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ItemBaby Boomer Perceptions and Experiences of Instructional Technology: A Descriptive Phenomenological Study(2021) Mangione, Brianne J.Previous research on the implementation of instructional technologies has been conducted at the elementary, secondary, and college levels. Scholars have categorized college-age students as traditional or non-traditional, with the differentiation occurring at age 25. Little research has been done on specific populations of college students, particularly baby boomer community college students. As colleges serve a wide demographic of students, understanding the baby boomer generation’s experiences with and perceptions of instructional technology is important. The purpose of the descriptive phenomenological qualitative study was to explore baby boomer students’ perceptions of and experiences with instructional technology in college courses and classroom engagement. Both the cognitive theory of multimedia learning and technology acceptance model were used to guide the study. The sample size consisted of 18 baby boomer community college students enrolled at the chosen community college and who had no relationship with other individuals involved in the research. Semistructured interviews, which were video and audio recorded using Zoom software, were used to gather information from the participants. Interviews were transcribed, and a copy of the transcript was sent to each associated participant as part of a member-checking process. Data results indicated many adult students who are older have positive perceptions of instructional technology but desire a balance between technological teaching methods and traditional teaching methods. Such findings may provide information to college professionals on how to better engage an older demographic of students and promote future research on the topic. Keywords: baby boomers, community college, instructional technology, phenomenological, qualitative ItemA Descriptive Study of Online Perceptions for Community College Students(2022) Gorman, LaurieThe problem was more than one-third of college students feel disengaged and demotivated learning online during extreme or unforeseen circumstances, resulting in low academic performance. The purpose of the qualitative descriptive study was to explore students’ perceptions about experiences of motivation, engagement, and learning outcomes when studying online under extreme or unforeseen circumstances at a large suburban community college on Long Island, New York. The study attempted to fill the gaps in the literature by examining how digital technology can be used to motivate and engage students at higher education institutions in the United States. Constructivism and behaviorism learning theories were the theoretical frameworks for the study. The research questions examined students’ feelings about the online learning environment and perceptions of motivation and engagement. The data were collected using semi-structured interviews containing six open-ended questions from 15 higher education students out of 950 students who responded to the participant recruitment invitation. The selection criteria were convenience sampling. Thematic analysis was used to find patterns, connections, relationships, and meanings in the data. Results from the study confirmed remote learning was more convenient. The interaction between the course instructor and the students along with the use of instructional-based digital technology has enhanced online performance, motivation, and engagement. Recommendations are to provide professional development opportunities focusing on technology to enhance the learning environment for students. Keywords: educator, behaviorism learning theory, motivation, engagement, perception, 21st-century skills theory, constructivism, digital divide, and digital literacy. ItemExamining English Learner Supports During the Pandemic Era: A Causal Comparative Study(2022) Wright, KristinaMarginalized students require support for equitable learning opportunities. The problem was the abrupt transition from in-person to online learning in the 2020 pandemic era presented challenges for educators to implement supports, such as the communicative approach and social-emotional learning, necessary for English learner (EL) success. Although qualitative research has explored EL challenges during online learning, additional quantitative research was needed to examine program success. A theoretical framework was used to examine language learning approaches, social-emotional learning, ELs, and online learning during the 2020 pandemic era. The purpose of this causal-comparative quantitative study was to test for statistically significant differences in Florida public school districts’ EL ACCESS test scores between the treatment and control groups from 2019 to 2020 after treatment groups received implementation of communicative approach-aligned instruction and social-emotional learning programs during the 2020 pandemic era. A mixed analysis of variance test was used to analyze 2019 and 2020 EL ACCESS test scores in Florida. Each district was categorized into control or treatment groups based on a clustering sampling method of district variable implementations. Three research questions guided the examination of the effects of the communicative approach, social-emotional learning, and both approaches applied together as independent variables. Analyses revealed no statistical significance of programs on EL test scores. Recommendations include future research efforts with a larger scale and post-online learning scores and evaluation criteria for Florida schools’ instructional initiatives. Keywords: English learners, pandemic, communicative approach, social-emotional learning ItemPerceptions of Mental Preparedness in Emergency Medical Services Students: A Qualitative Study(2022) Dietsche, NicoleEmergency medical services (EMS) professionals in the United States lack the resources, education, and support systems needed for effective management of the occupation’s chronic traumatic stressors, which has resulted in a mental health crisis. