Ed.D. Dissertations

The Education Doctorate (Ed.D.) is the highest degree Fresno State can confer. Earning an Ed.D. requires completion of a dissertation that demonstrates a candidate's ability to plan, write, and defend an original research study. A dissertation is the culmination of a doctoral candidate's scholarly work in graduate school. 

You may access all dissertations on Fresno State's Digital Repository.

Telling Their Stories: Using Phenomenology and Critical Incident Technique to Explore the Lived Experiences of High-Potential ELL Students Who Have Obtained a Baccalaureate Degree

Maria S. Reyes

California State University, Fresno, 2018

Chair: Dana J. Whetton

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to explore the educational experiences of 10 High potential foreign born Hispanic ELL students of Mexican descent. The study focused on uncovering the participants’ experiences in the self or individual context and the contexts of the family, school, and community. Utilizing the phenomenological qualitative research method in conjunction with the Critical Incident Technique (CIT), this study gathered and analyzed the educational experiences that have positively influenced the academic achievement of this group of students enabling them to graduate from high school and later obtain a baccalaureate or a post baccalaureate degree. The essence of this research endeavor was to discover how the educational experiences in the above mentioned contexts assisted Hispanic ELL participants to exceed expectations and to become accomplished young professionals in their respective field of study. The participants’ experiences in each of these contexts provided the insight needed for educators and community members to provide positive learning environments and to create opportunities in order to assist Hispanic ELL students to achieve their educational goals.

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The Educational Experiences and Cultural Identity of Second Generation Lao and Hmong American Men in California’s Central Valley

Thianchayphet Phannaphob

California State University, Fresno, 2018

Chair: James Mullooly

Abstract:

Education is the foundation of success for second generation Southeast Asians and is the greatest factor for higher wages (Sakamoto & Woo, 2007). The second generation of most immigrant groups are reported to have higher educational, life aspirations and attainment than their parents (Phommasa, 2016). In California’s Central Valley (hereafter “Central Valley”), the educational trend for second generation Lao and Hmong American men do not reflect those findings of higher educational aspirations or attainment. This qualitative study explored the educational experiences and cultural identity of 28 second generation Lao and Hmong American men in the Central Valley. Five main themes emerged, which are: a) the Telemachus Effect, b) racism, c) environment during the formative years, d) educational experiences, and e) American born identity. The researcher found that all of the five emergent themes have several subthemes, such as: (1) the Orestes Effect (siblings/peers), (2) whiteness/ being whitewashed and Asian tension, (3) neighborhood and crime, and trauma, (4) ESL & GATE, lost & leaving school and completing & returning to school, and (5) cultural preservation, cultural rejection, masculinity & gender role expectations, and gender role expectations of a spouse. This study concluded with a need for future academic research and practice.

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Trucha Camp Critical Consciousness Training of Latinos: A Qualitative Study to Understand the Success of Underserved Urban Students

Victor Hugo Manríquez

California State University, Fresno, 2018

Chair: Juan Carlos Gonzalez

Abstract:

This qualitative study examined if the Trucha Camp critical consciousness leadership physical education program contributed to Latino students’ success. Critical Consciousness Pedagogy (CCP) was the Freirean theoretical framework implemented in the program to understand if any participants experienced conscientização or an awakening free from oppression through dialogue, reflection, awareness, and praxis (Freire, 2000). There is a body of literature that supports the positive effects CCP has on marginalized students’ success in curriculum such as math, reading, and writing from elementary to college levels.

I piloted the praxis of CCP concepts in the Trucha Camp program. The origin of the name was an effort to increase culturally responsive methods to a student body where the majority was of Latino ancestry. The word Truchais Spanish for trout and is California’s state fish. It also means critical consciousness. I explored what effects CCP have on Latino students’ character development, leadership, and critical thinking. The study included eight participants (two males and six females). They were 18 years of age or older. Data were collected through open-ended interviews.

Ultimately, the results were encouraging. The students overwhelmingly agreed the program contributed to their success in school. It also influenced decision making at home and work. The Trucha code of conduct G.R.T. (good, right, and true) and the Trucha code of ethics Agape love were the most significant contributors. Future implications suggest that CCP training are critical factors for future teacher preparation programs and crucial component in fostering Latino students’ success. 

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A Quantitative Analysis of Middle College High Schools on College Readiness For Underrepresented Students

Robert Pimentel

California State University, Fresno, 2018

Chair: Christian Wandeler

Abstract:

In today’s competitive economy, a college education is a necessity to obtain employment in jobs that offer sustainable wages to live a comfortable life. The constant changes in technology are creating a difficult environment for employers to find a qualified workforce across the United States. Colleges and universities continue to face challenges as they attempt to create learning environments that allow students to graduate on time; only 13% graduate in 2 years for community colleges, and about 15% in 4 years from state universities. In many cases, students appear to be unprepared for the rigor of college coursework; however, the curriculum currently offered at the K-12 level does not align well with the curriculum in higher education. There is a struggle between the two systems that appears to have a negative effect on students as they attempt to find their way through college.

This quantitative causal-experimental research study analyzed the differences between Middle College High School (MCHS) and traditional high school students in regards to academic success. The data used for this research study were collected from archival data from a community college in the Central Region of California and the feederK-12 school district. The study compared high school graduation rates, a-g completion rates, total number of units completed at the college level, and overall college GPA between the two groups.

The study found that students from MCHS perform at much higher rates than students who attend traditional public high school. These data demonstrate a statistical significant difference in a-g completion, and overall college GPA between the two groups, demonstrating that MCHS students are performing at much higher levels. There was no statistically significant difference in overall college units completed; however, MCHS students attend both college and high school concurrently. Overall, the MCHS model appears to be successful in promoting student success at the high school level and community college level. The model appears to have positive effects on student success and reverses equity gaps in success for Hispanic and male students overall. 

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Exploring the Experiences of Hmong Students in Graduate programs at Fresno State

Shur Lee

California State University, Fresno, 2018

Chair: Christian Wandeler

Abstract:

Hmong students in the US are underrepresented in higher education, especially graduate school. This concurrent mixed-methods study explored the barriers, challenges, and motivations of current graduate Hmong students at Fresno State. The quantitative survey was completed by 38 of all 55 current graduate Hmong students and included the Adult Dispositional Hope Scale, the College Specific Hope scale, and the Sense of Belonging Scale. The qualitative portion consisted of two focus groups with 11 participants to explore the students’ experiences. Quantitative results indicated high levels of general hope and college hope, above average sense of belonging, and very high levels of confidence to graduate with a master’s degree. Most of the respondents were traditional students, single, without children and living with parents. Qualitative data revealed that parents and family members were generally supportive, despite often having no formal or only limited education. Time management and navigating the university were the main challenges. The experiences in regards to university and faculty support were ambiguous. While students did feel support existed, they also perceived a lack of resources, and found it difficult to navigate the campus for help. They were not always confident to seek out faculty, or report having difficulty to meet with them. Implications for supporting the success and retention of Hmong students are discussed.

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The Effect of a College Preparation Program on the Self-Efficacy of First Generation, Latino/a, High School Students

Alicia Iñiguez

California State University, Fresno, 2018

Chair: Kenneth Magdaleno

Abstract:

Due to our technologic and global based economy, the future workforce demands skilled workers with more than a high school diploma. A college degree will open more opportunities of employment and provide a higher quality of life for its recipients. Due to the current system of education, social constructs, and macro-economic policies, gaining access into higher education is still a challenge for marginalized student populations. College preparation programs are a method utilized to provide information and access for students who are otherwise at a disadvantage when trying to navigate the college pathway. First-generation, Latino/a students face a myriad of challenges such as a lack of academic preparation, lower high school graduation rates, lower college enrollment, and lower degree completion as compared to their White peers. This study investigated the effect of a college preparation program in Phoenix, AZ on the targeted student population via Bandura’s (1977) theory of self-efficacy. A quantitative study revealed the program increased the academic and college-going self-efficacy of student participants.

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Defining Academia Influences on Mobility, Identity, and Culture of Deaf Scholars in Higher Education

Trisha Jane Houston

California State University, Fresno, 2018

Chair: Nancy Akhavan

Abstract:

The purpose of the study was to explore Deaf faculty experiences in higher education to identify the common themes related to barriers and successes. Social Phenomenology Theory and Deaf Critical Theory were used to discover common themes regarding accessibility problems and academic mobility in higher education environments. Factors of academic mobility was broken down into several groups including faculty struggles, faculty barriers and successes, their desire to continue teaching, and ability to collaborate with Deaf and Hearing colleagues. The explanatory sequential mixed methods study included Deaf faculty as participants who were teaching in colleges and universities across U.S. and some other regions not in the United States. Coding and triangulation were then used to discover recurring themes from the survey and interviews. The data revealed frequent associations regarding access to interpreters and if it were or were not provided equitably, the need for mentoring, and the issue of onboarding –organizational socialization.

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The Practitioner’s Role in the Promotion of Self-Efficacy in Children Who Have Suffered Traumatic Events

Laura Denise Harris

California State University, Fresno, 2018

Chair: Nancy Akhavan

Abstract:

The intent of this critical ethnographic study was to identify the perceived role preschool practitioners have in the promotion of self-efficacy in children who have suffered from traumatic events. This study additionally explored the application of the four principal sources which foster self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977) in everyday interactions and in curriculum implemented in the classrooms. Two research questions guided this study that included 1.) What perceived role does the preschool practitioner have in promoting self-efficacy in preschool children who have suffered from traumatic events? 2.) What methods do practitioners use to integrate the four principal sources of forming self-efficacy into the daily classroom experiences for the children who have suffered from trauma? The data sets were collected in the form of field notes that were previously transcribed by an organization employee, tally sheets, and semi-structured interview transcripts. The participants for the semi-structured interview portion of this study included five practitioners employed at various sites within the organization. Social Cognitive Theory provided the lens which data sets were analyzed. After completing the open-coding and axial-coding phases, triangulation was applied which led to the emergence of three key sections that offered insight into the questions specified. These three key sections were (a) practitioner experiences of working with children who experience trauma: children’s displayed behaviors; (b) Research Question 1: practitioner’s perceived role in promotion of self-efficacy; (c) Research Question 2: integration of four principal sources self-efficacy is derived from. The critical ethnography methodology applied in this qualitative study provided the existing body of literature with perceptions drawn from the participant observer perspective. Further research on this topic would provide additional depth and understanding of the perceived role practitioners have in the promotion of self-efficacy in preschool children who have suffered trauma. Also, additional identification of tangible methods used by practitioners to integrate the four principal sources self-efficacy is derived from into the classroom experiences could be used to continue to inform practice. The methods carried out in this study have not been applied often in the previous literature, allowing this research to offer new insight on the topic of self-efficacy in education.

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Examining Faculty Perceptions on Providing Instructional Services to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

Jacquelyn Catalina Rubalcaba

California State University, Fresno, 2018

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

Deaf and hard of hearing (D/hh) students face academic challenges in the post-secondary setting due to low literacy skills and academic barriers. However, despite these challenges, little attention has been focused on mainstream faculty who teach D/hh students. This study investigated perceptions of mainstream faculty at the post-secondary level who teach D/hh students.

Data collected through this dissertation will add to the literature by providing perceptions of instructional faculty from 10 mainstream colleges in California. With the exception of one, these colleges do not house a specialized Deaf college on campus, providing a more representative sample of the general population. A mixed method study design was utilized. Instruments consisted of a 66 item survey consisting of 10 demographic questions and a 56 item Likert scale and an open-ended interview. A total of 585 faculty responded to the survey. Eight faculty throughout California were interviewed. Data collected provide greater insight on instructional services provided to D/hh students from the mainstream faculty perspective.

Faculty exposed to D/hh individuals had significantly higher scores in mean teaching effectiveness, in-class social interaction, and opinions of D/hh. There was no significant mean difference by College Type in teaching effectiveness and in-class social interaction, but CC faculty had a significantly higher mean score compared to CSU faculty in opinions of D/hh. There was no significant difference in taught D/hh between CC and CSU faculty for the three dependent variables. The interaction between college type and having taught D/hh students approached significance for teaching effectiveness and is significant for in-class social interaction. The qualitative portion yielded six key themes which are awareness, accessibility, interpreter logistics, interpreter skill level, language barrier, and professional development.

Implications of this study indicate the need for resources and administrative support regarding the implementation of professional development. Resources regarding Deaf culture, sign language interpreters, and academic accommodations were stated as the most crucial for the institutional vitality and growth toward a Deaf inclusive campus.

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STEM Teacher Recruitment at California State University, Fresno State

Scott Harmon Sanders

California State University, Fresno, 2018

Chair: Christian Wandeler

Abstract:

Despite a rebounding economy and an increase in the number of available teaching positions, there is still a struggle to fill certain positions. Some of the most difficult positions to fill are traditional secondary Math and Science positions. As education has turned towards educating students for the 21st century, it has also become important to develop more education in STEM related topics such as Engineering and Computer Science. The Central Valley has begun to adopt career pathways programs that require some teachers to have industry experience and a specialized credential to provide more courses that provide hands on experience. This has created an even larger need to produce more teachers in the STEM field.

This mixed-methods study focused on STEM majors at California State University, Fresno in order to discover what they knew about the teaching profession and the programs available at California State University, Fresno. The study also sought to find whether or not providing more information about the teaching profession or programs available at California State University, Fresno would cause more STEM students to consider teaching as a viable option. The study provided students with a survey that provided qualitative responses to why students did would not consider teaching as a viable option. The study also provided quantitative information on whether or not students knew about specific information about teaching and available programs at California State University, Fresno and how attractive they found this information to consider a career in teaching.

The study found that a majority of students were not aware of programs available at California State University, Fresno and were also not aware of most information about the teaching profession. The study also found that students found most of the information provided about the teaching profession and available programs at California State University, Fresno to be very attractive to anyone considering a job in the teaching profession. After information was provided, there was an increase in the number of students that stated they would consider teaching as a viable option.

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Mental Health Assessments for African Americans: An Analysis of Clinician Explicit and Implicit Preferences, Practices, and Perceptions

Tiffany Crystal White

California State University, Fresno, 2018

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

This exploratory study investigated the complexities of race and racial preferences in mental health as it relates to clinical decision making with African American clients. African Americans seeking mental health services face several unique barriers including the potential for racial bias, prejudice, discrimination, and racist norms that may inform a clinician’s ability to accurately diagnose and provide the most appropriate treatment. This mixed methods study used an electronic survey to collect demographic and perceived effectiveness information, and asked mental health professionals to provide a detailed description of what has worked with African American clients during the assessment portion of treatment. After the completion of the survey, Greenwald, Mcghee and Schwartz’s (1998) implicit associations test (IAT) collected the implicit racial preference of the participants. Semi-structured interviews further explored participant attitudes, perspective and beliefs of assessing African American clients. Two MANOVAs and a Chi-square were completed to analyze the data. Condensed implicit racial bias as identified by IAT score was found to be statistically significant with self-reported effectiveness of Mental Health Assessments with Black clients.

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Identifying Predictors Associated with Pluralistic Orientation in College Students

Victoria Y. Taylor

California State University, Fresno, 2018

Chair: Julie Olson-Buchanan

Abstract:

From a theoretical standpoint, pluralistic orientation incorporates higher levels of critical thinking that empower students to engage collaboratively, interact cross-culturally, and develop a higher regard for others’ perspectives, beliefs, and identities. Though many of these attributes may develop naturally over time through life experiences, institutions of higher education have the opportunity to play a vital role in the acquisition of these attributes by providing a space where diverse forms of knowledge converge, differing perspectives are fostered, and students can interact cross-culturally, maybe for the first time. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to identify predictors associated with a pluralistic orientation in college students. Quantitative and qualitative archival data from a 2016 campus climate assessment adapted from the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) Diverse Learning Environment (DLE) survey were utilized. A conceptual model for examining students’ pluralistic orientation adapted from Dovidio et al. (2004) provided the theoretical framework for this study.

The sample consisted of 978 students from one California State University campus. Findings from this study emphasize the importance of incorporating readings and/or materials about race/ethnicity in the curricula, the promotion of cultural difference appreciation by the University, and the appreciation of differences in sexual identity by the University, which in turn can produce positive direct effects on the development of pluralistic orientation. This study also demonstrates the varying ways in which students in different majors experience and perceive campus life.

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Exploring the Knowledge, Training, and Experiences of Special Education Directors Related to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Learners

Rosemary Rashad Wanis

California State University, Fresno, 2018

Chair: Susana Hernandez

Abstract:

Special education administrators in the state of California are responsible to ensure that high-quality education is delivered to 17,000 deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) learners each year. While all administrators must obtain specific types of credentials to prepare them for their role, it is unknown how much knowledge they have pertaining to DHH learners. This study utilized grounded theory to explore the knowledge, training, and experiences that special education administrators in California have about DHH learners. The purpose of this study was to examine levels of confidence and preparedness of Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) directors to serve DHH learners within their respective areas of governance based on their thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions of DHH individuals. The study focused solely on SELPA directors in California. Altogether, 22 individuals responded to the survey and five completed individual interviews. The resulting narrative demonstrated that DHH learners are served on a continuum with one end being perceived as more desirable than the other. A list of recommendations are provided to address both structural and programmatic changes to ensure that high-quality education for DHH learners becomes standard practice.

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Contextualized Teacher-Training and Racial/Ethnic Tensions in U.S Schools

Cameron S. Guinn

California State University, Fresno, 2017 

Chair: Jianjun Wang

Abstract:

Public school teachers are required to have specialized training to appropriately address discipline problems and foster positive school culture. Despite good intentions, many teacher-training initiatives fall short of creating an unbiased school atmosphere. This study used data collected by the National Center for Educational Statistics through the Public School Safety and Discipline 2013-14survey to investigate the relationship between racial/ethnic tension and three categories of teacher training (management, identification, and intervention) across the dimensions of school level, urbanicity, and ethnicity. There is no recent research on public school safety and discipline that attempts to contextualize confounding variables in this way. The innovative research design hinged on articulation of a seemingly unrelated list of safety training courses into three theoretically integrated approaches, which contrast generalizable research outcomes across the United States. Each research outcome was examined across the three independent variables (school level, urbanicity, and ethnicity) through linear regression modeling. Although the complex data analysis associated with this research involved the Jackknife replication (JK1) process within the WesVar program, the use of multiple model-fit indices was built on applications of multiple software packages. Each model of investigation resulted in one or more significant factors at a = .05. For each of the four regression models in this analysis there were four parameters. Because C(p) = 4 was obtained for each regression model, the statistical analysis reconfirmed appropriate model fit. As a conclusion, the results of this investigation indicated that dimension of school level, urbanicity, and ethnicity jointly played significant roles in shaping racial/ethnic tension and all three teacher-training modalities, which urged local schools to comprehensively align discipline training with racially unbiased practices. Based on this investigation, future research recommendations were proposed on three fronts: (1) A combination of direct data gathering and secondary data analysis should occur to make findings more relevant in local settings. (2) Incorporation of qualitative and quantitative inquiries for teacher training selection is necessary to increase the understanding of results from large-scale data analyses. (3) Upgrading the statistical computing platform is needed to increase the capacity software packages like SAS and WesVar for NCES data analyses.

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An Examination of the Role of College-Level Mathematics in STEM Major Persistence

Jaimi Paschal

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Amanda Taggart

Abstract: 

The purpose of this study was to examine the association between first-term college-level mathematics course and STEM major persistence. The study utilized data from a medium-sized, 4-year, open access, public institution on the West Coast of the United States. The data consisted of students enrolled at the institution of study between the Fall 2008 and Fall 2013 terms who declared STEM majors at matriculation. Decreasing logistic regression was used to identify significant variables likely to increase in a student’s persistence in a STEM major through their sixth college term. Findings indicated that students with a high school GPA of 3.00 or higher and students who passed a first-term college-level mathematics course were at significantly greater odds of being retained.

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California State University, Bakersfield Fab Lab: “Making” a Difference in Middle School Students’ STEM Attitudes

Andrea Lee Medina

California State University, Fresno, 2017 

Chair: Randy Schultz 

Abstract:

The digital fabrication lab, or Fab Lab, at California State University, Bakersfield provided a 1-week, half-day summer program for local area middle school students. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect this summer program had on their attitudes towards math and science. The theoretical framework used for this study was based on Papert’s (1980) theory of constructionism and Bandura’s (1977) self-efficacy theory. Papert’s interest in how learners engaged in discussions with the items they made, and how these interactions increased self-guided learning, promoted the development of new knowledge. Self-efficacy, or one’s belief in his or her ability to perform behaviors necessary to produce specific achievements, increases as a result of the self-guided learning. These beliefs are proposed to influence future aspirations and the commitment to them. Results of the paired t-tests show a marked difference between 2016 participants (n= 49) and 2017 participants (n=31). Of the 2016 participants, no overall significance was found on attitudes towards math or science, but male attitudes within the math subset did show significance. The results of the 2017 program do show statistical significance in the area of science for females. It is hypothesized that the difference in results were due to the delivery of the program between the 2years. Further research is necessary to confirm this hypothesis.

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Building Coherence for Instructional Improvement: Principal Perceptions of Leadership Shifts and Impact on Collective Teacher Efficacy and Student Learning

Angelyn Diana Summers

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Nancy Akhavan

Abstract:

This dissertation examined the leadership shifts that have taken place in elementary schools that have worked with the John D. Welty Center, formerly known as Central Valley Educational Leadership Institute (CVELI),building coherence for instructional improvement (BCII) and how these shifts have impacted site leadership, the collective efficacy of the staff, and student learning. Specifically, this study investigated the changes in mindset and actions of the school leaders who have been involved with the BCII work, how these changes have enhanced the efficacy of teachers, and the effects on student learning. The three research questions that guided this study were: What are the perceptions of principals regarding their shifts in leadership due to the focused work on building coherence for instructional improvement? What are the perceptions of principals regarding the impact on teacher collective efficacy due to the focused work on building coherence for instructional improvement? What are the perceptions of principals regarding the impact on student learning due to the focused work on building coherence for instructional improvement? 

This study employed a two-phase case study qualitative approach, as semi-structured interviews were used. Participants included five principals from BCII cohort 1 schools, and one BCII expert who confirmed and enhanced the data. Qualitative data from the six interviews were analyzed and three primary themes emerged from the data. The first theme was the leadership shift to a shared leadership model with four subthemes: building the capacity of the team, trust, empowerment, and creating a strong culture. The second theme was the collective ownership of instruction by the teachers with two subthemes: psychological safety and lateral press. The third theme was student ownership of learning. Implications for future practice are given, along with recommendations for future research.

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SB 1440 (2010): The Effect of Transfer Degrees on Time to Degree Conferral, Unit Accumulation, and Transfer Attainment for California Community College Students

Maria Wright

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Kenneth Magdaleno

Abstract: 

The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of the Student Transfer Reform Act of 2010 (SB1440) on student success. For the purpose of this study, student success metrics were identified as time to degree conferral, unit accumulation, and transfer attainment. Associate Degrees for Transfer (ADT) were systematized as a result of the Student Transfer Reform Act of 2010 (SB 1440). The goal of this initiative is to streamline the transfer process, and ultimately increase the bachelor’s degree completion rates via a guaranteed transfer, for California Community College (CCC) students. The Student Transfer Reform Act of 2010 (SB 1440) established an alignment between CCCs and California State University (CSU). This collaborative partnership allows students to earn priority admissions into a CSU and creates systemic changes via the unit limitations. Students who earn an ADT cannot be required to take more than 60 semester or 90 quarter units for completion at the CSU.

Aggregate data from the CCC Chancellor’s office were examined along with comprehensive data provided from two participating institutions. The two CCCs were identified based on the number of ADT degrees awarded and the compliance of Transfer Model Curriculum (TMC) to ADT development as prescribed by California Education code 66746(b) (Ed Source, 2013). 

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California Elementary School District Superintendents’ Perceptions Regarding Professional Development Support and Reflective Practice in the Superintendency

Julie Ann Graves

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Randy Schultz

Abstract:

This dissertation examined perceptions of elementary district superintendents regarding professional development in the superintendency. The current challenges of the superintendency require superintendents to be more prepared than ever before and to serve as effective leaders of school districts. Specifically, this research identified what professional development activities provide effective support in the superintendency, and additionally identified the value of linking professional standards with professional development. This study also focused on the connection between reflective practice and professional development in the superintendency.

The three research questions that guided this study were: In what structures of support and professional development do elementary school district superintendents participate? To what extent are professional development activities of elementary school district superintendents connected to the CPSEL? To what extent do professional development activities enhance the elementary school district superintendent’s application of reflective practice in the superintendency?

This study employed the explanatory sequential design mixed-methods approach. In phase 1 of this study, quantitative data were collected and analyzed from California elementary superintendents’ responses to an electronic questionnaire regarding professional development in the superintendency. In phase 2 of this study, qualitative data were collected and analyzed from a random selection of the California elementary superintendent participants who were willing to participate in a follow-up telephone interview to further explain the quantitative results in this study. A semi-structured interview protocol for the qualitative data collection of superintendent participants was used in this study, followed by a qualitative data analysis in order to discover the emergent themes in the data.

The quantitative and qualitative data in this study uncovered numerous common elements regarding professional development in the superintendency. The three overall themes that emerged in both the quantitative and the qualitative data analyses were: the frequency and need for professional development, the CPSEL alignment of professional development, and professional development support for reflective practice in the superintendency. The frequency and need for professional development had two subthemes: context of district diversity and fiscal alignment and board support. CPSEL guided professional development had one subtheme: pursuit of continuous learning. Reflective practice had one subtheme: collaboration. Implications for future practice were given as well as recommendations for future research.

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Instructional Rounds: A Strategy for Closing the Achievement Gap through Collaboration and Equitable Classroom Teaching

Robin Gail Shive

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: John Stark

Abstract: 

Superintendents of low income rural school district are challenged to close the achievement gap, specifically the disparity between classrooms. This study took the angle of looking at Equitable Classroom Practices and levels of rigor from classroom to classroom. The reasoning stems from the use of Job Embedded Professional Development for Instructional Rounds. 

The Literature pointed to using sustainable systems of professional development. Job Embedded Professional Development, such as Instructional Rounds was one way to incorporate professional development within contract hours. Equitable Classroom Practices and levels of rigor were found to be strong components to improving pupil outcomes among subgroups. 

The results of the quantitative and qualitative components indicated that the use of Instructional Rounds is an effective way to increase Equitable Classroom Practices and increase the level of rigor. The qualitative data results strongly supported Instructional Rounds as a Job Embedded Professional Development that increases Equitable Classroom Practices between grade level spans. The quantitative data results showed a marginal correlation between Instructional Rounds and Equitable Classroom Practices and levels of rigor. The lack of significant difference could be due to the small sample size and the short time frame in which the observations were conducted.

Future research is necessary to test the generalizability to other school districts and populations of students. More observations over a longer time span will also increase the validity of the findings.

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Policy Analysis of Voluntary Desegregation in the Bakersfield City School District

Justin Osiris Peppars

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: James Mullooly

Abstract:

The Author conducted a policy analysis of the Voluntary Desegregation Policy in the Bakersfield City School District. The study was a quantitative analysis regarding compliance on reduction of high concentration of Black and Hispanic students and integrating them with students in highly concentrated White schools. The Voluntary Desegregation Policy was a solution by leaders in the Bakersfield City School District and U.S. Department of Justice during the Reagan Administration to reduce the concentration of Black, White, and Hispanic students in segregated schools and tried to integrate them to ratios more proportionate to the rest of the district. This quantitative analysis used indices to measure and evaluate racial isolation and diversity. This dissertation was an assessment of a policy based on good faith efforts.

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Teachers’ First Impressions of Students: Characteristics, Expectations, and Effects

Jonathan Brian Gage

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

The intent of the present study was to examine the teacher-student relationship as a systematic process, which was investigated in four parts:(a) teacher-held beliefs and efficacy, (b) initial impressions, (c) formed and maintained expectations, and (d) effects on student outcomes. The foundations for this research were provided by attribution theory, teacher self-efficacy, and self-fulfilling prophecies, which all represent starting points for investigating the impression-expectancy relationship. A mixed methods research design was used to investigate the relationships between and within the four components described above. A pre-and post-rating survey was administered to 23 teachers from the researcher’s school district. The teacher participants returned 281 completed surveys regarding their initial (pre-) and follow up (post-) impressions of individual students. Teachers also provided basic demographic information about themselves and completed a teacher efficacy survey. The communication of classroom expectations was recorded through observations of teacher-student interactions. Last, measures of actual student performance in the areas of reading and math were obtained and used as a comparison to predicted performance. Several student attributes were shown to have significant relationships to teacher predictions of rule following, reading ability and math ability. Initial student expectation ratings remained significantly unchanged in the areas of perceived math and intelligence. Teacher predictions of student performance in reading and math were not significantly related to measures of actual performance. Participants’ beliefs about their own teaching efficacy in the areas of student engagement, instructional strategies, and classroom management were examined as possible predictor variables of student performance outcomes. Classroom management was found to have a significant relationship to math outcomes.

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A Comparative Study of the Empirical Relationship in Student Performance Between Physics and Other STEM Subjects

Maricela Guerra

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Jianjun Wang

Abstract:

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) advocated by the National Research Council emphasize the connections among Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. By design, NGSS is expected to replace the previous science education standards to enhance the quality of STEM education across the nation. To support this initiative, this investigation was conducted to fill a void in the research literature by developing an empirical indicator for the relationship of student performance across STEM subjects using a large-scale database from the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). In particular, an innovative approach has been taken in this study to support the canonical correlation analysis of student plausible scores between physics and other STEM subjects at different grade levels and in a cross-country context. Results from this doctoral research revealed the need to strengthen the alignment between the intended, implemented, and attained curricula to support the integration of STEM disciplines in the United States.

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The Role of Linked Learning on Teacher Motivation, Deficit Thinking and Teacher Burnout across Low, Mid, and High Poverty Linked Learning School Settings

Chantel M. Cox

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Nancy Akhavan

Abstract:

This study examined the role of Linked Learning in teacher motivation, teacher burnout and the deficit thinking paradigm across school poverty levels. This study used Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory through the Agentic Perspective (1986, 1989, 2001), Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943), M.E. Ford’s Motivation Systems Theory (1992), and the deficit thinking paradigm (Valencia, 1997), as frameworks for the research. These frameworks were used to explore teacher motivation in terms of goal setting by looking specifically at performance approaches, performance goal structures, mastery approaches, mastery goal structure; teacher personal agency beliefs; personal teaching efficacy (Midgley et al., 2000), and teacher emotions. Teacher burnout was examined through personal accomplishment, depersonalization and emotional exhaustion (Maslach, Jackson, Leiter, Schaufeli, & Schwab, 1996). Deficit thinking was explored by examining perceptions and teacher expectations. 

A convergent, parallel and transformative mixed method approach (Creswell, 2014) was utilized to explore whether or not there is a difference in motivation, deficit thinking, burnout and attrition, of Linked Learning teachers in low, mid and high poverty school settings, and to determine possible reasons why or why not. The mixed method study included participants from schools engaged in Linked Learning in five school districts throughout central California on one school serving multiple districts. Thirteen interview participants and 52 survey respondents participated in the study. Interview protocol consisted of one-one-one, semi-structured interviews. The survey consisted of (a) Demographic questions, (b) adapted items from the Patterns of Adaptive Learning Scales-Teacher Survey (PALS) (Midgleyet al., 2000), and (c) adapted items from the Maslach Burnout Inventory –Educator’s Survey (MBI-ES) (Maslach et al., 1996).

No districts participating in the study had a school that fit into the low-poverty category. Across mid and high poverty schools, qualitative findings suggest that teachers are similarly motivated, have little to no deficit thinking, and are not experiencing burnout. Results of a MANOVA indicated no significant differences in any of the variables measured indicating that teachers in both mid and high poverty schools utilizing the Linked Learning approach are experiencing constructs similarly. Correlation coefficients are examined. Recommendations for policy makers, district and school site administrators are presented.

