Leadership Dissertations

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    Exploring Student Experiences Emerging from Global Citizenship Education: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis
    (2022-03) Lindo, Jason M.
    The need to develop global citizens is an essential task increasingly recognized by higher education institutions (HEIs). The problem is HEIs within the United States are not delivering effective global citizenship education (GCE) and are uncertain how to bridge the theoretical understanding and pedagogical practices of GCE because the defining characteristics of GCE remain contested. A gap in the literature defining GCE from the experiences of those who have undergone an educational experience with global citizenship exists, specifically to address the need for HEIs to develop globally-minded students. The purpose of the qualitative interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) study was to explore the experiences of individuals who were matriculated in a GCE program from a United States HEI to better understand the phenomenon of global citizenship. The theoretical underpinnings of David Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning theory and Lev Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory provide a foundation to explore the development of global citizenship of students. The research questions used to guide the focus of the study explored students’ experiences, the perceived impact of the program, and significant components of the program. The journey of a global citizenship program, as understood by 21 purposefully selected participants, was investigated through an interpretive phenomenological analysis. Questionnaires and semi-structured interviews reviewed by three subject matter experts were utilized. More than 649 unique codes formed 62 child themes and seven parent themes through inductive coding. Participants developed a holistic worldview through the influence of others and came to associate global citizenship as an identity as opposed to global exploration. Keywords: global citizenship education, international education, GCE, GCED, globalization, global citizen, global social justice, global development, higher education internationalization, travel abroad
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    Teacher Perceptions of STEM Curriculum Integration and Application: A Qualitative Study
    (2022-02) Ruggiero, Angelo
    Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education reforms have steadily increased since the 1980s. Legislators, education policymakers, and corporate leaders have shifted the focus to demand the production of increased numbers of STEM-literate graduates. The problem is a lack of consensus on the definition of STEM education, which contributes to the absence of an integrated and consistent STEM curriculum in U.S. public schools. A gap exists in literature regarding the perceptions of teachers and administrators related to STEM education in Georgia public schools. The study explored teacher perceptions of STEM education and a cohesive integrated curriculum. Constructivist learning theory and social cognitive learning theory provided the theoretical framework for the study. Key research questions explored administrator and teacher perceptions regarding uniform STEM curriculum as well as perceived obstacles to implementing STEM curriculum changes in Georgia public schools. Through a basic qualitative methodology, 16 teacher participants and three administrator participants were surveyed. All participants were current teachers or administrators at a STEM-certified and top-ranked Georgia high school. Questionnaire responses and document analysis results were coded using an inductive thematic analysis framework. Results indicated teachers and administrators held a predominantly positive view of STEM education, yet attempts to define and conceptualize STEM were basic and incongruous. Teachers also indicated a need for additional professional development to improve feelings of efficacy implementing STEM initiatives.
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    A Causal-comparative Study of Teacher Self-efficacy in Virtual Charter Schools
    (2022-02) Alverson, Lori
    Teacher self-efficacy is the belief in the ability to impact students’ success. There is limited research about teachers’ self-efficacy levels in the virtual K–12 environment. Self-efficacy may play a key role in job satisfaction, teacher retention, and higher student achievement. Research literature focused on teaching preparation programs and faculty in higher education but was minimal for the K–12 context. This quantitative study aimed to increase the scope in the literature to K–12 virtual charter schools and determined if there were any significant statistical differences in teacher self-efficacy and attitudes towards science, technology, engineering, and math in the online setting. The theoretical foundation was the intersection of self-efficacy theory and servant leadership. The research questions determined if there were a statistically significant difference between teacher self-efficacy and attitudes towards STEM when compared across the subject matter of elementary, science, technology, engineering, and math, along with the comparison of virtual teaching experience. The causal–comparative design used purposive and snowball sampling methods. The 104 K–12 virtual teacher participants used the Teacher Efficacy and Attitudes Toward STEM Survey. Data was collected through Survey Monkey and then run through statistical analysis with SPSS software. The study results showed significant statistical differences in mean composite scores on the T-STEM survey across subject matter and years of virtual teaching experience groups. There was no statistical interaction between subject areas and years of virtual teaching experience. Leaders may survey the needs of their staff to determine their online teaching proficiency and provide support for gaps in proficiencies.
