Recent Submissions

  • 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.
  • The Impact of Introducing Resident Physicians in the ICU: Perceptions of Safety Culture Change by Staff and Residents in the ICU Following the Introduction of Residency Training Programs in a New Teaching Hospital

    Brown, Donna Pittillo; Tift College of Education
    Studies indicate the third leading cause of death in the United States is medical error, and up to 21% of admitted patients are affected by a medical error during their hospital stay. Efforts to reduce patient error have led many hospitals to adopt systems and processes to encourage a culture where the staff and providers feel comfortable to report errors. Residents in training programs are an important part of the safety culture of the hospital but are not often included in patient safety and quality improvement initiatives. The impact that residents have on the safety culture of the hospital is infrequently studied. This study evaluated data from safety culture surveys in a new community teaching hospital and compared ICU staff and resident perceptions pre- and post-start of residency. ICU staff completed the Safety Culture Index as part of an annual employee engagement survey in 2018-2021, providing data for 12 months prior to residency training to two years after the start of residency programs. Residents completed the Safety Attitudes Questionnaire at intervals during residency of 0 through 25 months of residency. Mean scores indicate that ICU staff safety culture perceptions showed an overall positive increase from one year prior to residents starting to two years after start. Resident perceptions at the start of residency training were in the “Strongly Agree” range when starting residency then declined to the “Agree” or “Neutral” range at the one-year point. The mean value of resident scores after one year of residency training met the average responses from the staff survey in the same period and scores from both groups increased between the first and second year of residency training. This study demonstrates the impact that residents can have to improve safety culture in the ICUs of a new teaching hospital. Results from this study can assist hospital leaders to better understand the impact of residents on safety culture and support initiatives to start residency programs in community hospitals. Existing residency programs may be encouraged by the results of this study to integrate residents into hospital patient safety and quality improvement initiatives to improve patient care.
  • We Did It! Examining how First-Generation College Students Graduated from a Four-Year College or University through a Positive Psychology Lens

    Johnson, Joleesa Adriana; Tift College of Education
    More and more first-generation college students have been enrolling in colleges across the United States; however, enrollment does not mean graduation. Research has shown that first-generation college students are less likely to graduate than their non-first-generation college peers. A gap exists between first-generation college students’ enrollment rates and their graduation rates, as well as their graduation rates and the graduation rates of their non-first-generation college peers. This qualitative study was conducted to understand the lived experiences of first-generation college students. It explored how first-generation college students graduated from a four-year higher education institution by examining their positive characteristics, specifically their character strengths (Norrish et al., 2013). The researcher employed a phenomenological approach to help understand the lived experiences of first-generation college students as they relate to the character strengths they utilized to graduate from college. The researcher used purposeful and snowball sampling to recruit participants for this study. This studied included 10 first-generation college graduates who attained their bachelor’s degree within the past 10 years. To collect the data, the researcher conducted one semi-structured, virtual interview with each participant. The researcher also followed verification procedures to mitigate researcher bias and increase the trustworthiness of this study. The results of this study showed that the participants faced many challenges while in college; however, giving up was not an option as the six themes emerged: Agency, Supportive Circle, Future-mindedness, Stick-to-it-iveness, External Motivation, and Positive Emotions illustrated their persistence toward graduation and the desire to attain their degree. The participants employed the following character strengths: perseverance, self-regulation, love, hope, gratitude, bravery, and leadership to graduate from college. According to the definitions of these character strengths, they were found to demonstrate the six themes and the six themes gave context to the realization and utilization of these seven character strengths. The results of this study demonstrate the possibility of higher education institutions creating an environment that includes interventions that encourage and empower their students, especially first-generation college students, to identify and use character strengths to assist in the persistence and graduation of this population. Recommendations for future research include conducting more qualitative studies to explore how first-generation college students graduated from college. Also, conducting mixed-method studies that use the Values in Action (VIA) Survey to increase the accuracy of identifying first-generation college students’ character strengths.
  • Protecting Our Moms: An Investigation of Workplace Incivility and Job Satisfaction for Mothers Working in Student Affairs