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Perceived Self-Efficacy of Principals in Over-And Underperforming Schools

Scott Allen Dille

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

The role of a principal in today’s schools includes demanding expectations and requires principals to lead in many different capacities in order to support student achievement. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether a principal’s perceived self-efficacy, or the belief in one’s capability to lead, correlates with academic achievement at over-performing and underperforming schools in five key leadership areas—establishing a vision and purpose; transforming school culture and climate; improving instruction; managing people, data, systems, and processes; and building capacity in others.

A mixed-methods study was conducted using a survey asking principals in public school districts across the state of California to rate their levels of perceived self-efficacy in the five key areas of leadership. Principals selected for the survey were identified as leading schools that are either over-performing or underperforming when taking into account a composite average on the 2016 SBAC scores for Math and English Language Arts combined and the percentage of free and reduced priced meals with a high percentage of free and reduced-priced meals.

The results of the study showed that the principals’ perceived self-efficacy had no significant correlation in four of the five key leadership areas. The key leadership area of improving instruction showed some significant difference in principals’ perceived levels of self-efficacy from principals at over-and underperforming schools. In addition, mastery experience, as a source of self-efficacy, showed some significant difference between principals at over-and underperforming schools.

Based on the results of the study, principal training and mentoring programs should focus on supporting principals in the key leadership area of instructional leadership, especially by providing opportunities for mastery experiences in that area of leadership. Future research could further explore the connection between principals’ perceived levels of self-efficacy and instructional leadership to examine areas that may have the greatest impact on both student achievement and improving a principal’s sense of self-efficacy. 

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Resilient Doctoral Students in California: A reflective Study of the Relation between Childhood Challenges and Academic Success

Randy Layne Bessey

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Juan Carlos Gonzalez

Abstract:

This qualitative phenomenological study examined a better understanding of how people with four or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) were able to navigate adversity, graduate college, and ultimately pursue doctoral programs. The research question asked, “What are the academic and social experiences of doctoral students who had four or more Adverse Childhood Experiences?” A secondary question also explored “How did resiliency help these participants navigate the educational system leading up to entering a doctoral program?” The case study was conducted with seven participants who all had seven or more ACEs and went on to be academically successful. This research discovered insights into the resilient lives of these individuals. Their historical narratives generated an exploration of the nature of trauma and how certain individuals were able to overcome adversity. Several major themes that emerged from the participants’ personal narratives were being resourceful, staying active, being fearful, fighting through tough situations, ability to hide, feelings of guilt, suppressing emotions, and additional nuances to the existing research on resiliency. Based on these findings, recommendations for educators were made: identify students with ACEs and provide proper emotional and social support systems, the need to overcome barriers and develop relationships, the need to promote a student’s self-efficacy and self-worth, the need to provide opportunities for students to be active, and the need for proper goal setting within safe environments. Additional recommendations for research were presented by the researcher and included a longitudinal study, a larger national sample, a sample of similar populations, and samples focused on the types of ACEs in order to expand upon the existing research relative academic success for persons with childhood trauma. 

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Appreciative Inquiry: The Effects of Using Appreciative Inquiry as a Professional Learning Change Agent at the Community College Level

Sara Couch

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

Appreciative inquiry (AI) is an organizational strategy first developed by David Cooperrider (1986). If followed rigorously, practitioners use the AI model to guide organizational change through a focus on building from an organization’s strengths and valuing all stakeholder experiences and input.

The purpose of this study was framed using social learning theory and based on the change process at community colleges in California. There were two primary research questions. 1. How was appreciative inquiry used as an institutional change agent?2. What were the long-term effects of using an appreciative inquiry process at each institution?

The researcher conducted open-ended interviews with ten participants from two California community colleges who have engaged in major change processes. Interview data were coded for themes. Major themes included the importance of relationships, the value of campus activists in bringing AI to institutions, and changes that happened at the individual, program, and institution levels.

Participants spoke of the organic nature of the implementation process. They almost universally expressed their desire to create change that was internalized by the other faculty and staff at their institutions. Participants all spoke of the delicate nature of implementing any type of change at a community college and the care they took in building relationships with other faculty and staff as a key component of the process.

Participants did not observe long-term institutional change. However, they did see lasting change for some individuals and groups at each institution. Most participants mentioned their belief that the AI experience can only produce sustained shifts in professional practice for those staff members and campus organizations that willingly participate in the process. Any attempt to force participation will result in failure to create long-term change.

Based on these results, the researcher concluded that the AI process has potential to create institutional change at California community colleges. The process must be carefully introduced by motivated individuals. Change must be allowed to take place organically, even as the AI structure is deliberately applied. Any effort to coerce participants to embrace the principles of AI is likely to produce diminished results.

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Developing Purpose and Hope in First-Year Students: A Mixed Methods Study of Students at a California State University

Rosie Lucy Hernandez

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Christian Wandeler

Abstract:

Disconnected and uncertain about the future before them, first-year students are struggling to complete their college degrees. According to College Board Advocacy and Policy Center (2011), California State University system’s goal for 2025 is to increase freshmen graduation rates from 19% to 40%, while also minimizing years of degree completion from the average 6 years to 4 years. First-year students do not always have a sense of purpose and clarity about their academic pathway, causing students to take excessive units, change majors, and/or drop out of college. Research has shown a positive relationship between psychological constructs (e.g., self-determination, self-actualization, the development of a sense of purpose)and academic achievement. This dissertation examined an online interventional strategy to promote a sense of purpose and hope in first-years students and contributes supportive evidence in the importance of integrating total development of students in higher education. The sample consisted of 81 students enrolled in University 1 (an introductory college course) and a matched sample of 181 students not enrolled in University 1 courses. The intervention was tested with a pre-post test randomized controlled trial. There were two comparison groups: an online hope intervention and a control group with neutral content. The dependent variables were sense of purpose and hope. Quantitative analysis showed the findings to be statistically insignificant, however a majority of the trends showed an increase in sense of purpose and hope measures. Qualitative results revealed four themes focused on motivators and purposes first-year students had in attending college. The practical significance of findings from this study was to encourage post-secondary institutions to adopt and promote methods in helping students develop a sense of purpose and foster holistic development of first-year students such as the empirically tested online intervention: Grounding Exploration Self-Actualization to gain a sense of Purpose (GESAP). 

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School Choice, Segregation, and Equity: California’s Chapter Schools’ Missions, Markets, and Voices of Charter School Leaders of Color

Stephen H. Morris 

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Kenneth Magdaleno

Abstract:

The phenomenal growth of charter schools in urban under-resourced communities with high concentrations of minority students impacts access to effective education. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the trends toward segregation in charter schools as systemic and correlated with the unintended adverse consequences of the lack of racial awareness in a market-based public educational system. This study employed the self-reported perceptions of charter school leaders of color to analyze the systemic processes and practices within the charter school movement that produce under-resourced segregated schools in urban areas with high levels of poverty.

This study is a qualitative study presented to provide an understanding of charter school racial segregation. The responses given by charter school leaders of color were analyzed through a critical race framework along with Howard’s (2010) research of practices of effective schools. The statements from the charter school leaders of color were reviewed through causal-comparative observation to find common themes and suggestive hypotheses.

For students of color the academic quality provided by public education has consistently been unsustainable in America. Three years after the Brown decision, Sputnik launched and the public education system in American was shamed for the second time in 1957. In 2011 Chubb and Moe declared, “If Americans want effective schools, it appears they must first create new institutions that [hinge] on the choices of individuals” (p. 21). Charter schools represent a different structure focused on student outcomes.

School choice reform provides a critical opportunity to empower the disenfranchised. Carter (1980) wrote “The African American urban poor is permanently trapped on the bottom rung of our society, with no hope of upward mobility unless the means can be found to raise the educational standards in the schools of African American concentration” (p. 27).

Brown’s promise to deliver educational equity over the next 50 years is dependent upon its promise to forge connections between disempowered families of color and the American dream through a diverse and robust public education system. Race, as complex as it is, plays a very significant and multifaceted role in the establishment of charter schools in California.

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The Role of the Linked Learning Approach in Student Self-Efficacy (Personal Agency) and Motivation in Low, Mid-Low, Mid-High, and High Poverty School Settings

Cherie A. Solian

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Nancy Akhavan

Abstract:

This study explored personal agency and motivation of students enrolled in Linked Learning Path ways across low, mid-low, mid-high, and high poverty school settings. Specifically, the study examined student personal agency beliefs, goal setting practices, and student emotional connectedness. The researcher aimed to examine student perceptions of Linked Learning pathway experiences. A convergent parallel and transformative mixed method approach (Creswell, 2014) was used to better understand student experiences across poverty levels. The study extended to explore reasons why differences in experiences did or did not exist. Data were collected from four high school districts and seven school sites in Central California. A total of 293 students participated in a 35-question online survey which measured patterns of adaptive learning. A representative sample of 14 survey participants engaged in semi-structured focus group interviews consisting of a total of eight questions regarding pathway experiences.

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Latina Women in STEM: A Critical Analysis of Ph.D. Students’ Experiences

Jorge Luis Arroyo

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

The intent of this qualitative study was to better understand factors, which impacted Latin@ women’s development of resilience and how they continued their education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The participants were enrolled in Ph.D. programs at 5 of the 10University of California campuses currently designated as Hispanic Service Institutions (HSIs). The study utilized the narrative storytelling format of testimonios, which capture the lived experiences of individuals from under represented backgrounds. These testimonios demonstrated the systemic issues that have led to the lower number of women of color in advanced degree programs in STEM that are currently dominated by White men. Utilizing LatCrit, a branch of critical race theory, this dissertation presented educational issues such as racism, sexism, gender bias, and cultural norms that universities can address to create more inclusive environments and better support women of color that are continuing their post baccalaureate education. As a challenge to deficit thought, the participants shared the factors that helped them continue their education, such as faculty mentorship, undergraduate research programs, family support, encouragement from peers, and awareness of career options. Although change is necessary at multiple levels of education, the emphasis should be directed at colleges and universities to support undergraduate and graduate students in STEM disciplines.

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Relationships between Special Education Teachers’ Leadership Styles, Self-Efficacy, and the Team Dynamics in their Classrooms

Mario Alberto Uresti

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

This study examined the relationships between leadership styles, self-efficacy, and team dynamics of special education teachers (SETs) working with the moderate/severe student population. Review of the literature suggests that it is common for special education teacher candidates to receive little to no training on how to supervise and collaborate with teaching assistants (TAs) in their classroom and rely on real life experience to learn how to become a leader and collaborate with their TAs. Using the Team Assessment questionnaire (Lencioni, 2002), the Leadership Orientation Survey (Bolman & Deal, 1991), and the Generalized Self-Efficacy Survey (Schwarzer & Jerusalem, 1995), it was found that all team dysfunctions/strengths (dependent variables) were correlated with a statistically significant level of <.001 among each other. All leadership styles and self-efficacy (independent variables) were correlated and statistically significant at <.001. All dependent and independent variables were correlated and statistically significant at <.001. One canonical correlation function was interpreted and explained75.1% of the variance in the five dependent subscales for team dysfunctions/strengths. For the five regression analyses run, the F values were significant at <.001, and each of the dependent variables could be predicted from the five independent variables. The dependent variable of trust was predicted by structural leadership and self- efficacy. Conflict was predicted by self-efficacy. Commitment was predicted by structural and self-efficacy. Accountability was predicted by political, structural, and self-efficacy. Results were predicted by structural and self-efficacy. Themes emerged from the open-ended questions regarding conflicts due to their lack of training were interpersonal conflict/unprofessionalism, lack of training of TAs, lack of knowledge of policy/procedure, TAs with medical/disabilities, and TAs undermining SET authority. The approaches resulted in two themes: individual/group and direct/indirect. Individual/group refers to the teacher addressing the team members individually or as a group. Direct and indirect approaches were SETs empowering TAs, reprimanding TAs, SET self-acquiring skills through outside resources, having TAs recognize the problem followed by readjustment, and reviewing expectations/job descriptions.

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The Impact of Service-Learning on Engagement and Degree Completion for Undergraduate Students

Kathleen Rhodes Schock

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: James Mullooly

Abstract:

In light of growing concerns over increasing the number of college graduates in the U.S., particularly among traditionally underrepresented student populations, this mixed methods study evaluated the impact of service-learning on institutional engagement and graduation rates. The study focused on the impact of service-learning experiences on students with low socio-economic status (SES) or those who identify as members of traditionally underrepresented minority (URM) populations. The intent was to develop a better understanding of how engagement indicators are influenced by service-learning in order to help practitioners design service-learning courses that maximize the experiences that contribute to student success. Quantitative methods were used to evaluate if participation in service-learning is predictive of degree attainment, and to identify the differences in engagement indicators from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), among students who participated in service-learning compared to those who did not. Qualitative methods were used to deepen the understanding of how service-learning impacts engagement and graduation rates for SES and URM undergraduate students. Interviews were conducted with students at senior status who participated in service-learning, and focus groups were held with recent alumni about the factors that contributed to their institutional engagement and degree attainment. The quantitative results found that service-learning is significantly associated with graduation rate, and that students in service-learning courses reported enhanced academic challenge through collaborative learning. Qualitative findings revealed that service-learning experiences supported an improved campus environment for students through quality interactions with other students, faculty, and individuals at their service-learning site. The study confirmed previous research indicating that service-learning is an effective high-impact practice that promotes improved outcomes for undergraduate students.

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Defining the Relationship of Student Achievement between STEM Subjects Through Canonical Correlation Analysis of 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) Data

Melissa Jean O’Neal

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Jianjun Wang

Abstract:

Canonical correlation analysis was used to analyze data from Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 achievement databases encompassing information from fourth/eighth grades. Student achievement in life science/biology was correlated with achievement in mathematics and other sciences across three analytical areas: mathematics and science student performance, achievement in cognitive domains, and achievement in content domains. Strong correlations between student achievement in life science/biology with achievement in mathematics and overall science occurred for both high-and low-performing education systems. Hence, partial emphases on the inter-subject connections did not always lead to a better student learning outcome in STEM education. In addition, student achievement in life science/biology was positively correlated with achievement in mathematics and science cognitive domains; these patterns held true for correlations of life science/biology with mathematics as well as other sciences. The importance of linking student learning experiences between and within STEM domains to support high performance on TIMSS assessments was indicated by correlations of moderate strength (57<r<85) between life science/biology and mathematics content domains, as well as by stronger correlations (73<r<97)between life science/biology and other science domains. Results demonstrated the foundational nature of STEM knowledge at the fourth grade level, and established the importance of strong interconnections among life science/biology, mathematics, and other sciences. At the eighth grade level, students who built increasing levels of cognitive complexity upon firm foundations were prepared for successful learning throughout their educational careers. The results from this investigation promote a holistic design of school learning opportunities to improve student achievement in life science/biology and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects at the elementary and middle school levels. While the curriculum can vary from combined STEM subjects to separated mathematics or science courses, both professional learning communities (PLC) for teachers and problem-based learning (PBL) for learners can be strengthened through new knowledge construction beyond the traditional boundaries of each subject. It is the knowledge transfer across subjects that breaks barriers of future STEM discoveries to improve STEM education outcomes.

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Aligning Leadership Qualities of Special Education Teachers with Teacher/Paraeducator Collaboration

Jennifer Celeste Rivera

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

Most special education teachers work with a number of paraeducators in the classroom. Working with multiple paraeducators requires being an effective leader. If teachers are not trained to appropriately supervise paraeducators, then there is likely to be a disconnect between what should be going on in the classroom and what is actually taking place in the classroom. Teachers who are not adequately prepared to supervise paraeducators may not be able to model the best example for paraeducators or make the best use of paraeducators’ time.

The purpose of this study was to align the leadership qualities mentioned by John Adair (2009) with the qualities effective special education teachers must possess in order to have effective collaboration with paraeducators.

An online survey was used to measure demographics, leadership, and collaboration variables. Individual interviews with teachers on how they learned to supervise, work with, and collaborate with paraeducators were also conducted. Results from 58 surveys and 11 individual interviews found that teachers reported a lack of preparation to work with paraeducators.

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An Intervention that Promoted a Sense of Belonging, Grit, Mindset, and Hope in Minority First-Generation Students

Felipe Mercado

California State University, Fresno, 2017

Chair: Christian Wandeler

Abstract:

The aim of this research was to test the Shame Resilience Theory (SRT) in a higher education setting by replicating specific processes of the Difference-Education Intervention (DEI). The literature reviewed in this study examined four non-cognitive skills: grit, hope, mindset, and sense of belonging. As a result of a careful review of the literature, SRT was used as a precise theoretical foundation to explain and further develop DEI. A convenience sampling technique was utilized to recruit 174 first-generation and continuing-generation first-year students from seven class sections of a college preparation course at Fresno State. Data were collected using written responses from 12 panelists who were post-graduate students at Fresno State. The study took a quantitative approach to measure students’ grit, hope, mindset, and sense of belonging, using a pre and post test to determine if the intervention made any difference on non-cognitive skills for students in the intervention. A qualitative approach was taken to determine: (1) if panelists referenced their background in the intervention,(2) what themes first-generation students shared in their transition to Fresno State, and (3) if and how SRT was used as the panelists shared their stories. The findings suggest that SRT can serve as an additional theoretical foundation to explain processes occurring in interventions like DEI and wise social-psychological interventions. This study outlines recommendations for how to increase student equity and student resilience, and suggests that shame should be further explored in higher education settings.

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Fostering College Readiness among Diverse Middle-Achieving High School Students: A Quantitative Analysis of the Effectiveness of California Dual Credit Course Offerings

Bonita Steele

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Juan Carlos Gonzalez

Abstract:

The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of dual credit course taking on the college readiness of diverse middle-achieving California students. Extensive site review resulted in the selection of Shasta College, Santa Barbara City College, and Mt. San Jacinto College, and their respective feeder high school partners with whom they have collaborated to offer dual credit courses and programs during the 6-year study period.

Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to evaluate the impact of dual credit course taking on the college readiness of diverse middle-achieving dual credit participants, as measured by high school graduation, high school GPA, and first-year college GPA, and completion of college certificates and degrees.

Study findings indicated that middle achieving dual credit participants benefitted as to high school graduation, high school GPAs, and higher first-year college GPAs. High school GPA strengthened the high school graduation and first-year college GPA findings. Non-White students of color participating in dual credit benefitted generally more than did their White peers. This study did not find a causal relationship to college certificate and degree completion, possibly due to the short study period. This study found that dual credit programs support equity objectives. The research suggests that eligibility should be extended to middle achieving students and improvements should be made to education data systems.

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Telling their Stories: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Explore the Lived Experience of Students in Clinical Nursing Education

Laura Ann Hill

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Danny Whetton

Abstract:

The purpose of this research was to discover and understand an untapped aspect of previous research in clinical nursing education that addressed the positive experiences of students in clinical nursing education, essentially what “gives life” to their experiences and fosters student learning. The overall intent was to move the study of nursing education away from problem solving rhetoric and towards a more positive and affirming celebration of action. The impetus to use an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) into students lived experiences in nursing clinical education arose from the plethora of deficit-based research in nursing education, specifically that of incivility in nursing and nursing education. The overarching research question that guided this study was, how do nursing students describe, “What gives life” to their experience in clinical nursing education environments? A qualitative transcendental phenomenological research design was utilized for this study. This approach utilized AI, an action research methodology, to uncover what “gives life” to student’s clinical experience. Seven recent graduates from an associate degree nursing program participated in the study and through their stories, provocative propositions were crafted to provide faculty, program directors, and higher education administrator’s evidence upon which to develop effective teaching-learning environments that foster student success.

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Latinos in Linked Learning and California Partnership Academies: Sources of Self-Efficacy and Social Capital

Daniel Ledesma

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Mahmoud Suleiman

Abstract:

For the past few decades, policy makers and educators have been trying to address the problem of getting students prepared for the 21st-century workforce through reform efforts. Currently, there are established career academies such as California Partnership Academies (CPA) and Linked Learning (LL) in high schools through California. Prior research has investigated benefits of joining career programs, but little research has been done on the impact on Latino students. According to Bartley and Robitschek (2000),not all experiences in career academies are the same for all ethnicities and therefore require additional research. This research study examined Latinos’ perceived sources of social capital and experiences that help shape self-efficacy in a CPA and LL program. In addition, this study investigated how parents influence Latinos’ career development.

Data were collected in three counties in California using a mixed-method approach guided by three research questions. Quantitative data were gathered from 120 participants using a 35-item survey. Qualitative data were collected through open-ended survey questions, interviews, and focus groups and analyzed using the software SPSS. Qualitative data collected were transcribed, coded, and analyzed for themes using the NVivo software.

Three major components emerged using the Principal Component Analysis (PCA). Using a one-way ANOVA, the three principal components were analyzed with the location of the career program and types of career academy. Also, an independent samples t-test was conducted to see whether gender differed with the three principal components.

Quantitative and qualitative data results found that sources of social capital and self-efficacy vary depending on the location of the program and the selection of the career academy. Participants expressed that teachers were the primary source of social capital. Teachers provided students with networking capabilities, support, and information to make career decisions. Participants experienced internships as well as hands-on and communication activities that helped develop skills and career self-efficacy. Parent encouragement and support provided participants opportunities to seek career information and gain autonomy in making career decisions.

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Gender Equity in STEM: The Role of Dual Enrollment Science Courses in Selecting a College Major

Christopher Andrew Persons

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Mahmoud Suleiman

Abstract:

A disproportionately low number of women, despite rigorous high school preparation and evidenced interest in STEM through voluntary participation in additional coursework, declare a STEM-related college major. The result of this drop in participation in STEM-related college majors is a job market flooded with men and the support of an incorrect stereotype: STEM is for men. This research seeks to assess the effects, if any, that Dual Enrollment (DE) science courses have on students’ self-identified intent to declare a STEM-related college major as well as the respective perceptions of both male and female students. Self-Determination Theory and Gender Equity Framework were used respectively as the theoretical frames. High school students from six schools in two district participated in an online survey and focus groups in this mixed methods study. The results of the research identified the role the DE course played in their choice of college major, possible interventions to correct the underrepresentation, and societal causes for the stereotype.

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Blended Learning: A Case Study Using Aleks and Small Group Instruction to Increase Math Literacy of English Learners

Melissa Ann Bradex

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Dana Whetton

Abstract:

There is a continuous increase in the English Language Learner (ELL) population in the United States contributing to a growing achievement gap. The ELL population in California is higher than the rest of the nation but California ELL students continue to underperform. This study argues that second language acquisition teaching strategies and methods must change to meet growing demand particularly in the areas of Language Arts and Mathematics. The theoretical framework for this study was Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) and Sociocultural Learning. To achieve the three dimensions of TPCK, educators utilized hybrid teaching methods. A California school district with a high population of ELLs agreed to employ this study’s prescribed curriculum for mathematics in random classrooms. The imposed approach for blended learning had multiple facets. The tool used to demonstrate the technological knowledge of TPCK was the ALEKS mathematics computer program. Simultaneously, teachers engaged students in small groups to achieve pedagogical knowledge. The final area of content knowledge aligned with Common Core State Standards. The researcher used mixed methods sequential explanatory research design and established that blended learning works. Using paired sample t-tests and focus groups, this study found statistically significant data of increased mathematical academic achievement of the ELLs in the test classrooms where blended learning was utilized.

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An Analysis of the Effectiveness of Curriculum Embedded Handwriting Instruction and Its Impact on Student Learning

Erin T. Dolin

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

Common Core Standards bring increased educational demands with focused expectations for the production of quality writing however explicit handwriting instruction has minimal presence in today’s elementary school classrooms. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of handwriting instruction, using the Handwriting Without Tears handwriting curriculum, on student achievement. Performance on measures of handwriting legibility, written literacy, and basic literacy skills were compared between two groups; students receiving Handwriting Without Tears curriculum instruction and those who were receiving typical classroom instruction. Participants included a total of 789 Kindergarten and First-grade students from two Central Valley school districts in California. Analysis indicated significant differences between the two groups for handwriting legibility and Written Literacy. Students who received instruction using the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum demonstrated significantly higher performance on specific elements of written literacy as compared to those students who did not receive Handwriting Without Tears curriculum instruction. These findings support the use of specific handwriting instruction for promoting student achievement with written production and written literacy. Implications of these findings for instructional practices and the development of written literacy as related to academic achievement are addressed.

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An Examination of Individual, Family, and School Factors that Promote Knowledge and Motivation for African American Females to Attend College

Arika Rochelle Jackson

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Bruce Friedman

Abstract:

African American females have been marginalized and persistently overlooked in educational literature. Presently, very little attention has been given to the academic achievement for African American females (Evans-Winters, 2011). Instead, researchers have focused on social problems (e.g., economic issues or racial, gender, and ethnic inequalities). This dissertation examined and explored factors that promote knowledge and motivation for African American females to attend college. This study contributes to the literature by helping to provide a clearer understanding of the challenges experienced by African American females to gain admission into postsecondary education. Critical Race Feminism was used as its conceptual and theoretical foundation to examine the phenomenon.

Qualitative methods were used for data collection and analysis. Individual and focus group interviews were administered to 24 African American females and one administrator from the same California State University. The collected data indicated that most African American females were not sufficiently prepared for college level work, as many of them were enrolled in remedial courses. Analysis of the data further revealed that parents played a significant role in influencing their daughters to attend college, yet they were not actively involved in the process of preparing them with the necessary knowledge to gain admission and be successful.

 Although the African American female participants had access to knowledge about college and were motivated to attend, they did not know what to do to reach their intended goal. Furthermore, to be adequately prepared for college, participants expressed a need to have more information about transitioning from high school to college, understanding the importance of putting forth their best effort, and knowing the cost for college. It suggests that there may be some systemic failures in the education system for these girls that may relate to critical race feminist factors. There is the need for proper guidance from parents, teachers, counselors, mentors, or positive role models to prepare them for college-level work and to be successful in their transition from high school to college.

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A Study of Teacher Education Programs for Preparedness in Classroom Management to Create Conditions for Student Learning

Lisa Ann Harrington

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Colleen Torgerson

Abstract:

Educational policies over the past two decades have revealed the need for changes in the way teachers are recruited, trained, and retained. While teachers are the most critical component to student learning, not all new teachers have entered the profession highly qualified, especially in the area of classroom management. Much effort on the part of school districts and institutions for higher learning (IHEs), have paved the way to improve teacher preparation programs. Many programs today are alternative in nature and provide teacher candidates experiential learning (Kolb, 1984), in how to effectively create conditions for student learning. This study focuses on first-year teachers from one such program, the Fresno Teacher Residency (FTRP) Program, a collaborative effort between Fresno Unified School District and California State University, Fresno and first-year teachers trained through traditional fifth-year university based credential programs (TPP). A three-group, three-measure, mixed-methods design was used to determine differences in preparedness for classroom management to create conditions for student learning between teachers of both programs. Through the use of an online survey, interviews, and classroom observations, the difference in perceptions between teacher groups and site administrators was examined and explored. Expected results show there is a difference between groups in perceptions of preparedness and the perceptions of their site administrators. Unexpected findings indicate mixed results between quantitative and qualitative measures for implementation of classroom management strategies and job satisfaction as measured between teacher groups and site administrators. These results lead to questions for further study.

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An Analysis of the Effectiveness of Hmong Literacy Programs at the Secondary Level in California

Ton Cha

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

Language loss seems to be an inevitable outcome confronted by the Hmong people since their arrival here in the U.S. over 40 years ago. Despite the first generation being able to retain the spoken, cultural, and written aspects of their language, the threat of language loss resides in the second and now very young third generation living in an English dominated society. Though organizations have worked to meet the needs of this targeted Hmong population, they have been unable to expand their scope to encompass the broader population which can only be reached within the public education system. California is one of three states in the U.S. with the highest concentration of K-12 Hmong population. This dissertation study conducted by a Hmong Native Speaker teacher in the secondary level analyzed Hmong World Language programs in California to determine elements within the teaching profession that define effective teaching practices in Hmong language courses. This study encompassed four California districts with Hmong World Language programs to analyze student and teacher perceptions, literacy skills, teaching pedagogy, and resources.

Findings showed that the Hmong World Language programs in California had a mean percentage score of 83%on the assessment instrument. Correlations were found between student assessment scores, student literacy skill perceptions, resources utilized, and use of teaching pedagogy. Correlations between student assessment scores and Hmong student literacy perception may help explain the relationship between students’ academic performance and their perception of their heritage language. Other correlations such as student assessment scores compared to teaching pedagogies and resources utilized in the classroom provided further insight on how resources and teaching practices may influence student learning outcomes. Personal interviews showed common themes regarding challenges faced by Hmong students. In the future, this research may be used as a guiding element to create instructional resources for Hmong World Language programs.

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Equity and Impact of Linked Learning for Students with Disabilities: An Investigation of Implementation Fidelity

Jocelyn D. Hively

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Nancy Akhavan

Abstract:

Students with disabilities have diverse needs that can be difficult for schools to meet. One promising approach that addresses this issue is Linked Learning, a high school reform initiative aimed at simultaneously preparing all students for college and career (ConnectEd, n.d.). Although research has shown that participation in Linked Learning is associated with positive student outcomes such as higher rates of graduation and enrollment in postsecondary institutions, educators continue to report difficulties of Linked Learning schools to meet the needs of students with disabilities (Guha et al., 2014; Saunders, Rogers, & Terriquez, 2013). Significant inconsistencies in the implementation of Linked Learning practices across districts may be impeding the initiative’s equitable and meaningful impact for all students (Saunders, Rogers, et al., 2013). Likewise, the fragmented nature of special education service delivery related to transition programming has historically disrupted the achievement and sustainability of positive outcomes for students with disabilities.

This convergent mixed-methods study compared transition practices in both Linked Learning and Non-Linked Learning high schools, examined the self-determination, career maturity, and school engagement of students from both settings, and investigated the factors that inhibit or facilitate effective transition programming. The quantitative phase consisted of a cross-sectional survey design and the qualitative phase included individual semi-structured interviews. Participants included a convenience sampling of special education teachers and students with disabilities from six Linked Learning high school districts and six non-Linked Learning high school districts spanning across northern, Central Valley, and southern California.

Findings suggest suboptimal levels of implementation fidelity of overall transition programming across schools. Nonetheless, compared to Non-Linked Learning teachers, Linked Learning teachers reported higher levels of implementation of specific transition practices related to students’ self-determination and career maturity and teachers’ professional development. Interaction effects were found between grade level and Linked Learning pathway participation on student behaviors related to career maturity. The findings also suggest areas for developing practices and future policy initiatives relevant to transition programming for students with and without disabilities.

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Investigating the Effects of a Performance-Based Instructional System on the Perceived Academic Self-Efficacy and College Readiness of Students

Michael Anthony Burchett, Jr.

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a Performance-Based Instructional System on the perceived academic self-efficacy and college readiness of high school students and recent graduates. This study used a mixed-methods convergent parallel design. Quantitative data collected were from one high school’s seniors using the performance-based instructional system and a comparison high school, and include cumulative GPA, SAT scores, whether students took AP English, and answers to an instrument on perceived academic self-efficacy. Qualitative data were collected by conducting semi-structured interviews from seven selected college freshmen, three from a performance-based instructional system, and four from a comparison school. Qualitative analysis was done using a grounded theory approach, and codes were collected into themes and analyzed.

Quantitative data were analyzed using a MANOVA and an independent sample t-test. Most results using the MANOVA were not significant; the only significant result was that students who took AP English as a senior had higher HSGPAs than those who had not. When survey subscales were investigated using a two-sample t-test, two survey subsections were found to score significantly higher for the comparison school than the PBIS school.

Qualitative results were more useful. Five themes grew out from the interviews, three of which were in common between comparison schools, and two which were unique. PBIS graduates generally enjoyed PBIS as a system, but felt that the addition of real deadlines and comprehensive assessments would have made them more college ready. Traditional school graduates felt that teachers tended to have low expectations, and felt the purpose of learning for understanding was lacking in high school.