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to investigate EMS professionals’ opinions and thoughts about mental readiness to manage occupational stressors after receiving training per the existing curricula in EMS educational programs in the eastern United States. The research fills the gap in the literature by better understanding EMS professionals’ opinions and thoughts about mental readiness to manage occupational stressors. Information processing theory and the wounded healer concept provided the theoretical framework for the study. The research questions guiding the study related to EMS professionals’ descriptions of, and opinions about, the value of mental preparedness training to manage occupational stress. A purposive sample of 20 participants from EMS training programs in the eastern United States participated in one-on-one semistructured interviews. Qualitative narrative analysis was used to identify common themes. Participants were unable to describe mental preparedness curricula adequately and noted a lack of specific training regarding the protection of personal mental health. Participants’ reliance on external and preexisting stress management skills emphasized the shortcomings of the curricula and training. Recommendations for future research include identifying the most effective mental preparedness training for EMS professionals throughout an individual’s career. Results of the study are intended to guide meaningful improvements to EMS curricula to support mental preparedness and promote positive social change by mitigating the psychological burden of EMS professionals. Keywords: emergency medical services, mental preparedness, occupational stress, resilience ItemA Qualitative Phenomenological Study of Educator Perspectives on Full Inclusive Teaching Environments(2022) Yates-Bledsoe, CherylThe problem was general education classroom educators in a rural northeast Ohio school district did not identify as prepared to provide effective instruction to learners of wide-ranging academic and physical abilities in inclusive classroom. Study significance was evident in organizational shifts benefiting inclusive model educators and students. Stakeholders may benefit from research findings, with positive impact on inclusive models. Literature gaps existed regarding teacher training and need identification supporting inclusive students. Transformational leadership and social constructivist theories provided the theoretical framework for the study. Key research questions prompted seeking lived experience of inclusive educators, documentation of the experience, instructional strategies, and administrative elements supporting teachers. The purpose of the study was to understand how general education teachers perceived preparation to provide effective instruction in inclusive classrooms. In this hermeneutic phenomenological study, data were collected using semistructured interviews from 15 K-12 general education teachers in inclusive classrooms at the site, excluding intervention specialists. Data collection included professional development transcript analysis, demographic inquiry, and semistructured interviews utilizing a researcher-created instrument, with thematic analysis model examination of data. Transcriptions were member-checked by participants. Multiple data encounters established familiarity, initiating coding for theme identification and labeling. Latent expression and patterns were evaluated to saturation, and codes collapsed for interpretation related to research questions. Key results yielded insufficient training and ineffective application of least restrictive environment (LRE). Co-teaching models were identified as ineffective resulting in failed authentic differentiation and tiered instruction. Recommendations included time for professional development and increasing opportunities for co-planning and cooperative teaching. Keywords: IDEA, ESSA, inclusive teaching, inclusive classrooms, inclusive efficacy, student outcome inclusion, characteristics of learners with disabilities, teacher preparedness for inclusion, social learning theory, social constructivism, transformational leadership ItemA Causal-Comparative Study of Cell Phone Policies and Students’ Test Performance(2022-08-22) Akintounde, AbimbolaRegulating the distractions that the indiscriminate use of cell phones in classrooms poses has become a challenge for K–12 schools. The problem is that no specific cell phone use policy has guaranteed the attainment of higher learning outcomes among young adolescents. As cell phone distractions in secondary classrooms become a ubiquitous problem, this study is essential due to the lack of convergence in empirical evidence for validating the effects of cell phone regulation on students’ mathematics achievement. The purpose of this causal-comparative quantitative study was to test for statistically significant differences between the 2018-19 Smarter Balanced 10th-grade aggregate math test scores of selected high schools in Washington State based on their implementation of prohibitive versus permissive cell phone use policies. Self-determination and constructivist learning theories served as the theoretical framework for this study. Sixty-five public high schools were selected based on strict inclusion criteria. One research question was posed to test for significant differences among schools’ aggregate math scores based on pre–COVID-19 cell phone use policies. Data were analyzed with SPSS, using an independent t-test. There was not enough evidence to suggest that a statistically significant difference existed between the math scores achieved at cell phone permissive (M=56.83, SD=12.96) versus prohibiting (M=56.88, SD=10.88) schools. Educators were challenged to devise strategies for channeling cell phones toward instructional use. Further research on a larger scale across diverse demographics was recommended. ItemIntegrated Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Curriculum and Teacher Efficacy: A Qualitative Study(2022-12-05) Morgan, Sophia N.The problem is the lack of an explicit curriculum to support teacher efficacy in providing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) instruction. The need for