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    Beginning Teacher Perceptions of District-Based Induction Coaching: A Phenomenology
    (2022-12-19) Sire-Derrick, Frances
    A shortage of highly qualified teachers across the nation has prompted school districts to relax certification standards to fill vacant positions. The problem is the growing number of teachers being placed in the skills needed to positively impact student achievement. Gaps in the literature show not much is known about the precise and repeatable actions of district-based induction coaches directly impacting beginning teacher practice. Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory and Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Theory provide a framework for understanding beginning teacher knowledge and skill acquisition and coaching leadership stances. The research questions guiding the study ask: What are the lived experiences of beginning teachers who participated in district-based induction coaching; What impact, if any, do beginning teachers believe district-based induction coaches had on their instructional practice, and what are beginning teacher opinions about ways to improve district-based coaching techniques. The qualitative, phenomenological study involved twenty beginning teacher participants with under five years’ experience. Two (2) semi-structured, in-depth interviews were used as instruments to collect data. Transcripts were analyzed, categorized, and coded into themes that evolved into study findings. The results of the study reveal influential practices of district-based induction coaches. Suggestions for improving district coaching practices and overcoming challenges are discussed. Recommendations for further research are presented. Keywords: beginning teacher, district-based induction, instructional practice, coach credentialing, coaching certification
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    A Phenomenological Qualitative Study of Flood Disasters Experienced by Louisiana School Communities
    (2021-12) Milazzo, Shane
    Floods impact millions of people annually. Flood-related disasters in Louisiana from 2005-2020 resulted in losses of life, property, and normalcy. The problem is school communities in Louisiana are often unprepared for flood disasters since maintaining daily academic rigor and operational status are the priorities for resource and time allocation. There was a gap in the literature addressing how to dedicate time and resources to prepare for, and recover from, flood disasters in Louisiana public and private K4-12 schools. Twenty administrators and teachers of the K4-12 school communities impacted in Louisiana by flood disasters from 2005 to 2020 comprised the sample population. Virtual interviews were conducted; inductive themes were generated using NVivo 12. The theoretical frameworks were adaptive leadership and functional theory. The research questions allowed exploration of teacher and school leaders’ experiences and shared meanings regarding resource allocation and recovery efforts in Louisiana school communities. Recommendations included (a) proactive emotional trauma training, (b) creating partnerships with other schools located reasonable distances away for campus use post-flood, (c) using technology within the classroom daily, (d) use of cloud-based technology for records and communication, (d) maintaining appropriate savings and insurance policies, and (e) having community partnerships. Leadership implications included positive organic change and considerations for policy changes.
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    Phenomenology of Social Justice on Leadership Development of Marginalized College Students
    (2021-06) McFarlane-Beau, Jordan
    Although the body of research on social justice in educational or service-related contexts is growing, knowledge regarding the phenomenology of social justice impact on college student leadership development remains limited. The purpose of the qualitative phenomenological study was to describe and understand the lived experiences, context, and perceived impact of how social justice leadership, advocacy, and work influence the leadership development of marginalized college student leaders. The research questions focused on understanding the influence and impact of social justice on leadership development of marginalized college students. A combination of social justice leadership theory and college student development theories was the theoretical framework used to guide the study. Sixteen participants were involved in the study, responding to open-ended questionnaires, submitting documents listing leadership and social justice work, and participating in semistructured interviews, to provide information on the lived experiences of marginalized college student leaders. After downloading the questionnaire results, renaming the submitted documents, and recording and transcribing the interviews, inductive thematic, constant comparison, and classical content analyses were used to identify the following themes: advocacy, Black, community, learning, mentorship, and organizing. The results of the study highlighted the unique lived experiences and perceptions with social justice leadership as academic, personal, and student leadership-related, and caused changes in leadership behavior and/or leadership perspectives described as highly meaningful and valuable. Stakeholders can use the results of the study to improve college student leadership development using social justice leadership.
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    Resilience of Community College Students in Rural Appalachia: A Quantitative Correlational Study
    (2021-11) Waide, Michael Paul
    College students’ persistence to academic success has been a concern for higher education institutions (HEIs). The educational attainment and academic achievement of community college students have created employment and economic opportunities for individuals. Despite the benefits of higher education, some community college students failed to continue toward academic success while others persisted. Continued research beyond a focus on barriers was needed to address a gap and determine protective factors’ role on academic success. Further investigation was needed to determine if protective resources, such as resilience, and college persistence factors were useful in helping nontraditional community college students in rural Appalachia persist toward academic success. The purpose of the nonexperimental, quantitative correlational study was to explore the relationship between the resilience and college persistence of nontraditional community college students in rural Appalachia and success. The study’s scope included 136 nontraditional aged college students, enrolled in community colleges in rural Appalachia. Grounded in an adaptation and resilience model and resilience theory, the study incorporated a correlational design. Two Pearson product-moment correlations were analyzed and determined statistically significant correlations between Appalachian nontraditional community college students’ resilience, persistence, and academic success. The study’s significant findings offer practical implications for higher education leaders, who seek to promote college students’ academic success through resilience or capacity-building programs and student-centric persistence initiatives. Policy changes and recommendations for future studies are discussed.