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One-to-One Technology Integration: An Examination of Academic Tasks and Pedagogical Shifts and Changes to the Instructional Environment

Jason Michael Hodgson

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Linda Hauser

Abstract:

Teachers across the nation are being asked to do something they have never done before and may not have developed the capacity to do, yet—educate every student at a high level for the 21st century by designing lessons and academic tasks that integrate the use of one-to-one technological devices to deepen learning of Common Core State Standards and 21st century skills. However, what this integration looks like in K-12 classrooms remains largely unknown. Key to understanding the rigor of the academic work expected of students and a predictor of future student performance is the academic task. Little is known about the academic tasks teachers are using to produce a literate 21st century learner. The purpose of this study was to examine and describe classroom academic tasks middle school teachers are designing and using that integrate one-to-one technological devices (computers) focused on learning of Common Core State Standards. Most specifically, this study described the nature of the academic tasks, which included how the technological device (computer) was used --as a tool to substitute, augment, modify, or redefine (SAMR) traditional academic tasks; the degree of 21st century skill (4 Cs) integration; the level of task complexity (DOK); aspects of student work (type of work product, cognitive processes/Bloom’s Taxonomy, and other resources available); and the integration of other technology. In addition, the most significant changes made to the instructional environment and the pedagogical shifts that have resulted in the greatest impact due to the integration of one-to-one devices in the classroom were explored. A mixed method approach was used involving the concurrent collection and analysis of archival/written documents (student academic tasks) with a corresponding written survey and teacher focus group interview data. Purposive criterion sampling was the technique used to select study participants, teachers from two school districts where one-to-one classroom technology integration is a district initiative.

Task content analysis revealed that technology was used most often (51.22% of tasks) to augment previously existing tools. Nearly 70% of tasks designed technology use as an enhancement (substitution and augmentation) tool and 30% as a tool to transform (modify and redefine) student tasks. The complexity of the majority (85.37%) of tasks was designed at DOK levels 3 and 4. Task content analysis relative to aspects of student work indicated that tasks included multiple cognitive processes. More than 50% of all student work products expected students to generate work requiring thinking or cognitive processing in the domain or category of evaluating (N=22 or 53.66%) or creating (N=23 or 56.10%).

Findings revealed that all (100%) tasks integrated at least one of the 4Cs of 21st century education. Critical thinking was the 21st century skill noted most frequently, in 90.24% (N=37) of academic tasks using one-to-one technology devices.

Relative to the type of work products students generated as part of their academic tasks, 46.34% (N=19) of the work products noted or described included Google Slides Presentation and Google Docs. In addition to the one-to-one technology device (computer), findings revealed that more than30 different supplemental software programs were used to complete the designed tasks. Two themes, facilitator and coach/mentor, emerged regarding how teachers described their role during the time students were engaged in the actual work or academic tasks.

Nine themes emerged relative to the most significant changes to the learning environment due to one-to-one technology integration in the classroom: Increased Teacher Collaboration and Flexibility, Access to Instructional Resources and Supports(Teachers and Students), 21st Century Learning, Student Engagement & Ownership of Learning, Digital Citizenship and Literacy, Collaboration of Students & Teachers, Creativity of Students and Teachers, Differentiation -Design & Product, and Increase in Teacher Time. Of the nine themes, eight of the changes were perceived as beneficial and two changes were perceived as obstacles or challenges.

The most frequently noted beneficial changes were increased teacher collaboration and flexibility, access to instructional data and resources (teachers and students), 21st century learning, and student engagement & ownership of learning. The two themes perceived as obstacles or challenges to the instructional environment or student learning were an increase in teacher time and digital citizenship and literacy.

Eight primary themes emerged relative to the pedagogical shifts that teachers in one-to-one technology integrated classrooms have made that they believe have had the greatest impact on their students or on them as teachers: a shift in the design and delivery of content, a shift in the role of the student in the learning process, flexibility of the learning environment, student collaboration, methods of differentiation, student choice in evidencing outcomes/learning, uncertainty of the learning environment, and 21st century learning and literacy. Participants had very little or nothing to say regarding additional shifts that still need to be made, however, the vast majority of focus group participants recommended a one-to-one instructional setting and affirmed that teachers in other schools across California and/or the nation should get involved in one-to-one technology integration.

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Teaching the Next Generation of Scientists: Science Education in the Primary Grades

Kathy Bays

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: James Mullooly

Abstract:

This study examined the conduct of primary grade science education in two school districts in Central California in order to identify opportunities for improvement, which, if generalized to systemic levels, may have the potential to positively impact student achievement and participation in STEM fields. The shortage of STEM-qualified workers has been of significant economic and strategic concern for decades, sparking scores of programs intended to address this persistent shortage. Teams of scientists and educators have developed effective science education curricula over the past six decades, but as education policy shifts and accountability models change, these programs, even when proven effective, fall out of favor and use.

Data mining was used to gather information regarding current levels of science achievement among students in Grades 5 to 10. A mixed methods design was used to gather data regarding the science content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and self-efficacy for teaching science of teacher participants. Quantitative data appeared to show that the variables of content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge did not have a significant effect on the self-efficacy for teaching science of participants. Qualitative data appeared to demonstrate an affinity for teaching science among participants, but that classroom activities purported to be science education were more oriented toward English/Language Arts education possibly due to accountability model constraints which place greater emphasis on English/Language Arts and Mathematics achievement over other curricular areas. Transcripts of qualitative data are contained in Appendices Band C. Additionally, teacher participants reported during interviews to feeling less prepared to teach science during undergraduate preparation and teacher education programs than for teaching other subjects, which may indicate lower self-efficacy for teaching science, and possible reasons for this decreased self-efficacy. Further, teacher participants expressed concerns regarding a perceived lack of resources to teach science, and eagerness for additional professional development opportunities that conform with the best practices of adult learning theory.

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The Educational Experiences of Southeast Asian Students at Three California State University Campuses

Kaomine S. Vang

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Kenneth Magdaleno

Abstract:

Asian and Pacific Islanders are one of the most rapidly growing populations and are becoming more intertwined in higher education. Most data sets have indicated that API groups are the model minority group and are generally academically successful. However, recent studies have found that this is not true for all API groups. While many Asian immigrants came to the United States well educated, many others entered from countries that had limited educational and social opportunities for upward mobility (Teranishi, 2012). One such group is the Southeast Asians. This research examines the educational experiences and challenges of Southeast Asian (SEA) students at three California State University (CSU) campuses (CSU Fresno, CSU Sacramento, CSU Long Beach). Semi-structured one-on-one interviews were conducted with 14 Southeast Asian students. The information gathered from these interviews were viewed through Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the Model Minority thesis. Through the CRT lens the model minority portrayal of Asian Americans is an attempt to maintain power structures that perpetuate the marginalization of people of color. The model minority thesis is used to combat the proponents of theories of institutional racism within the educational system and support that Asian minority groups ought to be able to succeed as well as the Japanese and Chinese without affirmative action or any other institutional change (Li, 2005). The data from the interviews were then transcribed and aggregated into liked themes and concepts. The study distinguished different student experiences and identified factors that either influenced or inhibited the participating SEA student’s progress towards degree attainment at three CSU campuses. The study found that students faced challenges from family and cultural obligations, teacher and student interaction, stereotypes, invisibility, and lack of school support programs. Furthermore, small differences amongst Hmong males and the other participants were found. These were the main themes found as challenges that may be utilized for future research.

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Agricultural Literacy of Students in the Central Valley in California

Nicole Elaine Richardson

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Nancy Akhavan

Abstract:

This research study investigated the agricultural literacy of students in the Central Valley in California. Surveys were administered to students throughout the Central Valley in California to assess their understanding and knowledge of Agriculture. Follow-up interviews were conducted with their teachers to further assess their knowledge. This study was conducted using a concurrent triangulation mixed methods design which allows for the confirmation, cross-validation, and corroboration of results. The results revealed that the proficiency level of all students’ performance on the Food and Fiber Systems Literacy (FFSL) survey clearly indicates a need for more agricultural literacy in the Central Valley. The fact that the scores were not significantly different depending on grade, location, school and individual teacher indicates that this is a systematic issue in which agricultural literacy is currently not being taught in the school setting. Teachers currently do agree that agricultural literacy is very important and admit they lack knowledge of literacy. A systematic approach that includes policy change and mandated curriculum and support from the state and district level can help the implementation of agricultural education in the school setting. Although this study did have some limitations, the implications of the students’ and teachers’ knowledge will lead to further research.

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An Investigation on the Sustainability of Character Education Programs and the Impact of Principal Turnover

Rebecca Jeanette Rocha

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

This dissertation examined the impact of principal turnover on the sustainability of Character Education Programs (CEPs) in the elementary school setting. The four research questions that guided this study were: What content on the Bonner Center Character and Civic Recognition Application results in qualification for the award? What are the principals’ perceptions of their CEP? How do the principals influence the sustainability of the school’s CEP? How does principal turnover impact the continuity of an elementary school’s CEP?

This study explored the CEPs in a total of 96 elementary schools from 4 counties and22 districts in California’s Central Valley in schools that applied for a distinguished character education award through California State University, Fresno’s Bonner Center for Character Education and Citizenship. This study focused on data from the years 2000-2014, focusing on alternating years which pertained to elementary schools. This study employed a case study qualitative approach through the use of content analysis, 10 principal semi-structured interviews, and the researcher’s journal to ensure triangulation.

Data from applications have been archived through the Bonner Center and semi-structured interviews from principals were collected to analyze a relationship between principal turnover and the continuity of CEPs. Principals who have continued to lead at winning schools and principals who have experienced principal turnover in their position will be interviewed and data will be triangulated.

Three primary themes emerged from the data. The first theme was principal beliefs and convictions. The second theme was continuous improvement and refinement. The third theme was student engagement with two subthemes: community and internalized factors.

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Students at Low Income Elementary Schools: A Case Study about Nutrition, Fitness, and Attendance Patterns

Kashmir Singh

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

The intent of this mixed methods study is to present a case study that describes the eating patterns of students and how they relate to health, fitness, and academics and to examine the academic, fitness, nutrition, and attendance differences at three elementary schools in comparison to two districts with like schools. Research suggests that proper nutrition improves the executive functioning of the brain. Researchers have suggested that for every dollar invested in childhood nutrition programs, potentially three dollars is gained in academic achievement and more. Additionally, physical fitness data indicate student achievement improvement.

This case study caught the complexity of a single phenomenon at three schools in Fresno Unified School District. The qualitative data were collected through face-to-face interviews with parents, focus groups of teachers, cafeteria managers, and administrators. Observations were conducted at all three school sites during the lunch periods.

 In addition, quantitative analyses examined differences among students who had the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) at their site compared to like schools that did not have the FFVP with academics, fitness, and attendance. Data mining was completed from a public CDE Web site for district Annual Yearly Progress reports per No child Left Behind mandates to determine changes in student achievement. The outcome of the qualitative data analysis indicates that there is a lack of nutrition education, students are hungry and poor, and the healthy snacks (FFVP) at each school site meet the hunger needs of students and provide opportunities to eat foods that might not otherwise be available to them. The quantitative results also show similarities among schools.

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Specific Practices of High Poverty Improving Elementary Schools in the San Joaquin Valley

Lorena Maldonado

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Kenneth Magdaleno

Abstract:

In the past two decades, two policies, No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001and Race To The Top (RTTT), have created a paradigm shift in the way schools are educating children. The paradigm shift pushed educators to reevaluate and redirect the implementation of curricula in the classroom. Despite the negative perceptions of the American educational system and notwithstanding the demands of policy, many high poverty schools have been able to overcome the challenges of NCLB and RTTT and have become high performing schools (Leithwood & Riehl, 2003; Reeves, 2003; Santoro, 2011). Such schools have been labeled High Poverty High Performing (HPHP) schools (Carter, 2000; Izumi, Coburn, & Cox, 2002; Reeves, 2003). The literature reveals the Four Key Areas—Effective Leadership, Teacher Knowledge, Effective Practices, and Parental Involvement—as being the core to the effectiveness of HPHP schools (Leithwood, 2010; Reeves, 2003; Young 1979).

Through a mixed method sequential design, via a principal survey and face-to-face interviews, the researcher gathered information regarding the specific Effective Practices implemented by the principals in the high poverty improving elementary schools in the San Joaquin Valley (HPISSJV). Quantitative and qualitative results indicated that when leaders hire qualified principals who mirror the population of their students, hire teachers who have a passion for education and love children, and bring back the “art of teaching” by the modification of curricula high poverty low performing schools are given the opportunity to become HPHP schools. This study also contributed to literature in describing the in-depth specific Effective Practices by leaders of HPISSJV to become more knowledgeable of the fact that each school is its own entity; however, when the application of specific practices are implemented, effective changes can take place (Balfanz & Brynes, 2006; Beecher & Sweeney, 2008; Carranza, You, Chhuon, & Hudley, 2009; Gurr, Drysdale & Mulford, 2006; James, Dunning & Connolly, 2006; Jesse, Davis & Pokorny, 2004;Larocque, Kleiman, & Darling, 2011; Leithwood, Steinbach, & Jantzi, 2002; Leithwood & Riehl, 2003; Peabody, 2011; Reeves, 2006; Waters, Marzano, & McNulty, 2004; Youngs, 1979).

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Effects of Professional Learning on Productivity of Elementary Teachers: Impact on English Learners’ Reading Achievement and Language Acquisition

Maria Witrado Maldonado

California State University, Fresno, 2016

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

English learners have been part of the landscape of California public schools for many years. Since English Learners (ELs) became a “significant subgroup” under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the urgency of ensuring the academic achievement of ELs has become a major focus for schools throughout the state. However, teachers are unprepared to meet the instructional needs of this group of students. A quantitative research method was utilized to examine the effects that professional learning focused on EL instructional practices has on the academic achievement of ELs. A professional learning survey was used to measure teacher perceptions about the effectiveness of specific aspects of professional learning in preparing them to teach ELs. Additionally, results of the Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) and Degrees of Reading Power (DRP) were used to measure impact in reading achievement. Results of the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) were used to measure impact in learning English. Findings indicate that teachers found the professional learning moderately effective, with Job-Embedded Instructional Coaching slightly more effective than Traditional, and Understanding and Applying the Standards. Findings revealed a significant, but small difference between the mean scores in reading achievement of Cohort 1 and Cohort 2 of the treatment group. Findings also revealed significant, but small difference in mean language acquisition scores for some grade level groups between Cohort 1 and Cohort 2. Similar studies throughout the nation would be helpful in identifying the most effective professional learning teachers need to accelerate the academic achievement of ELs.

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The Impact of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports on Academic Achievement among African American Male Students Diagnosed as Emotionally Disturbed

Terry Fitzgerald Welch

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: James Mullooly

Abstract:

There are clearly many issues that need to be addressed when attempting to bring strength and resolve to school districts across the United States. In order to influence the culture of struggling school systems we must effectively manage student behavior within the classroom setting and on the campus at large. In class discipline is paramount for students to engage in active and efficacious learning. When students are identified for special education as emotionally disturbed (ED), their overall academic achievement has been shown to be lower than that of students identified with other disabilities. Additionally, the long-term academic achievement of students identified as ED may also be compromised by discipline issues that often take them out of the academic learning environment. This study will examine whether the African American males referred to special education programs under the diagnoses of emotionally disturbed (ED) are positively influenced by the implementation of positive behavioral interventions &supports(PBIS). Recent literature maintains PBIS is growing in popularity among state departments of education and local systems as an efficient and effective strategy for addressing students’ increasing and intensifying discipline needs.

PBIS has been found to increase the effectiveness of instruction, improve academic performance, and reduce inappropriate behavior (Yeung & McInerney, 2005). Many believe the interventions strategy could be implemented to address discipline issues and student achievement. The problem is there is not sufficient research available involving proactive methods to redirect reoccurring disruptive behavior among African American male students receiving special education services under the diagnosis of emotionally disturbed to improve their educational outcomes.

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Addressing a Nursing Shortage: A Joint Entry-Level Nursing Education Program

Alicia Espericueta Lozano

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Diane Oliver

Abstract:

The Affordable Care Act, through its Health Insurance Market place, has over 8 million participants and many questions have arisen about dealing with mandatory health care. Providing health care to all Americans requires an infrastructure of highly trained professionals including Registered Nurses (RN). A major barrier to increasing the number of RNs lies in the lack of capacity to educate them. Over60% of the qualified applicants for California’s associate and bachelor degree pre-licensure RN programs are turned away.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine a joint entry-level nursing education program (the Paradigm Program) to determine if this approach could potentially help to address a nursing shortage. The Paradigm Program was unique in its design and extensive collaboration between local acute care hospitals and the community college. Data collection methods included semi-structured interviews with faculty and administrators from the community college, administrators from the local acute care facilities, and Paradigm Program graduates, review of archival documents, and graduate questionnaires.

Themes that emerged from the study included the students’ perceptions of feeling well equipped for the culminating NCLEX examination, as well as a sense of camaraderie with classmates in their cohort, and the perception by all participants that the program had a positive impact on reducing the local RN shortage. Strengths of the Paradigm Program included students’ feelings of being supported socially, academically, and by their employers; stability in the administration; and an increased sense of personal contribution to the community in general. Several areas also were identified for program improvement.

Together the hospitals and community college created a partnership that infused over 600 Associate Degree Registered Nurses into the San Joaquin Valley over a 10-year period. This study showed that a hospital sponsored pre-licensure nursing education program (a Paradigm-like program) could help to address a nursing shortage by adding educational capacity and acceleration to existing pre-licensure RN programs.

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A Critical Pedagogy Perspective of the Impact of School Poverty Level on the Teacher Grading Decision-Making Process

Joshua P Kunnath

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Mahmoud Suleiman

Abstract:

This dissertation examined the effects of school poverty level on the teacher grading decision-making process. Utilizing two theoretical frameworks––a critical pedagogy framework primarily based on the work of Paulo Freire (1996) and a teacher grading decision-making framework from the work of McMillan (2003)––the study sought to compare teacher grading practices, the influences of teacher grading, and teacher grading rationale by low-, mid-, and high-poverty schools in order to determine poverty’s impact on the process. A small, yet significant number of studies have found grades in high-poverty schools to be less accurate and more subjective than low-poverty schools in communicating student achievement. This study contributes to the literature by helping to establish the link between high-poverty schools and inaccurate student grades. Additionally, this study is novel in being the first (to the knowledge of the author) to combine the concepts of teacher grading, poverty, and decision making.

Set in an ethnically and economically diverse high school district in California’s South San Joaquin Valley, this study employed a transformative explanatory sequential mixed methods design to answer a guiding research question: How does school poverty level affect the teacher grading decision-making process? A 36-item grading survey was used to collect quantitative data from 251 teachers and additional qualitative data from 121 of these teachers. Focus groups were conducted at four schools sites to collect qualitative data from a total of 15 teachers. Quantitative data were analyzed with one-way ANOVAs, a MANOVA, Kruskal-Wallis tests, and descriptive statistics, while qualitative data were analyzed with a constant comparative analysis method.

Results indicated that the direct effects of school-poverty level on the teacher grading decision-making process are intricate and nuanced, yet existent and influential. The findings explained that teachers seek to grade in objective, pedagogically-sound ways that align to their own philosophy, but influences––both internal and external to the classroom––cause them to stray from these practices. These influences occur more often in high-poverty schools, and this leads to greater subjectivity and less accuracy of student grades. Models for interpreting teacher grading rationale and the impact of poverty on teacher grading decision making are presented.

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Latino Male College Students in Study Abroad Programs: The Role of Identity and Culture, Family, and Faculty in Making the Decision to Attend

Daniel Gutiérrez

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Juan Carlos Gonzalez

Abstract:

It is evident that in today’s world there is an interest in expanding study abroad opportunities for all students. However, in the last decade, even with the large increases in students participating in study abroad, the actual percentages of groups participating has virtually stayed unchanged. It is evident that more needs to done to reach higher numbers of the current underrepresented students. This study provides guidance in understanding the encouragements and discouragements related to identity and culture, family, and faculty for Latino male students who study abroad by answering two questions: (a) In what ways do identity and culture encourage and/or discourage Latino males to study abroad? and (b) In what ways do family and faculty encourage and/or discourage Latino males to study abroad? This qualitative research study interviewed nine Latino male students from the three California regions (north, central, and south). Through purposeful sampling and semi-structured interviews this research provides a valuable compilation of Latino personal perspectives on their encouragements and discouragements related to identity and culture, family, and faculty as they made their decision to study abroad. All the data collected were organized, analyzed, and reported using NVivo10 qualitative computer software. The findings offer practical information for study abroad staff and researchers, student affairs professionals, and Latino higher education leaders interested in increasing the participation rate of Latino male college students in study abroad programs. This study informs education leaders about the factors that motivate and discourage Latino male students to study abroad. Recommendations follow the findings.

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Gender-Responsive Justice: Supporting Incarcerated Girls in California’s Central Valley

Nancy Fraleigh

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: James Mullooly

Abstract:

Studies in 2008 showed that girls and boys in the juvenile justice system were using identical programming, in spite of the fact that research has identified two very different sets of needs (Miller, 1976).In 2010, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act offered Challenge grants that would entice facilities to create new, more gender-responsive programming for girls. This qualitative study analyzes the mental health and drug rehabilitation programs currently used with incarcerated girls in the Central Valley of California, both in the facility and outside the facility while on probation, to determine the level of gender-responsive methodology used. An examination of Community benefit organizations (CBOs) also looked for gender-responsive methods. An interview of leadership at each venue attempted to learn more about the presentation of programs, and in some cases, the effectiveness of these programs. In addition, a walk-through of each facility was conducted to ascertain to what degree the climate is gender-responsive. Using the frame work supplied by Jean Baker Miller, and operationalized by Morgan and Patton (2002),a number of guidelines are included which are not considered when working with boys. In addition, using the concept of praxis, as defined by Paulo Freire, it can be seen to what extent the community is accommodating girls as they serve probation. This study provides a progress report on our adaptation to the needs of justice-involved girls in the Central Valley of California, over the 5-year period 2010-15.

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The Effect of a Summer Kindergarten Readiness Program on Third-Grade Student

Brandon Scott Duncan

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Abstract:

The Ready to Start program in Kern County is a brief, summer intervention program designed to prepare children without prior preschool experience for kindergarten. Prior to the creation of Transitional Kindergarten which serves children whose fifth birthday falls between September and December, kindergarten was the point of entry for most children into formal schooling. Research shows that children who attend formal preschool or prekindergarten programs outperform their peers. However, research indicates that a disproportionate percentage of low-socioeconomic children and English language learners fail to participate or enroll in preschool programs. This low-socioeconomic demographic also underperforms more affluent peers academically in a variety of measures, including California standardized testing. This quantitative study investigated the Ready to Start program for associations between participation and third grade academic achievement. The findings were derived from California Standards Test data collected by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office and provided for the purposes of this research study. These data included English language learner status and scaled scores from the entire population of third grade students from three participating school districts during the 2011, 2012 and 2013 school years. Quantitative statistical analysis of these data suggest that Ready to Start participation is associated with a significant, positive effect on the academic performance of participants in mathematics and English language arts in third grade. Moreover, this significant positive effect was more pronounced for children identified as English language learners. The findings in this study highlighted positive associations between Ready to Start participation among English language learners and academic achievement in third grade, but were inconclusive in revealing similar associations for low-socioeconomic students.

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The California State University System and Online Retention and Attrition

Tamar Asatryan

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

This study was conducted to find out why student retention is low in online programs and to come up with possible solutions to help retention increase in online programs. The study was conducted at six CSU campuses that offered online MA/MS programs in Teaching or Education. Eleven instructors from the six campuses were interviewed.

The study addressed the research question: What factors are related to students dropping out of online programs? The instructors interviewed were asked 11 questions, which were then categorized into four subtopics to focus on the results. The subtopics were student-related issues, instructor-related issues, program or course-related issues, and other issues.

The study utilized a qualitative design; specifically, online instructors at the six universities were interviewed. The interviews were recorded and then transcribed. The researcher then grouped the questions into subtopics and looked for major themes.

Findings showed that online programs that utilize a cohort model have higher retention rates than those that do not follow a cohort model. Personal reasons were one of the main reasons why students drop out of online programs.

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Nursing Faculty Experiences with Providing Support to Psychologically Distressed Students: A Phenomenological Approach

Deborah Jean Boschini

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair:

Abstract:

In the context of an increasing focus on college student success and retention, concerns about campus violence, and reports of deteriorating college student mental health (Pryor, Hurtado, DeAngelo, Palucki-Blake, & Tran, 2010), ensuring that psychologically distressed students receive effective support is a high priority for institutions of higher education. When students experience psychological distress, they often choose to share their concerns with their support system—including family, friends, and faculty—instead of accessing mental health services (Kelly, Jorm, & Wright, 2007). As part of this support network, faculty members should be prepared to recognize and respond to psychologically distressed students, and refer them to the appropriate resources when necessary.

Nursing students have been identified as at higher risk for distress due to stress, anxiety, and depression (Chernomas & Shapiro, 2013). The primary causes of distress for nursing students have been identified as heavy academic workload with high expectations, the challenges of the clinical setting, and personal stressors (Jimenez, Navia-Osorio, & Diaz, 2010).Nursing faculty members, therefore, should be prepared to provide assistance to distressed students who are experiencing academic and personal challenges that can have a negative impact on academic performance and well-being. Nursing student mental health has been extensively studied; however, the body of knowledge related to the role of nursing faculty members in responding to distressed students is scant.

The purpose of this study was to describe the lived experience of providing support to psychologically distressed students from the perspective of nursing faculty members. A qualitative, phenomenological approach was utilized to explore the phenomenon of interest through a hermeneutic circle of inquiry, based on the philosophy of Heidegger and the traditions of van Manen. Data were gathered from nursing faculty members from public 2-year and 4-year pre-licensure registered nursing programs throughout California. Convenience sampling yielded 78 respondents to an online survey designed to generate an overview of the experiences of nursing faculty who have provided support to distressed students. The survey also elicited contact information; purposive sampling from this pool resulted in 21 interviews with nursing educators.

Through an extensive manual coding process, interpretive analysis yielded four dominant themes: utilizing the nursing process to provide support, working within the environments of nursing education, understanding the experience of distressed students, and defining the role of the nursing educator. These themes are presented as the four dimensions of a conceptual model based on Ida Jean Orlando’s Nursing Process Theory. This conceptual model serves as a visual representation of the lived experience of nursing faculty members who have provided support to distressed students. Recommendations for best practices include providing training for recognizing and responding to distressed students, initiating campus-wide programs to encourage self-care and help-seeking behaviors, and establishing policies and procedures to ensure that distressed students are connected to the appropriate resources and treated fairly. Recommendations for future research include investigation into the socialization of nurses into the faculty role, how faculty members can provide more effective support to students in the environments of nursing education, and trends in student distress.

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Using Student Voices to Understand Community Cultural Wealth: How Forms of Capital Influence High-Achieving Latinas/os to Attend Community College

Adriana Cervantes-Gonzalez

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Juan Carlos Gonzalez

Abstract:

The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate in what ways cultural capital influenced high-achieving Latina/o students in their decision to attend community college. Yosso’s (2005) community cultural wealth model outlines various forms of capital that communities of color bring with them to their educational settings. These six forms of capital include aspirational, familial, social, navigational, resistant, and linguistic. The researcher utilized community cultural wealth as the guiding frame work to better understand Latina/o students’ college choice. In addition, Stanton-Salazar’s (1997, 2011) work informed this study by providing a focused lens in how access to resources by way of institutional agents and protective agents provide social capital to minority youth during critical transitions in their schooling experiences.

Eleven participants agreed to be interviewed for this study from two central California community college sites with a Latina/o student body comprising more than 50% of the student enrollment. Participants reported having received notification of acceptance into a University of California campus or selective private university at the end of their high school senior year. Participants were asked to reflect on the experiences that influenced their decisions to begin their postsecondary educational journeys at community college.

Participants’ narratives provided many valuable insights regarding the ways forms of capital and institutional and protective agents in and outside of school settings influenced high-achieving Latina/o students’ decisions to attend community college, when they were otherwise qualified to attend more selective institutions. As a result of studying Latina/o students’ choice to attend community college, valuable insights arose from which K-12 educators, higher education educators, coordinators of college planning programs, Latina/o students, and their families could benefit from.

The study concluded with a discussion of the findings throughout the literature with the researcher’s practical recommendations to K-12 institutions, community colleges, University of California Campuses and private institutions who are seeking to recruit high-achieving Latina/o students from the Central Valley of California.

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The Transition to College Intervention and the Enrollment, Disclosure, and Access of Services of Students with Disabilities at Community College

Aaren Allen Cobb

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of the Transition to College (TTC) intervention on enrollment, disclosure of a disability, and access of services on students with disabilities at community college. Previous research indicates the transition from high school to postsecondary education can be very challenging for students with disabilities as accommodations and services are provided differently under two separate pieces of federal legislation.

Data were provided for 235 students for this study of which 100 students participated in the TTC intervention and 135 served as a comparison group. Independent t-tests indicated students in the comparison group disclosed their disability to the DSP&S office, specifically during their first semester on campus, at a greater rate than the treatment group. There were no statistically significant findings in the comparison of the groups across total semesters enrolled, consecutive semesters enrolled, total semesters of contacts with the Disabled Students Programs & Services office, and consecutive semesters of contacts with the Disabled Students Programs & Services office. Analysis using Two-Way ANOVAs indicated no statistically significant interaction between the TTC intervention and ethnicity, disability, and gender across the same measures.

This study provides a snapshot of how the TTC intervention operates and some of the outcomes. Based on the findings, implications for practice include a closer examination of how students are selected for participation in the TTC intervention and an examination of why male students and students categorized as the primary disability type Other appear to lag behind their peers. The TTC intervention and this field of research could benefit from a larger scale, longitudinal study that includes data on the number of units earned versus number of units attempted, grade point average, financial aid status, graduation and transfer rates, and degree type in addition to the data on enrollment, disclosure, and claims data collected for this study.

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Latinas/os at Selective Colleges and Universities: Using Student Voices to Understand How Cultural Capital Influences College Choice

Jesús González

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Juan Carlos Gonzalez

Abstract:

The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate in what ways forms of cultural capital influenced high-achieving Latina/o students in their decision to attend a selective college or university. Yosso’s (2005) Community Cultural Wealth Model guided this study which focused on the strengths communities of color brought with them from their home environments and communities. This model outlined six forms of capital: aspirational, familial, social, navigational, resistant, and linguistic. Stanton-Salazar’s (1997, 2011) work also informed this study by incorporating how specific resources, such as institutional agents and protective agents provided social capital to minority Latina/o youth during critical transitions when making their college choice decisions.

This qualitative inquiry utilized semi-structured interviews in order to capture an in-depth understanding of the students experience when making the decision to enroll in a selective college or university. Participants for this study were selected from existing scholars of a program in the city of Parlier, California known as the Ivy League Project (ILP). Scholars of the ILP must complete a former application process in late-Spring of their Freshman or Sophomore school year in order to become an ILP scholar the following school year. The ILP was founded in 1992 by Martin Mares to encourage economically disadvantaged Latina/o students from throughout the Central Valley to apply to the most selective universities in America.

A purposeful sample of 11Latina/o students who met the following criteria participated in the study: (a) each self-identified as a Latina/o, (b) each were a participant of the Ivy League Project, (c) each attended a high school in Central Valley of California, (d) and they were a first, second, or third year student at the time of the interviews at a selective college or university.

The data provided the number of participants that relied on the particular agents within each capital and the influences that the institutional and protective agent had on the participants to choose to attend a selective college or university. It is important to note that the findings within each capital were not mutually exclusive, but rather overlaid or built upon one another (Yosso, 2005). This meant certain phenomena were categorized in multiple capitals depending on the context shared by the participants. Each of the six capitals varied in the amount of influence it had on the participants’ choice to attend a selective college or university. Also, within each of the six capitals, the institutional agents and protective agents varied in the degree of influence it had on the participants’ choice as well.

The researcher acknowledged the intent of the study was to provide the Latina/o students insights as to how they perceived to have benefited from the influences of institutional and protective agents and the various forms of capital aforementioned in their decision to attend a selective college or university. As a result of this qualitative inquiry, valuable insights and commonalities surfaced from which stakeholders in the field of college access and choice can learn from for the continued improvement of practices that serve high-achieving Latina/o students.

