the Northeast were conducted. Two-cycle coding and analytic memos provided a platform for data analysis, which ultimately led to three assertions. These assertions are that job fit plays a pivotal role in teachers’ ability to thrive over time. Teachers apply intrinsic motivation and signature strengths to self-actualize on the job. In this dynamic, challenge and change are essential for growth toward the highest level of human potentiality, transcendence.

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    (2020-08-15T00:00:00-07:00) Rosati Peterson, Gloria

    The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a treatment package consisting of video and reflection, video feedback, and coaching on pre-service teachers’ use of nonverbal immediacy behaviors as they delivered lessons to student avatars in mixed reality simulations. Pre-service teachers delivered lessons at three points of time over the course of a semester within a teacher preparation course. Following each simulation, participants received three components of a treatment package targeted at improving nonverbal immediacy behaviors of teachers. A mixed methods embedded research design provided for the collection of quantitative data, nonverbal immediacy scores, collected via the Nonverbal Immediacy Scale – Observer Report. Qualitative data were collected via researcher observations of simulations and participant exit interviews. Statistical analysis resulted in a significant difference in pre-service teachers’ nonverbal immediacy when Time 2 and Time 3 were compared. No additional significant differences resulted. An analysis of qualitative data resulted in two findings. Finding one was: Video and reflection, video feedback, and coaching fostered pre-service teachers’ reflections on the simulated environment as they delivered lessons within the simulations. Finding two was: Video and reflection, video feedback and coaching within a mixed reality simulation environment improved pre-service teachers’ use of nonverbal immediacy behaviors in student interactions. Connections to literature and implications are made.

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    (2020-12-15T00:00:00-08:00) Evans Dávila, Jean

    The purpose of this study was to explore the social construction of female leadership identities from the perspectives of women serving at the highest level of positional authority within the hierarchy of their organizations across different professions. Specifically, the researcher explored the perceptions of five females through their self-reported lived experiences of the factors that have supported and challenged them in forging leadership identities consistent with their core values and beliefs. The five female participants were from these diverse professional contexts in the private and public sectors: (a) University President of a co-educational, four-year, higher education institution, (b) College President of a co-educational, two-year, higher education institution, (c) CEO of a hospital or healthcare organization, (d) Superintendent of a K-12 public school district, and (e) Chief of Police of a municipal law enforcement agency. This study differs from others that explore the intersection between gender and leadership because of this broadened sample that included a variety of professions. Purposeful and convenience sampling procedures were utilized, together with pre-defined selection criteria, to assist in identifying participants who had experienced the phenomena being studied. Data collection tools included semi-structured interviews, field observations, and document review protocols. Data were analyzed and resulted in two findings and four themes. Finding 1 emerged as follows: Participants described their leadership identities in terms of their successes or challenges in enacting a communal orientation through which they build and maintain relationships that they perceive as critical to their ability to fulfill their purpose or calling, move the organization or community forward, navigate difficult circumstances, evaluate their effectiveness as leaders, and improve leadership capacity of themselves or others. Finding 2 developed as follows: Participants described their leadership identity as a complex blend of agency and communion which moderates their approach in making decisions, holding staff accountable, confronting barriers, expressing directives and hard truths, maintaining appropriate distance or boundaries, exercising power, and sharing credit with others in a manner which enables leaders to accomplish the greater good that is linked to mission, purpose, and objectives.