    Swanger, Stefanie; Tift College of Education
    Research indicates that workplace incivility affects the higher education workplace and has been shown to reduce job satisfaction. Existing literature on these two variables focuses heavily on academic faculty, failing to investigate this trend for student affairs staff members. Additional evidence points to motherhood bias at work, which often presents itself as harsh performance reviews, missed opportunities for promotion, and reduced wages. This is exceptionally problematic for the student affairs field in which women represent almost three-quarters of student affairs employees. This study investigated the correlation between workplace incivility and job satisfaction for mothers working in student affairs using One-way ANOVA and independent samples t-tests. Five hundred and eighty-four student affairs mothers participated in the study and completed the Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS) and Workplace Incivility Scale (WIS). The results of this study indicate that mothers working in student affairs express the highest levels of job satisfaction with the nature of the work, supervision, and coworkers, while expressing the lowest levels of satisfaction with pay and promotion potential. Compared to historical data, student affairs moms expressed the lowest levels of job satisfaction versus higher education workers and United States all industry workers. Concerning workplace incivility, 95% of student affairs mothers had experienced at least one uncivil act at work in the preceding 12 months, while 17 % had experienced all seven types of workplace incivility. Additionally, participants who had experienced workplace incivility demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in overall job satisfaction and satisfaction in each of the nine JSS subscales. This study presents a call to action for administrators to develop policies and procedures for addressing uncivil acts in the workplace directed toward student affairs mothers, while urging mothers to report such acts through the appropriate channels. Future research should focus on greater participant diversity and additional demographics to understand the relationship between workplace incivility and job satisfaction based on institution type, and participant degree levels, job titles, and wages. Additionally, investigation of these two variables along with attrition and turnover intentions may provide the field a greater understanding of the impact of workplace incivility for student affairs mothers.
  • Contributions of the N and C – Termini of Varicella – Zoster Virus Portal

    Nale Lovett, Dakota J; School of Medicine
    The VZV portal protein is a multimeric protein found at a single vertex of the viral capsid that is essential for encapsidation (packaging) of viral DNA. All viruses within the herpesvirus family contain structurally homologous portal proteins. PORT compounds have been shown to target herpesvirus portal proteins and show potential as broad-spectrum herpesvirus antivirals. We are specifically interested in the interaction of PORT compounds with the VZV portal since the activity of our compounds against VZV was shown to be in the single nanomolar range. Unfortunately, VZV portal structure has yet to be resolved by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) due to complications with size and aggregation. We aimed to observe the effects of pORF54 (VZV portal protein) terminal truncation on virus viability to determine the minimal portal protein that can be used for structural analysis. Six recombinant viruses containing N and C- terminal mutations were created using bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) technology and targeted recombineering to create the mutant VZV strains. PCR was used to engineer stop codons at 29, 49, and 75 AAs from the C-terminal end. In addition, a second set of recombinants was constructed where the first start codon of the 769 AA pORF54 open reading frame was deleted creating a 40 AA N-terminal truncation. Sequencing of all mutant strains confirmed the expected changes for the ORF54 gene and also that no gross off-target mutations occurred. All constructs showed a similar restriction digestion pattern, upon gel electrophoresis, compared to the parent BAC, pOKA, suggesting the mutant genomes were stable. Mutagenized BACS were used to create infectious viral stocks after lipofectamine-based transfection into ARPE19 cells. Viruses with non-functional mutations in pORF54 were transfected into ARPE54 (complementing) cells, that constitutively express wild-type pORF54. The ∆29, ∆49, N40∆29, and N40∆49 viruses were replication competent in ARPE19 cells. Replication characteristics suggested that some of these viruses grew less efficiently in vitro. Overall, we confirmed that a protein of 679 AAs can form a functional viral portal. This portal multimer may represent a strong candidate for detailed structural studies.
  • The Influence of Hyaluronic Acid Metabolism on the Development of Chemoresistance in 3D Breast Cancer Cell Models

