Curriculum and Instruction Dissertations

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    A Qualitative Phenomenological Study of Educator Perspectives on Full Inclusive Teaching Environments
    (2022) Yates-Bledsoe, Cheryl
    The 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
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    Examining English Learner Supports During the Pandemic Era: A Causal Comparative Study
    (2022) Wright, Kristina
    Marginalized 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
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    A Causal-Comparative Study of Cell Phone Policies and Students’ Test Performance
    (2022-08-22) Akintounde, Abimbola
    Regulating 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.
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    A Descriptive Study of Online Perceptions for Community College Students
    (2022) Gorman, Laurie
    The 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.
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    Perceptions of Mental Preparedness in Emergency Medical Services Students: A Qualitative Study
    (2022) Dietsche, Nicole
    Emergency 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