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    Phenomenological Study of Lived Experiences of Leaders in a Women’s Fitness Program
    (2021-11) Canterbury, Jerry L.
    The problem was women lag behind men in filling management leadership roles in the United States business world as women have fewer opportunities to learn leadership skills through athletic activities than men. Women are identified as leaders less often than men due to gender biases in society. The gap which exists in the literature is an exploration of how leadership development combined with physical fitness could address self-efficacy and leadership skills among women. The purpose of the phenomenological study was to identify the perceptions of participants in a women-focused, fitness-based, leadership development program. Understanding the impact of such a program on leadership skills and self-efficacy, which women could apply in professional and personal lives, was the goal of the study. Transformational Leadership Theory and Social Cognitive Theory were used to investigate how transformational leadership helped women learn leadership skills and self-efficacy from other women. The research questions guided the exploration of participants’ lived experiences, changed leadership capabilities and self-efficacy, and leadership impacts outside the program. Sixteen adult program participants located in the United States volunteered to participate in the study. Data collection was triangulated using questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, and a focus group. Data analysis was conducted by coding and analysis of questionnaires and transcripts to identify common themes. Study results revealed the program participants gained or improved leadership skills and self-efficacy, which participants leveraged in personal and professional environments outside the organization. Other organizations could adopt similar leadership development programs to benefit women who seek leadership positions.
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    Multiple Regression Analysis of Noncognitive Factors Affecting Academic Outcomes of First-time Detained Juvenile Delinquents
    (2020-03-22) Coker, David
    A review of the literature showed there was evidence to suggest many incarcerated juvenile delinquents experience lifelong problems. The problem addressed by this dissertation was to provide a description and analysis of the plight of first-time-detained juvenile delinquents and the impact of noncognitive attributes and academic achievement on grades. Since first-time-incarcerated juvenile delinquents were at risk for future failure in school and life, understanding causes of academic failure could improve graduation rates and transition back into society. Social learning theory and labeling theory suggested students behave by what the youths learned from other juveniles and the labels received from peers, parents, and the community. Adaptive leadership was used as the theoretical framework because teachers in juvenile detention centers face a myriad of problems and concerns beyond traditional school which require more than technical solutions. The research questions inquired about the degree of correlation between noncognitive attributes, academic achievement, and grades. Using a non-experimental, ex post facto design, a multiple regression analysis was conducted on archival data for first-time-detained juvenile delinquents. Three predictor variables were statistically significant and influenced academic performance measured by grades: verbal ability, social self-esteem, and prosocial skills. For juvenile delinquents (n = 72; males = 58, females = 14) aged 10-18 (M =15.3; SD = 1.6; range 10-18), the three predictor variables predicted English grades (adjusted R2 = .280) and Mathematics grades (adjusted R2 = .225). Other noncognitive attributes were discussed, and recommendations for policies and future research were outlined. The results of the study support past research findings on the interaction between student achievement, noncognitive attributes, and the need to improve communication skills of juvenile delinquents.
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    Parents' Perceptions of Boys' Low Reading Proficiency Rate: A Basic Qualitative Study
    (2020-09) Giles, Linda
    Research over the past decade has shown a growing number of fourth- and fifth-grade boys struggled with reading and comprehending text. The escalating number of upper elementary learners struggled with reading and experienced a lack of motivation when reading proficiencies regressed. Although many studies provided literature concerning parental involvement of children’s early developmental grades, not enough information was found concerning parents’ perceptions of sons struggling with reading in upper elementary grades. This research study was conducted to address the gap in literature and increase awareness of learning from the viewpoints of parents of struggling readers. Theoretical lenses were applied to learning from parents’ perceptions centered on Vygotsky’s social constructivist learning theory and Mezirow’s transformational learning theory. The basic qualitative study explored questions to advance learning based on parental viewpoints of fourth- and fifth-grade sons struggling with reading two to three grades below proficiency. In addition, parents’ views on learning and implementing intervention reading activities at home were explored. Data were collected and triangulated from 15 purposefully selected parents of sons at risk for reading failure. Questionnaires, observational fieldnotes, and recorded interviews documented on a digital voice recorder, transcribed using Otter Voice Meeting Notes were used. NVivo software was used to analyze the data and uncovered themes and trends through the coding process. Key results of the study addressed parental concerns about reading. Parents exposed insights relating to boys’ low reading abilities and revealed confidence to conduct reading interventions for boys at home. Recommendations included parental participation in learning reading activities. Implications for positive social change framed the design into a local to global infrastructure toward educating parents.