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Investigating the Impact of Common Core Integration on Early Literacy Curriculum Systems

John Edward Hannigan IV

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Linda Hauser

Abstract:

This study investigated the impact of Common Core (CC) integration on early literacy programs in SCALE Up districts. Specifically, this study examined perceptions of teachers and administrators regarding how CC integration has influenced the early literacy curriculum system, benefits related to the change, and perception differences of teachers and administrators relative to extent and benefit of change, and teacher perception differences of extent and benefit of change relative to years of CC integration and grade level. In addition, this study investigated specific changes made, values, and challenges of the change, and focus area(s) for future action(s).

A pragmatic, QUAN + QUAL concurrent mixed-methods design was employed using electronic surveys (forced-choice/open-ended), individual principal interviews, and teacher focus group interviews. The survey population included 17principals and 115K-3 teachers from 6 districts involved in a SCALE Up collaborative. The interview population included eight principals and eight teacher focus groups, consisting of K-3 teachers. The unit of analysis was the early literacy curriculum system. Ninety-percent or more of respondents indicated moderate to great deal regarding extent of change to the curriculum system for 2 of 15items: rigor of standards and lesson design/planning. Nearly 40% of respondents indicated no change to very little change for 2 of 15 items: interventions and frequency of data collected.

Qualitative data from written survey results, individual principal interviews, and teacher focus groups were analyzed, and three main themes emerged regarding changes/impact to the early literacy curriculum system due to CC integration: written curriculum themes, taught curriculum themes, and tested curriculum.

Two themes emerged regarding most challenging changes: inadequate resources and students more self-directed, and two themes for most beneficial changes: students’ thinking process and classroom collaboration. Responses varied regarding least beneficial change; no common themes emerged. Regarding needed changes, three themes emerged: time, cohesiveness, and guidance.

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Understanding Variations in Acceptance and Use of Tablet Technology by Students at a Public Four-Year University

Philip Glenn Neufeld

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Linda Hauser

Abstract:

The effective use of information and communication technologies (ICT) is an integral component of 21st century learning experiences and is, itself, a fundamental learning outcome. However, this only becomes possible when students accept and meaningfully use technology to effectively participate in 21st century learning. To improve acceptance and use of ICT, it is important to understand (a) the determinants for acceptance and use of technology, (b) the dynamics of the diffusion of innovation, (c) the factors effecting implementations, and (d) the perspective and context of prospective adopters. Variations exist within populations relative to the acceptance and use of technology such that segments of the population may have differing perceptions and lived-experiences relative to the technology. This instrumental, mixed methods case study investigated variations among student populations relative to the acceptance and use of tablet technology for academic purposes at a4-year, public university. Most specifically, this study explored (a) variations in students' perceptions of the determinants (performance expectancy, effort expectancy, social influence, facilitating conditions, hedonic motivation, and price value) for behavioral intention and use behavior relative to the demographic constructs of socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, and gender, (b) the strength of the determinants, and (c) the effects of the moderators (self-efficacy, access, experience, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity and gender).

Findings from a two-phase electronic survey revealed that these determinants of acceptance and use of technology explained 38% of variance in behavioral intention and 44% of variance in use behavior. The moderators affected to varying degrees the determinants, with differences revealed for Hispanic students, first generation students, and other gender students. Seven thematic findings, derived from photo diary and focus group interviews, reflected students’ expressed meaning associated with tablet technology: the situatedness of technology; new ways of practice; choice continuum and resourcefulness; levels of responsiveness to students’ brought-technology; naturally occurring segments; expertise across social networks; and meaningful experience matters. The study confirmed that differences exist within segments of populations relative to the perceptions and meanings associated with a technological innovation. These segments can best be understood based on the (a) perceptual predictors of acceptance and use and (b) expressed meanings relative to associated technology. Adjustments to design, implementation, and support for technological innovations should be made to improve alignment with these segments of prospective adopters, which will in turn result in faster, less costly, and deeper integration.

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The Impact of Culture and Acculturation on the Academic Achievement of Hmong American College Students

Linda Vang

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

Each year, the population in the United States grows more diverse, and that diversity is being reflected in the classroom. Because students come from different social, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds, it is important to uncover how these factors impact students’ academic achievement, particularly among those whose cultural capital differs from that of the mainstream. The objective of this research study was to determine the extent to which cultural factors and acculturation impact the academic achievement of Hmong American college students as measured by their grade point averages. Using a mix-methods approach that was grounded in theories of social identity and cultural capital, the researcher gathered data from Hmong students residing in California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The quantitative and qualitative data include students’ perceptions of their family, cultural heritage, and native language fluency, as well as students’ experiences in academia. Findings reveal that certain factors within culture and acculturation, such as family and perceptions of gender, do impact the academic performance of Hmong college students.

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Current Hmong Perceptions of their Speaking, Reading, and Writing Ability and Cultural Values as Related to Language and Cultural Maintenance

Vicky Xiong-Lor

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

The literature showed that one language is lost every 2 weeks, and that by the end of the 21st century, there would only be 100 languages left in the world. The Hmong people are one of the newest refugees from Laos. They came to America 40 years ago. According to Pfeifer, Sullivan, Yang, and Yang (2013), there are about eight million Hmong people worldwide, and256, 430 of them live in the United States. Today, the Hmong students are losing their language at an alarming rate. The purpose of this study was to investigate the current perceptions held by Hmong people ages 18 and older about the Hmong language and whether or not it should and could be maintained and passed on to future generations. This study hopes to create awareness in the community and prevent the Hmong language from disappearing from the Ethnologue. A sequential mixed methods design was used to collect the data. Findings showed that respondents perceived the Hmong language as important and would like to see it preserved for future generations.

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Alignment between the California Common Core Content Standards for Higher Mathematics (9-12) and the California State University Entry-Level Mathematics Placement Test

Evelyn Christene Young Spath

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

Six subject matter experts rated the alignment between the California Common Core Content Standards for Higher Mathematics (9-12) and the California State University (CSU) Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) placement test using the Webb alignment analysis method and Marzano scale of cognitive demand, and found partial alignment in content, cognitive complexity, and breadth of knowledge. Content was aligned in Number and Quantity, Algebra, and Interpreting Functions. The ELM included too few items to align in Geometry or Statistics and Probability. Cognitive complexity was aligned at the lowest levels of cognitive demand. Eighty-four percent of the test items assessed the two lowest cognitive levels, requiring rote memorization/recall and comprehension. Fifteen percent of the items assessed higher order thinking skills requiring analysis. Zero items assessed the highest level of cognitive demand requiring knowledge utilization. Rather than assessing 3years of rigorous high school math, including Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry as the ELM intended, reviewers found the majority of placement test items measured middle school math skills (Algebra I).The range of topics covered in the ELM was narrower than the range of topics addressed in the standards. The standards were distributed equitably in the assessment items.

A review of a 2010 ELM validity study showed that entering CSU students who scored below the ELM placement test cut-score, but enrolled in entry-level baccalaureate math courses without remediation were just as successful as students in the baccalaureate courses who scored above the cut score. The ELM failed to predict students who would succeed in the college-level math courses based on CSU success criteria, but was an effective predictor of highest performance (A and B grades).

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An Examination of the Mathematical Academic Preparedness of High School Students and Placement in Post-Secondary Remediation

Eugene Christmas III

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

This ex post facto quantitative study examined the relationship between academic achievement at the secondary level of education and student demographics as they pertained to the ability of freshmen in college to be academically prepared for mathematics in post-secondary institutions. It specifically focused on students’ ability to earn an exemption from remedial mathematics at the post-secondary level. Specifically, this study sought to examine the factors associated with meeting college course remediation criteria among high school students. Student academic and demographic data were examined in an effort to discover any possible relationships between variables, such as mathematical coursework, demographic data and standardized test scores, as it pertained to predicting the remedial placement in post-secondary mathematics. The quantitative data showed that students earned an exemption from remedial mathematics at a significantly higher percentage if a parents’ education level was at least a high school diploma. The quantitative data also shows that students that completed more than the 3years, of the required secondary mathematics courses, earned an exemption from post secondary mathematical remediation at a significantly higher rate and that rate increase even more with higher level coursework.

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Investigation of Principal Leadership Actions Focused on Hackman’s Five Impact Conditions to Support the Work of Teams

Joshua Shapiro

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Linda Hauser

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to investigate the actions of school leaders that foster work team effectiveness and support the work of teams to maximize performance. Specifically, this study examined the leadership actions/practices of elementary principals in relation to Hackman’s high impact conditions, and the perceived importance of focusing on these conditions. In addition, principal perspectives regarding the most challenging conditions to put in place and the conditions where they have experienced most success were explored. Hackman’s five high impact conditions follow: ensure that each team is a real team rather than a team in name only; provide each team with a compelling direction for its work; create an enabling structure within teams that facilitates rather than impedes teamwork; provide a supportive organizational context for the work of teams; and provide strategically timed, expert coaching in teamwork. All teacher and principal participants were involved in the work of building internal coherence in their schools.

The study employed a mixed methods approach, as descriptive survey research and individual and focus group interviews were used. Participants included104 teachers and six administrators from schools within a district involved in a collaborative relationship with the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Central Valley Educational Leadership Institute focused on building internal coherence in schools.

Of Hackman’s five conditions, the most frequent teacher responses of accurate or highly accurate were for features related to the conditions of Compelling Direction and Enabling Structure while the most frequent teacher responses of inaccurate or highly inaccurate were for features related to the conditions of Supportive Organizational Context and Expert Coaching. However, the most frequent administrator responses of accurate or highly accurate were for features related to the conditions of Enabling Structure and Supportive Organizational Context while the most frequent administrator responses of inaccurate or highly inaccurate were for features related to Real Teams. Both teachers and administrators perceived all five conditions as important or highly important. More than 90% of teacher responses indicated highly important or important for each of the five conditions while the most frequent responses of not important were for features related to Supportive Organizational Context. One hundred percent of administrator responses indicated highly important or important for four of the five conditions (Compelling Direction, Enabling Structure, Supportive Organizational Context, and Expert Coaching),and95% of administrators indicated highly important or important for the condition of Real Teams.

Qualitative data derived from five individual principal interviews and six teacher focus group interviews revealed variety of leadership actions that support the work of teams. Findings revealed that teachers are executing many of the leadership actions related to Hackman’s conditions in supporting the work of teams.

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Analyzing the Impact of Study Abroad: A National Study on Student Learning Outcomes

Russel David Statham

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether four specific student learning outcomes were attained by students who studied abroad. These learning outcomes were 1) individual and personal growth, 2) global awareness, 3) knowledge development of cultural, geopolitical, economic, and social issues, and 4) cultural competence. The study included 2,385 students who demographically closely matched the national population of American students studying abroad.

This study was the first national analysis of study abroad student learning outcomes conducted and contains a framework that can be replicated across institutions of higher education in the United States. The study found that the students surveyed achieved significant perceived gains in each of the four core student learning domains. The study also found significant differences between length of study and gender in the construct of individual and personal growth, significant differences in length of study and ethnicity in global awareness, significant differences in length of study, academic level, and gender in cultural, geopolitical, economic, and social knowledge development, and significant differences in age, length of study, academic level, gender, and ethnicity in cultural competence. The study’s most significant finding was that individual and personal growth, global awareness, and cultural, geopolitical, economic, and social knowledge development constructs are building blocks in development of cultural competence, with greater gains seen in as program length increases.

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Developing High Quality Teachers through Professional Pre-Service Teaching Opportunities

Nicole Renée Walsh

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Nancy Akhavan

Abstract:

Based on the reform movements over the past two decades, it is evident that while effective teachers are critical to student learning, not all teachers are coming to the profession highly qualified. Policy and research continue to highlight the need to reorganize and refocus teacher preparation programs to produce higher quality teachers ready to meet the demands of the classroom from day one of employment. This study focuses on the enhancement of traditional preparation programs in public Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) as this continues to be the context for which most teacher candidates come to the profession. Using a six-group, four measure mixed-methods design, the objective of the study is to determine the impact California Teaching Fellows Foundation (CTFF), a pre-service teaching and learning opportunity for future teacher candidates, has on developing higher caliber teachers prepared in a traditional University-based teacher preparation setting. Through the use of an online survey, interviews, and focus groups, the relationship of CTFF participation to teacher efficacy before, during, and after traditional preparation participation is examined and explored from the perspective of teacher and supervisor. Unexpected findings show that CTFF participation has a relationship to decreased Teacher Efficacy for teacher candidates and CTFF is not creating a significant pipeline to teaching as proposed, leading to questions for further study.

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Young, Diverse Alumni and the Impact of Affiliation, Affinity, Belonging, and Engagement on Philanthropy at Hispanic Serving Institutions and Non-Hispanic Serving Institutions

Dana Zupanovich Lucka

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

Today’s college campuses are increasingly more diverse than in years past. Current students are largely women and individuals of color, with Hispanics making up the largest, growing segment of the population. Alumni giving, conversely, has been dominated by older, White males. The change in demographics suggests a need for change in fundraising practices as the motivations of the younger, diverse alumni population are significantly different than of their White male counterparts. Understanding how student affiliation, affinity, belonging, and engagement impact graduate engagement and philanthropic motivations will influence long-term goals within university advancement.

This mixed methods study of three universities in the California State University system explores the affiliation, affinity, sense of belonging and engagement of young, diverse alumni and examines whether philanthropic perceptions are different by time, ethnicity (White and Hispanic), and Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) campus designation and if sense of belonging influences current giving or the inclination to provide philanthropic support to a person’s alma mater.

The findings show statistical significance in affiliation by time, HSI designation and ethnicity, in belonging over time, and in engagement between HSIs. Further powerful themes emerged highlighting the foundations needed for lasting connections that, if nurtured, lead to philanthropic support, as well as frustrations that lead to detachment and disconnect.

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Examining the Relationship between School Protective Factors in Fifth-Grade Students and Academic Performance

Dylan Matthew Capilla

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Kenneth Magdaleno

Abstract:

Problem. The over-arching purpose of the research study was to investigate the significance of school –based protective factors and how the interplay with academic outcomes of at risk elementary aged-students in California. The ongoing federal, state and local accountability measures mandate that the achievement gap for at risk high poverty students be closed. Historically, these groups of students have consistently underperformed when compared to their counterparts. This study examined the data, tools and developing body of research surrounding of school based protective factors that promote resiliency and academic performance for at risk elementary students.

Procedure. Three school districts reflecting homogenous demographics (high poverty, high EL percentages) were selected from California’s Northern, Central and Southern California regions. Individual school site survey data were collected from a total of 52 schools. The data targeted fifth-grade students and their attitudes and perceptions of their schools. Additionally, six principals from these districts were interviewed for the purpose of gaining qualitative data surrounding the research. The quantitative survey data were analyzed using simple statistical correlations between student survey responses and school API scores. The qualitative data were analyzed and coded for the purpose of identifying emergent themes.

Findings. Correlation analysis of student survey results indicated a moderate to significant correlation between student feelings about opportunities to meaningfully participate at their schools, and higher average API scores. Principal interview indicated a general lack of awareness of protective factors, and they described cultural underpinnings that act to either strengthen or weaken support of external school protective factors.

Summary. The findings indicate the relevance of being able to identify and cultivate protective factors for the purpose of promoting resilience and increased academic achievement in at risk elementary students. Furthermore, results demonstrated a need for school leaders to proactively support the stewardship of school culture that values the elements that comprise external school protective factors.

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Organizational Practices of High-Achieving Rural School Districts in the San Joaquin Valley of California

Amanda Lopez Doerksen

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair:

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to investigate the organizational practices of high-achieving rural school districts in the San Joaquin Valley of California that served predominately high-poverty and minority students. California’s San Joaquin Valley provides a unique context for studying high-achieving rural school districts due to its predominately rural setting, changing population, high rates of poverty and English learners, and low rates of postsecondary education as compared to state demographics. The study of rural school districts is particularly significant due to the limited amount of research conducted in rural school systems. This study sought to provide a framework for rural districts to identify, understand, and engage in organizational practices that lead to high academic achievement.

An embedded, mixed methods multiple case study was conducted in order to gain a deeper understanding about the practices utilized in the selected districts. Interviews and focus groups provided an in-depth description of the organizational practices employed in each of the participating school districts, while a survey was used to examine the degree to which organizational practices were perceived as being used and had attributed to the success of the district. Analysis of documents from each district provided support and validated practices utilized within each district.

Results of four of the seven survey items identified significant main effects for district worked: (1) this district is committed to high standards for every student, (2) this district helps schools focus on teaching and learning, (3) this district uses common assessments to evaluate progress toward school and district goals, and (4) this district organizes professional development targeted on instructional issues in the district. Each of the four school districts studied provided insights into organizational practices that led to its high achievement. Six organizational practices were found to be employed in all four districts: (1) a focus on instruction and student achievement; (2) frequent monitoring and data-driven decision-making; (3) shared beliefs and district culture; (4) alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment; (5) strong instructional leadership; and (6) collaborative learning communities. Each district employed these practices in slightly different, but coordinated ways that led to high levels of student achievement.

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The Impact of Principal Leadership Style, Experience, and Tenure on School Climate in Times of Instructional Reform

Shannon Capshew

California State University, Fresno, 2015

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

This study found transformative Leadership is found to have an impact on positive school climate. Transformational leaders provide support, motivation, shared leadership, and behaviors that support a collective efficacy in the school. The sample included 170 elementary teachers working in 25 schools in the Central Valley. A quantitative analysis was conducted. Several analyses were conducted: A) Correlation, B) Canonical Correlation, C) Regression, and D) MANOVA. A Google Survey was used to gather data. Data also showed principals with less than four years tenure in their schools had low means, as compared to the experienced principal with four years tenure and the inexperienced principal.

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Educational Entrepreneurship: The Relationship between Organizational Structure and Innovation

Jazmine Lizette Frias

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Mahmoud Suleiman

Abstract:

This dissertation thesis examined the relationship between organizational structure and educational entrepreneurship within K-12public education institutions. Specifically, the research question which guided this study was: What is the relationship between four dimensions of organizational structure (i.e., management support, work discretion, rewards/reinforcement, and time availability) and educational entrepreneurship in K-12 public education institutions? Four related hypotheses sought to investigate the predictive ability of structural variables. Additionally, a conceptual model of education entrepreneurship in K-12 public education institutions was proposed within this study. Quantitative data collected from an electronic survey was analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistic procedures. A qualitative open-ended response item was also provided to study participants in order to capture any additional information including emerging elements of educational entrepreneurship which were not anticipated prior to the study.

Results from this study confirmed internal dimensions of organizational structure as a significant predictor of educational entrepreneurship, subsequently validating organizational structure as an identified antecedent of educational entrepreneurship within the proposed conceptual model. Additionally, three of the four hypotheses were confirmed in this study. A significant positive correlation was found between management support, work discretion, rewards/reinforcement and educational entrepreneurship. Time availability was not significantly correlated with educational entrepreneurship. Furthermore, management support and rewards/reinforcement were the primary predictors of educational entrepreneurship within this study.

Additional findings on special populations (i.e., charter schools, Golden Bell winners) were noteworthy. These findings included the lack of significant differences between charter school and non-charter schools on organizational structure as well as the emergence of significant differences between Golden Bell winners and non-Golden Bell winners on organizational structure and reported levels of educational entrepreneurship.

Findings from this study were significant as there were numerous implications for policy and practice. First, this study underscored the importance of continued policy reform efforts as a catalyst for change and innovation in public education. Additionally, findings from this study demonstrated the potential role of educational leaders as buffering agents between district-level bureaucratic structures and/or processes and school site organizational structure and/or processes. Furthermore, findings from this study recognized educational leaders as having the strongest predictive power on school innovation. For instance, educators were more likely to produce small and large scale school innovation when they perceived management to support their endeavors. Management support was found to be evidenced through establishing organizational priority on school innovation through messaging platforms, collaborative decision making mechanisms, teacher empowerment, entrepreneurial school goals and/or values, and allocation of resources.

Keywords: educational entrepreneurship, K-12 public education, educational leadership, school innovation, school reform.

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An Analysis of Principal Selection Criteria and Procedures in California

Brandon Guy Palmer

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: James Mullooly

Abstract:

Student achievement is at the forefront of the public education agenda as there are increasing and at times contradicting demands from public school stakeholders. Numerous researchers have correlated the role of the principal with student achievement and school success. How principals are selected plays a key role in determining the quality of principal at any given school. It is paramount to identify and examine the critical aspects of principal selection processes.

This study had two purposes. First, to investigate the criteria and selection procedures used to select principals. Second, to examine principals’ experiences and perceptions regarding the fairness of principal selection processes. This study investigated the criteria and procedures used to select principals as reported by principals in their most recent experience within the selection process. Additionally, this study examined principals’ experiences and perceptions regarding the fairness of principal selection utilizing Leventhal’s (1976) rules for evaluating procedural fairness.

The population of this study was 5,840California public school principals. An electronic survey was sent to the entire population with221 surveys completed by participants. The survey solicited the experiences and perceptions of principals regarding selection criteria and procedures as well as the fairness of principal selection. Results for criteria and procedures were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results for fairness of principal selection were analyzed using constant comparative analysis.

The results identified the criteria and procedures from participants’ recent selection experiences. Results suggested school districts rely on the most common procedures which are also the most subjective and least predictive. Additionally, results suggested a significant number of principals experienced unfairness in principal selection based on analyses of participant responses utilizing Leventhal’s (1976) rules for evaluating procedural fairness. Finally, participants described hiring cultures within their school districts as merit-based as well as cultures which were based on factors other than merit.

If the principal is a significant contributor to student achievement as research has suggested, it would appear school district selection processes and hiring cultures do not widely ensure the most-qualified candidates are selected to the principalship.

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The Impact of STEM Enrichment Programs on California’s High School Latino/a Seniors

Gretchen Skrotzki

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

This study seeks to determine if Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) enrichment programs, such as summer camp programs, after-school programs, or STEM-based high schools motivate Latino high school graduates to enter into STEM bachelor programs in college as compared to those students enrolled in non-STEM enrichment programs.

A mixed-methods approach consisting of pre-and post-surveys and focus group interviews were used to determine students’ level of interest in STEM, confidence in their ability to do well in STEM subjects, consideration to pursue advanced courses in STEM, and consideration to pursue a job in STEM. An average change (Post-Pre) across survey questions was calculated for each student. This provided an overall change across all variables and allowed for one variable called “Total Interest” to be derived.

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A Study of Education and KSAOS on Career Entry for Product Engineers: What Employers Really Want

James Thornburgh

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Julie Olson-Buchanan

Abstract:

The purpose of the study was to investigate the ways that employers of product engineers evaluate potential employees’ job readiness, and which theories related to the education-work transaction are supported by practice. This study used a mixed methods approach and consisted of a state-wide survey (N=106) and local interviews (N=8).

The results of the research indicate that attributes of both the Theory of Individual Differences and Credentialing Theory are present in the hiring practices of product engineers. Consistent with the Theory of Individual Differences, employers indicate they look for evidence of various job-related Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Other attributes (KSAOs) and they indicate they are willing to hire applicants who have less than a bachelor’s degree. Consistent with Credentialing Theory, employers advertise a formal education minimum which represents only one way that individuals may learn to be an engineer. This study also confirmed prior research that most employers use primarily non-evidence based predictors to evaluate applicants. The primary initial screening predictors were experience, GPA, and major, while the primary finalist selection predictors were unstructured interviews, and applications, followed by structured interviews, job knowledge tests, and work sample test.

Contrary to previous findings, this study did not find any major differences between what HR professionals, engineering managers, or other manager look for in terms of qualifications or what predictors they use when evaluating applicants for product engineer positions.

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An Investigation of the Relationship between School Leader Cultural Competency and English Language Learners’ (ELL) Academic Success

Susana Ramirez

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

The purpose of this study is to describe and identify supports and professional development opportunities about cultural competency provided to large urban districts with high EL enrollments and their school leaders. More specifically, the study explores and describes barriers and challenges to ELL student success and best practices to support acquisition and gain knowledge of cultural competence strategies for district and school leaders who work with this student population. Lastly, the study sought to describe cultural competence best practices exhibited by district and elementary school leaders who provide academic support to schools with high EL student populations for the purpose of improving student achievement. 

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Elementary School Teachers’ and Principals’ Formative Assessment Beliefs, Practices, and Assessment Literacy

Rene Rosas

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to investigate elementary teachers’ and principals’ formative assessment beliefs, assessment practices, and assessment literacy. The study addressed the following questions: Are teachers’ and principals’ levels of assessment literacy different? Are there differences in level of assessment literacy, assessment beliefs, and assessment practices among teachers related to their years of experience (0to 11 years and more than 11 years), grade level assignment (primary vs. intermediate), level of education, and intensity of assessment training? Results showed a significant difference between teachers (M=19.03) and principals (M=23.14) on level of assessment literacy. In addition, significant differences on level of assessment literacy emerged in relation to teachers’ years of experience, grade level assignment, level of education, and intensity of assessment training. Moreover, results revealed the need for more education and sustained professional development on assessment literacy among Central Valley educators.

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La Voz Paternal (The Paternal Voice): A Qualitative Study of Mexican Immigrant Fathers and the College Choice Process of their Children

Sophia Rizzo

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Juan Carlos Gonzalez

Abstract:

The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine what could be discovered about the experiences of nine Mexican immigrant fathers in the college decision-making process of their children. The exploratory study sought to contribute to the existing literature on the Mexican immigrant population. Hossler and Gallagher’s (1987) three-stage model of college choice, which is comprised of a predisposition, search, and choice phase, guided the study. The study utilized semi-structured interviews in order to gauge a better understanding of the experiences of Mexican immigrant fathers in the college choice process of their children. Participants were from the Central Valley of California and had children who were currently enrolled in or completed at least a bachelor’s degree. Individual face-to-face interviews took approximately one hour to complete. Interviews conducted in Spanish were recorded and transcribed. Emerging themes were identified using Nvivo 10 software. The voices of nine fathers were highlighted in the predisposition, search, and choice stages. Findings revealed more similarities than differences to the factors from Hossler and Gallagher’s (1987) College Choice Model. Parental encouragement and support primarily facilitated the predisposition and search stages. The choice stage centered on perceived ability to pay for college. With the absence of parental collegial experiences, a new foundation is offered in revealing new findings. The development of the value for education was a foundation established throughout the participants’ children’s lives. A new phase, named trajectory, is proposed by the researcher. Trajectory emerging themes included love, motivation, pride, faith, and work ethic. Recommendations for both educators and other Latino parents are based on participants’ and researcher’s suggestions. Findings from this study demonstrate the strong support Mexican immigrant fathers provide for their children. Studies to further explore and develop the trajectory phase are proposed. Examining school policies that include engaging parents in the college choice process of their children are also recommended.

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An Examination of Social Deficits and Recommended Practices for Individuals Historically Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome

Jose M. Reyes

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

The purpose of this study is to examine the academic skills of students with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS).More specifically, this study examines perceptions of school psychologists in the field who work with individuals with AS to see if social communication deficits increase as students with AS move through elementary, middle and high school. The study also sought to determine what prevalent interventions have been implemented by school personnel and professionals in the field which have had a positive effect on individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome. Determining effective interventions and best practices will provide needed assistance to individuals with AS and help them achieve future success.

The study found that students with AS excel academically and typically do not struggle with academic content. Students with AS were perceived by participants as to having increased anxiety and continued social communication difficulty as they progressed through elementary, middle and high school. Increased anxiety and social communication difficulties will potentially lead to undesired behaviors such as depression and bullying. The study also determined recommended practices to support students with AS, teachers, parents and schools.

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The Impact of Resilience on College Student Persistence

Maria Eaton

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Debra Harris

Abstract:

Floundering college student retention rates and a lack of effective techniques to combat them are challenges that have plagued colleges and universities for decades. The negative impact of low student retention is not solely absorbed by the higher institutions. Low student retention rates have societal and personal economic implications. Millions of dollars are spent each year funding the incomplete education endeavors of students who drop out. Persons with less than a college degree will earn less money over time compared to college graduates. Many theories have been developed over time and colleges and universities have responded by developing and implementing programs to address the issues that have been identified. However, despite the various programs and services that are common across higher education institutions, the student departures continue.

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship that resilience has on students’ persistence. The three campuses chosen are located in California’s Central Valley, have more than 50% of underrepresented minorities attending, and award Pell grants at a higher percentage rate than average. The implications of this study are discussed and recommendations are made to inspire the retention and success of this student population.

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An Examination of the Critical Components and Efficacy of Professional Learning Communities

Merriellen Cohrs

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Debra Harris

Abstract:

The movement of reform has been a part of the field of education since the change to an urbanized society. The look of the reform has swung like a pendulum as programs and expectations have changed. The introduction of Professional Learning Communities has seemed to be one program that has remained intact as was originally intended. Studies have shown that when the efficacy of the educational staff is high, achievement has seen to increase. The purpose of this study was to explore whether there was a correlation between student achievement scores, teacher, administrator, and Professional Learning Communities efficacy at a school site. Correlations to achievement scores and efficacy were evaluated using a mixed methods research approach by examining the data from the efficacy scales, comments provided by respondents, and the achievement scores for each responding school. There was a correlation found between teacher efficacy and achievement scores.

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Investigating Learning-Oriented Feedback as an Instructional Process: A Pedagogy of Engagement and Contingency to Empower Student Learning in the 21st Century Classroom

Lisa Lynn Bizer-Hansen

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

Learning-oriented feedback as an instructional approach that addresses 21st Century instructional demands and the complexity of implementing instructional attributes that provide a framework for instruction were investigated. This study explored instructional attributes that are more consistent with the research on formative assessment as an instructional process to promote student learning. The scope of relationship that exists between and within the seven instructional attributes and teacher awareness, teacher efficacy, perceived-use as well as actual observed instructional practices were investigated.

The target population was third and fourth grade teachers and the study was conducted in a suburban school district in the Central Valley of California. A mixed-methods, non-experimental research design was employed to determine relationships between instructional attributes of the learning-oriented feedback process and compare perceived use and actual observed implementation of the attributes. This study clarified differential perceptions of teacher awareness and teacher efficacy for instructional attributes as well as the disparity in teacher reported use and observed employment of attributes. The two most pervasive and strongest findings of the study were that teachers did not yet possess the capability to implement instructional attributes as research defines is effective and the seven instructional attributes are highly correlated and interwoven strategies within the learning-oriented feedback process.

This study contributes to advancing the conceptual understanding of learning-oriented feedback as an instructional process comprised of several attributes and also in the application of the findings to classroom practices. This study has the potential to provide information to facilitate education reform that differs from previous efforts and offers a fresh approach to teaching and learning. Fundamentally, findings clearly indicate the need for teachers to participate in a reflective systematic process to build teacher capacity for implementing the instructional attributes of the learning-oriented feedback process. The findings, therefore, deserve careful attention from both researchers and educators as districts and schools across the state of California and the nation begin to implement CCSS and search to identify and deliver effective instructional strategies to help educators develop students who are self-directed and self-motivated learners for the 21st Century classroom.

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Leading Change for the Implementation of the Common Core State Standards in Rural School District

Pablo Castro Lopez

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

This study investigated the concerns of teachers and administrators and their levels of use as they relate to the California Common Core State Standards (CaCCSS) in 13 California rural school districts. This study also investigated leadership steps taken to lead the change processes for CaCCSS implementation. A total of 352 teachers and 36 administrators responded to the Stages of Concern Questionnaire (SoCQ), which measured the concerns of respondents associated with CaCCSS implementation. Results from teacher responses demonstrated a general trend towards the highest relative intensity in the Information and Personal stages of concern and lowest intensities in the Refocusing and Consequence stages. In general, administrators’ responses trended towards the highest relative intensity in the Collaboration stages of concern.

Qualitative responses by administrators to questions relating to concerns and leadership approaches associated with CaCCSS implementation were also analyzed. School leaders expressed a range of leadership concerns and needs and communicated leadership steps taken to implement the CaCCSS. Several important themes emerged. Administrators were providing training to all of their teachers via their county offices of education, were in the process of developing new assessments aligned with CaCCSS, were encouraging teachers to experiment with CaCCSS, and were investing in technology to meet the demands of CaCCSS. District and site administrators were also participating in trainings alongside their teachers. Taken overall, the results suggest that teachers and education leaders are in the early stages of CaCCSS implementation and as a result will need more time and resources including professional learning opportunities to meet the demands of CaCCSS.

