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  • Clergy Spirituality: A Spiritual Balance Construct for Cultivating Awareness of the Nature of Clergy Spiritual Well-Being

    Thomas, Audrey Banks; McAfee School of Theology
    This study sought to cultivate awareness of the nature of spiritual well-being and balance amongst clergy persons and provide a framework for addressing clergy spiritual health through the propagation of a spiritual balance construct and associated lexicon. The construct consists of four dimensions that form a framework for evaluating clergy spiritual health. The four construct dimensions were experiential, intellectual, social, and institutional. The intent of the research was to determine if immersion into this spiritual balance construct, to include engagement in associated spiritual practices and introduction of a common lexicon, resulted in increased awareness among clergy persons of the nature of spiritual well-being and balance. The qualitative ethnographic method with pre- and post-instruction semi-structured interviews was employed to conduct the study. Six associate pastors, active in ministry, participated in the research and were instructed on the construct over the course of five one-hour teachings. Each of the construct dimension teaching sessions included an associated spiritual practice exercise. These exercises were lectio divina, Bible and scholarly reading, spiritual service, and one-anothering. The four categories that emerged from the research findings were Defining Clergy Spiritual Well-Being, Importance of Clergy Spiritual Well-Being, Maintaining Clergy Spiritual Well-Being, and Assessing Awareness. Post-instruction research findings indicated that immersion into the spiritual balance construct did indeed beget increased awareness. Recommendations for future research include expanding the spiritual balance construct to include element-specific prescriptive spiritual disciplines. Another recommendation, based on research participant responses, entails exploring the possibility of adding an additional element to the construct that would represent clergy self-care (physical, emotional, mental) and family care. It is also recommended that the tool be used in spiritual direction as the foundation for the covenant agreement between the director and directee. To evangelize the tool, as well as respond to concern for clergy spiritual health, seminars, retreats, and a spiritual formation curriculum inclusive of deep engagement with the spiritual balance construct are recommended.
  • A Novel Design of a Knee Brace for Patients with Spinocerebellar Ataxia: A Comparative Study

    Speece, Brooke; School of Engineering
    Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) is an inherited degenerative disease of the central nervous system leading to the deterioration of the cerebellum, the voluntary motor control center of the brain. Patients with SCA are unable to maintain balance and normal posture and have an ataxic gait, resulting in increased abnormalities in gait parameters. Some patients may increase muscle co-activation to provide stability during gait by stiffening their joints. A compensation that typically results in reduced joint range of motion and a decrease of gait parameters. The subject of this study is a 47-year-old female with spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 and presents with difficulty standing, abnormal ataxic gait, and poor balance. The purpose of this study was to design and construct a brace to provide stability and aid the patient in walking as well as standing and sitting. Two braces were designed, constructed, and tested to compare the efficacy of each: a tension brace with an adjustable Velcro tension band attachment on the anterior portion of the brace and a spring brace with a torsional spring and 3D printed housing attached to the brace knee joint. Electromyography analysis determined the knee antagonist co-activation index (CAI) increased by 86.3% during stance and by 168.7% during swing with the spring brace, indicating greater stability and motor control. The tension brace had little to no effect on CAI. During standing, the tension brace increased quadriceps activity by 65.4% and the spring brace increased activity by 37.2%, indicating both braces could help to rehabilitate weak muscle function. Joint angle diagrams obtained in the gait analysis determined both braces aid the knee during the terminal stance and pre-swing. With the spring brace, cadence increased by 8.7% (72.4 steps/min) and velocity by 8% (0.53 m/s), while the tension brace increased cadence 4.9% (69.7 steps/min) and velocity remained unchanged. The F-Scan pressure analysis determined the spring brace decreases abnormal peak force during loading which can indicate balance problems at heel strike. The patient preferred using the spring brace to the tension brace. She felt it provided her more stability and speed and elected to keep the brace after testing.
  • Nurturing Connection To God In A Small Group Of Women At Tomoka Christian Church With The Use Of Lectio Divina