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    A Correlational Study Examining the Relationship Between Police Officer Education and Supervisory Evaluations of Performance in a Medium-Sized Law Enforcement Agency in Tennessee
    (2018-04) Smalley, Matthew
    There is no research-based consensus about the benefits of a postsecondary education as it relates to police officer job performance, leaving police executives with little guidance when establishing educational hiring criteria. The purpose of this quantitative correlational study was to determine the degree to which the possession of a postsecondary education degree was correlated with measures of police officer job performance in a medium-sized municipal law enforcement agency in the state of Tennessee. This measurement was accomplished by examining 206 numerical annual supervisory performance evaluations and education data for 85 police officers during a three-year period (2013–2015). This sample represented all nonsupervisory police officers employed by the agency of interest who received performance evaluations for the position of police officer during the study period. The study was designed to determine if a positive correlation existed between possessing a postsecondary education degree and supervisory ratings of police officer performance in four categories: general professionalism, productivity, technical knowledge, and management skills. No significant correlations were found in the sample between education and supervisory ratings of general professionalism and productivity. Significant positive, but weak correlations were found in the sample between education and supervisory ratings of technical knowledge (r = .172, p = .014) and management skills (r = .146, p = .036). This study showed mixed and inconclusive results about the relationship between police officer education and performance, consistent with existing literature. The study’s findings provided the basis for recommendations to law enforcement executives and future researchers wishing to gain further insight into the relationship between police officer education and performance.
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    First-Generation College Students' Integration into Higher Education: A Case Study
    (2021) Farrell-Felici, Colleen
    First-generation college students face many challenges transitioning into school. The obstacles are overwhelming and the learners often drop out. The research included details relating to the difficulties facing the scholars and how college educators can address the needs. Understanding the concerns of first-generation college students is critical for the implementation of comprehensive programs to provide support for first-generation students. Appropriate support is not being put in place, and the problem is college educators do not understand first-generation college students’ burdens. An insufficient exploration of the issues surrounding institutional structures within the higher education community to support this population represents a gap in the literature. Tinto’s student retention theory and Burns’s transformational leadership theory served as the base of the study along with the instrumental case study. The purpose of the study was to examine the perspectives of the first-generation students and university representatives regarding the necessary interventions designed for learning. Research questions helped to identify the viewpoints of the scholars and set the foundation for all-inclusive plans. Included in the qualitative case study were 26 participants in total, 15 of whom were included in four small focus groups and 17 of whom participated in in-depth interviews. Program policy documents were reviewed as well. The analysis involved coding the information for themes and interpretations, which findings suggest providing a more collaborative system with comprehensive support for first-generation college students. Best practices for transformational changes were linked to maintaining sustainable relationships and integrating cultural competence for the learners.
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    From Girls to Women in STEM: A Qualitative Phenomenological Study
    (2021-09) Pantella, Virginia
    Early engagement of girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) leads to greater numbers of girls who become women in these fields. Few studies explore the benefit of implementing STEM programs in middle school. Even fewer studies explore benefits those programs may have on meeting girls’ interest in STEM when the interest is at its highest level. As a result, the problem is an underemphasis on middle school girls' participation in STEM education. The current qualitative phenomenological study explored the essence and meaningfulness of middle school experiences of 15 women who worked in a STEM field in the United States and Mexico at the time of this research. The study included an investigation into how middle school STEM classes may have influenced participants’ decision to become STEM professionals. Participants filled out questionnaires, were interviewed, field notes were taken, and then, participants reviewed and verified their responses through a process called member checking. A 6-step framework was utilized to prepare data and the thematic content analysis approach was used to analyze data. Growth mindset theory and transformational leadership theory provided the framework for this study. Results indicated participants who received support from a combination of teachers, peers, and family, participated in enrichment activities, and who saw female STEM professionals during middle school became women in STEM. Findings from this research may help determine best practices for implementing STEM programs in middle school so more girls become women in these fields.