    Iyahen, Violet; School of Medicine
    Breast cancer is the most diagnosed malignancy in the world. Of the various subtypes of breast cancer cells, the ductal carcinoma is responsible for 70% to 80% of worldwide breast cancer diagnoses. Current treatments for breast cancer include hormonal therapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, many breast cancer tumors become resistant to these therapies overtime prompting the need for new targeted therapies. It is becoming increasingly clear that the tumor microenvironment plays a critical role in tumor cell survival and development of resistance. In particular, the CD44 receptor and its ligand hyaluronic acid (HA) have been implicated in a number of processes related to tumor progression and survival. HA is a major component of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in both normal and abnormal tissues. In this current study we focused on examining the role of HA metabolism on the resistance of breast cancers to the commonly used chemotherapeutic agent doxorubicin (dox). Specifically, we examined the influence of HA in the ductal carcinoma cell line, MCF-7 using both a 2D and 3D tumor model. The results from this study supported previous findings that 3D MCF-7 cultured cells are resistant to doxorubicin treatment when compared to 2D models and further established the novel finding that cells grown in 3D models have increased gene expression of hyaluronic acid synthase. Consequently, 4-methylumbelliferone (4MU) was chosen due to its inhibiting mechanism during HA synthesis. For this reason, 4MU’s effect was vital to our hypothesis regarding modifications of HA content to augment the strength of low concentrations of dox on tumor cells. MCF-7 cells were grown and cultured two-dimensionally and three-dimensionally using unique methods and specialized plates. Assays were used to quantify and contrast the HA content in each culture along with the specific enzymes responsible for HA’s anabolic and catabolic processes. Then, overall cellular proliferation was measured after administering dox and 4MU separately followed by combination treatments of both. Results revealed an increase in HA synthase enzymes in the 3D cultures; however, overall HA concentration was lower when compared to the 2D cultures. Cellular proliferation was repeatedly measured, and on average, 3D cultures were more resistant to individual treatments of dox and 4MU. Similar results were seen when combination treatments were administered, and cellular proliferation did not decrease in the 3D groups.
  • Characterization of Attenuated HSV-2 Mutants as Potential Vaccine Candidates Against Genital Herpes

    Garza, Bret Kevin; School of Medicine
    A prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine against herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection is necessary to reduce the global disease burden of HSV-2 diseases. Subunit, single-cycle, and DNA vaccines have been studied in pre-clinical and clinical trials but have not been approved mostly due to lack of sufficient efficacy. Using targeted mutagenesis, a live, attenuated HSV-2 could be a likely candidate for a protective vaccine. In this study, we constructed and characterized two novel HSV-2 mutant strains, TKBAC /∆UL24 and TKBAC /∆UL39, that have loss-of-function in genes that are associated with viral pathogenesis. Bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) technology and recombineering were used for construction of these strains and their revertants, TKBAC /UL24R and TKBAC /UL39R. ∆UL24 and ∆UL39 have internal deletions and TKBAC (the parent virus) has an insertion within the viral thymidine kinase gene consisting of the 7.5 kb BAC sequence. Sequencing of ∆UL24 and ∆UL39 confirmed the expected deletions with the HSV-2 UL24 and UL39 genes while the flanking regions remained intact. BAC DNAs were digested with select restriction endonucleases and fractionated by agarose gel electrophoresis. All constructs showed a similar digestion pattern compared to the parent strain, TKBAC, suggesting the mutant genomes were stable. Mutagenized BACS were used to create infectious virus stocks after transfection into Vero cells. We demonstrated that TKBAC /∆UL24 and TKBAC /∆UL39 were replication-competent in Vero cells. An HSV-2 UL24 mutant was shown to be a potential attenuated vaccine candidate in previous studies. The double mutant containing disruption of the TK gene would provide for an even safer attenuated vaccine candidate that would be less like to reactivate from latency and cause disease. Replication characteristics including a reduction in plaque size for TKBAC /∆UL39 suggested that this virus was crippled in vitro, while TKBAC /∆UL24 demonstrated similar replication characteristics to the parent strain. In vitro plaque reduction assays and viral yield assays against acyclovir suggest that TKBAC /∆UL39 is more sensitive to acyclovir compared to the parent strain, based on a lower IC50. Based on previous studies with individual TK or UL39 mutants, the double mutant should be even more deficient in the establishment of and reactivation from latency. Based on these results, TKBAC /∆UL24 and TKBAC /∆UL39 should be considered for further preclinical evaluation (in animal models) as viable candidates for a protective, safe prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine.
  • An Analysis of the Toxic Effects of Mercury Cyanide Complexes on Zebrafish