teacher efficacy is especially salient when providing STEM instruction because STEM education remains largely undefined and sometimes lacks clear standards. This study sought to explore and understand: (a) the support teachers need from the curriculum to become efficacious in providing STEM learning experiences; (b) the role of an integrated STEM curriculum to support teacher efficacy at an international school; and (c) the responsibility of school leaders, including curriculum writers and principals, to support teacher efficacy when using an integrated STEM curriculum for instruction. Although much of the existing literature has emphasized a need for efficacious teachers in the classroom, the role of an integrated STEM curriculum in supporting teacher efficacy development is unknown. The conceptual framework developed by Kelley and Knowles, in conjunction with Bandura’s self-efficacy theory, served as the theoretical framework for the study. This study used interviews and field notes to gather data from a convenient sample of 11 teachers and six school administrators who volunteered to participate in the integrated STEM initiative at the research site. An emergent methodology was used to analyze the data to understand the experiences and the meanings teachers and administrators attributed to teaching with an integrated curriculum. The findings confirmed an integrated STEM curriculum is essential in developing teacher efficacy for teaching students STEM skills. The curriculum provided a common language for teachers and school administrators and supported teachers’ comfort with STEM instruction. Keywords: teacher efficacy, explicit curriculum, integrated STEM, localized curriculum, Sphero ItemA Qualitative Study on the Academic Perspectives of Military Families(2022-12-18) Espinoza, Valarie R.The purpose of the basic qualitative study was to understand the perspectives of military service members regarding their children’s academic challenges and the support currently provided at military-connected schools. The study aimed to fill the knowledge gap to better prepare stakeholders to support military families during their transitions. The problem was the academic roadblocks students of military service members faced when they moved from one duty station to another. The research study revealed military service members’ perspectives about the academic challenges their children experienced when transitioning from one military installation to another. The study also revealed what military service members perceived about their child’s academic support in school. Data collection involved observable, verifiable, and confirmable evidence to supporting the research questions. Interviews and surveys were used in the study. The participants included 15 military service members, their spouses, and veterans. The following themes emerged from the data analysis: lack of support given to military families, career and family security, minimal support for students with disabilities during relocations, the need for improved communication and consistency, and resiliency and support. Recommendations for further research can be expanded in the following ways: seeking the perspectives of educators, administrators, school district superintendents, and government personnel involved in the policy-making that supports military families. ItemA Phenomenological Study of Teachers’ Understanding and Development of Culturally Responsive Classroom Management(2023) Schnormeier, AngelaThe problem is new teachers often lack the support and training in culturally responsive classroom management (CRCM) during the induction period of their careers. A literature gap exists in how new teachers understand the phenomenon of CRCM and how CRCM is developed in the first few years of teaching. Kolb’s 1984 experiential learning theory provides a framework for how new teachers perceive and develop CRCM through various experiences. The purpose of the qualitative phenomenological study was to investigate perceptions and development of CRCM strategies of new teachers with less than 5 years of experience in urban high schools in a large city in Ohio. The study explored new teachers’ understanding of CRCM, new teachers’ lived experiences in developing CRCM, and the supports new teachers feel are most beneficial in developing CRCM. Teachers were selected based on the following criteria: (a) full-time teacher with under 5 years of teaching experience and (b) employment in one of four select schools with high populations of African American and economically disadvantaged students. Questionnaires, interviews, and journaling were used to collect data on new teachers’ perceptions and lived experiences. All data were analyzed and coded for themes through QDA Miner Lite software. Results of the study indicated new teachers had a deep understanding of CRCM. Many teachers reported numerous methods used to develop their CRCM strategies, also noting they needed to seek out additional resources on their own due to a lack of support from their schools and teacher preparation programs. Unofficial mentoring was classified as the most beneficial support in developing CRCM skills. ItemCase Study of Teacher Experiences and Perceptions with Elementary 21st Century Learning(2023) Paris, Melissa SaulsShifts in pedagogy and instructional practice to meet the needs of 21st century learners require developing critical skills that begin in kindergarten. The problem is that teacher experiences and perceptions of the elementary implementation of 21st century learning skills have not been explored in many regions of the United States. Knowledge gained through the exploration of social interaction and cognitive development could benefit educators, students, the business community, and society. The purpose of the qualitative case study was to explore the teachers’ experiences and perceptions of implementing 21st century learning skills. A gap exists in the literature focused on elementary education during this time. Bloom’s (1956) theory of cognitive development and Vygotsky’s (1934) sociocultural theory of cognitive development will provide the theoretical lens and serve as the theoretical