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    Factors and Initiatives in Community College Student Attrition: A Qualitative Analysis
    (2021-10-01) Craner, Kevin
    Community college student attrition has continued to be a problem for multiple stakeholders in the higher education system. Past research on community college student attrition focused on quantitative data or qualitative analysis from the student perspective. This study helped fill the gap by analyzing faculty perspectives on student attrition. Faculty perspectives on community college student attrition were examined through the lenses of servant leadership and Maslow’s theory. The theoretical framework views student attrition as due to unmet student needs, aligning with the research discussed in the review of the literature. The purpose of the study was to explore new insight into the reasons behind student attrition and initiatives taken to reduce student attrition. The research involved interviewing 16 part- and full-time faculty at a community college in Pennsylvania in semistructured 30-minute recorded interviews. Data were recorded on the Voice Recorder android application, anonymously labeled, transcribed, and saved to Notepad on a Windows 10 PC, and coded and analyzed using Qualitative Data Analysis Miner Lite. Emerging themes were presented with the intention of providing insight to various community college stakeholders who would benefit from a reduction in student attrition. Key factors in attrition emerged including financial challenges, familial challenges, and support. Initiatives to address student attrition were found to be poorly planned and terminated too early.
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    Police Officers and Occupational Stress: A Phenomenological Study
    (2021-06) Leman, Tina
    Rational well-being is a vital function of a public safety officer's overall health. An unknown amount of law enforcement officers currently endures occupational stress because of the chosen profession. Executives and leaders of law enforcement agencies need information, strategies, and training on how to effectively support and aid officers experiencing job-related, occupational stressors toward resiliency. Previous research focuses on police officer suicides rather than the lived experiences and coping techniques from job-related, occupational stress. The phenomenological study looked to explore the lived experiences of law enforcement officers' perceptions of occupational stressors endured and mitigation methods used to combat stressful feelings toward a resilient mindset. The research questions focused on police officers who have had exposure to cumulative occupational stress and distressing events and perceptions on coping methods. Data were gathered using 29 participants from an online questionnaire and interviews via Zoom. The open-ended questionnaire was sent to over 300 members of the Wounded Officers Initiative (WOI) in the southeast United States. Data from the study revealed police officers experienced job-related stress and used various forms of coping methods. Participants also identified a burnout phase resulting from emotional exhaustion.
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    Child Nutrition and Cognitive Development: A Content Analysis
    (2021-06) Arnold, Ronnie
    Nationally, approximately 6 million children are suffering from food insecurity. Children living in a food-insecure environment are at greater risk of nutritional deficiencies, which can decrease the ability to learn and lessen cognitive development in K–12 students. Data from the study addressed the gap of limited understanding of the potential thematic relationships across different situational environments and factors that influence success at school. The purpose of the qualitative content analysis (QCA) study was to analyze peer-reviewed medical journals to reveal the influence food has on a student’s cognitive ability to learn. The significance of the study was to combat the effects of food on learning by incorporating knowledge into teaching and societal practices. Understanding potential thematic relationships can add overall knowledge to the connection between nutrition and academic performance and close the gap in knowledge via concise coding of peer-reviewed medical journals. The QCA study research goals focused on the conceptualization of data to create coding schemes that analyze the issues through a data reduction system, the abstraction of categories, and the thematic analysis between undernutrition and academic achievement. Selecting the appropriate peer-reviewed literature required the use of Walker and Avant’s method, which was used to identify, refine, evaluate, and define the attributes of concepts used to answer the research questions. The major themes of the literature review that emerged were food deserts, food insecurity, nutrition and cognitive performance, nutrition and physical activity, stress, working memory, and attendance and absenteeism. The study had three limitations: sample size, time constraints, and lack of collecting representative data.
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    Increased Student Engagement with Transformative Learning Pedagogy: An Ex Post Facto Study
    (2021-06-07) Ellis, Timothy
    Transformative learning pedagogy in higher education leads to increased student engagement. The problem with transformative learning in higher education is deficiencies in research on increased student engagement obtained with transformative learning pedagogy. This research study addressed unanswered questions in the literature by exploring engagement measured by academic achievement and retention when transformative learning pedagogy is fostered. Transformative learning pedagogy served as the theoretical framework. The quantitative ex post facto study consisted of archival data obtained from the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO), which was then tested, and results rendered. An independent samples t test and a chi-square test on the collected archival data revealed student engagement increases with transformative learning pedagogy instruction as measured by higher academic achievement and retention, supporting the research purpose. The statistical analysis indicated students at UCO in the Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR) program had significantly increased classroom engagement than students who had not been instructed with transformative learning pedagogy, as indicated by higher academic achievement and retention.