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Relationship between Teacher Collective Efficacy and Instructional Rounds Elements and Teacher Perspectives Regarding Impact on Teaching and Learning

Lori Ann Grace

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Linda Hauser

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to investigate connections between collective efficacy and elements related to teacher/school involvement in the Instructional Rounds process. Specifically, this study examined(a) the relationship between elements of the Instructional Rounds process and collective efficacy, (b) differences between the collective efficacy of teachers and number of years a school has been involved in Instructional Rounds, and differences in the collective efficacy of teachers who have directly participated and those who have not directly participated in the Instructional Rounds process, (c) main effects on collective efficacy for school type, duration of Instructional Rounds, and the interaction, and (d) impact of the Instructional Rounds process on teaching and learning.

A mixed method, QUAN –QUAL design was employed using both a web-based survey and focus group interviews. Survey population included 187 teachers from 12 schools within five districts who are members of the Executive Instructional Leadership Program for Rural Central Valley School Districts.

Quantitative results revealed a significant moderate positive correlation for the relationship between Collective Efficacy ratings and Instructional Rounds Elements ratings. However, no difference was found between number of years a school has been involved in Instructional Rounds and Collective Teacher Efficacy Scale ratings.

Results revealed no significant difference between Collective Teacher Efficacy Scale ratings of direct participants and indirect participants. No significant differences were indicated for Collective Teacher Efficacy Scale ratings by school type or number of years a school has been involved in Instructional Rounds. However, there was a significant interaction between school type and years involved in the Rounds process on collective efficacy ratings.

Qualitative data from six focus group interviews were analyzed and five themes emerged regarding the impact the Instructional Rounds process has had on teaching and learning: (a) Observation Outcome -Learn Additional Strategies, (b) Focused Improvement, (c) Importance of Commitment to and Collective Understanding of the Problem of Practice, (d) Cultivating the Next Steps –Next Level of Work, and (e) Cultural Shift.

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Data Collection and Progress Monitoring in Special Education: Factors that Influence the Use of Data

Cari Kayleen Loete

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Colleen Torgerson

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to examine teacher perceptions about progress monitoring, to identify barriers to using data to inform instructional practices and program planning, and to make recommendations for improvement. Specifically, this study investigated perceptions about data use, resources and supports necessary, and data use practices. The study was conducted using an electronic survey that was distributed to approximately 600 special education teachers. The researcher received 163 completed survey responses. Participants represented eight school districts in the Central Valley.

The research study addressed four research questions: 1) What factors influence special educators’ use of data to monitor student progress?, 2) What are teacher perceptions about how they are prepared to collect, analyze, and utilize data for progress monitoring?, 3) How do teachers use data to drive instructional practices?, and 4) Are data collection and utilization practices and perceptions correlated with place of teacher training and/or place of employment?

This study utilized a concurrent nested strategy where both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. The quantitative research consisted of a survey with Likert-type scale questions and the qualitative research was comprised of 15 phone interviews with randomly selected special education teachers, four special education district administrators, and four general education principals. These qualitative interviews allowed for participants to expand upon their experiences with data collection and progress monitoring in order for the researcher to study the barriers to data collection and progress monitoring as well as identify successful data collection strategies being used. Frequency Distribution, Measures of Central Frequency, Correlations, and Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) were used to identify statistical significance.

Findings revealed that teachers perceive data collection and progress monitoring to be valuable tools in instructional decision-making. Three major themes emerged from the qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Teachers identified barriers to effective data collection and progress monitoring to be time, resources, and training. Significant correlations were found between teacher perceptions of data collection and progress monitoring and barriers identified through survey responses and interviews. 

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An Examination of Faculty and Administrator Collaboration across Institutions in a Community College Consortium

Stephanie Michele Droker

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

Higher education institutions are becoming increasingly responsible for securing additional funding in order to augment decreasing public and private financial support. At the same time, grant funders are requiring these institutions to demonstrate their capacity to leverage resources with partner agencies. The purpose of this study was to provide insight regarding factors affecting collaboration, including collective efficacy, organizational learning, and constructive conflict resolution, in a large community college consortium where an organizational team approach was taken to develop accelerated, intensive programs of study in three specific Career Technical Education industries so students earn a degree or certificate of value in a reasonable amount of time. This required the consortium’s colleges to align course curricula across the region, as well as to industry standards.

A mixed methods design was used to examine the relationships among the independent variables of collective efficacy, organizational learning, constructive conflict resolution, and the dependent variable of faculty and administrator perceptions of project outcomes. For the quantitative phase, each independent variable was measured using Likert style survey questions adapted by the researcher. The dependent variable was measured using Likert style survey questions developed by the researcher. These data were analyzed with descriptive statistics, correlation coefficients, regression, and MANOVA. The results indicated that collective efficacy, organizational learning, and project quality outcomes were highly correlated, while constructive conflict resolution was not significantly correlated with collective efficacy. The regression analysis indicated that collective efficacy and conflict were significant predictors of project outcomes. There were no differences between work groups on all variables indicating they had similar experiences.

The qualitative phase consisted of an in-depth interview protocol that included questions designed to elicit faculty and administrator reactions to the project’s collaboration process. Four themes, grounded in coherence theory, emerged as a result of the analysis of the qualitative data: relationship building/dissolving competition, sense of empowerment, supportive leadership, and fear for the future/sustainability. Recommendations and suggestions for future research were also presented. 

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Exploring Embedded Remediation for Community College Career Technical Education Pathways: Promising Practices

Donna Walters Cooper

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Diane Oliver

Abstract:

Public community colleges enroll nearly half of all undergraduate students in the United States and many of these students are enrolled in 1-and 2-year Career and Technical Education programs. Employers have indicated that colleges should place more emphasis on reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. Career Technical Education can address the gap between employer expectations and students’ skills through classroom redesign.

In 2011, a consortium of California community colleges received a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant from the U. S. Department of Labor to address postsecondary educational needs and improve student outcomes in an economically distressed area. The consortium adopted eight guiding principles to inform their work within designated Career Technical Education pathways. The purpose of this research study was to explore the implementation of one of the eight guiding principles—embedded remediation.

The study used a qualitative, multi-case study method to discover promising implementation practices, and was guided by five research questions: How can embedded remediation at each case study community college be characterized and how did the implementation evolve? How are faculty trained to embed remediation? How do faculty members perceive that the implementation of embedded remediation has affected student learning, completion and preparation for employment? What recommendations do faculty members have for embedding remediation in CTE programs? How do students perceive embedded remediation in relation to their learning? Data were collected using semi-structured interviews, focus groups, observations, and documents. Faculty, tutors, and students at the three case study colleges participated in the study. A content analysis was used to identify themes and triangulate data from different sources. Finally, a cross-case comparison was conducted.

Several themes emerged from the study including the importance of on-going communication among faculty, with the institution and with students; the use of trained tutors to provide supplemental learning both within and outside of the classroom setting; professional development for faculty to assist in the paradigm shift of classroom redesign; and collaborative learning for faculty and students. Based on the findings, promising practices were developed for implementing redesigned vocational pathways that support student success.

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Investigating the Impact of a State-Supported Proficiency Based Teaching and Learning Educational Model in Changing Student Assessment Outcomes and Teacher Efficacy

Lurena Arlene Brubaker

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Kenneth Magdaleno

Abstract:

The principal objective of this study was to determine whether the academic increases obtained during a previous study regarding Business Education Compact’s (BEC) program of professional development and coaching for Proficiency-Based Teaching and Learning (PBTL) for students from three Oregon school districts, were sustainable over time. Teachers in the original study were given four or more full days of intensive onsite professional development, with follow-up training and coaching throughout the first year. A quasi-experimental research design was used to compare grades 7, 8 and 11 Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) achievement outcomes of the BEC treatment schools with those of socio-economically matched controls. The control group schools were given one formal day of offsite training. Short, 3-question post-training surveys were administered online at the end of each school year to evaluate teacher perceptions of their proficiency-based pedagogical knowledge, efficacy, and success with students.

Statistical power analyses were conducted to determine the minimum sample size needed for confident ANOVA analyses for treatment-control differences, and to detect the very small differences that occurred between treatment and matched controls in the original study. Subsequent ANOVA analyses of the post-baseline, 2011-2013 treatment-control groups indicated significant differences in the OAKS Reading/Literature and Mathematics in favor of the treatment group. Effect sizes indicated very small impacts for both content areas in 2011 (ES=0.10 to 0.13), and small Mathematics impacts (ES=0.27) and moderate sized Reading/Literature impacts (ES=0.40) in 2013. Covariate ANCOVA adjustments for 2010 baseline differences eliminated the significant differences found in both content areas with the ANOVA analysis. However, this may have falsely rejected the legitimate, initial and sustained moderate-impact gains seen in the ANOVA analyses. These results were similar to meta-analytic research studies, which also report small effect size impacts of educational reform and professional development programs on State achievement exams. ‘Counter-causes’ for low effect sizes in this study and in the literature were considered.

Finally, it was recommended that major funding be sought, sufficient for an Oregon Department of Education (ODE)-BEC research project that investigates the length, saturation, and fidelity of professional development and coaching needed for successful implementation of PBTL.

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Projecting Enrollment in Urban Schools: A Comparative Study of Three Forecasting Models

Mary Estelle Anderson

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

Enrollment projections are vital for decision making in public education institutions. As public schools and districts across California are preparing their Local Control and Accountability Plans which tie directly to future apportionment allocated according to the newly adopted Local Control Funding Formula, estimations of future student population size, demographic composition, and enrollment patterns provide invaluable data for planning future resource allocation. The most commonly used methods for calculating enrollment projections are variations on Cohort Survival Rate models and have changed little in recent decades, despite improvements in the collection of student information and increased sophistication of data management and widely available analysis software. This study was designed to determine the most accurate method for calculating a series of monthly enrollment forecasts among two commonly used enrollment projection methods, Cohort Survival Rate and Linear Trend Analysis, and a third experimental Student-Level Migration Regression model for one large urban school district. Four types of error were compared, and results showed that while the Cohort Survival Rate and Linear Trend Analysis were comparable for forecasting school and grade level aggregate populations, the experimental Student-Level Migration Regression model proved to be more accurate in forecasting enrollment across school mobility rates, grade levels, and for student subpopulation enrollment, including Special Education, English Learners, Foster and homeless students.

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Identifying Non-Graduating Students before Departure: Linking Secondary Institutional Characteristics and Postsecondary Achievement to Attrition after the Second Year

Daniel Robert Ayala

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

This study sought to develop a predictive model of undergraduate degree non-completion, using institutional-level secondary characteristics and individual-level postsecondary achievement data to predict non-graduating students’ academic year of departure. Longitudinal data pertaining to first-time, full-time freshmen admitted in the fall 2007 semester from several universities were used in this study. Using multiple linear regression, factor analysis, and discriminant function analysis, it was determined that students could be assigned an academic year of departure using data readily available by the end of a student’s third academic term.

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Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing in California: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

Nan Owensby Barker

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

Students who are deaf or hard of hearing (SDHH) have unique educational needs and are served in numerous education settings throughout California, with a variety of specialized services, equipment, and materials. The variability of individual students within the larger group of SDHH creates additional challenges when conducting research aimed at measuring the effectiveness of teaching and learning. A description of SDHH in California, based on statewide data, was needed to understand the conditions and experiences of SDHH.

This study was a sequential mixed methods study framed with a pragmatic theoretical base. Cross-sectional descriptive study of data for SDHH and semi-structured interviews of professionals in the field were used to describe the conditions and experiences of SDHH served in California in 2012/2013 and their service providers experiences in accessing student-level data.

The expected incidence rate for SDHH is less than 1% of the total statewide enrollment and impacts the accessibility of student-level data. The limited number of SDHH in one location also affects programmatic planning for leaders in the field of deaf education. In a unique irony, many general education administrators on school sites with access to data for their students do not have expertise in addressing the educational needs of SDHH, and administrators for programs serving SDHH at a variety of school sites do not have access to individual-level data disaggregated only for SDHH.

The use of academic achievement data to drive instruction for SDHH is extremely limited due to the accessibility of data management systems and student participation in different levels in statewide assessments. The heterogeneity of SDHH, the known variability within same age groups, and the lack of meaningful data on SDHH supports the need for further research studies. 

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Building Capacity for Behavioral Intervention Plan Development

Timothy Allison

California State University, Fresno, 2014

Chair: Colleen Torgerson

Abstract:

With the passage of Assembly Bill 86, the requirement that highly trained professionals are required to develop behavioral intervention plans (BIPs) for at-risk youth has been waived. State superintendents are now authorized to decide which level of credentialed professional is qualified enough to develop these plans going forward. Research will show that a vast majority of the BIPs that are developed in actual practice have been rated, by research-based instruments (Browning-Wright et al., 2007), as inadequate, missing key evidence-based components, and potentially legally invalid due to substantive and procedural violations (Cook et al., 2007) putting districts at risk and highlighting a need for capacity building of professionals in writing high quality plans. This study examined the effects of professional development training on a high school treatment group’s ability to significantly improve current BIPs from the same plans developed prior to the intervention. Based on the results of the training, the treatment group’s scores significantly increased from the pre-test to the post-test, and the increase was significantly different than the change of scores at the statistically similar high school setting’s plans, which did not receive any interventions. While growth was made due to the interventions used in the study, limitations of the intensity of the intervention reduced the impact it might have had. At the conclusion of the study, nearly half of the plans at the treatment group were still rated as inadequate. Future research would have an opportunity to develop more intensive in-services a longer treatment periods to study the impact it had on a setting.

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Impact of Technology on Teacher Efficacy and Instruction Time

Jeffrey Michael VanderNoor

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

In light of the emerging emphasis on interpreting technology, this study investigated how teachers’ technology self-efficacy influenced their use of technology in the classroom technology use. The secondary purpose was to examine the extent teacher technology self-efficacy was related to instructional time. The study findings answered questions of technological perceived effectiveness and perceived value from both the educator’s point of view and the learner’s viewpoint.

Study participants (N=18) were sixth-grade teachers in three school districts in Northern, Central, and Southern California. The study sought to answer the following research questions: To what extent is perceived ease of use and usefulness related to instruction time? To what extent is teacher technology self- efficacy related to instruction time?

The questions investigated used descriptive statistics and the analysis of means, standard deviations, minimums, and maximums. A Pearson Product Correlation was computed to examine the relation to the variables in each research question. The major findings of the study were that in the analysis of perceived ease of use and usefulness descriptive statistics showed the teachers had a positive mean score for all items and/or behaviors of at least 6.0, which is between 6 (quite likely) and 7 (most likely). Furthermore, the technology self-efficacy survey items rated the teachers at a high level of confidence with a mean scaled score of 4.0 or higher. In other words, the teacher’s level of confidence with technology self-efficacy was between 4 (agree) and 5 (strongly agree). Correlational results indicated that there was a moderate positive correlation (r=.663), with a strong significance (p<.01, p=.003) between the total score from the teacher self-efficacy and the total score from the teacher perceived ease of use survey. In other words, a majority of the teachers felt positive about their use of technology and they perceived the iPad to be useful in their classroom. 

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An Examination of the Relationship between Tablet Computing and Student Engagement, Self-Efficacy, and Student Attitude toward Learning

Troy Odell Tenhet Jr.

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

The purpose of this research study was to examine the relationship between tablet computing in the classroom and student engagement. This study examined the sixth-grade students’ time with the tablets, student self-efficacy, and attitude toward learning as it impacts student engagement with the tablets. Additionally, the study looked at the relationship between student use of tablets and their attitude toward technology in the classroom-learning environment. The study encompassed 18classrooms across California (N= 279) and the grade level was grade six. Through the use of a survey instrument from Moran, Hawkes and El Gayar (2010)that gathered information about gender, working computers at home, parent college experience, and time with the tablets, the researcher examined relationships between the tablet usage and engagement. Also, the instrument looked at performance expectancy, effort expectancy, student cognitive engagement, attitude toward the tablet technology, and student self-efficacy. This study is relevant because of the paradigm shift in education that includes a significant presence from tablet computing. Districts are currently spending millions of dollars on tablets for their classrooms. This study found that although students indicated high levels of efficacy and engagement, the survey indicated a relationship between tablets and efficacy or engagement that was not statistically significant. The study suggested that student engagement with the tablets does not equate automatically with academic engagement with the tablets. Future studies should perhaps look at tablets in their appropriate role as “helpers of collaboration” Future research designs should include qualitative focus groups and interviews of student tablet users.

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The Role of Leadership in Implementing and Sustaining a Performance-Based System

Hana Suleiman

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to investigate leadership factors and actions that may be related to the implementation of a performance-based system (PBS)and its sustainability. This thematically driven study investigated pertinent variables that affect leadership in PBS schools. This study utilized the mixed methods approach in data collection and analyses. The data was collected and analyzed from three sites across the United States in which PBS is being implemented. The primary goals of this study involved identifying key dispositions and factors of leadership that drive implementation and sustain such reform efforts.

Specific areas of leadership have been explored including demonstrated actions of a shared vision, efforts to build capacity and distribute leadership, as well as the process of continuous improvement. The findings of this study revealed areas of strengths in balancing short and long term goals, developing collective meaning and commitment, and communicating a moral purpose. In addition, findings revealed areas of weakness in distributing leadership, providing professional development, and monitoring classrooms.

Finally, this study provided guiding principles for school reform in general, and effective PBS models in particular. Recommendations for each district include allowing time for adaptation and reflection, increasing classroom observations, and developing a formal process of distributed leadership.

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Performance-Based Assessments: Analyzing Impacts on Perceived and Actual Student Success in Three Performance-Based Districts

Andrew James Scherrer

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

As one dissertation in a thematic study comprising off our researchers, this study delved into the performance-based assessment (PBA) practices of three focus Performance-based System (PBS) districts. The study investigated the perceptions of teachers regarding the accuracy of their assessments in predicting standardized assessment success, identified the alignment of aggregate grades/marks from different schools and districts against their respective state-standardized measures, and analyzed how teacher perceptions compared to actual results of the accuracy of student achievement on standardized assessments. Through a mixed-methods approach, both survey and focus group question data were analyzed through a variety of statistical measures.

Findings indicated that the increased use of performance-based assessments positively influences teachers’ perceptions of student achievement. As usage of classroom performance-based assessments increase, perceptions of student achievement increase. Furthermore, PBS classroom grades/scores do not necessarily align with student achievement on statewide-standardized measures, and any strength of alignment differs between districts, grade levels, and subject areas. Finally, although data allows for some conclusions to be made, overall there is not a strong association between teacher perceptions of student achievement and actual performance outcomes.

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An Exploration into the Factors that Impede the Social and Academic Progress of African American Males in Foster Care

David Lee Sandles, Jr.

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Kenneth Magdaleno

Abstract:

The purpose of this qualitative research study was to investigate the social and academic plight of African American males in foster care. The researcher conducted this study to gain a clear understanding of the challenges experienced by those who were formerly in foster care. This study also sought to identify the causes preventing African American males in foster care from achieving a comparable level of social and academic success as their counterparts from traditional homes, and it also sought to explore potential remedies for those challenges. This study used Critical Race Theory as its theoretical foundation to examine the difficulties experienced by African American males in foster care.

Findings from this study showed that African American males in foster care face a number of challenges to their success, including racism, low expectations and a lack of social/family support. The findings of this study reveal that the following features can promote resiliency in African American males and assist in addressing the barriers to success: mentoring, extracurricular activities and increased interaction with biological family members.

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Adult Transition Services for Students with Disabilities

Jesus Rodriguez

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

This qualitative collective case study explored the experiences of adult transition students who have been directly involved with adult transition program services, located in a county in central California. In addition, the study helped identify best practice services that are currently being provided by these adult transition programs. Using semi-structured interviews designed to explore personal experiences of types of services being provided by adult transition programs, along with an observation checklist were utilized to help better understand and serve adult transition students with disabilities.

The findings revealed that all participants in the study felt that the adult transition programs are indeed better preparing transition students for the future. Most participants expressed that the treatment of students and the component of work experiences were the most helpful in assisting young adults with disabilities become independent. In addition, the participating adult transition programs demonstrated that they provided and practiced most services described in the literature as best practices, with the exception of career/vocational assessments, interagency collaboration, and similar aged peer and people integration. As well, the delivery of these services ranged significantly from program to program. Most transition completers in the study stated not experiencing any challenges, such as discrimination, inadequate transition services, and lack of work and site accommodations, while enrolled in their adult transition program. However, some of the most mentioned challenges by the transition participants were the demand of more functional skills teaching and the increase of teachers and/or staff support. Overall, the vast majority of adult transition participants who participated in the study expressed feelings of satisfaction for the services that were provided by their perspective adult transition programs.

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Factors Motivating Latino College Students to Pursue STEM Degrees on CSU Campuses in the Southern San Joaquin Valley

Gabriel Ramirez

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:
The purpose of this study was to determine what factors were motivating Latino/a students in the southern San Joaquin Valley to pursue STEM degrees and whether these factors were specific to the Latino/a culture. A 12-question survey was administered to STEM majors at California State University, Bakersfield and California State University, Fresno and interviews were conducted with those survey respondents who agreed to be part of the process.

The results of the survey suggested that factors such as STEM subject matter, STEM career knowledge, the possibility of a high paying salary, high school STEM grades, and family influence were significant in motivating Latino/a students to pursue STEM degrees. The results of the Chi Square Test suggested the Latino/a students’ responses about college STEM degree granting statistics, the possibility of a high salary, and the effects of setbacks were significantly different to those of their non-Latino/a counterparts.

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Descriptive Case Study of Theories of Action, Strategic Objectives and Strategic Initiatives Used by California Female County Superintendents to Move their Organizations from Current State to Desired Future

Valerie Darlene Park

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Linda Hauser

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to describe the theories of action, strategic objectives, and strategic initiatives of school systems led by female county superintendents in California and examine their impact on improving system outcomes. Additionally, the factors influencing theory of action, strategic objective, and initiative development were investigated.

The research design was a qualitative, descriptive case study. The specific subjects of interest were six female county superintendents representing various regions in California: coastal, mountain, and central valley, and the unit of analysis was the theories of action, strategic objectives and strategic initiatives these leaders are using to move their organization from current state to a desired future.

Qualitative data served as the source of information for this case study. Individual in-depth, in-person interviews, a written open-ended survey, and a strategic plan matrix were the instruments used. The resulting themes provided valuable insights into the theories of action, strategic objectives, and strategic initiatives focused on transforming county education organizations to a desired future state.

Three primary themes emerged relative to theories of actions: create and maintain both internal and external collaborative relationships and partnerships, use technology to be innovative, and provide professional development. Six themes emerged regarding focuses of the strategic objectives/initiatives: (a) collaborate, coordinate programs, and build meaningful partnerships; (b) communicate county services provided; (c) provide quality preschool; (d) build capacity in the organization through staff development; (e) recruit, hire and retain high quality employees; and (f) increase the use of technology to be innovative. The primary factors identified as influencing theory of action and initiative development included core values; vision of the organization; commitment to provide services to the community; importance of a collaborative culture; personal education and upbringing; new state policies, direction, and mandates; new expectations for student assessment; and an acknowledged need. 

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The Influence of Extrinsic Motivation on Student Performance on Large-Scale Assessments

Carl Dean McGee

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Jason C. Immekus

Abstract:

The purposes of this mixed method study were to examine the relationship between student motivation and performance on large-scale, low-and high-stakes examinations and identify the types of incentive programs used by principals to promote test performance among high school students. The study took take place in California’s Southern San Joaquin Valley and was situated in a large high school district with an enrollment of 37,070 students. A total of 5,245 10th-grade students were included in the study after completing the mandated state assessments in the spring of 2013. The qualitative findings for this study indicated that principals believed that students do not always put their best efforts forward when taking mandated exams; incentives are motivational for students; some teachers support the use of incentives for test-taking effort; more data should be used by school leaders to make decisions about incentive use; and incentive programs require financial and human resources that are difficult to provide. The quantitative findings of this study indicated that student performance on low-and high-stakes assessments is significantly correlated to test-taking effort. The study revealed that schools with performance-based incentive programs demonstrated greater growth in API scores than non-incentive schools and performance-based incentives deployed were substantially different across the sample of school sites indicating that students may be motivated in a variety of ways.

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Teacher Self-Efficacy and Teachers’ Collective Efficacy in Performance-Based System

Becky MacQuarrie

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

This dissertation is one part of four thematically linked dissertations which aimed to illustrate the intricacies of a performance-based system of education at three selected districts nationwide. The dissertations explored aspects of leadership, assessment, teacher self-efficacy, and instructional practices. The purpose of this study analyzed the relationship of PBS implementation and teacher self-efficacy and teachers’ collective efficacy. A mixed-methods approach was utilized, including SPSS statistical analysis and qualitative examination. Each dissertation used a common survey, focus group and individual interviews, and classroom observation data to hone in on the key elements of a performance based system of education. All data were triangulated to ensure strength of reliability and focused interpretation of data towards findings regarding a PBS. General findings revealed that high PBS implementation correlated with high teacher self-efficacy and teachers’ collective efficacy. It is recommended that high PBS implementation is first reached as quickly as possible with a small cadre of educators. Once the system is in place, and success is attained, the process should be implemented throughout an entire district with a fully devised structure in place in order to increase teacher self-efficacy and teachers’ collective efficacy within the PBS system.

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A Study of Instructional Practices in a Performance-Based System

Anna Dawn Kauble

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to investigate the instructional practices which may be related to effectiveness of a performance-based system (PBS) and their impact on student achievement, as part of a thematic dissertation that examines different aspects of a PBS system. This specific study examined the role of instructional strategies in implementing and sustaining a performance-based system in order to better understand how instructional strategies can improve the implementation of an innovative school reform as well as support a sustainable outcome that improves student academic achievement. In the study, a questionnaire was utilized to measure instructional strategy perceptions. Next, instructional strategy actions and perceptions were explored through face-to-face focus groups with participants. Finally, classroom observations were conducted to determine which components of instructional practices are commonly used in a PBS. The design for this mixed method study integrated both qualitative and quantitative methods.

The results of the study indicated that there were some differences in the perceptions and usage of instructional practices across grade levels and districts. It was found the participants believe that the individualized nature of a PBS along with instilling student self-motivation is what promotes student achievement, not the use of specific instructional practices.

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Does Watching Do the Math Affect Self-Efficacy and Achievement in Mathematics?

Blanca Guadalupe Cavazos

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

Do The Math, a 1-hour, live, educational television program provides on-air instruction in general math, geometry, pre-algebra and algebra to a target audience of4th–12th graders. A team of math teachers also provides tutoring to students who call in for help with homework. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether watching Do The Math has an effect on middle school students’ self-efficacy and achievement in math. A secondary purpose was to examine whether the self-efficacy measurement instrument, The Sources of Middle School Mathematics Self Efficacy Scale, was valid for a population that is predominantly Hispanic/Latino and low socioeconomic level. The theoretical framework for this study was based on Social Cognitive Theory and personal agency as posited by Bandura (1977). The theory hypothesizes that human beings operate based on interactions between their thoughts and emotions, behaviors, and existing conditions in their environment. These interactions are interpreted from four main sources of information –mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social verbal persuasions, and emotional and physiological states (Bandura, 1997).

Study participants (n= 293) were fourth (n= 135), fifth (n= 94) or sixth graders (n= 64) enrolled in an After School program. One district is in a rural community and the other is in a metropolitan area. The majority of participants were female (n = 164). The Sources of Middle School Mathematics Self Efficacy Scale was used to measure self-efficacy and a 20-problem mathematics diagnostic test was used to assess achievement. Pre and posttests using both instruments were administered 8-12 weeks apart. More than half of the study participants (n= 153) watched Do The Math and logs were maintained of the time spent watching the show and the number of episodes watched. The study found there were no statistically significant differences in self-efficacy and achievement in math between students who watched the show and those who did not view the program. Only the fourth-grade level and one school showed a significant relationship with the sources of self-efficacy. The sources also showed a significant relationship with one another, as in previous studies.

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Examining the Experiences and Adjustment Challenges of Saudi Arabian Students in the California State University System

Jeremy Dean Caldwell

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Kenneth Magdaleno

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences and adjustment challenges of Saudi Arabian students in the California State University (CSU) system. Specifically, the study was conducted to better understand and serve the Saudi Arabian students studying in the system. The design for this mixed method study integrated both quantitative and qualitative methods. A modified version of the Michigan International Student Problem Inventory was utilized at 10 of the campuses in the CSU to determine the adjustment problems of Saudi Arabian students. Those students currently studying in the CSU and living in the United States for at least 1 year were invited to participate. Invitations were sent by email to 1,141 Saudi Arabian students, and 245 participants completed the inventory.

Additionally, 60 to 90 minute focus group sessions were held at five participating campuses within the CSU system. The sessions took place on northern, central, and southern California campuses, and included 31 participants from the five schools. The purpose of the focus group sessions was to gain an in-depth understanding of the experiences and challenges of these students. The results of the study found that although Saudi Arabian students were generally satisfied with their lives in California, that they encountered adjustment problems after arriving. The findings revealed that Saudi Arabian students experienced challenges with admissions, homesickness, friendships with Americans, living and dining, English, and with discrimination. Additionally, the study found that while many of the institutions in the CSU system provided services that helped Saudi students with their adjustment, these students expressed the need for more help from their respective institutions.

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Expanded Learning (Afterschool) Leaders’ Perceptions Regarding Most Important Elements for Program Quality and Use of Self-Assessment Tools for Continuous Improvement

Julie Anne Boesch

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Linda Hauser

Abstract:

California allocates $550 million to expanded learning through After School Education and Safety (ASES) state grants, and $140 million of federal money in 21st Century Community Learning Center grants each year, more than all other states combined. Much variability exists in program quality, and research has identified mixed results as to the value of these programs.

The purpose of this study was to identify (a) Quality Self-Assessment Tool (QSAT)elements and Learning in Afterschool and Summer (LIAS)principles frontline implementers and technical assistance providers perceive as most important or essential to developing, executing, and sustaining a high quality program and(b) explore the value and impact of using the QSAT and LIAS principles tool to improve and sustain program quality.

A mixed methods design included both quantitative and qualitative data. Fifty Q-sorts, using Q Methodology, explored participants’ perceived level of importance regarding statement elements related to developing and sustaining a high quality after school program. Findings revealed that participants consistently ranked four statements derived from the LIAS principles as most important for developing a high quality afterschool program. These statements described programs that engaged students in active, collaborative, meaningful learning activities that expanded horizons. Participants indicated four elements as critical to operating an afterschool program of quality: well defined, hands-on, student-centered activities incorporating academics, youth development and recreation; students and staff with a strong sense of ownership and belonging; active learning experiences; and meaningful learning experiences.

Twelve individual interviews with frontline afterschool program implementers explored the use of self-assessment, most specifically the use of the QSAT and LIAS principles tool, to improve and sustain program quality. Six themes emerged relative to what participants identified as a need to move their programs to highest quality: money, training, staff, leadership, systems for continuous improvement, and support from stakeholders. Four themes emerged as facilitators to improving and sustaining an afterschool program of quality: leadership, establishing a vision and setting goals, staffing -recruiting, hiring, training and retaining quality staff who develop positive relationships, and support, while money or level of funding was the primary theme perceived as a barrier.

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A Pilot Validation Study of the Early Assessment Program English Examination

Michael Anthony White

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: David Tanner

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to determine whether results on the English Early Assessment Program (EAP) examination predict college-level English success. Previous research indicates a relationship between EAP college-prepared status and academic achievement. The present study is unique, in that student-level community college English grades were used as the predictive outcome. The hypothesis for this study was that that the mean college level of performance in college-level English classes is higher for EAP “prepared” community college students than for those students with a “not prepared” status.

Subjects for this study were 484 first-semester students enrolled in fall 2011 college-level English courses within five Central California community colleges. All subjects had completed the EAP English examination as fall 2009 high school juniors. Hispanic, White and Asian ethnic groups within the sample were generally representative of California’s community college students. The sample’s gender composition was similar to that of California’s community college system as a whole.

Chi-square test results indicated a statistically significant relationship between students’ EAP status and final letter grades in their first-semester college-level English course. Analysis of chi-square results indicated that English grades were significantly related to EAP status for the students in the Hispanic ethnic group only. English grades were also significantly related to EAP status for females. Final English letter grades and EAP status were also significantly associated with EAP status for full-time students. Analysis of logistic regression results indicated college-level English success (C or better) across ethnic, gender and enrollment status was significant. Ethnicity and gender had significant partial effects in the overall predictive model.