framework of this study. Research questions were structured to gather information on teachers’ experiences and perceptions of social interaction and cognitive development in implementing the 21st century learning skills of creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. Approximately 19 kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers in a single North Georgia elementary school was the population of the study. Criteria for participation required participants that have been teaching for a minimum of one full year in their current school. Data collected through an open-ended questionnaire, one-on-one interviews, and focus groups were analyzed using thematic analysis. The findings of the study can be used to inform next steps to ensure teachers have the support and resources needed to be successful. Keywords: 21st century skills, cognitive development, elementary education, implementation, learning, teacher experiences, teacher perceptions, teaching ItemA Case Study: Factors Influencing Rural School K–12 Students’ Academic Achievement(2023) Flynn, VanettaAcademic performance is a concern for many countries because outstanding academic success demonstrates a student’s overall intelligence. The problem was that rural K–12 schoolteachers feel students faced factors influencing academic achievement on summative assessments. The No Child Left Behind and Every Student Succeeds Act attempted to close the achievement gap between children of different ethnicities. Lower socioeconomic students lagged behind their peers on state assessments. Scant literature revealed limited research on the needs of rural schools compared to other populations. The purpose of this qualitative exploratory case study was to explore factors influencing rural school K–12 students’ academic performance and success. The research was conducted in a rural school district utilizing 15 teacher participants in Northeastern North Carolina. Purposive sampling was used to select teacher participants of different ethnicities and genders from multiple grade levels with at least three years of teaching experience. An exploratory case study design explored various factors affecting and contributing to K–12 students’ academic achievement. The theoretical framework of the research study was grounded on Walberg’s theory of educational productivity and the social constructivism theory. Data collection instruments included semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, and focus groups. Data analysis procedures comprised transcribing data, segmenting and categorizing transcriptions, creating codes, and identifying key themes. Effective education in rural school districts is impeded by various factors, including high teacher turnover rate, socioeconomic status, and inadequate state financing. The findings will empower rural school administrators and educators with the skills and knowledge to improve students’ academic performance on summative assessments. Keywords: academic achievement, rural schools, poverty, socioeconomic status ItemInvestigating the Potential Benefits of Standards-Based Grading Practices at Urban Secondary Schools in Southern Utah: A Qualitative Study(2023) Larsen, AprilLetter grades are often inflated or lowered based on non-learning aspects, and students tend to focus on earning a particular grade rather than on mastering academic content and skills. The problem is that the letter grade method that has been used for many decades in education may not be the best way to determine or report student achievement. Gaps in the literature exist regarding comparisons between letter grades and standards-based grades in terms of increasing student achievement and reporting student learning. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to determine whether one grading method is more effective than the other in promoting student achievement and reporting student learning to stakeholders in southern Utah. Social-cognitive and motivational learning theories provided the theoretical framework for this study. Key research questions focused on the perceptions and experiences of school administrators, teachers, and parents of students who have experienced both grading methods regarding their advantages and disadvantages in fostering student achievement and reporting that achievement. Data were collected using email questionnaires and telephone or in-person interviews with four parents and 12 educators from two secondary education schools selected by a criteria-based sample of convenience. Data collection occurred through triangulation and strict adherence to bracketing practices. Braun and Clarke’s thematic analysis model was used to analyze the data. Findings suggest standards-based grading makes students partners in their learning and may increase academic achievement. Recommendations encourage district leaders to consider and properly implement standards-based grading practices to foster student achievement and accurately report student learning. ItemPerformance-Based Assessment as Basis for Curriculum Enhancement: A Basic Qualitative Study(2023-02-10) Pagharion, Mary Grace C.Performance-based assessment (PBA) is a test type critical in determining students' proficiency in Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) Algebra 1. Students' poor performance in the PBA section, comprising half of the test, resulted in the continued decline of the MCAP Algebra 1 proficiency rate since 2015 (Maryland State Department of Education, 2020). The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore teachers' perceptions to help explain why students struggle in PBA, leading to the decline of the MCAP Algebra 1 proficiency rate since 2015. Engagement and Dewey's progressivism theories served as the study's foundation. The literature gap indicates no relevant study specific to PBA and math proficiency. Research questions focused on teachers' perceptions to help explain why students struggle in PBA and strategies to improve students' Algebra 1 MCAP proficiency. Data collection used an in-depth semi-structured interview via Zoom meeting portal from 15 Algebra 1 teachers from 10 county high schools in Maryland based on the selection