    Pittman, Elizabeth; School of Medicine
    Mercury (Hg) is a unique heavy metal toxicant that is found in numerous environmental and occupational settings. A major source of environmental Hg is from artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), whereby metallic mercury (Hg0) is used to amalgamate gold from mined ore. Hg extraction of gold is inefficient and thus, a significant amount of gold remains in the ore. The leftover Hg-contaminated tailings are often subjected to cyanidation to extract the remaining gold. During this process, mercury and cyanide form mercuric cyanide complexes that are held together with a strong, covalent Hg-carbon bond. These toxic complexes are proposed to be prevalent in terrestrial and aquatic environments around mining sites. The purpose of the current study was to determine how mercuric cyanide complexes, particularly Hg(CN)2, affect the health of aquatic organisms in contaminated environments. We used adult and larval zebrafish (Danio rerio) as model organisms for this study. Zebrafish, in various life stages, were exposed to several different concentrations of Hg(CN)2 to determine the physical and behavioral effects of this exposure. Embryos were exposed to varying concentrations of Hg(CN)2 at one-hour post fertilization (4th cell cycle) until 72 hours post fertilization when hatching begins. Concentrations ranged from 0 to 0.1 mg/L Hg(CN)2. Embryos exposed to concentrations of Hg(CN)2 above 0.08 mg/L had a lower hatching rate and survival rate. Exposure of adult fish to various concentrations of Hg(CN)2 led to significant alterations in behavior and mercury content of muscle. The current study is the first to report the way in which Hg(CN)2 affects aquatic organisms in various stages of life.
  • C.H.A.R.I.S: A Pilot Study Exploring the Potential Effectiveness of an Intrapersonal Forgiveness Model that Utilizes Spiritual and Psychological Perspectives in a Group Process at Redemptive Life Christian Fellowship

    Peabody Smith, Jaye; McAfee School of Theology
    Six African American women from Redemptive Life Christian Fellowship engaged in a six-week psychoeducational group process to overcome their barriers to forgiveness. The curriculum used was called “The CHARIS Model.” This is a pilot study of the CHARIS Model, a uniquely developed psychoeducational group curriculum that addresses spiritual and psychological aspects of interpersonal forgiveness. This pilot study seeks to explore the potential effectiveness of the CHARIS curriculum in the process of interpersonal forgiveness. The study is a mixed-methods approach, quasi-experimental, pre-post test non-comparative pilot study. The study examined the effectiveness of the intervention on the process of inter-personal forgiveness using the General Measure of Forgiveness (GMF) assessment tool (Law, 2008). Qualitative questions were answered by the participants at the end of each weekly group meeting to acquire participants' views of the CHARIS curriculum and the study. The study shows the promising effectiveness of the CHARIS Model. Participants overcame barriers to forgiveness as indicated in the pre and post-assessment of the General Measure of Forgiveness. The group process, in a church setting, provided a community for the participants. Bridging together spiritual and psychological approaches significantly enhanced the forgiveness process.
  • The Role of Hyaluronic Acid Metabolism in Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells’ Initiation of Anti-Inflammatory Pathways