    Humbert, Susan; McAfee School of Theology
    (Under the direction of William Loyd Allen, Ph.D.) Opportunities to connect individuals to God through engaging the Holy Spirit on deep levels, after the point of conversion, are not readily available to my constituency. With a desire to strengthen disciples in my ministry context, I sought a project that could respond to the problem. Through the method of qualitative research, eight women with no previous knowledge of or experience with Lectio Divina were gathered for an eight-week experience with this prayer method. The purpose was to learn if this method was effective in nurturing connection to God. A comparison of the pre-project and post-project interviews, along with shared journal entries in a weekly group meeting, revealed that there was perceived nurtured connection to God. This conclusion was based on the spiritual themes which emerged from the participants over the course of those eight weeks as well as conclusionary comments at the post-project interviews.
  • A Phenomenological Approach Exploring Veterinarians' Experience Performing Euthanasia on a Pet

    Shugart, Austin; College of Professional Advancement
    The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore veterinarians’ experience performing euthanasia on a pet. Various mental health effects from veterinarians’ performing euthanasia on pets have been discussed in the literature including risk of suicide, stress, compassion fatigue, and burnout (Bartram et al., 2009; Bartram & Baldwin, 2010; Hill et al., 2019; Miller, 2012). The objective of this phenomenological study was to further understand the experience that veterinarians have when performing the end-of-life procedure, euthanasia, and what themes may emerge as a result. Semi-structured interviews were used to understand veterinarians’ experiences with performing euthanasia. The sample included 8 veterinarians who have performed at least one euthanasia. The findings of this study included four emerging central themes that were identified in the data analysis process, including several subthemes. The first central theme identified was moral reasoning for euthanasia with subthemes including concern for quality of life, ending suffering for pets, and ending suffering for humans. The second central theme was effects on the mental health of the veterinarian with subthemes including suicidal risk, burnout, and compassion fatigue. The third central theme was the experience of performing euthanasia being emotionally difficult for the veterinarian including a subtheme of attending to the emotions and needs of owners. The last central theme was compartmentalization including a subtheme of professionalism. These findings contributed to the existing literature as they showed that performing euthanasia on a pet is an experience that affects the veterinarian in various ways. Continue research is needed to better understand the experience of a veterinarian performing euthanasia on a pet in order to better help veterinarians that may need help for their mental health.
  • Raising the Bar: Institutional Action to Address College Graduation Rates for Students of Color from Low Socioeconomic Backgrounds

    Clark, Jr., Ricky; Tift College of Education
    The purpose of this qualitative single site case study was to examine the practices, policies, and programs at a university with exceptional graduation rates for students of color from low socioeconomic backgrounds. This study identified the impact of various departments, such as financial planning, recruitment and admissions, academic services, curriculum and instruction, and student services, on student persistence, from the perspective of both students of color as well as departmental leadership. This study also identified what students of color from low socioeconomic backgrounds perceived contributed to their success. The research question that guided this study was: How are the institutional factors of Swail’s (2003) Geometric Model of Student Persistence and Achievement implemented at a southern U.S. university with graduation rates for students of color from low socio-economic backgrounds that meet or exceed the national average graduation rate of 59 percent? The selected site was a private liberal arts institution in the southern region of the United States. The researcher conducted semi-structured interviews with faculty, staff, and students; campus observations; and document reviews. Hybrid thematic analysis (inductive and deductive) revealed that peer-to-peer mentoring and faculty/staff to student mentoring, supplemental instruction and tutoring, office or staff devoted to retention efforts, collaborative community campus environment, and consistent financial resources positively impacted the success of students of color from low socioeconomic backgrounds. This study may inform institutions of higher education of successful policies, practices, and programs that may influence persistence to graduate for students of color from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Implementation of the following may influence the success of students of color from low socioeconomic background: interdepartmental cross training, investment of additional time and resources into TRIO programs, creation or expansion of supplemental instruction and tutoring programs, create an office or train a staff member to address student retention, provision of consistent financial resources and education, provision of affinity group opportunities or safe space environments, and creation of a “community feel” on campus. Recommendations for further research include applying this research to various institutional types such as technical colleges, community colleges, HBCUs, Tribal Colleges or public institution; expand current research to include alumni perspective on student success; and expand current research focusing on individual academic departments or units to offer deeper understanding.

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