criteria: current Algebra 1 teachers with at least two years of experience teaching Algebra 1. The semi-structured interview recordings were transcribed using Otter.ai, sorted, and coded for thematic analysis, identifying overarching and sub-themes within the data set. Study findings are: (a) PBA is a critical component in determining college and career readiness, (b) students lack the foundational knowledge and skills in performing PBA, and (c) curriculum enhancement strategies may help improve students' PBA performance. The school system may consider suggested curriculum enhancement and development strategies to improve students' MCAP Algebra 1 proficiency. ItemA Phenomenological Study Exploration of Pre-planned Thematic Units in Preschool and Kindergarten(2023-03-24) Fischer, Deborah AnnPreschool and kindergarten staff can leverage organized planning strategies to support the use of integrative thematic units. However, early-year teachers state dilemmas in selecting, preparing, and executing integrative thematic units. Challenges surface when the staff tries to follow children‘s interests and inquiries, deliver lessons, and compile materials to support lesson design. When preschool and kindergarten staff select thematic units beforehand, teachers may feel best equipped to plan, target student objectives, prepare lesson resources, and maintain lesson consistency within grade levels. Pre-selecting and pre-planning can also support diverse learners such as English Language Learners (ELLs), special needs students, or students with multiple intelligences or learning styles. Conversely, selecting thematic units more spontaneously based on the students‘ current interests could help excel a students‘ motivation to learn more effectively. This study analyzed 15 preschool and kindergarten teachers‘ thoughts and lived experiences using pre-planned or unplanned integrative thematic units within one specific, large international early childhood center in Germany. Having gathered and evaluated thoughts, opinions, livedexperiences, and planning methods from the 15 participants, the study results may prove transferable and beneficial to other contexts involving integrative thematic units in the early years. ItemIncreasing Science Assessment Scores with Authentic Environmental Activities: An Ex Post Facto Study(2023-05) Bedward, KaydeneEnvironmental awareness is essential for addressing some of our current environmental problems. One way to enhance environmental awareness is to provide environmental education in schools. The problem is that it is not known to what extent environmentally aware high school students can improve their science assessment scores after completing authentic environmental activities. The study is important because it adds to the knowledge base that experiential learning and constructivism theories incorporated with authentic environmental activities could improve students’ environmental awareness. Increased environmental awareness could help students become critical thinkers and problem-solvers, resulting in improved scores on science assessments. This ex post facto study examined if completing authentic environmental activities could enhance students' environmental awareness and improve their science assessment scores. Archival data from 46 high school students’ environmental awareness survey and environmental science post-test assessment were examined to address the research questions and confirm if there was a correlation between completing authentic environmental activities and science assessment scores. Data were examined to compare if students’ perceptions changed after completing authentic environmental activities versus those completing traditional lab activities. Statistical tests were used to analyze the data, and based on this study’s findings, there was no statistical significance between the two groups. For future studies, it is recommended to use a larger sample size and that authentic environmental activities are conducted throughout a semester or school year. In addition, environmental topics can be integrated into other content areas to help improve students’ environmental awareness and literacy. Keywords: authentic environmental activities, environmental awareness, environmental issue, outdoor learning, academic achievement ItemPerspectives on Social Emotional Learning of K-5 Teachers: A Qualitative Study(2023-08) Jones, HeatherThere needs to be more information on how teachers use social-emotional learning (SEL) in the elementary classroom. The problem is that elementary teachers’ familiarity with effectively teaching SEL lessons in the general education classroom is unknown. A gap in literature exists, including research that explores elementary teachers’ knowledge of SEL in metro Atlanta Title 1 schools. The purpose of this qualitative case study is to understand the elementary teachers teaching in Grades K–5, their knowledge, and their perspectives on effectively implementing SEL in education. The theoretical framework shows how the sociocultural learning theory supports the study. Three research questions focus on how teachers define SEL, implement SEL, and on their professional development on SEL. A case study design was used with a sample size of 20 out of a target population of 51 certified K–5 educators. Participants were selected using a questionnaire; they gave their signed consent and then participated in an interview and focus group. The data were hand coded using a theoretical thematic analysis framework. Seven final themes were found: self-awareness, social awareness, relationships, effects on academic performance, lack of proper training, lack of support, and lack of time. Results show that teachers define SEL as self-awareness and social awareness. Teachers implement SEL by building relationships with students, and they say social-emotional development affects students’ academic performance. Teachers expressed a lack of proper training, support, and time for SEL. Recommendations for further research include identifying an expanded participant sample for a quantitative study or using different schools or ongoing professional development for a qualitative study.