    Christiansen, John; School of Medicine
    For acute inflammatory diseases like ARDS or sepsis, there are currently massive limitations to the treatment options available. Even with rapid treatment, permanent damage and high risk of recurrence often result from these disease pathologies. Cell-based therapies – like those involving MSCs – have emerged as remarkable candidates for supplemental therapies for a whole host of diseases due to both regenerative properties and their paracrine signaling qualities. Currently, there is very little known about their ability to metabolize hyaluronic acid and whether this process is vital in initiating these therapeutic effects. Gene expression analysis of human MSCs stimulated with SEB-stimulated PBMC secretome indicates HAS-3 and PDL-1 may play a significant role in this pathway. This was confirmed by increased HA production detected via ELISA despite heat inactivation of the inflammatory queue. This means the PBMC secretome may contain some moiety or vesicle, not denatured by high heat, that caused a further increase in expression of HAS-3 compared to the non- heat-inactivated inflammatory queue. In addition, HAS-3 inhibition with 4MU produced a downregulation in inflammatory markers PDL-1 and IDO-1. Decoding this unknown signal within heat-inactivated PBMC-Secretome may prove vital in understanding how HA metabolism plays into MSCs regenerative and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Teacher Communication Orientation and Job Satisfaction: A Correlational Study

    Vickery, Samantha; Tift College of Education
    The purpose of this quantitative study was to test for the correlation, if any, between job satisfaction and socio-communicative orientation while also looking at gender, path to certification, and years teaching experience. The aim of this study was to demonstrate any correlations between the independent variables of socio-communicative orientation, assertiveness, responsiveness, gender, path to certification, years teaching experience, and the dependent variable of job satisfaction. The researcher used Pearson’s Correlation and multiple regression analysis for this quantitative study. The Socio-Communicative Orientation Scale, the Mohrman-Cooke-Mohrman Job Satisfaction Scale, and a demographic questionnaire were distributed to potential participants via email. The final number of participants was 33. About 90 participants were necessary for a medium effect size. Therefore, rejecting the null hypothesis was unlikely. Although this study showed no statistically significant correlations between the predictor variables and the dependent variable of job satisfaction, future research should have a larger participant population. Future research should include more participants and examine supplementary data collected from interviews. Case studies could strengthen the claim that the independent and dependent variables are not related. Expanding on this study, future research should examine variables that are not significantly correlated to teacher job satisfaction to prepare pre-service teachers for the field of education. This study was conducted in the middle of a global pandemic when online teaching was prevalent among teachers. This scenario likely had negative impacts on the return rate as it required more online time for teachers.
  • Effects of Weathering Cycles on the Mechanical Properties of Thermoplastic Polyurethane

    Pickren, Darren Brantley; School of Engineering
    In the present work, a method for synthesizing pure thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and TPU composite test specimens was developed to show stress-stretch dependency, to observe the effects of weathering on samples, and to show the potential of TPU as a superior coating agent over traditional polyurethane in aerospace applications. The TPU specimens were tensile tested using ASTM standards to extremely high deformations: stretch values of 5 times original length in tensile testing. During testing, TPU specimens exhibited typical behavior of nonlinear viscoelastic materials with extensive energy dissipation during stretch-release cycles. A portion of the tested samples were exposed to 168 hours of UV radiation, moisture, and temperature fluctuation to simulate accelerated weathering and exposure to harsh environments. When comparing weathered TPU samples to non-weathered TPU samples, there was no appreciable difference in the mechanical properties or the amount of energy absorbed during deformation; the stretch-stress curves were nearly identical before and after weathering. When returned to a zero-stress state, considerable residual strain remained in all specimens. It is conjectured that strain-induced crystallization is responsible for the unique shape-memory effect that the TPU specimens experience. Slower loading rates with the same peak stretch values showed higher peak stresses in samples from the same batch, showing that the rate of crystallization is dependent upon the rate at which TPU samples are deformed. The same tests were performed with TPU composites, filled with molybdenum disulfide. While TPU composites have slightly different overall mechanical properties from pure TPU, the exposure to weathering also had minimal effect on mechanical properties of composite specimens. Fracture tests were also performed on pure TPU and composite TPU samples. The effect of UV weathering on fracture toughness of pure TPU and TPU composites is more prevalent, as specimens were hardened and their abilities to absorb energy during crack growth was greatly reduced.
  • Deciphering the Role of Sumoylation During EBV Replication