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Predicting Student Engagement in Online High Schools

Christopher James Vieira

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Glenn VeVoogd

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to analyze student engagement in online high schools based on demographic information of high school students using a mixed methods research design. Key findings through a multiple regression analysis and Pearson correlation coefficient suggest that although the majority of participants in the study are highly engaged with their online curriculum, no specific determination can be made as to which demographics are significantly engaged in comparison to their counterparts in online high school. An analysis of the independent variables included gender, GPA, and active time, while dependent variables (including measures of engagement) showed no significant relationship between the variables. Qualitative data conducted through open-ended questions and interviews indicated that although students seemed to be engaged with the e2020curriculum, student recommendations for curriculum providers included creating more interactive and game-based activities to increase overall student engagement.

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Resilient African American Male College Students: A Qualitative Study of Supports and Challenges for those from Foster Care

Darlene Murray

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Juan Carlos Gonzalez

Abstract:

The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the factors that have contributed or hindered the resiliency of African American college students from foster care and to gain a deeper understanding of how they have overcome life challenges despite the obstacles experienced in foster care. This qualitative study explored the factors of resiliency in 10 African American male college students from foster care. Participants of this study were students from the California State University, University of California, and the California Community College systems. Students participated in1-hour in person interviews and completed a two-page demographic questionnaire. Interview transcripts were coded based on Benard’s (2004) protective factors that facilitate resiliency.

Findings from this study revealed that African American male college students from foster care have hindrances and supports found within their family, community, and college. The following hindrances within the family were identified as unstable home environments, lack of supports, family challenges, and supporting others financially. The supports that facilitate resiliency within their family were having a caring adult, contributing back to the family, high expectations, and a trust in God. Community factors that were identified as hindrances to resiliency were poverty, pressures of street life, lack of opportunities, and low expectations. Supports that facilitate resiliency within the community were identified as having a mentor or caring adult, having good friends, church, and having high expectations. Lastly, college factors that hinder resiliency were isolation, lack of resources, discrimination, and low expectations. Supportive factors were foster youth programs, campus clubs and activities, having freedom of expression and opportunities to be involved.

This study concludes with a discussion of findings across the literature with practical recommendations for professionals in child welfare, higher education and college students formerly in foster care. Additionally, implications for future research will be discussed pertaining to the impact of Assembly Bill 12 and the influence of racism and discrimination on the college experience of African American male college students.

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A Leadership Competency Study of Higher Education Chief Business Officers

Cynthia Teniente-Matson

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

This is a mixed-methods replication study to compare leadership competencies between the original sample frame and a national sample of chief business officers (CBOs).A principal component analysis established the original 5-factor model, loading scores > .50, component labels entitled analytical, communication, student affairs, external relations and behavioral as leadership constructs identified by athletic directors, chief academic and student affairs officers. This research was conducted in collaboration with the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) and embedded within the 2013 Chief Business Officer (CBO) Profile.

The principal component analysis produced differences between the two groups. Based on the CBO results, a4-factor model emerged with loading scores >.45 and component labels entitled strategic leadership, inclusive leadership, organizational engagement and emotional intelligence. The results varied because of (1)lower loading scores in the 4-factor model, (2) different empirical variable clustering and (3) the emergence of four factors versus five.

The constructs represent meta-competencies for effective CBO leadership. Strategic leadership and organizational engagement suggested comprehensive institutional knowledge that combined strategic thinking, vision, planning and execution to enhance the organization within the context of higher education. Inclusive leadership and emotional intelligence provide an awareness of one’s impact within the organizational culture. Emotional intelligence and inclusiveness suggest that effective CBOs develop positive relationships and ably synchronize themselves and others to lead in a manner that demonstrates inclusion, equity and respect. The results provide a statistically valid model with qualitative evidence about business officer leadership competencies. The results can guide curricular reviews and self-assessment tools for current or aspiring CBOs. Further qualitative research with stakeholders such as presidents, chief academic officers or governing boards would triangulate the findings.

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Best Technology Practices of Conflict Resolution Specialists: A Case Study of Online Dispute Resolution at United States Universities

Kimberli Marie Law

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Debra Harris

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to remedy the paucity of knowledge about higher education’s conflict resolution practice of online dispute resolution by providing an in-depth description of mediator and instructor online practices. Telephone interviews were used as the primary data collection method. Eleven interview questions were relied upon to explore the perceived best practices of eight online mediators at universities across the country. These institutions included Creighton University; California State University, Dominguez Hills; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Massachusetts, Amherst; San Joaquin Valley College of Law; Stanford University; Southern Methodist University; and Wayne State University. Three research questions provided the basis for the protocol developed for the individual interviews. Interview questions explored the protocols online mediators use to resolve conflicts at their higher education institution, the technology tools online mediators use in their professional and/or teaching practice at their institution, and online mediator perceptions regarding online mediation practice at their higher education institution. Analysis of the data gathered in this qualitative study provided insight into the world of higher education mediation professor-practitioners and their perceptions about their practice. Based on study results, recommendations are made to universities whose goal it is to provide a structure for safe and civil conflict resolution education.

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Students’ Preparedness for First-Year Music Theory Courses, Their Perception of that Preparedness, and Music Theory Course Content in the California State University System

Bradley Wayne Hufft

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Kenneth Magdaleno

Abstract:

With the advent of Senate Bill 1440 (SB 1440), a need has developed to examine the ways in which music theory is being taught in the California State University (CSU) system. The changing nature of music education in the K-12 system has caused a disconnect in expectations between the teachers in that system and those in the CSU. The purpose of this study was to examine students’ perceptions of the preparation they received in their K-12 years for university music theory courses and what that preparation was, as well as course content at various CSU campuses.

The study was conducted using a concurrent mixed methods process. Music students from 10 CSU campuses participated in an online survey with a mixture of quantitative and qualitative questions. Three of those students later were interviewed in a one-on-one setting. Music theory instructors from eight CSU campuses were interviewed; all in a face-to-face setting. Quantitative data were analyzed using a t-test and several one-way ANOVA. Qualitative data were analyzed through content analysis to look for commonalities.

The findings of this study seem to indicate that students’ preparation for university music theory courses during their K-12 years had little if any impact on their success in those university courses. Faculty interviews showed a large variance in course content and method of delivery in music theory courses between the various CSU campuses. These findings suggest that a greater dialogue between CSU campuses and between those campuses and the K-12 system could greatly improve student success in university music theory courses.

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Hiring Processes in California of the PK-12 Superintendency

Marcelline Marie Guthrie

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

In California and nationally, women are underrepresented in the position of superintendent, yet women are overrepresented in the field of education. Therefore, the two researchable questions for this study were (a) What are the processes used to hire superintendents? and (b) What are the processes when a woman is hired as superintendent? In addition, this research examined how organizational culture, including climate, structure, systems, sex stereotype, role congruity, and concept of fit are related to access, attainment, and selection to the superintendency. Designed with an institutional ethnographic methodological perspective, this mixed-method study was conducted sequentially by surveying school district board members and interviewing school district board members and consultants. The three themes identified in this study—(a) board relations, (b) the types of hiring processes, and(c) the use of a consultant—are also interrelated with each other.

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Faculty Perceptions regarding Implementation of the Student Transfer Achievement Reform (STAR) Act

Ellery Paden Burgess

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Linda Hauser

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to explore faculty perceptions regarding implementation processes and facilitators and barriers to implementation of SB 1440, also known as the Student Transfer Achievement Reform (STAR) Act, which is focused on creating an open and clear articulation and transfer process between California Community Colleges (CCC) and California State University (CSU). Bardach’s (1998) Interagency Collaboration Capacities (ICC) framework was used to explore faculty perceptions based on the assumption informed by research that collaboration is key to successful articulation and transfer. Policy implementation was divided into three phases: pre-implementation/planning, implementation, and post-implementation. The study sought to answer two questions: What are faculty members’ perceptions of STAR Act implementation? What do faculty members perceive as facilitators and barriers to STAR Act implementation?

Instrumental case study approach was the research design, and a single transfer partner case considered one of the most promising cases for informing the field about the phenomenon of interest, STAR Act implementation, was selected. Purposeful sampling technique, criterion and extreme case, was used to select the transfer partner case comprised of one CCC and one CSU. The primary data collection method was semi structured individual interviews, document review and field notes.

Findings revealed two different STAR Act implementation processes for each institution. Five themes emerged for the CCC relative to the planning/implementation phases: process, leadership, communication, collaboration, and advocacy. Curriculum changes were the most mentioned theme regarding post-implementation. Facilitators to implementation were the institution’s context, communication, values, leadership, and a faculty-driven process. Resources, collaboration, and student success emerged as barriers. Six themes emerged regarding the planning/implementation phases at the CSU: process, advocacy, leadership, curriculum, values, and collaboration. Similar to the CCC, the primary theme for the post-implementation phase was curriculum changes. Facilitators to implementation included context of the institution, values, and curriculum, and inhibitors to implementation were values, resources, and collaboration. Although study findings revealed distinctly different processes supporting STAR Act implementation on each campus that included collaboration among faculty within the institution, a virtual organization, or a collaborative group using personnel and other resources from both institutions was not formed.

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Perceived Effectiveness of Specific Coaching Components on Teachers’ Instructional Practices

Megan Campagne Bennett

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

An increasing number of school districts are investing in instructional coaches as a means to improve instructional practices and increase student achievement. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to identify the components of coaching used by instructional coaches in the Central Valley of California and to explore the impact of those coaching components on teaching practices. This study seeks to determine which specific coaching components, according to teachers and instructional coaches, are most effective in improving teachers’ instructional practices and to examine how those perceptions differ. The specific coaching components examined were coplanning, coteaching, use of reflective questioning, modeling, debriefing, and observing. Survey data were collected from coaches and teachers receiving coaching from three school districts within California’s Central Valley. Additional data were collected through focus groups and observations of different types of coach/teacher interactions.

Results of the study indicated that coaching is generally viewed as positive. Teachers and coaches have different perceptions of both the frequency and effectiveness of the six coaching components. No significant difference in perceptions existed for gender. There was a significant difference in perception among experience levels. Coteaching rated as the strongest coaching component according to teachers and coaches.

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Faculty Commitment to Basic Skills: A Mission in California Community College

Sherie Jane Burgess

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: David Tanner

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to investigate faculty commitment to basic skills as an organizational mission of the California community college system. Empirical research provided the level of commitment among faculty members.

This study determined whether there are group-related differences in faculty members’ commitment to basic skills. Related to this research question is whether there are differences in commitment between full-time and part-time faculty, or differences based on gender, ethnicity, and faculty participation. Finally, can commitment be predicted by educational experience?

Findings from the analysis determined there are differences in commitment scores based on gender, with females having significantly higher scores than males. There were differences in faculty commitment scores related to differences in faculty participation. Faculty teaching basic skills have significantly higher scores than those who have never taught basic skills. Analysis of survey responses indicate that those teaching presently have a significantly higher commitment to basic skills than those who have taught basic skills courses in the past. However, there were no significant differences between faculty who never taught and those who have taught basic skills in the past. Furthermore, there are no significant differences in faculty commitment scores based on the faculty members’ race.

The multiple regression model predicting faculty commitment based on number of years spent teaching at the community college level, the number of years spent at the current institution, the gender of a faculty member, and the level of participation in basic skills is significant. Analysis showed that both gender and participation were significant predictors of faculty commitment.

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Effective Site-Based Leadership Development Programs

Marc David Barrie

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

In higher education, many new administrators report difficulty adjusting to new leadership positions due to a lack of leadership development. Despite the widespread implementation of leadership development programs, research indicates that organizations have traditionally spent little time evaluating the effectiveness of their programs (Sogunro, 1997). Using Guskey’s (2000) model for professional development, this mixed-methods study investigated the impact of site-based leadership development training provided in the California State University system.

Eight California State University campuses currently operating leadership development programs were contacted to participate in the study. Individuals who have completed their campus’s program within the past 2academic years were selected and given an email link to the online Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI). The LPI is a 24-item assessment reported on a 10-point Likert scale. For this study, the LPI was administered as a retrospective pretest and posttest. Approximately 123 individuals were invited to participate in the survey, 62 individuals started the survey while 59 completed. In addition, 11 individuals participated in 20-minute follow-up telephone interviews. The preliminary findings revealed that on all 24 items, there was a significant change in reported leadership practices following participation in campus leadership development programs.

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Robert Noyce Mathematics and Science Teacher Preparation and Retention at Two California State University Campuses

Jaime Arvizu

California State University, Fresno, 2013

Chair: David M. Andrews

Abstract:

There is a persistent and growing shortage in the supply of “highly qualified” future science and mathematics teachers in the nation’s classrooms. As a consequence, as many as 53% science and 23% math students take classes from teachers who are teaching out-of-field. Currently, there are many established programs that provide incentives for science and math students to enter the teaching profession. One program in particular, the Robert Noyce Scholars Program, was the genesis of the Authorization Act of 2002 -P.L. 107-368 and is funded by the National Science Foundation specifically to address the need for highly qualified STEM Teachers. IHEs, which are awarded these grant funds, are provided with significant funding for student scholarships and are expected to provide programmatic support for these students who are planning to become teachers. Programmatic support is intended to enhance the preparation of these future STEM teachers who are expected to teach in high needs classrooms. The purpose of this study was to examine if different views of the teacher education program exist between teachers who have been supported by the Noyce programs and those who have not received Noyce support. Noyce teachers and non-Noyce teachers are two aggregate groups that included teachers from CSU, Fresno and CSU, Long Beach. This study also examined retention percentages and demographic composition of Noyce-supported teachers from both campuses as an aggregate group in comparison to teachers in the nation and in the state. The study found no significant differences between Noyce teachers and non-Noyce teachers on their views about their teacher preparation program. Both groups on average reported their preparation to be adequate. Significant proportional differences by ethnicity were found between Noyce teachers and the general teacher population in the U.S. and California. Significant proportional differences by ethnicity and content area were also found between high school teachers in the U.S. and high school teachers in the Noyce Teacher community. Retention rates among beginning teachers were also found to be higher for the Noyce Teacher Community when compared to the general population of teachers in the U.S. and California.

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Understanding Parental Involvement Experiences of Latino Parents

Angelica Reynosa

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: Kenneth Magdaleno

Abstract:

The involvement of parents in the educational process of their children is an important factor inclosing the achievement gap. The literature positively associates parental involvement with the academic success of their children, including better attendance, behavior, grades, and high school completion (Epstein & Sheldon, 2002; Harvard Family Research Project, 2006; Henderson & Mapp, 2002; Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005; Miedel & Reynolds, 1999; U.S. Department of Education, 2007).

Despite the recent increased focus on parental involvement, a serious issue is the involvement of Latino parents in their children’s education (De Gaetano, 2007). Challenges, such as communication issues, cultural differences, and unfamiliarity with the U.S. educational system, affect the relationship between Latino parents and schools. These disconnects become even more important when considering the increasing Latino population and their significantly lower academic levels in the United States (Delgado-Gaitan, 2004; Gándara & Contreras, 2009).

Through a mixed-methods approach, via a parent survey and semi-structured interviews, the researcher gathered information regarding parental involvement through the experiences of Latino parents of students enrolled at a large suburban high school in central California. Quantitative and qualitative results indicated Latino parents have high academic expectations for their children, but better ways of embracing their language and culture in schools are needed. Five major themes emerged from the qualitative analysis representing parents’ beliefs and experiences, including trust, estar al pendiente [vigilance], communication, knowledge, and cultural connectedness. This study adds to the literature regarding parental involvement and provides recommendations to policymakers and educators regarding culturally and linguistically appropriate strategies to support Latino parents.

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The Impact of a Literacy Intervention Program on Student Achievement and Behavior at Two Urban High Schools

Steven Martinez

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: Kenneth Magdaleno

Abstract:

The purpose of this study is to determine the impact of a literacy intervention program on student achievement and behavior at two urban high schools. Two groups were identified and the sample was a convenience sample for this study. One group of students is not enrolled in the intervention program, while the other group of students is enrolled in the literacy intervention program. The study will examine the correlation between improved reading ability, academic achievement, and student behavior. Student achievement is defined by credits earned towards graduation, A-G credits earned, and results of the California Standardized Test and California High School Exam. Student behavior is defined by student attendance and suspension data. The literacy intervention program used in this study was structured to provide research-based instructional strategies to improve reading and is aligned to the scientific-based reading research which incorporates the five elements of effective reading instruction (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension). The primary foci of this study are those students deficient in reading who lacked grade-level reading skills and the impact of a literacy intervention program on these students over one academic year.

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The Effects of Fiscal and Human Capital on Student Achievement

Sarah Lynne Koligian

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of per-pupil funding, the amount allocated to fund students in K-12 public education, and how this funding related to student achievement. This is one of the most contentious issues in education, especially in light of the current economy in California, where the state budget crisis has decreased the amount of per-pupil funding for K-12 students. Yet, K-12 public schools must adhere to the stringent federal accountability measures mandated under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 by achieving the ever-increasing federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and state Academic Performance Index (API) accountability targets (No Child Left Behind, 2001).

The participants in this study included almost all K-12 unified school districts in California. The dependent variables included district level Academic Performance Index (API) scores, percent Proficient on English-Language Arts and Mathematics California Standards Tests, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), and One-Year Dropout Rates. The independent variables included school predictor variables that were grouped for the purposes of this study into three categories: demographic, fiscal, and human resources.

This quantitative correlational research study determined the relationship between the achievement variables and the independent variable using Pearson’s correlation coefficients. A canonical correlation was calculated to determine which functions and variables were the strongest predictors of achievement. Regression with statistical control was computed to ascertain if independent variable groups could predict student achievement while controlling for other variables. Stepwise regression was used to present a more parsimonious interpretation to determine which of the independent variables had the greatest impact upon student achievement. Lastly, MANOVA was used to determine what size district expends more to maintain human and fiscal resources.

The results of this study revealed that smaller school districts were more costly to operate. Demographic variables, especially poverty and percent English Learners, were strong predictors of student achievement. Expending more money to enhance teacher salaries and lower class sizes had a strong impact on student achievement. Fiscal and human resources do make a difference!

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Schooling Experiences of Central California Indian People across Generations

Tara Williams

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

This exploratory study took a post-colonialist lens to record, examine, and document schooling experiences of California Indian people across several generations representing three Central Valley tribes: the Mono, the Tachi Yokuts of Santa Rosa Rancheria, and the Tule River Tribe. Past and present perceptions of Indian schooling were elicited through personal interviews and framed by archival data from educators and students through multiple generations. Mission school, boarding school, and public school experiences were documented and compared. Interviewees agreed on the importance of education for tribal youth as a collaborative effort between tribes and public schools. Boarding school experiences were reported as having been positive or negative depending on historical and socio-political context. Interviewees indicated a strong interest in including traditional culture and language as part of the schooling experience for California Indian youth. Gaming as a source of revenue was perceived by interviewees as having both positive and negative ramifications for the education of tribal youth.

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Academic and Nursing Aptitude and the NCLEX-RN in Baccalaureate Programs

Mary Ann McCarthy

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: Debra Harris

Abstract:

Predicting NCLEX-RN success has a positive impact on all stakeholders of nursing education. The focus of this study is on the ability to predict NCLEX-RN pass rates based on prenursing academic aptitude variables and the Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) nursing aptitude program. The prenursing variables consisted of the prenursing GPA, a prerequisite communication course, and the ATI Test of Essential Academic Success (TEAS) composite subscores of TEAS Reading, TEAS Math, TEAS Science, and TEAS English. The ATI assessment included Nursing Fundamentals, Medical/Surgical, Pediatrics, Psychology, and Maternal/Child. This study included 794 participants from four baccalaureate nursing programs in the California State University system. Results of canonical correlation, multiple linear regression, and logistic regression revealed a significant correlation between prenursing, ATI scores, and NCLEX-RN first-try pass rates. Prediction of NCLEX-RN success rate using standardized testing data is supported, with the strongest predictors being the ATI Medical/Surgical and ATI Psychology tests.

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An Analysis of the Collaborations between the California Workforce Investment Boards and the California Community Colleges

Natalie Culver-Dockins

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

Various types of partnerships exist between community colleges and community agencies, groups, and organizations (Cohen & Brawer, 2003). Community colleges partner with business and industry, non-profit organizations, governmental agencies and other educational institutions. One such partnership is between California community colleges and Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs).

The purpose of the study was to analyze the relationships that exist between California community colleges and their Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIBs). The focus areas in this study included characteristics of collaboration, models of collaboration, and processes by which colleges and LWIBs collaborate. The study examined what collaborative relationships exist and determined which colleges and LWIBs perceive their collaborations as successful. Communication, process and structure, membership characteristics, and other key components in collaboration were analyzed.

Major findings included that overall LWIBs perceived their collaborations with community colleges as slightly more successful than community colleges perceived their collaborations with LWIBs. Between the community colleges and the LWIBs, community college upper administration perceived their collaboration highest. Of the six Wilder Collaboration Factors Inventory factor groups, Environment had the highest overall mean indicating that this factor group was perceived as being the most influential factor contributing to successful collaboration. There is both practical and theoretical significance in this research study. The practical significance is that the results will help California community colleges and Local Workforce Investment Boards understand their collaborative dynamics. The theoretical significance is that this study will add to the body of literature on how to improve collaboration between dissimilar organizations.

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Under the Radar: The Impact of Relatively Young Age for Grade Level on Academic Achievement

Klazina Ryken

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: David E. Tanner

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to determine whether age differences affect students’ academic achievement, and whether age differences affect students in low-income areas differently than those in mixed or higher-income areas.

Student achievement data for grades 3, 7, and 11 in language arts and math were obtained from a variety of schools located in an economically diverse region of central California.

Results of Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) suggest that age-related differences contribute only minimally to the differences in academic achievement, and that youngest students’ academic performance is nearly equal to or actually better than that of the oldest and overage students (those who entered kindergarten a year later, repeated kindergarten or were retained in a later grade) as they progress through the educational system.

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University Preparation of Social Justice Leaders for K-12 Schools

Rosmary “Sandie” M. Woods

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: Linda Hauser

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to examine the social justice principles embedded in California State University (CSU) Educational Administration Preparation Programs. More specifically, this study explored the intended, implemented, and assessed curriculum relative to social justice and critical consciousness, and investigated if differences exist between university instructor demographic characteristics (age, gender, race/ethnicity, employment status, and years of teaching educational administration preparation courses) and the degree of social justice course integration and integration importance. In addition, this study examined the approaches used to align social justice leadership curriculum.

A chronological mixed-methods design was utilized for this study, as descriptive survey research, interviews, and document review were used. Qualitative data from survey short answers and open-ended questions, individual interviews, and document review explained the survey quantitative results in greater detail. The unit of analysis was the curriculum in CSU Educational Administration Preparation Programs. Curriculum included the intended, implemented, and assessed curriculum. Independent variables examined were instructor demographic characteristics and social justice course integration and integration importance. Seventy-one participants responded to the electronic survey, representing 19 of the 21 CSU campuses that offer an educational administration preparation program. Fourteen survey respondents also participated in individual interviews.

A series of Chi-Square tests of independence were conducted resulting in significant findings for the degree of social justice course goal integration and integration importance, and the degree of critical consciousness principle course integration and integration importance, indicating that social justice course goal integration and critical consciousness principle integration are dependent on instructors’ perception of the importance of integration into their courses. Results revealed instructors’ demographic characteristics were independent of social justice goal integration and instructor perceptions of importance of goal integration. Although results showed variability, no results were significant.

Four overarching themes specific to the social justice curriculum emerged from qualitative data analysis: institutional support of the curriculum, academic freedom and the curriculum, student push-back to the curriculum, and the hidden social justice curriculum.

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Student Conversations: How Diverse Groups of Students Perceive College Culture, Supports, and Challenges in College Education

Kimberly Ann Cole

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to identify and examine student perceptions of the lived experience of college and what supported or challenged their adaptation to college culture. Focus groups divided by gender and race or ethnicity served as the primary “self-contained” data collection method. Although the questions surrounding this purpose are many and varied, this study focused on selected aspects that make up student identity and college culture. Theories examined in this study come from various academic disciplines including the social and cognitive sciences, language acquisition, theories of identity and categorization, critical thinking and others. Poly culturalism is a relatively new ideological approach and provided the conceptual framework for this study. The 2-hour focus groups were used as the primary data collection method. Ten focus group questions were used to explore the perceptions of 32 student participants from the population groups with changing presence on the California State University, Fresno campus: Black/African Americans, Hispanics or Latina/o, Southeast Asians, and White/Caucasians. Three research questions provided the basis for the protocol developed for the focus groups. Each of the questions explored in further detail how students perceived the culture of college and their place within the institution. Analysis of the data gathered for this qualitative investigation provided insight into the world of students and their perceptions of their widening culture. Results of the study provided a look into the worlds of racially and ethnically diverse students and how they navigate and adapt to the complex, often unfamiliar culture of college. All of the students indicated their appreciation and enjoyment as a student on a diverse college campus. At a time when public higher education seeks to streamline services and maintain a consistent level of service, many students felt that help from faculty, counselors, and other support personnel on the campus would improve their ability to continue and graduate, also preparing them for future careers in an ever-widening environment.

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Fundraising Practices of the University of California, the California State University and California Private Universities

Kent J. Karsevar

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

Factors such as declining tax revenues and an underperforming economy have created the need for additional external private funding to meet the increasing needs of a growing California higher education system and ethnically diverse student body. The purpose of this study was to examine ways in which California private higher education institutions, the University of California (UC), and California State University (CSU) have become successful with their fundraising efforts. The goal of this study was to identify specific themes and patterns that contributed to the understanding of fundraising and highlight insights from university presidents and chancellors.

A concurrent mixed methods design was used to conduct the study. For the quantitative research, upper level advancement administrators and development personnel responded to an online survey and for the qualitative research 11 university presidents and chancellors from the UC, CSU and California private universities were interviewed. Interviews were recorded and immediately transcribed. A content analysis was conducted to find common themes.

This study’s findings suggest that some differences in higher education fundraising practices do exist between UCs, CSUs and California private universities; that there is a relationship between development officer qualifications and donation revenues, and factors exist that can increase or decrease the involvement of the university president or chancellor in the fundraising process. As UC, CSU, and California private university fundraising professionals continually seek to develop effective ways to provide accessible and affordable educational opportunities, the efficient investment in proven fundraising methods and professionals will assume greater importance.

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The Effective of Leadership for Positive Behavior Intervention and Equity

Justin Dean Miller

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

Educators in the state of California have struggled to reduce the number of minorities being suspended and expelled annually and significantly improve overall school climate and culture. To address this area of improvement, educators have begun to turn to a proactive approach to improve overall school climate and culture at their sites by implementing the Positive Behavior Intervention & Supports (PBIS) framework. Similar to many other school-wide intervention programs, the principals’ ability and his or her leadership behaviors usually make the difference in whether the intervention program will be successful or not. In this study, the researcher surveyed 51 principals that were participating in PBIS Cohort 1 located in the Central Valley of California to gather data related to principal leadership behaviors. Follow-up interviews were conducted by the researcher of 7of the participating principals in this study. Finally, suspension data were gathered from a sample of participating schools where the number of suspensions was compared between pre implementation and post implementation of tier 1 PBIS. In this study, the researcher found shared decision-making and developing a “team concept” was essential to the implementation of PBIS. Level of implementation was significantly higher in schools where the principal made the decision to implement, rather than the district office. Also, there was an overall decrease in the number of suspensions (24.4%) in a sample of 13 schools. 

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Strategic Planning Implementation: A Case Study of a California Community College

Jesse Eugene Wilcoxson

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: Diane Oliver

Abstract:

Strategic planning is designed to help plan for the future, which affords institutions the opportunity to avoid or minimize the impact of unforeseen or sudden events and at the same time implement the institutions goals and objectives. When completed successfully, strategic planning can provide valuable insight about the opportunities and challenges that an institution may face.

All colleges within California’s public community college system conduct some form of strategic planning. While some institutions struggle with developing a meaningful strategic plan, other institutions go beyond the required accreditation standards and put a great deal of effort into making the process effective and meaningful. This case study was conducted using a California community college that has placed a strong emphasis on their strategic planning practices. Although this study focuses predominantly on the implementation phase of the strategic planning process, all phases of the strategic planning process were investigated. The study sought to answer five research questions: (a) How are the planning, documentation and dissemination phases of the strategic planning process conducted at a community college known for its strategic planning; (b) what methods have been used to implement the strategic plan; (c) what methods have been most effective in implementing the strategic plan; (d) what are the biggest challenges a community college must overcome to successfully implement a strategic plan; and (e) how is strategic planning implementation monitored?

The findings of this study revealed that SPCC places a strong emphasis on planning for institutional effectiveness which feeds into the strategic plan, units/departments are assigned to submit and report on strategic objectives, strategic decisions are based on the strategic plan, resource allocation is tied closely to the strategic plan and strategic planning practices at SPCC utilize both a top-down and a bottom-up approach. Challenges to implementing the strategic plan include the large size of the institution, resistance to the planning process, integration of other planning processes with the strategic plan, conducting the strategic planning process annually and having too many college goals. Methods to more effectively monitor the implementation of the strategic plan are being adopted. 

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An Investigation into the Involvement of California Central Valley High School Students with Disabilities in the IEP Process

Cheryle Ann Anderson

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair:

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to investigate the involvement of California Central Valley high school students with disabilities in the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process. Specifically, this study investigated the involvement of students with disabilities in the development of the IEP and IEP meetings. In addition, this study explored the activities and processes special education teachers used to involve students in the IEP process.

A chronological mixed methods design was utilized for this study as both a quantitative approach through descriptive survey research and qualitative methods were used. This chronological approach was implemented as the researcher collected data via an electronic survey from 99 California Central Valley high school special education teachers who educate students with learning disabilities and moderate intellectual disabilities, 16 years of age or older, and then used survey results to inform a qualitative portion of the study, in-depth interviews of 10special education teachers.

The quantitative study portion focused on frequency of involvement of students with disabilities in the IEP process, including both involvement in IEP meetings (invited to attend, attendance, participation, and student led) and development of the IEP (transition plans, present levels, goals, services provided, educational setting, accommodations, and IEP meeting preparation and scheduling). Results revealed that although students were invited to attend their IEP meetings, with a majority of students attending, student participation was much lower than actual attendance, and student led IEP meetings were scarce, and in many instances never occurred. Results also indicated that although the majority of students were involved in the development of transition plans and accommodations at varying degrees, more than half of respondents indicated that students were involved less than 50% of the time, if at all, in development of present levels, goals, services, educational settings, and preparation and scheduling of IEP meetings.

Four major themes emerged from the qualitative analysis relative to the activities and/or processes special education teachers used to involve their students with disabilities in the IEP process: Student Interview/Discussion/Conference, Career Assessment, Student Portfolios, and Role Play.

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Measuring Teacher Effectiveness

Amber Leann Jacobo

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: Jason Immekus

Abstract:

Prior research has shown that there is a correlation between teacher characteristics (e.g., pedagogical knowledge, teacher preparation/certification) and student achievement. Current political contexts call for the utilization of student achievement data to measure the effectiveness of our education systems. A solid research base of how teacher characteristics impact student achievement could help higher education and K-12 systems improve their teacher selection, induction and development processes. The purpose of this research was to build and test a model of teacher effectiveness using hierarchical linear modeling to investigate the impact of cognitive ability, pedagogical content knowledge and teachers’ perceived ability to build relationships with students on student achievement. After accounting for students’ prior English Language Arts achievement, teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge and perceived relationships with students were not significant predictors of student achievement. For mathematics, prior math achievement and gender were significant predictors, whereas teacher characteristics were not related to student achievement. Implications of study findings to practice, research, and policy are discussed.