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    Factors Influencing Teacher Retention in A Charter School: A Qualitative Phenomenological Study
    (2021-03-28) Atas, Bekir
    Retention of effective educators has become a key focus of school leaders. The problem addressed in this study is how retaining high-quality teachers is a challenge in a charter school system in Nevada. The gap in the existing literature regarding the factors influencing educators’ retention concerningthe elements of administrator support, working conditions, and professional development is addressed in this study. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore lived experiences and perceptions of effective veteran educators in a public charter school district and understand more in-depth ways career decisions were made to remain in the profession. The theoretical framework was based on Herzberg’s two-factor and Bandura’s self-efficacy theories to understand the various factors influencing educators’ decisions to remain at a public charter school district. Research questions were used as an initial step to understand the problem of teacher retention. The target population was approximately 300 educators in a public charter school district. Fifteen teachers made up the sample. Interviews were used as a data collection instrument to identify the shared experiences and perceptions of the respondents. The data were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis, including identifying, analyzing, and reporting themes. The research presented will advance knowledge about educator retention and help school leaders promote preventive strategies to address the problem. Effective teachers may benefit from this study to gain awareness of how other educators choose to remain in the profession. The study’s findings underline the importance of compensation, working conditions, recognition, and driving contributors to teacher retention.
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    Adolescents Who Are Bereft: A Qualitative Phenomenological Study
    (2021) Reilley, Darlene
    Losing a parent as a child or adolescent is difficult. The loss can have a substantial impact on the youth’s future. The problem is students who are bereft in public schools in the United States often go unidentified by educators, which can impact academic performance and behaviors. A review of the literature revealed a gap in studies focused on identification systems or programs to facilitate advocacy for students who are bereft. Students who are bereft have unique needs. A child or adolescent who receives no professional help to manage grief has the propensity to quell grief through unhealthy lifestyle choices. There is a need to identify children and adolescents who are bereft as soon as possible to provide nurturing support to avoid short- and long-term consequences of unresolved grief. The purpose of the qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the academic performance and behavior experiences of students who are bereft in grades 7-12 from a semiurban junior / senior high school in the northeastern United States through the perceptions of their educators. The theoretical framework of the study was shaped by theory of change and situational leadership theory. The research questions were centered on educators’ perceptions of how the death of a parent affects a student’s academic performance and behavior. Two data collection tools—semistructured interviews and a focus group—were used to explore the perceptions of educators from different capacities in the public school setting. Findings showed educators unanimously agreed a formal identification system would benefit parentally bereft students’ academic performance and behavior. Not knowing of a student who has lost a parent often results in an educator having a negative experience, academically or behaviorally, with a student who is bereft.
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    Improving Communication of Students With Autism Through Arts Integration: A Qualitative Study
    (2021-06-01) Jensen, Stephanie
    The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among elementary-age students is becoming more prevalent in the United States. The problem is the lack of research on how to grow the verbal communication skills of students with ASD through fine arts integration. The qualitative case study investigated instructional staff members’ perceptions of the effects of fine arts integration on the verbal communication skills of students with ASD. Three data collection tools were utilized to explore instructional staff members’ perceptions of fine arts integration and implementation strategies in the classroom: a teacher questionnaire, virtual interviews, and observational checklists. Data from the study were utilized to answer two research questions regarding instructional staff members’ perceptions of verbal communication skills of students with ASD before and after fine arts integration and strategies used in the classroom to integrate fine arts into the curriculum. A situational leadership style, theory of mind, and the stage theory of cognitive development were the study’s theoretical framework lens. Purposeful sampling was used to select participants for the qualitative case study. Thirteen participants from a suburban district in Illinois were selected based on their willingness to express beliefs and perceptions about the verbal communication skills of students with ASD. Data analysis was completed using an open coding process and uploaded in MAXQDA for axial coding. Results of the study uncovered (a) staff believed the integration of fine arts positively impacts communication, (b) staff utilized music more than art to elicit communication from students, and (c) effects of fine arts integration linger.