    Jenkins, Jessica L; School of Medicine
    Epstein Barr Virus, a gamma herpes virus, is the known causative agent in infectious mononucleosis and is highly ubiquitous in nature. Although primary infection typically yields no long term issues, viral latency is associated with lymphomas and epithelial cell carcinomas. We documented that the presence of LMP1, the principal EBV oncogene, dysregulates cellular sumoylation processes in lymphoma tissues, modulates innate immune response, and maintains viral latency. Sumoylation is a dynamic process were target proteins are modified with free small ubiquitin like modifier (SUMO) proteins. The SUMO modification is vital for cellular processes including: immune response, DNA damage repair sensing, cell cycle progression, resistance to apoptosis, and metastasis. Several cancers display dysregulation of the sumoylation process, making the SUMO machinery a sufficient target for anti-cancer therapies. Known sumoylation inhibitors include natural extracts and antibiotics. However, many of these agents are nonspecific and/or demonstrate adverse effects like allergic reactions with botanical extracts. This piqued our interest in investigating synthetically engineered compounds along with a well-known natural extract inhibitor, Ginkgolic Acid (GA). ML-792, 2-D08, and TAK-981 are synthetically derived small molecule inhibitors that were identified as selective SUMO-inhibitors, interfering at different stages of the sumoylation process. We hypothesize that the SUMO-inhibitors will have therapeutic effects for the treatment of EBV-associated malignancies by modulating the EBV life-cycle. Results showed that each of the tested inhibitors decreased global levels of sumoylated proteins, though ML-792 and TAK-981 showed greater inhibition when compared to GA and 2-D08. Additionally, the SUMO-inhibitors induced low levels of spontaneous reactivation in latently infected B cells. We also confirm that sumoylation is important for maintaining EBV latency and lytic replication in B cells. Lastly, we note anti-viral potential for each tested inhibitor, particularly GA and 2-D08 have a better affect than ML-792 and TAK-981 in this regard. Of the tested sumoylation inhibitors, we now propose 2-D08 as the best potential therapeutic drug to aid the treatment of EBV-associated malignancies due to its ability to significantly reduce viral DNA levels following induced reactivation and decrease the ability of produced virus to infect additional cells.
  • Factors Associated with Transition to Student-Centered Pedagogy in Nursing Educators: A Cross-Sectional, Correlational Study

    Slocumb, Rhonda Harrison; Georgia Baptist College of Nursing
    Student-centered pedagogy (SCP) has positively affected student performance, but transition to SCP in nursing education has not been fully progressed. To facilitate transition to SCP, factors affecting transition to SCP should be examined from nursing educators’ perspectives because of their important roles in the transition. Multidimensional factors that may be associated with transition to SCP have not been frequently examined from educators’ perspectives. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine factors associated with transition to SCP in the total sample and in the subgroups based on age, program, and teaching experience. In this cross-sectional, correlational study, a convenience sample of 108 nursing educators were enrolled using social media, online forum, and emails with study information. Data on demographic characteristics, earned degree, knowledge of SCP, belief in effectiveness of SCP, support, situation, strategy, and transition to SCP were collected through an online survey. Multiple regression analyses with the Enter method were used to address the study purpose. The majority of the sample were > 50 years old (52.8%) and female (96.3%). The level of transition to SCP was low (2.76 out of 4), and the levels of knowledge of SCP and belief in effectiveness of SCP were moderate (30.27 and 31.42 out of 40, respectively). Knowledge of SCP was consistently, significantly associated with transition to SCP in the total sample (p < .001) and in all the subgroups: age ≤ 50 years old (p = .001), age > 50 years old (p = .007), teaching associate program (p < .001), teaching baccalaureate and graduate programs (p = .012), teaching experience ≤ 10 years (p = 001), and teaching experience > 10 years (p = .030). In addition, belief in effectiveness of SCP (p = .017) and degree earned (p = .046) were significantly associated with transition to SCP only in the age > 50 years group. Thus, interventions need to be developed and delivered to nursing educators to increase their knowledge of SCP and belief in effectiveness of SCP, and, in turn, to facilitate transition to SCP, especially for nursing educators > 50 years old with higher earned degree.
  • In Their Own Words: Acknowledging Heritage Literacies and Languages with College-Bound English Language Learners in Advanced English Language Arts Classrooms