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An Examination of Price Elasticity of Demand for Underrepresented Students in the California State University System

Jennifer Ann Whyte

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

Diminished state support has caused the California State University to increase student fees, leaving a greater portion of the financial burden for higher education on the students and families. This mixed methods study examined the relationship between the change in student fees and the change in application rates. As student fees continue to rise, concern exists about who is being given access to higher education and who is being denied. Using demand theory as a theoretical lens, this study utilized price elasticity of demand to quantify the relationship between the change in student fees and the change in demand as measured by application rate. Applicant data were disaggregated by ethnicity and price elasticity of demand was computed for each group to determine differences in sensitivity to price.

Following the quantitative phase, three top performing enrollment managers were interviewed to further examine the impact of student fee increases on demand as well as strategies being used to counter the potential of increased student fees. Campus application rates for the targeted populations were examined and compared in order to select the enrollment managers invited to interview. Findings from the qualitative phase of this study included strategies to attract underrepresented students and other insights about the effects of increased student fees on demand.

The literature reviewed for this study found African Americans and low income students the most sensitive to changes in price. This study found mixed results depending on the year and the campus. With few exceptions during the specified time period, application rates continued to rise despite rising student fees. This suggests that the price point has not yet been reached, meaning that while student fees have continued to rise, prices have not yet reach the point beyond which students are willing to pay to attend the CSU.

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Perceptions of California Middle School Teacher Leaders Regarding Preparedness to Execute Functions of Teacher Leader Model Standards

Alison Marie Mosley

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: Linda Hauser

Abstract:

This study examined preparedness of teacher leaders to assume leadership roles in schools and the profession. In 2008, a group of educators across the U.S. formed the Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium to discuss the valuable roles teacher leaders play in helping to create school success. The consortium developed a set of standards outlining the knowledge, skills, and competencies required for teacher leaders to assume leadership roles and assist in building capacity of other teachers. Specifically, this study investigated: (1) the perceptions of teacher leaders relative to their level of preparedness to perform the primary functions described in the seven domains of the Teacher Leader Model Standards and how these teacher leaders rate the importance of these functions in their roles, (2) differences in teacher leader levels of preparedness and importance, and school achievement status, (3) the antecedents producing highly prepared teacher leaders to perform the primary functions, and (4) the facilitators and inhibitors of the role of teacher leader.

This mixed methods study utilized an electronic survey and in-depth follow-up interviews with survey respondents indicating high levels of preparedness. Participants included teacher leaders from California middle schools, grades 7 and 8, with enrollment of 400 students or more.

Results revealed that for all seven domains and functions, teacher leaders rated importance in their roles much higher than they indicated their level of preparedness to perform the functions. Emerging themes relative to antecedents producing preparedness included site/district training/professional development, experience, and master’s degree. Facilitators of the teacher leader role included coaching, mentors/colleagues, administration, and training, and inhibitors included need for more training and teacher leader preparation programs, time, and uncomfortable with challenging conversations.

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Case Study Analysis of Service-Learning Institutionalization and Student Attitudes toward Service-Learning and Future Civic Engagement

Amy Elizabeth Brogan

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

This study examines student attitudes toward service-learning and future civic engagement based on level of institutionalization at 4-year state universities with the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement. Using the Wingspread Principles as a guide for document analysis of each university’s application for the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement, common themes were identified regarding service-learning and community engagement among the five institutions participating in the study. Analysis reveals all institutions participating in the study have a centralized service-learning office, strong university leadership support, and numerous community partnerships that designate all five universities as “high” institutionalization for service-learning and community engagement. Common themes among the universities may assist other institutions in service-learning and community engagement institutionalization. Student attitudes were examined in four categories: Attitude Toward Service, Social Responsibility, Expected Community Results, and As a Result of Participation. Findings indicate there is a difference in student attitudes in all four categories among ethnicities and universities. Findings reveal no difference in student attitudes in all four categories between genders.

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Intrusive Advising: A Proactive Intervention for 2nd and 3rd – Year Hispanic College Students

Janell Lorraine Morillo

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Chair: David Tanner

Abstract:

Advising programs serve as a conduit between the university and the students’ educational, personal, and career goals. There are many different advising models in post-secondary institutions. The intrusive advising program is based on the assumption that closer communication and stronger personal relationships between advisor and student make attrition less likely. Frequent and meaningful contact with advisors is expected to increase students’ involvement and motivation.

The Intrusive Advising Model is multi-faceted in that it involves a combination of advising sessions with specific goals targeted for students. Intrusive advising programs are proactive. They are intended to intervene with at-risk students in order to keep students retained and on track to graduate. They are more highly structured than alternative advising programs. Intrusive programs attempt to foster personal relationships between the students and their advisors with frequent student contact, and the goal to increase university retention.

Do advising programs affect students’ progress? If they do, which programs are most effective? Does the type of program interact with the kind of student served? This study examined the impact of an intrusive advising program on grade point average, retention, and progression to graduation for 2nd and 3rd year Hispanic students.

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High School Students’ Perceptions of Distributive, Procedural, and Interactional Justice: An Exploratory Study of Justice with Correlates or Counterproductive and Withdrawal Behaviors

Carmen Rodriguez

California State University, Fresno, 2012

Abstract:

This study explored a construct seldom acknowledged in high school contexts in the United States: organizational justice. Organizational justice is a construct that refers to perceptions of justice in the work place. Contrary to examining the justice perceptions of employees as is customary with this construct, this study examined the three most ubiquitous dimensions of organizational justice through the lens of California Central Valley high school students. Distributive justice refers to the fairness of the distribution of resources and outcomes (e.g., grades and punishments). Procedural justice refers to the fairness of the processes that are utilized to make decisions and arrive at outcomes. Interactional justice refers to the quality of interpersonal treatment that individuals receive. This triangulation mixed methods study examined student perceptions of justice, alluding to teachers as the distributors of outcomes, decision-makers, and the persons in positions of authority who determine the quality of interpersonal treatment that students receive. This study had two main parts. Part 1 examined differences in justice perceptions in an array of group disaggregations. Part 1 also examined the effect of perceived justice on student withdrawal and counterproductive behaviors. Part 2examined high school students’ conceptualization of injustice, feelings that are triggered from perceived injustice, and reactions to perceived injustice. This study utilized a variety of newly-developed instruments. Extensive quantitative in addition to qualitative methods were used. Findings indicated that perceptions of justice varied by ethnicity, grade in high school, academic subject, and by achievement and behavior status, but not by gender. Justice perceptions were also found to be significant predictors of withdrawal behaviors: continuance commitment and intentions to drop out. Interactional justice was found to be a significant predictor of defiance as a counterproductive behavior. Findings also indicated that perceptions of injustice triggered an array of negative feelings and reactions from students. 

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The Impact of Collaboration in After-School Programs on Student Achievement and School Attendance

Matilda T. Soria

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

Schools continue to struggle with addressing the achievement gap for low-income students. After-school programs are viewed as a promising strategy to close this achievement gap between poor and affluent students. Over the past 10 years, the level of federal and state funding for after-school programming has increased significantly. The current funding level for California Department of Education’s After School Education and Safety (ASES) Program is $550 million (2010). Although each ASES funded after-school program subscribes to a common model, the variable that differs is the degree of collaboration with community-based partners. While ASES grantees are encouraged to establish collaborative partnerships to deliver after-school programming and theoretical research exemplifies the benefit of collaboration on student success, there is very little empirical evidence to support the effectiveness of this collaborative model. Thus, the purpose of this mixed methods study was to investigate the impact of collaborative partnerships in after-school programs on academic achievement and school attendance. This study examined archival data of third through sixth grade students enrolled in ASES programs over 2school years. The independent variable in this study included degree of collaboration and the dependent variables included student academic performance, as measured by the Math and English language arts CST and school attendance. Results showed strong effects of collaboration in several analyses. The findings of the study are beneficial for after-school programs, in addition to schools and school districts that are exploring the possibility of developing collaborative partnerships with community-based organizations.

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Exemplary Practices for Addressing Institutional Effectiveness in Accreditation

Shelly Conner

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Ron Unruh

Abstract:

Accreditation of higher education institutions in the United States has consisted of self-study and peer evaluation based on metrics that are commonly understood and consistently measured. Since the passage of the GI Bill, the federal government has become increasingly involved in assessing higher education institutions. Regional accrediting agencies have assumed a significant role in evaluating institutions that seek to maintain eligibility for federal funding. In the past two decades the focus of accreditation has been on outcomes measurements, with increasingly stringent evaluation measures.

Public 2-year colleges in California are accredited by the regional Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission on Community and Junior Colleges (WASC-ACCJC) based on four standards, one of which is institutional effectiveness. Colleges have been challenged to meet the standards, with more than one third receiving sanctions for non-compliance. One of the standards that is especially difficult for colleges to pass is that of institutional effectiveness (Standard IB).

The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to identify and document practices to address institutional effectiveness. The study addressed the following research question: What practices have community colleges in California engaged in to meet Standard IB (Institutional Effectiveness) in reaffirmation of accreditation?

The research was conducted in three phases. In the first phase, institutions that passed their most recent accreditations without sanctions and those that passed standard IB with no recommendations for improvement were identified. chi-square tests were conducted to find out if a relationship exists between institutional characteristics and passing the standard. A significant relationship was found between size of the institution and passing the standard. In the second phase, self-studies were reviewed as were evaluation team reports to catalogue practices. In the third phase interviews with selected presidents and faculty members from successful colleges were conducted to triangulate the findings of the study.

Three components were critical in meeting institutional effectiveness: Student learning outcomes, evaluation and assessment, and integrated planning. Success at passing the standard was found to be context specific, with critical elements including streamlined processes and procedures, institution-wide dialogue, faculty leadership, professional development, and access to data.

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Effective Implementation of Professional Development and Student Achievement

Robyn Lynn Castillo

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

The purpose of this mixed method study was to determine if teacher implementation of mastery learning strategies learned through professional development increased student achievement. The study also sought to determine if professional development training combined with coaching increased the levels of teacher knowledge, teacher efficacy, and teacher implementation of mastery learning strategies. Teacher outcomes included knowledge of mastery learning strategies, teaching efficacy, and implementation of mastery learning strategies; the student outcome was academic achievement.

Overall findings indicate that professional development training combined with coaching did not increase the level of teacher knowledge, teacher efficacy, and teacher implementation strategies. Teachers who received professional development training combined with coaching did not show an increase in teacher knowledge of mastery learning strategies, but did show non-significant increases in teaching efficacy, perceived teacher implementation, and observed teacher implementation of mastery learning strategies. Further, overall findings indicate that teacher implementation of mastery learning strategies were not directly correlated to student achievement. A recommendation of the study was to analyze the same variables after one full year of implementation to determine if the results are the same.

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Variables of High-Performing Hmong English Learners

Tachua Vue

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

Across the nation, the growing number of non-English speaking students continues to increase. With the significant number of English Language Learners entering the school system, it is a cause for concern that these students are not performing academically at the same level as other students. An existing group of English Language Learners are Hmong students. Hmong English Learners, in particular, face challenges in their pursuit of academic success as a result of English as a second language. As one of the immigrant groups in the United States, Hmong students are faced with many challenges in the school system, one of these challenges includes acquiring a second language. Presently, there is existing research pertaining to programs and issues of unsuccessful English Language Learners, but limited research on the factors that lead to the academic success of English Language Learners. Therefore, a particular interest for this study was to examine the variables of high-performing English Language Learners in the K-12 educational sector, particularly for Hmong students. A qualitative study was conducted with a focus on gaining a deeper understanding of the various experiences of high-performing Hmong English Learners. The data from this study was gathered through interviews and document analysis, and the findings indicated that the overarching variables of high-performing Hmong English Learners were teacher support, the act of balancing the two worlds they exist in, and self-determination.

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The Effects of Participatory Governance on Collaborative Communication between Administration and Faculty

Richard Anthony Santos

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

This study researched the effective intra-organizational communication structures and processes of California community colleges. The research was modeled on the interorganizational communication model developed by Keyton, Ford, and Smith (2008) and Stagich’s (1999) faculty and student communication model. A total of 557 administrators, faculty, and academic senate executive board members responded to a survey sent to all 110 California community colleges. The survey measured respondents’ perception of the effectiveness of their colleges’ communication structures and processes. Using the results of the survey, the top three colleges who perceived their communication to be effective and the bottom three who perceived their colleges’ communication to be weak were analyzed and compared to the state results. Interviews were then conducted with representatives from each of the six campuses to gain a further understanding of why their communication systems were or were not effective.

Two important results emerged. First, statewide, there was a significant difference between administrations’ and faculties’ perception of the effectiveness of their communication structures. Administrator rating of the structures’ effectiveness was generally higher than the faculty. Second, developing effective communication depends on developing effective communication structures that support the communication processes. For example, the top three performing colleges were developing common terminology that could be used by all constituent groups in meetings, protocols specifically for the use of e-mail, and training in the protocols. The bottom three lacked such structures. These results led to the recommendation that college leaders pay close attention to developing strong communication structures which support the communication processes.

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Presidents’, Chief Financial Officers’ and Chief Instructional Officers’ Perceptions on the Effectiveness of Strategic Planning in California Community Colleges

Monica Nolasco

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Ron Unruh

Abstract:

The study examined the effectiveness of strategic planning in public community colleges in California. Strategic planning is used in higher education and public community colleges in California for planning and resource allocation purposes and for accreditation purposes. Additionally, it serves as an evaluation tool strategic planning helps colleges monitor the provisions of services to students.

This study design was modeled after Ford (2008). Strategic planning as a planning tool has been used in higher education for over forty years. This quantitative study surveyed presidents, chief instructional officers (CIOs) and chief business officers (CBOs). In general, survey results revealed that the perceptions of the effectiveness of the institution’s strategic planning process were significantly different among the three groups. Presidents’ perceptions significantly differed from that of CBOs and CIOs on the effectiveness of the strategic planning process. Participants also rated survey items as they applied to their strategic planning process, and no significant differences in perceptions among presidents, CBOs and CIOs were found. When asked to rate the extent of the impact of the CCCCO strategic planning process, results revealed a significant difference in perceptions between presidents and CIOs.

There are two major implications this study. First, it must be noted that the author was only able to identify differences in perceptions where presidents differed from CIOs and CBOs on the effectiveness of strategic planning, therefore, there is a clear need development of opportunities for CBOs, CIOs and presidents to collaborate as a team on strategic planning. Along with this, a second implication is the need to develop opportunities for CBOs to take more of a leadership role in strategic planning; survey results indicated differences in perceptions between CBOs and presidents. The leadership role of the CBO in strategic planning may help improve perceptions of strategic planning effectiveness.

Finally, the findings of this study are consistent with other studies. Although this study’s results indicated differences in perceptions among senior administrators, they are similar to other states, therefore, presidents may wish explore creative ways to encourage CIOs and CBOs to take more of a leadership role in strategic planning in general.

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Administrator Development from Transactional to Transformational Leadership under the Federal and State Accountability Mandates

Osvaldo De Luna

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

The purpose of the study was to analyze the factors and perceptions that possibly related to the development of transactional leadership to transformational leadership. The study investigated variables that impact the development of leadership for administrators in San Joaquin Valley of California, specifically Madera County. The elements explored in this study include the political history of legislation affecting educational accountability, program improvement status, and federal and state administrator accountability: Elementary Secondary Education Act, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top.

The respondents from Madera County incorporated 14 schools from eight school districts which serve approximately 30,000 students; composed of elementary schools (grades K-6), comprehensive middle schools (grades K-8), middle schools (grades 7-8), continuation education high schools (grades 9-12), and comprehensive high schools (grades 9-12).

Participants included educators from Madera County Office of Education administrators, district office administrators, principals, vice-principals, and teachers. There were 348 participants who responded to the study. The participants included 31 school district administrators, 45 school principals, 25vice- principals, and 247 teachers. The 247 teacher participants were broken down into these categories: 81 elementary (grades K-6), 19 comprehensive middle schools, (grades K-8), 52 middle school (grades 7-8); 23 alternative high school (grades 9-12); and 72 comprehensive high school (grades 9-12).

Major findings of the study were that school administrators tended to perceive themselves as lower in transformational leadership characteristics than the teachers perceived the administrators. Vice-principals and new administrators in general tended to perceive themselves as higher in transformational leadership characteristics. However, when looking at the pre and post survey results, administrators who attended transformational leadership training had rated themselves as increased in transformational leadership characteristics after the attending the training. The findings of the study suggest that continuous transformational leadership training is necessary for school administrators to face the growing demands of state and federal accountability.

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The Effects of Coaching on Teacher Efficacy, Individual Academic Optimism and Student Achievement

Nancy Louise Akhavan

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

The intent of this study is to present an argument for coaching as an effective professional development venue for teachers in elementary school settings. Adult learning suggests that coaching, where a teacher and coach work together through a cycle of planning, modeling and conferencing, is an effective method to increase teacher ability. Teachers who exhibit effective teaching methods often display high teacher efficacy and academic optimism. A mixed methods design was used to examine the construct of academic optimism which consists of three variables, teacher efficacy, trust in adults and students, and academic emphasis. A survey was given to teachers in four regions of the United States for the quantitative portion of the study. Focus group interviews and observations were also conducted to represent the regions of the U.S. Data mining was completed from public websites for district Annual Yearly Progress reports per No Child Left Behind mandates to determine changes in student achievement.

Thus, teachers who receive coaching do have impact on positive change on student achievement. Professional development through coaching is significantly related to teacher efficacy, student achievement and teachers’ belief that coaching increases their ability to impact student achievement. The types and levels of coaching also have a significant impact. The results of the qualitative analysis indicate that the presence of coaching, and teachers high academic optimism, have a positive effect on student achievement as determined by state testing results.

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Teacher and Principal School Practices as Predictors of Reading Proficiency for all Students and Reading Language Acquisition for English Learners

JoDee Lynn Marcellin

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

Research was conducted to identify predictive teacher and principal school practices that positively impact reading proficiency of all students as measured by the California State Test (CST) and reading language acquisition for English Learners (EL) as measured by the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) in grades 3, 4, and 5. The quantitative study utilized a multiple linear regression model to examine the relationship. The findings indicated that teachers and principals varied in their perceptions of School wide Practices, in Curriculum and Instruction, in Assessment and in Data, and for English Learners. Patterns in the data were inconsistent, but some generalization could be gleaned from varied results by grade level and from current trends in state level student achievement. Reading proficiency is crucial to student achievement and closing the achievement gap between EL students and their counterparts. Therefore, future research studies should examine individual practices described in the survey to determine specific relationships to student achievement. The specificity of practices would give teacher and principals more explicit information regarding practices that significantly predict student achievement in reading and language acquisition.

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Examination of the Physical and Social Environments and their Effect on Health Promotion Program Participation, Self Initiated Physical Activity and Nutrition Choices among University Employees

Lisa Janzen Leininger

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Debra Harris

Abstract:

The worksite can be an effective arena to elicit health behavior change. Worksite health promotion programs now exist in 90% of all companies with more than 50 employees. These programs have become prevalent due to the high rates of obesity and lifestyle related diseases that are present in the United States.

The purpose of this study was to examine if the social and physical environment is associated with participation in university worksite health promotion programs, self initiated physical activity and healthy nutrition choices. Despite the prevalence of programs, participation rates are traditionally low. Social ecological theory postulates that the environmental factors of an institution can help facilitate positive health behavior.

Three California State University (CSU) Campuses without health promotion programs and four CSU campuses with a program participated in this study. Physical activity and nutrition choices were compared for those with and without a program. The campuses with a program were classified as high, medium or low social and physical support as indicated on the Environmental Assessment Tool (EAT). Program participation, physical activity and nutrition choices were compared between campuses designated as high, medium and low support

The results indicated that there was no significant difference in the amount of vigorous and moderate physical activity between those with and without a program, but there were significant differences for walking, with the employees with a program having the highest rates.

Program participation was highly influenced by support level, with the high support campus reporting the highest participation rates, followed by the medium and low support campuses. Nutrition choices were not affected presence of a program or level of support. The top barriers to participation were time constraints and marketing.

Overall findings indicated that support was highly related to program participation, but employees were still not meeting minimum requirements for physical activity. Therefore, heath promotion directors on university campuses should strive to increase physical and social support and implement best practices to increase physical activity among employees to improve health outcomes, reduce absenteeism and increase productivity.

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Entitlement Legislation in California: Effectiveness of Cal Grant Program SB 1644

John Elmer Quinto

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Linda Hauser

Abstract:

This mixed methods study examined the effectiveness of California’s Higher Education Cal Grant Program enacted by passing Senate Bill 1644. The study compared pre-SB 1644 (1990-2000) and SB 1644 (2001-2009) to investigate whether SB 1644 legislative objectives were met: (1) increase higher educational opportunities and (2) lower student loan debt. Instrumentation included archival data sets and student debt reports from the California Postsecondary Education Commission, and interrupted time series design (ITSD) was used to assess change. Additionally, three individual interviews were conducted to identify factors that led California legislators to enact entitlement higher education grants while other states were embracing merit grants. Interviewees were selected based on expertise; national expert on higher education student access (Dr. Heller), California State expert on national and state higher education policy (Ms. Deborah Cochrane), and the Executive Director of California Student Aid Commission and team member involved in writing SB 1644 legislation (Ms. Diana Fuentes-Michel).

Results revealed that the first objective was met and the second objective showed promise. The second objective was effective for the first 3 years lowering average student debt levels of graduates entering re-payment; however, data were unavailable for all years in order to complete a thorough study of this objective. In order to make informed decisions, Lawmakers must understand the effect of their policy decisions and whether or not policy is meeting its intended objectives. Two factors (values and resources) emerged regarding what influenced California legislators to embrace entitlement higher education grants, which may have implications for national and state policy legislation.

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Can Job Embeddedness Help predict Novice Teacher Retention?

Jennifer Lisa Moradian Watson

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: David E. Tanner

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to determine whether the strength of teachers’ off and on-the job connections, their job embeddedness, is related to turnover.

Over 143 novice teachers with less than 5 years of experience were surveyed from three Central California school districts. Teachers from elementary, middle, and high schools responded to questions measuring embeddedness.

Results indicate that job embeddedness is related to novice teacher retention. Specifically, job embeddedness is negatively related to educators’ intentions to leave. However, the educators from districts with the lowest turnover rates weren’t necessarily the educators with the highest levels of job embeddedness.

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On reaching Proficiency: A Case Study of Outcomes Assessment Success at a California Community College

Marla Ellen Prochnow

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Ronald Unruh

Abstract:

In their outcomes assessments, California’s institutions of higher education have tried to meet accreditation standards for two decades. The challenges of planning, implementing, improving and sustaining outcomes assessment have been addressed by several leaders, and through great effort, several California Community Colleges have met with success. One successful college campus, as defined by Western Association of Schools and Colleges-Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges: Rubric for Evaluating Institutional Effectiveness—Part III Student Learning Outcomes, was studied to identify organizational behaviors within the context of organizational culture and how these behaviors led to success in outcomes assessment. Three main questions were explored in the study. How was outcomes assessment introduced to the campus? What role did organizational culture play in planning, implementing, improving and sustaining the assessment cycle? How did the campus maintain momentum to complete the assessment cycle? This qualitative case study was conducted using one California Community College campus. The findings revealed organizational behaviors within an organizational culture; interpretations of the findings provided an assemblage of exemplary practices for planning, implementing, improving and sustaining outcomes assessment.

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Community College Implementation of State Policies Related to Developmental Education: A Comparative Case Study of California and Texas

Diana Banuelos

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Diane Oliver

Abstract:

The most recent data available from the National Center for Educational Statistics (2004) estimate that 60% of community college freshmen and 25% of freshmen at 4-year public institutions nationwide complete at least one remedial course. Nationally, fewer than 40% of students who are referred to developmental education actually enroll in college-level courses.

State policy plays a significant role in supporting the improvement of outcomes for remedial students. Policy can create an environment that encourages the identification, dissemination, and implementation of procedures that improve outcomes for students who are identified as needing remediation. States can provide additional funding for colleges and universities to test and refine bold new delivery and instructional models. Equally important, states can remove obstacles that limit colleges and universities’ ability to take up more flexible and efficient models for strengthening students’ basic skills. With this information, it has been determined that there is a lack of research on how policy has affected students who enroll in developmental education in community colleges.

The purpose of this qualitative comparative case study is to determine the policies that are in place in California and Texas that address developmental education and how they are implemented at the institutional level. The overarching research question is how does policy formulation in California and Texas address community college students in developmental education?

Findings for California unveiled that state funding legislation drove institutional policies and implementations procedures. Findings for Texas uncovered that under the direction and advocacy of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), Texas has been a forerunner in presenting legislation directly focusing on students in developmental education.

Based on the various systems and legislative policies that have been implemented at the institutional level, policy formation plays a key role in addressing the issues community college students in developmental education face. If accountability and evaluative procedures are in place, policy formulation and implementation can help students in developmental education succeed.

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Predictors of Success and Failure for AND Students on the NCLEX-RN

Diane Benefiel

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Debra Harris

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to: 1) analyze the relationship of preprogram and nursing program variables on National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) success and failure, and 2) develop a model to predict success and failure on the NCLEX-RN. The convenience sample was comprised of 245 spring, summer, and fall midterm 2010 graduates from two large Central California community college associate degree in nursing (ADN) programs who took the NCLEX-RN of the three-year test plan cycle, which began April 2010. The sample was: 85.7% female, 14.3% male, 24% Hispanic, 33.1% White/non-Hispanic, 5.3% African American, 18% Asian, 1.2% American Indian, with most students (31.4%) between 31- 40years old. The NCLEX-RN first-time pass rate was 86.1%.

The study was a non-experimental, quantitative, retrospective, correlational design, which analyzed 11 preadmission and five nursing program variables with NCLEX-RN success and failure. The chi-square and t-test analysis indicated a significant relationship between prenursing GPA, type of student (traditional, contract, LVN to RN, transfer), Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) composite score, TEAS English and reading subtest scores, number of attempts on the TEAS, first semester GPA, nursing GPA, ATI Comprehensive Predictor score, number of course repeats, and time from graduation to NCLEX-RN. Gender, ethnicity, age, TEAS science and math subtest scores did not have a significant relationship to NCLEX-RN success. Four models were developed using backward stepwise logistic regression to predict NCLEX-RN success and failure. Model 1 includes the traditional and contract students, all study variables, TEAS composite score (versus TEAS subtest scores), and has a 92.3% overall predictive accuracy. Model 2 has the same variables as Model 1 except with TEAS subtest scores versus the composite score, and a 91.7% overall prediction accuracy. Model 3 includes LVN to RN students, all study variables minus TEAS variables and first semester GPA, and is 100% accurate in predicting NCLEX-RN pass and fail rates. Model 4 includes all students minus TEAS variables and first semester GPA. The overall predication accuracy of Model 4 is 90.2% with the highest accuracy in predicting fails (47.1%) between Models 1, 2, and 4.

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Leadership Skills and Competencies of Latina Community College Presidents

Claudia Lourido-Habib

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Ronald Unruh

Abstract:

Although the representation of women in higher administrative roles at California community colleges has improved, Latinas continue to be underrepresented, mostly at the level of the presidency. Many forecasts of impending retirements among college presidents offer a unique opportunity to further diversify the leadership of higher education. Leadership at the Community colleges does not adequately reflect heir student population demographics. As the number of women and Latino students enrolling in community colleges continues to increase, the number of Latinas in administration is not keeping pace.

A review of the literature on women’s career development puts in evidence that little research has been completed on Latina’s career paths leading to senior level positions in 2-year community colleges. The focus of this study was to gather data from sitting California community college Latina presidents regarding their perceptions about skills, qualities, and competencies, compensatory strategies and professional development programs that contributed to their ascension to the presidency.

The study relied on the willing and candid participation of sitting Latina community college presidents in the fall of 2010. The results of this study may encourage other Latinas currently in entry-level positions to realize the opportunities available to them. In addition, this study may assist colleges, as they review their own administrative structures, to diversify their leadership ranks.

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Factors of High School Dropouts: Success Stories of Former Dropouts who Earned College Degrees

George M. Alvarado Jr.

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

The accomplishment of earning a high school diploma in the United States has been one of the most important values of education and the gateway to unlimited possibilities. Nevertheless, the Alliance for Excellent Education (2009) reported that over a million incoming freshmen will drop out of school four years later, which equates to approximately seven-thousand students each school day. The Alliance of Excellent Education also noted that if all students of the class of 2009 had graduated, they would have earned a total of approximately $335 million in additional income in their lifetimes. The staggering amount represents a reduction in potential tax revenue and an increase in government spending on crime, health and welfare programs.

This study examined the various factors that influence a student’s decision to drop out of high school but then complete a four-year college degree or higher. A qualitative approach was used to interview 10 college graduates who met the criteria of dropping out of high school and completing a four-year college degree or higher. Dropouts were operationally defined as individuals who did not finish high school in the traditional four year track and/or did not earn a high school diploma. The focus of the study were the factors that appeared to motivate high school dropouts to return to school and what factors assisted them in becoming successful as they pursued four-year college degrees or higher. The literature review provided the eleven most significant factors that have impacted the graduation rates of high school students throughout the country: Socioeconomic Status; Family Structure; Influence of Grades; Demographics; Student Engagement; School Expectations and Structure; Teen Pregnancy; Employment; Grade Retention; Lack of Adequate Intervention and High School Exit Exam. The results found that many of the factors including influence of grades, student engagement and employment had a significant impact, while socioeconomic status, grade retention and High School Exit Exams had a little to no affect. The implications of the study demonstrate hope in identifying factors among at-risk students earlier and providing the necessary opportunities to become successful. Further, the study provides insight on how higher educational institutions can increase the success of students who were dropouts.

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An Investigation of California Central Valley Schools and Districts Leading Academic Expectations for Students with Disabilities

Adrian Edward Varanini

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Linda Hauser

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to examine the policies, practices and procedures of California Central Valley schools and districts whose academic performance of students with disabilities leads expectation. Specifically, this study investigated schools’ and districts’(a) process management, (b) workforce development, and (c) information and management systems related to students with disabilities. Additionally, challenges to continuous systems improvement were explored.

Research design was explanatory case study and cross-case analysis. Cases selected for in-depth study were districts and schools whose academic achievement for students with disabilities leads expectation. Based on Educational Results Partnership linear regression analysis, districts’ and schools’ performance leads expectation when compared to the performance of other schools/districts in California with the same percentage of students with disabilities. Participant selection criterion was Central Valley schools and districts whose ELA and math academic performance for students with disabilities over three consecutive years (2008, 2009, 2010) was at least 15 percentage points above expectation for a school and 10 percentage points for a district in California with the same percentage of students with disabilities (subgroup).

Focus group interviews of school site teachers and individual interviews of school and central office district personnel were the instruments used in this study. Based on content analysis, themes that emerged relative to improving the academic achievement of students with disabilities included a focus on providing a quality education to students, the use of collaborative practices between special education and general education staff, and the implementation of comprehensive student reviews.

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Factors Affecting the Attrition and Retention of Middle School and High School Mathematics Teachers

Carol Curtis

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

Shortages of mathematics teachers have plagued the nation for over 50 years. The purpose of this study was to identify which factors contribute to the decision of middle school and high school mathematics teachers’ to leave the teaching profession.

This research used a mixed methods approach to identify issues in the attrition and retention of the nation’s mathematics teachers. Using surveys and interviews to assess teachers’ perceptions of their jobs and their intention to remain in the teaching profession, this study attempted to answer five general research questions. Surveys were sent to a national random sample of 5,000 mathematics teachers (3,000 high school and 2,000 middle school teachers). The response rate was approximately 31% with 1,571 teachers responding. Interviews were conducted with 32 teachers who were randomly selected from those indicating the intention to leave the profession in the next five years.

 Results of the study showed significant findings in each of the relationships between the independent demographic variables of age, ethnicity, years of teaching, and region with the dependent variable of retention. The independent variable of teacher participation in an induction or mentoring program showed significance with the dependent variable of retention. The teachers’ perception of classroom control showed significance with retention. Specifically, teachers’ ability to select textbooks, course topics, and teaching techniques was significantly related to their decision to remain in the teaching field. Other factors were also significantly related to teacher retention. Administrative support, compensation, student behavior, job security related to student achievement, satisfaction with being a teacher, the choice to become a teacher again, and personal happiness outside of the workplace were each significantly related to teacher retention.

Recommendations from the outcomes of this study include mentoring, fewer preparations, and smaller class sizes for new teachers. It is recommended that all administrators be trained in methods of teacher support. In addition, it is recommended that a public relations campaign be instigated to increase the level of support for teachers, and to promote teacher input in future local, state, and national education legislation.

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Admission Criteria as Predictors of Success for Licensed Vocational Nurses Enrolled in Public California Associate’s Degree in Nursing Programs

Bridget Bousquet-Heyne

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

California, like most other states, is experiencing a registered nursing shortage. In an effort to address this concern, California continues to promote an increase in the number of registered nurses (RNs) entering the workforce. Encouraging licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) to obtain RN licenses is one way to increase the number of registered nurses and address the RN shortage.

This study examined selected admissions criteria for LVNs entering ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) programs as predictors of program completion, on-time program completion, NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses) success, and first-attempt NCLEX-RN success. The selected admissions criteria included program admission GPA, science GPA, science recency, the TEAS standardized exam, and prior LVN work experience. Individual nursing programs (school) were included as an independent variable because of noted variations in NCLEX-RN success rates among ADN programs.

Data were obtained from nine California ADN programs on degree-seeking LVN-to-RN students admitted between fall 2006 and spring 2009. Descriptive statistics provided summative features, and Chi-Square analyses assessed the level of significance between independent and dependent variables. Stepwise backward logistic regressions identified predictor models in response to the four research questions.

Outcomes of the study revealed school, program admission GPA, and LVN work experience were individual predictors of program completion, and the combined variables TEAS, school, and LVN work experience produced a predictor model for program completion. TEAS, school, LVN work experience, science GPA, and program admission GPA were individual predictors of on-time program completion. However, school, science GPA, and LVN work experience, when combined, produced a model for predicting on-time program completion.

School, science GPA, and science recency were individual predictors of NCLEX-RN success, but no combination of the independent variables produced a predictor model. School, science recency, and program admission GPA individually predicted first-attempt NCLEX-RN success, and LVN work experience and school in combination produced a first-attempt NCLEX-RN success predictor model.

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Organizational Environments’ Effects on Affective and Cognitive Student Outcomes as Perceived by Students in the Puente Program

Christina Enquist

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to explore organizational behavior variables and Puente program organizational variables on the success of students participating in the Puente program. The Puente program has proven to be successful in increasing the number of Hispanic graduates and transfers from a community college to a 4-year institution. Obtaining student perceptions of the organizational behavior of the Puente program and the community college as a whole were unique perspectives that provided some understanding of organizational behaviors specifically on 1) intent to persist, 2) self-efficacy, 3) GPA, 4) English grade, 5), contact with faculty, 6) contact with peers, and 7) extracurricular involvement.

The research questions posed in this research included:

  1. Do students in the Puente program perceive organizational behaviors within the community college at large and organizational behaviors within the Puente program using Berger’s (2000) definition of organizational behavior dimensions (bureaucratic, collegial, political, symbolic, systemic) as predicting their intent to persist?
  2. Do students in the Puente program perceive organizational behaviors within the community college at large and organizational behaviors within the Puente program using Berger’s (2000) definition of organizational behavior dimensions (bureaucratic, collegial, political, symbolic, systemic) as predicting their self-efficacy?
  3. Do students in the Puente program perceive organizational behaviors within the community college at large and organizational behaviors within the Puente program using Berger’s (2000) definition of organizational behavior dimensions (bureaucratic, collegial, political, symbolic, systemic) as predicting their first semester GPA and English grade?
  4. Do students in the Puente program perceive organizational behaviors within the community college at large and organizational behaviors within the Puente program using Berger’s (2000) definition of organizational behavior dimensions (bureaucratic, collegial, political, symbolic, systemic) as predicting their contact with faculty, peers and in their extracurricular involvement?

This research examined the perceptions of students in the Puente program at three community colleges that were members of the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium. Surveys, interviews, observations, and the mining of data were methodologies used to triangulate information to identify and categorize the educational environment of the Puente program and the educational environment of each community college as a whole.

The findings indicated that the Puente program was a cohesive environment. The research also showed that a cohesive environment which included collaboration and open communication was analogous to a learner-centered paradigm. Students felt they were validated in the Puente program and that the cohesive environment contributed to their academic success.

The organizational behaviors within the Puente program and within the community college at large predicted English grade. The organizational behaviors were also able to predict contact with peers for both the community college as a whole and the Puente program.

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The Academic Success of School Choice within the Public School System: Are there Academic Achievement Differences when Parents Choose their Child’s Public School?

Ann-Maura Kunz Cervantes

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: David Tanner

Abstract:

This purpose of this study was to determine whether parent-initiated transfers from one public school to another, result in better academic performance by students. Previous research indicates that changing school is associated with lower academic achievement, but there is little research on school changes driven by parent choice. However, a better opportunity for the student is often the rationale for changing schools so the hypothesis for this study was that students who change schools because of parents’ desire for better academic experience will demonstrate higher academic performance as a result.

Subjects for this study were 833, 3rd through 12th grade students for whom records were available for 2005-2006 to the 2008-2009 school years. They were all students, in a high performing rural-fringe school district in Central California. The sample was demographically similar to the school district as a whole.

Dependent t-test results comparing pre to post change CST ELA scores indicate that there was a statistically significant decrease in student scores after students transferred. One-way ANOVA results indicated no significant differences in student test scores by ethnicity, English Language Learner status, or school of choice performance level. Two-way ANOVA results indicated no significant differences in performance related to the students’ socioeconomic levels. There were significant changes in academic performance between grades 7 and 9.

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An Exploration of Flow Experiences among California Central Valley High School Instrumental Music Students

Christine Marie Montanez

California State University, Fresno, 2011

Chair: Linda Hauser

Abstract:

In the wake of the No Child Left Behind Act, parity in education results for all students has become the prevailing objective in schools. By examining optimal learning environments, we can suggest to educators how to implement Flow Theory in order to achieve this goal. This chronological mixed methods study provides baseline data on the flow phenomenon, explored factors and conditions influencing the flow experience, and examined perceived benefits, facilitators, and inhibitors of flow in the music environment. The study identified and described demographic characteristics of a sample (N=481) of California Central Valley high school instrumental music students. Additionally, this study sought to determine if differences exist among each demographic characteristic (gender, instrument group, performing group, performance participation outside of school, and mother’s education) on the nine flow state dimension subscale scores. Further analysis examined the relationship between students’ nine flow state dimension subscale scores and experience in years playing, duration of practice weekly, and years of private study. Both a quantitative approach, through descriptive survey and correlation research, and qualitative methods were used. Instruments included an electronically administered Flow State Scale-2 (FSS-2) survey (N=481) followed by individual interviews of 24 “high flow status” participants. Results indicated that outside school performance contexts differ from inside school performance environments in ways that may affect flow experiences and flow status of students. Both quantitative and qualitative data suggest that certain facilitators and inhibitors exist that are more apt to produce or prevent a flow experience in a particular setting or with a specific population. Results obtained from the data reduction coding method revealed six overarching themes specific to participants’ descriptions of flow facilitators and inhibitors. Facilitators include optimal physical preparation, mental preparation, and optimal environment, and inhibitors include non-optimal physical preparation, mental distracters, and non-optimal environment. 

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Perceived Leadership Practices of California Elementary Principals in Relation to Leadership Coaching

Marc Bryan Hammack

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Donald Wise

Abstract:

The purpose of this research study was to compare the self-reported leadership practice of California’s elementary school principals using the Kouzes and Posner Leadership Practices Inventory between principals who had received leadership coaching and those who had not received leadership coaching. The study was conducted using a survey in which 1,000 California elementary school principals were randomly selected to participate. A demographic section, along with the 2003 edition of Kouzes and Posner’s Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) Self-Form, was used to gather information and determine if there was a significant difference between the two groups. The response rate was 32.5%.

The findings indicated that there was no significant difference in mean scores, in the five dimensions, for those principals who had received coaching and those who had not received coaching. However, the data indicated that there are some differences in gender and ethnicity between elementary principals receiving coaching and those not receiving coaching.

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Outcomes of a Summer Institute for Teachers of Students with Autism and Emotional Disturbance

Tangee Gae Pinheiro

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: James Mullooly

Abstract:

The Summer Achievement Center is a collaborative partnership between a large urban school district in Fresno County and California State University, Fresno designed to prepare teachers to teach students with autism and emotional disturbance. The purpose of this study was to examine characteristics of individuals teaching students with autism or emotional disturbance within a large urban school district and examine differences related to teacher preparation or professional development. Two research questions were developed. Question 1 examined the perceived benefits and outcomes of Summer Achievement Center participation and Question 2 measured differences in self-efficacy between participants of the Summer Achievement Center and nonparticipants.

Participants reported that the program, or the skills taught during the program, contributed to their ability to be prepared for their current teaching position. Participants also had higher mean scores on a self-efficacy scale and had an expectation to remain in the field longer than nonparticipants.

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Second Grade Teachers’ Literacy Instruction: Linking Beliefs to Practice

Tracy Marie Smith

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Elaine Garan

Abstract:

Teachers hold beliefs about how children best learn how to read. It is clear from the literature how beliefs are acquired, and that it is possible for beliefs to change. What is not clear is if teachers’ beliefs are connected to classroom practices as they relate to teaching reading, and if legislation mandates impact instructional practices. The purpose of this study was to look at second grade teachers’ beliefs about how students learn to read, examine instructional practices, and determine factors that may cause a conflict between the two. Another reason for the study was to determine if teachers’ instructional practices have had an impact on relationships with their students or had an impression on their feelings toward the teaching profession. One hundred and forty two second grade teachers from four districts in the Central Valley of California served as participants. A researcher created survey in a Likert 1- 4 scale format was used to measure teachers’ theoretical beliefs about reading pedagogy and practices as they relate to a behaviorist or constructivist view. An open-ended section of the survey asked if teachers were aware of a disconnect between beliefs and practices, if legislation had on impact on teacher/student relationships, and what their feelings were toward the teaching profession. Follow-up interviews were conducted with three volunteers. Demographic information regarding district, type of school, year of initial teaching, and ethnicity were also collected. There were significant differences between Reading First and non-Reading First teachers, between teachers who began teaching prior to or after 2002, and between Title I and non-Title I teachers on survey items, beliefs, and practices within the classroom. Constructivist responses from the survey were more evident with groups of teachers under less legislative mandates than those with fewer.

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Closing the Achievement Gap: Factors that Promote Academic Resilience in High School Foster Youth

Shannon Diane Lawrence

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Kenneth Magdaleno

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that are helpful in producing academic resilience in a sample of high school foster youth. Participants include 80 foster youth from seven Fresno County high schools. Demographic and academic data: gender, grade level, attendance rate, suspension rate, current grade point average, CST English Language Arts scale scores, and CST Mathematics scale scores were obtained from the district foster youth liaison. Assessment of Academic Self-Concept and Motivation (AASCM), a survey instrument to assess students’ goals, self-concept and motivation was administered to participants. Follow-up interviews were conducted by the researcher with eight participants, four with GPA of 2.0 or higher, considered academically resilient and four with GPA below 2.0, considered not academically resilient. This study posed minimal risks to foster youth. Participants were voluntary and assured of their confidentiality.

Cronbach’s Alpha yielded reliabilities for the AASCM ranging from 0.77 to 0.93. Multiple analysis of variances (MANOVAs) and subsequent ANOVAs were used to examine differences between groups in both placement settings and grade point average (GPA). The findings did not prove statistically significant within-groups differences for placement settings. However, results did reveal statistical significance within-group differences that vary from one GPA group to another.

Correlation and multiple regression analyses were conducted to examine the relationship between academic variables and various potential predictor variables and were not statistically significant. Additionally, a Canonical Correlational Analysis (CCA) was conducted and did not prove statistically significant for the full model. However, the first three functions were considered noteworthy in the context of this study due to the substantial amounts of variance accounted for: 44.3%, 28.1%and 22.6%, respectively. The qualitative component revealed two emerging themes: students’ attitude toward school and students’ perceived support at school.

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Effectiveness of Student Support Services Programs at California Community Colleges

Mark Christopher Sanchez

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Ron Unruh

Abstract:

Historically, first-generation, low-income, and students with disabilities have had very high attrition rates at California Community Colleges and institutions of higher education in general. Based on figures compiled by the National Center for Educational Statistics in 2004, 4.5 million low-income, first-generation college students comprise approximately 24% of undergraduate students in the United States. According to research, low-income, first-generation college students were nearly four times more likely to leave higher education after the first year than students who had neither of these risk factors. Furthermore, six years later, nearly one-half (43%) of low-income, first-generation college students had left college without earning degrees(National Center for Educational Statistics, 2004).

Student Support Services (TRiO) programs are designed to assist first-generation college going, low-income, and students with disabilities with gaining the academic and self-advocacy skills necessary to persist towards an educational goal, 2-year degree completion, transfer to a 4-year university, and/or completion of a certificate program. Services provided to student program participants included: academic counseling, financial assistance, transfer preparation, study skills, test-taking strategies, university visits, major and career exploration, cultural activities, and peer academic tutoring.

The purpose of this study was to determine if students who participated in Student Support Services (TRiO) programs at California Community Colleges were more likely to persist and complete an educational goal compared to non-program counterparts with similar demographic backgrounds.

As a growing trend of first-generation college-going, low-income, and students with disabilities are enrolling at California Community Colleges, it is important to understand how this population of students is experiencing our institutions of higher education. More importantly, it is critical for college administrations and leaders to understand the importance of creating a culture of success at their institutions by which all students will have the support and advocacy to realize their academic and personal goals.

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The Effects of Classroom Management Beliefs/Ideologies on Student Academic Success

Teneecia Shaa Brannon

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

This study was undertaken to explore how classroom management is currently being used by teachers in classrooms and to examine if classroom management practices have any effect on student academic success. The study took place in two Fresno County school districts. The study consisted of a 15 minute voluntary survey being sent out to fourth and fifth grade teachers in each district, as well as, data mining of historic student data from district data bases. The study explored the effects of classroom management beliefs and ideologies on student academic success. The study was based on the classroom management beliefs and ideologies of Glickman and Wolfgang (1978), in which there are three groups: Noninterventionist (more constructivist), Interactionalist (combination of constructivist and behaviorist), and Interventionist (more behaviorist). The Attitudes and Beliefs on Classroom Control (ABCC) Inventory-R was used to determine the teachers’ ideological group, then data base California Standards Test (CST) information was used to analyze the relationships between classroom management beliefs/ideologies and student academic success.

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A Comparative Study between Online Charter High Schools and Traditional High Schools in California

Robert Worthington Darrow

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Kenneth Magdaleno

Abstract:

The percentage of students who graduate from high school within four years in the United States has remained between 65 and 70% since the late 1960s. Despite various educational reforms, the number of students who are at-risk of dropping out of high school has remained constant, increasing in some years and decreasing in other years. Two innovative educational movements developed in the 1990s may help to reduce the number of school dropouts: charter schools and online schools. The first state charter school law was passed in Minnesota in 1991 and then California in 1992. Since then, more than 4500 charter schools have developed across the U.S. Among all states, California has the largest number of charter schools and the largest number of charter school students (20% of all students attending charter schools reside in California).

This study compared students attending online charter schools with students attending traditional high schools in California to determine if at-risk students are more successful in online charter schools. There were 10 online charter high schools (grades 9-12) chosen that had operated for more than two years. A random sample of 10 traditional high schools were chosen as comparison schools based on the percentage of free and reduced lunch students, an indicator of at-risk students. Analysis revealed that the number of students attending online charter schools increased yearly by more than 80% between 2006 and 2009 in California and represents less than 1% of the total high school enrollment. Further analysis revealed that the percentage of students who scored proficient or above on the California Standards English Language Arts test was similar in both online charter and traditional high schools. Conversely, the number of students who drop out of high school was greater in online charter schools than in traditional high schools. Pearson’s chi-square was used to determine significance. Although chi-square results did show significance in sampling, there was not enough data available to suggest that at-risk students are being more successful in online charter schools at this time. 

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An Examination of the Relationship between Teachers’ Perceptions of the Presence of Professional Learning Community Attributes and Student Achievement

Melissa Witt Ireland

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

Educators in the Central Valley of California face mandates for student achievement growth with the additional challenge of high concentrations of traditionally underserved students. Over the past 15 years, professional learning communities have been increasingly identified as a promising approach for improving school performance. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the practices associated with professional learning communities and student learning. Is there a relationship between teacher perceptions of the presence of PLC attributes and student achievement?

This study was quantitative in nature, and measured the relationship between the independent variables of teacher perceptions of the presence of PLC attributes and the dependent variables of student achievement in language arts, mathematics, history, and science. The independent variable was measured using a researcher developed 6-point Likert-like survey based on the attributes of PLCs as described by Hord (1997). The dependent variable was measured using 10th-grade student performance data from California Standards Tests (CSTs). High schools with student demographics representing the mid-range of English learner and socio-economically disadvantaged student populations in Fresno, Madera, and Tulare counties were invited to take part in the study. Teachers of 10th-grade students in high schools that agreed to participate responded to a 6-point Likert-like survey.

Teacher survey responses were paired with 2009 CST results of their students. These data were analyzed utilizing descriptive statistics, the ANOVA, bivariate correlations, canonical correlation, multiple linear regressions, chi-square goodness of fit, and the independent t-test. The overall results indicate that teacher perception of the presence of PLC practices has a positive relationship with student achievement.

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Library 2.0 and Information Competency in California Community College Distance Education Programs: A Descriptive Study

Ronald Lynn Oxford

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Ron Unruh

Abstract:

This descriptive research study was designed to explore how California Community Colleges are integrating Information Competency(IC) into their distance education programs and if they are using Library 2.0 tools to accomplish this. A secondary component of the study was designed to discover what types of assessments are in place and if they are linked to Student Learning Outcomes. A researcher designed descriptive survey was the method of data collection. The survey gathered both qualitative and quantitative data by utilizing open and closed ended questions. Along with the growing importance of teaching information skills to students is the expanding usage by this generation of Web 2.0 tools such as social networking sites, blogs, chat, and a host of other web-based tools. The study was intended to expand the understanding of library professionals in how this changing education environment is being addressed by college librarians and how they are meeting the needs of an increasing online curriculum. Of the 110 colleges surveyed 54 responded for a response rate of 49%. Experimentation with even the newest social networking tools like Virtual Worlds was taking place. Information Competency (IC) instruction online seemed to mirror what is being done face-to-face and very few colleges had IC requirements in place for receiving fully online degrees. Some results were expected and others were unexpected. The lack of assessment taking place being the most unexpected considering the current push by accrediting bodies for accountability.

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Encouraging Preadolescent Emotional Intelligence through Leadership Activity

John Henry Alvarado

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Pamela Lane-Garon

Abstract:

The study sought to determine effects of leadership activity on emotional intelligence in preadolescents. Ninety-two Central California Valley sixth grade students in two schools and four classes were assessed on emotional intelligence. Treatment and comparison groups were identified. A Two-Way Repeated Measures ANOVA examined change over time with respect to treatment, main effect, and interactions. Questions guiding the investigation were: (1) Is pre-adolescent emotional intelligence affected by leadership activity? (2) Will students of lower SES improve emotional intelligence scores as a result of leadership activities in distinctively different ways when compared to those students of higher SES, as measured by the Mayer, Salovey and Caruso, Emotional Intelligence Test: Youth Version (MSCEIT:YV)? Findings revealed partial support for these predictions. Main effects reveal significance for 5 out of 7 areas with treatment group generating greater means, and SES groups approaching significance for 2 out of 7 areas. Results suggest that leadership activity may be an important vehicle for improving emotional intelligence in schools, students of lower SES may benefit more than students of higher SES, and assessment instrument, regarding vocabulary, for younger populations may require revision.

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The Influence of Mentoring on Female Administrators and Leaders in California Community Colleges

Jothany Blackwood

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to examine whether middle-level female administrators in the California Community College System were being mentored to higher-level positions, and whether the retention of leaders in higher-level positions was influenced by mentoring. Specifically, this research study examined the mobility and retention of female administrators through a web-based survey that was completed by 156 females currently working in administrative positions at the dean’s level or higher in California Community Colleges. Data was also collected through face-to-face interviews with eleven female administrators in senior-level positions from vice president to chancellor. These interviews reflected a range of demographics and were located in Northern, Central, and Southern California.

The research study addressed two research questions: 1) What effect did mentoring, if any, have on a person’s ability to achieve higher-level leadership positions? and 2) What relationship does mentorship have on the retention of women in leadership?

The study utilized a mixed-methods design employing both quantitative and qualitative methods. The Univariate Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), Cross Tabulation, Frequency Distribution, Measures of Central Frequency, Independent t-tests, and Correlations were used to identify statistical significance between those who had served as a mentor and those who had not, and between those who had been a mentee and those who had not.

Findings reported that mentoring had a positive and significant influence on female administrators and leaders in the California Community College System. There were also important common themes that emerged that indicated the research study was also influenced by family dynamics, mobility and retention strategies, interim positions, the influence of mentors, faith, the timeline for having mentors, gender and racial issues, and participants’ own willingness to mentor others. 

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Investigating Differences among Asian American Youth Participating and Not Participating in Grant-Funded High School After-School Programs

Kimberley A.M. Boyer

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

The popular stereotype of Asian Americans in American society is that they are high achievers with high expectations. Consequently, they have been termed the model minority. While there are varied and historical reasons for reporting this group under one umbrella, it is critical to recognize that individuals who comprise this group occupy positions along the full range of socioeconomic spectrum. The purpose of this study was to investigate differences in academic achievement, social behavior, self-esteem and acculturation when comparing Asian American youth who participate in grant funded high school after-school programs to Asian Americans youth who do not. This was a mixed methods research design combining both quantitative and qualitative research. This study examined Asian American high school youth and the 21st Century Community Learning Center’s High School After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) Program at three California schools that have ASSETs programs. The independent variables in this study included Asian subgroup membership which has 10 subgroups and after-school program participation. The dependent variables in this study included student academic performance, student social behavior, student psycho-social attitudes related to self-esteem and acculturation. Implications for this study included bringing awareness to the unique needs of Asian-Americans and high school after-school programs.

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How Course Articulation Agreements Facilitate the Transfer and Completion of a Bachelor’s Degree: A Comparison of Native and Transfer Students

Klaus-Georg Tenbergen

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

A seismic economic shift has changed the rules by which Americans strive to get ahead in society. Hard work, once the bedrock of opportunity, is no longer sufficient in and of itself to ensure individual prosperity and security for either individuals or the larger community. The consequence of this new economy is the need to educate students in the shortest possible timeframe, so they will have an impact on society.

This study was designed to research the use of well-established articulation agreements traditional within higher education institutions in California and their impact on student’s transfer and completion time-frames and rates. The purpose of this study was to explore how long it takes a student who has transferred from a 2-year college to a 4-year university (transfer students) to complete a bachelor’s degree and compare it to the completion rates of students who enter and graduated from 4-year universities (native students) at selected institutions in California. In addition, perception of the administration of those 2-year colleges and 4-year universities related to the policies and procedures of articulation agreements were gathered to explore what barriers or assistance these policies and procedures created for students or the articulation process.

This study provides important information for the benefit of students, academic articulation officers and administrators, and to reach an understanding of the impact of articulation agreements, policies, and procedures on students who desire to transfer articulate coursework within the higher education environments. From the study was learned that starting at a 2-year college and transferring to a 4-year university will accelerate the degree completion time-frame dramatically. This research provides data and findings to administrators and articulation officers interested in continuous improvement, allowing them to plan their implementations to avoid pitfalls, break down any existing barriers and enhance the benefits of any student who desires to complete a bachelor degree in these systems in a timely and acceptable manner.

The failure of the community colleges and state 4-year universities to agree on common transfer requirements creates tremendous confusion. It has become one more factor discouraging students from pursuing a 4-year degree. The 110 community colleges have created individual articulation agreements with 4-year universities to which they feed the most students. Beyond that, the transfer system is a maze to negotiate. Unsure where the students will transfer to, community college students hedge their bets by taking more courses than they need. Once the students have been re-admitted to a 4-year university, community college transfer students learn they often have to take extra courses peculiar to that school’s requirements for a major.

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The Impact of the College Assistance Migrant Program on Migrant Student Achievement in the California State University System

Adrian Dee Ramirez

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Ron Unruh

Abstract:

The purpose of the 7-year longitudinal study was to examine the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), a student services intervention, to determine its impact on migrant student achievement in the California State University (CSU) system. Participants included336 migrant students who were enrolled as first-time, full-time freshmen in fall 2002 to spring 2009 from six of the 23 CSU campuses with CAMP federal program funding. The comparison groups were Latinos and other students from the general student population for a total of 9,362 student level data records.

The study intended to address one overarching research question: Does the CAMP intervention have an impact on migrant student achievement? The Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Chi-Square Test of Independence were used to explore differences among CAMP, Latino, and other students from the general population. The variables used to determine academic achievement included persistence, first year and cumulative grade point average, and baccalaureate degree attainment. Data findings reported CAMP was having a positive impact on migrant student participants enrolled in the program.

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Closing the Achievement Gap: The Relationship between Emotional Intelligence, Race, Identity Attitudes, and Academic Achievement with African American Adolescents

Ben Amuku Drati

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Kenneth Magdaleno

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether African American high school students’ emotional intelligence and their race identity attitudes are related to their academic achievement. The following research questions were explored in the study: What is the correlation between African American adolescents’ race identity attitudes and their academic achievement? What is the correlation between an African American adolescents’ emotional intelligence and their academic achievement? What is the correlation between African American adolescents’ race identity attitudes and emotional intelligence?

Representing three high schools, a total of 165 African American students were invited to participate in the study. The students were randomly selected and administered the EQ-i:YV (S) and CRIS surveys. Students’ survey results were correlated against each other and against their 2008/2009 ELA CST scale scores. Analyses indicated positive, modest, and significant adaptability subscales of EI to ELA results. MICI attitudes were positively, modestly, and significantly correlated to ELA results. MICI results were positively and significantly correlated with adaptability. Adaptability and multicultural inclusive attitudes are discussed in the context of Oppositional Culture, Nigrescence, and emotional intelligence theories in relation to academic achievement for African American adolescents.

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The Impact of Student Response System on Third Graders’ Learning, Motivation, and Engagement

Idia Adejumoke Abode

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Susan Tracz

Abstract:

The positive role feedback plays in student learning has been documented by several education researchers. Obtaining immediate feedback can be difficult and impractical without technological assistance. The persistent demand for accountability has resulted in a continuous search by educators for alternative means of promoting student engagement in order to boost academic achievement. Student response systems (SRS), among other learning tools, have been employed towards this end, mostly at the higher education level. Therefore, there is a great need for research that addresses the effectiveness of such emerging technology at the K-12 level.

This research investigated the implementation of student response systems on student motivation, engagement, and student achievement on third graders using a quasi-experimental research design. Student response systems are a group of developing technologies that have been adapted for use in classrooms as a tool for providing feedback. The student response system developed by SMART Technologies was used for this study. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. Treatment teachers provided feedback to students using the student response system from November, 2009 to February, 2010, while the comparison teachers provided feedback to students the traditional way. Both groups administered pretest and posttest measures to assess academic achievement aligned to third grade critical standards, motivation (using the School Achievement Motivation Rating Scale), and engagement. Repeated measures ANOVA was used to analyze the data collected.

The student achievement outcomes were mixed. The SRS had a positive outcome for both motivation and engagement. A post survey was administered to both teachers and students in the treatment group to determine perceived suitability of the technology. All three treatment teachers interviewed and surveyed were in agreement about the effectiveness of the SRS. The majority of the treatment students believed the SRS had a positive impact on their learning. Future research should consider expanding the pool of participants, modify the administration of the achievement test, and address other implementation challenges posed by this study. 

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The Effects of Participation of School Children as Mediators in Contrast to Non-Mediators in a Mentored Mediation Program as Related to Academic Achievement, Developmental Disposition, and Conflict Orientation

Eimear M. O’Farrell

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Elaine Garan

Abstract:

This study focused on the effects of elementary students’ participation in a mentored peer mediation program during a school year as it related to three variables, academic achievement, developmental disposition, and conflict orientation.

Phase I, academic achievement, focused on the relationship between participation in this program and academic performance on the California STAR tests in English Language Arts. Archival data from approximately 1,180 upper grade students in seven elementary schools were studied to examine this relationship.

Phase II, the developmental disposition component, aimed at gaining an understanding of the multidimensional nature of empathy. It focused on the cognitive responses of individuals, as well as the emotional facets of perspective taking as students engaged in mediator experiences. The instrument used to assess this component was the Davis Scales of Interpersonal Reactivity Index, which measured separate aspects of empathic reaction. Conflict Orientation was measured using a free-response questionnaire, providing a qualitative data component. Two hundred ninety seven upper grade students at five elementary schools participated in the dispositional and conflict orientation components.

Four school districts with diverse socioeconomic, demographic, and ethnic representation were included in the study.

Phase I data indicated that grade 5 was a critical year in the mentored mediation program, impacting academic achievement at a significantly greater level than the two other upper grade levels. The data suggested that grade 5 students may have benefited from two years of participation as mediators before realizing academic gains. Decreases in sixth grade participation due to attrition led to diminished representation of mediators. This perhaps accounted for the minimal academic gains evidenced at that grade level.

Phase II data provided evidence that students demonstrated higher levels of developmental disposition and positive orientation toward conflict management when participating as mediation facilitators than when participating as non-mediator disputants. Mediators tended to implement effective conflict resolution skills, while non-mediators sought out peer mediators to resolve conflicts.

It is hoped that the results of this study will contribute to the sustainability of mentored peer mediation programs in schools, by providing a clearer understanding of the interconnections among academic achievement, developmental disposition, and conflict orientation.

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Correlations between California Academic Performance Index Scores and College Attendance Rates

Gary Lowe

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: David Tanner

Abstract:

Educators have struggled to assess educational quality in high schools, particularly in terms of the impact that the high school experience has on subsequent student success in college. Attempting to quantify the quality of learning that occurs in educational settings is both complex and controversial.

One approach to evaluating secondary school quality in California is to rely on the Academic Performance Index (API) score available for each school. A second is to associate school quality with students’ subsequent college attendance. In this study the two are combined in order to determine whether API scores are correlated with college attendance rates. Although API scores were not specifically designed as a method of measuring college attendance rates, they are a measure of school quality and it is reasonable to expect that higher quality schools would produce more college ready high school graduates.

A Pearson correlation test and the coefficient of determination (r2) were calculated using API scores from 1999 and 2007 to study the amount of variance in college attendance rates that could be attributed to changes in API scores.

Statistically significant correlations between API scores and college attendance rates were found. Correlations were also found between student demographics (gender, ethnicity), API scores and college attendance rates. In addition, the study found a correlation between API scores and student attendance at the University of California and California State University system. 

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Whose Accountability is it? Conceptual Metaphor and Affinity for Learning Outcomes Based Accountability: Comparisons between California PreK-12 and Higher Education Leaders

Devin Dag Blizzard

California State University, Fresno, 2010

Chair: Sharon Brown-Welty

Abstract:

The strength of leaders’ identification with education accountability language framed by Conceptual Metaphor (Lakoff & Johnson, 2002) was evaluated across California PreK-12 and Higher Education groups. Survey and short-answer data from 549 California college deans, college presidents, PreK-12 superintendents, and PreK-12 school principals revealed that where you work (professional level) was an indicator for the way education leaders believed schools, colleges, and universities should be held accountable. One’s political party affiliation was an indicator for how education leaders believed students should be held accountable.

PreK-12 education leaders showed a greater overarching affinity toward school accountability statements than Higher Education leaders. This finding was evidenced by higher levels of Social Identification (Mael & Tetrick, 1992). PreK-12 leaders demonstrated higher affinity for accountability statements framed using hierarchical Nation as a Family (Lakoff, 2008) style metaphoric content and also greater affinity toward language statements rich in quantification metaphoric content . Finally, Education leaders demonstrated differences between professional levels in their use of student learning outcomes data. PreK-12 education leaders used data more frequently than their Higher Education counterparts. An inductive analysis of short answer response content is provided as well as a discussion of theoretical, methodological, and practical applications for conceptual metaphor theory in the context of educational leadership. 

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