    Curl, Jennifer Eileen; Tift College of Education
    This study sought to examine how the use of heritage literacies and languages by college-bound ELLs in advanced English classes can help ELLs meet course expectations and inform attitudes towards future ELA courses. Three adult professionals, a teacher, a pharmacist, and a chemical engineer, were purposefully sampled to share their lived experiences and reflections as ELLs in advanced English classes as high school students. The research questions were: (1) What do the narratives of college-bound English Language Learners enrolled in an advanced English course reveal about their use of heritage languages and Literacies? and (2) How do the narratives of college-bound English Language Learners enrolled in advanced English courses inform culturally responsive education? Data were collected through one-on-one interviews between the researcher and individual participants through recorded Zoom sessions, composition artifacts chosen by the participants, and a focus group including all three participants and the researcher. Data were analyzed through multi-level coding (Saldaña, 2016) employing holistic and in vivo coding for level one, pattern coding for level two, and cross-case analysis and narrative coding for level three. Results suggest that disconnections exist between ELLs and ESOL support, cultural use of language, and teacher expectations. Further results indicate microaggressions experienced by ELLs in advanced English classrooms, as well as frustration and confusion, related to advanced English teachers’ instructional practices. Finally, participants experienced disconnections resulting from myths and misconceptions about ELLs in advanced English classrooms. Recommendations for future studies include a focus on the intersection between race and culture, language, and literacy practices among ELLs and how schools can create bridges between ESOL and advanced course pathways.
  • The Essence of Caring™: Exploring Six Steps for Effective Spiritual Conversations at Mayo Clinic

    Valino, Estrella L; McAfee School of Theology
    Under the direction of Denise Massey, Ph.D. Spiritual care has important implications for an individual’s health and wellbeing. This study explored the effectiveness of the process of CARING™: Six Steps for Effective [Spiritual] Conversations, as the methodology was taught to a nurse and then evaluated. Over seven weeks, the CARING™ process was to be found effective, reliable, and beneficial in her role as a nurse. This mixed-method approach of research demonstrated the effectiveness of the educational tool. This participant was able to rate her beliefs based on her own experiences as a nurse working with patients who go through life-changing events. This participant developed her competence, shared her experiences, and articulated a clear understanding of the CARING™ methodology through her responses in pre-test and post-test questionnaires, personal reflection, and the post-focused interview process. This participant experienced spiritual growth and acquired skills and knowledge of the CARING™ process by participating in this study. Learning the six steps of CARING™ increased her knowledge. She developed a new set of skills for her daily routine to continuously use this tool for effective [spiritual] conversations. This nurse greatly benefited by the CARING™ model. She described feeling empowered to work collaboratively with hospital chaplains as they might seek to implement spiritual care interventions in a healthcare setting. Further development of this work might include sharing this material with healthcare providers, allied health workers, chaplains, and other ministers. Doing so might build rapport and trust, not only in multi-disciplinary healthcare settings, but more importantly in every person’s home, community, and parish settings.

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