Recent Submissions

  • Forever Imprinted: Understanding the Relationship Between Betrayal Trauma Within Intimate Relationships and Attachment

    Mosley, Tyann L; College of Professional Advancement
    Betrayal trauma from intimate relationships has been found to negatively affect the future intimate relationships of individuals. What is not known, however, is the detailed descriptions of individuals who have experienced betrayal trauma and how this event affected their future intimate relationships and attachment patterns. The purpose of the proposed exploratory mixed methods research study was to explore how individuals describe betrayal trauma as an impactful event in terms of their intimate relationships and attachment. Within the quantitative section of the research the participants completed two surveys: the Impact of Event Scale – Revised (IES-R) and the Adult Attachment Scale – Revised (AAS-R). This part of the study employed a correlation design to address the quantitative research questions and test the corresponding hypotheses. The qualitative portion of the research was a qualitative description research design which was based on the straightforward description of the experiences and perceptions of individuals about a well-defined phenomenon. The qualitative portion consisted of three open-ended questions at the end of the surveys. Participants were asked to discuss the initial physical and mental impact as well as the lasting imprints of their Betrayal Trauma from their intimate relationships. On completion of the surveys all the qualitative data was transcribed. The transcriptions were transferred to the qualitative software, all data was analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis.
  • The Lived Experiences of Black Families Surviving Child Sexual Abuse by Known Perpetrators

    Dunkley, Danielle Ilene; College of Professional Advancement
    Child sexual abuse (CSA) within Black communities is understudied. Most studies have focused on quantitative data studying the psychological consequences of CSA. Furthermore, many studies do not explore the experience of Black CSA survivors of known perpetrators. This study used interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to interview Black adults who have been sexually abused in their childhood by individuals within their family or who were closely associated with their family. Using semi-structured interviews, participants were asked to share about their experience as a CSA victim, their disclosure process, coping strategies, and the impact of CSA by known perpetrators on their family system. This study used Spaccarelli’s (1994) transactional framework for understanding CSA outcomes. The transactional framework for studying how Black families experience CSA by known perpetrators highlight particular dynamics within Black families that contribute to the propagation of CSA, disclosure or nondisclosure of CSA, its impact on the Black family system, as well as cognitive appraisals and coping strategies utilized by this population. The research findings inform prevention and treatment efforts within Black communities. Findings of this study are specific to the participant group and are not generalizable to all Black families or survivors of CSA. Future research should seek to identify strategies for preventing CSA, eliminating barriers to disclosure, reducing negative impacts of CSA, and increasing resiliency within Black communities. 
  • A Painting of Cultural Mismatch: A Case Study Exploring thee Relationship Between Teacher Perceptions of Black English and Their Instructional Choices

    Evans, Amberly; Tift College of Education
    Most U.S. Black students experience a cultural mismatch when they attend U.S. public schools, which usually subscribe to Eurocentric Anglo-Saxon cultural norms, as seen throughout the curriculum, literature selection, and rules and norms. One consequence of this mismatch is lower mastery level performance of Black students on standardized national reading and mathematics assessments than their White peers. Thus, the current education system is oppressive toward Black students, for it denies access to a culturally and linguistically affirming education that reflects and sustains their cultural ways of being. This research aimed to better understand current teacher perceptions of Black English use in the classroom and how those perceptions influence instructional decisions made by teachers of Black English-speaking students. Applying the principles of a case study with elicitation and traditional interviews and document analysis, the researcher studied six elementary teachers of Black English speakers. The major conceptions identified across participants’ responses were that teachers held positive perceptions of Black English use outside of school but struggled to transfer those same perceptions to their instructional decisions. More often teachers viewed their role as responsible for equipping students for the future and obligated to teach prescribed standards and curricula to promote students’ academic success. As a result, their instructional choices more often privileged linguistic varieties aligned with White Anglo-Saxon norms—the curriculum. Consequently, rather than employing asset-based teaching, they asked Black English speakers to “erase” their Black English use to better meet the expectations of school. This often looked like writing and speaking Mainstream American English rather than Black English. Therefore, teachers’ instructional choices often resulted in deficit thinking results, which notices a cultural mismatch but upholds dominant culture while viewing cultural differences as unsuitable for the setting. Study findings suggest implications for curriculum designers and teachers to create spaces for Black students in the curriculum and classroom to fully see, hear, and represent themselves to take advantage of opportunities to fully be present in their education experience. Future research recommendations include exploration of the role and influence of professional development, curriculum redesign, and teachers’ choices on Black English speakers’ self-development and identity.
  • How Does Using a Trauma-Informed Preaching Framework Influence Hearers' Experience of Shalomic-Healing During The Preaching Event?

    Gill, Tara Ann; McAfee School of Theology
    (Under the direction of Angela Parker, Ph.D.) Ten minority ministers from four Churches of God engaged a three-part sermon series addressing trauma. The sermons exhibited features of the ICONS Trauma-Informed Preaching Framework. This study was designed to determine if people could experience those features of the framework and thereby experience aspects of Shalomic-Healing. The purpose of the study is to determine the efficacy of the framework as a vehicle for mediating Shalomic-Healing and to refine the framework if research findings dictate such. The study shows the promising effectiveness of the ICONS Trauma-Informed Preaching Framework as evidenced by participants experiencing the features of the framework, which is indicative of the in-breaking of Shalomic-Healing.
  • A Quantitative Study Examining Perceptions of Preparedness Among Entry-Level Student Affairs Professionals for an Active Shooter Event on Campus

    Ingoldsby, Carrie; Tift College of Education
    This quantitative, exploratory study examined perceptions of preparedness among entry-level student affairs professionals for an active shooter event (ASE) on campus. Institutions of higher education (IHE) have experienced an uptick of deadly and destructive ASEs in the last two decades. Colleges and universities vary on whether they provide consistent active shooter training to faculty, staff and/or students at all, as well as what level of training and type of training is provided, despite personal safety concerns. A total of 173 entry-level student affairs professionals completed the Entry-Level Student Affairs Professional Active Shooter Preparedness Survey (ELASPS). Spearman’s rank order correlation, t-tests, and ANOVA were utilized to examine perceptions of preparedness and level of efficacy to respond to an ASE in relation to individual and institutional demographics, as well as frequency, type, and content of active shooter training provided to entry-level student affairs professionals. Participants also provided open-ended data on perceptions of preparedness for an ASE, which was examined in relation to quantitative findings. Results indicated that entry-level student affairs professionals who received any amount or type of active shooter training had significantly higher perceived preparedness for an ASE and significantly higher levels of efficacy to respond to an ASE than did entry-level professionals who had no active shooter training. Thus, IHE should provide active, regular, and in-depth training such as drills, exercises, and simulations to allow ELSAP to feel more prepared and experience higher levels of efficacy to respond to an ASE. This study supports current research on active shooter preparedness and presents a strong case to administrators at IHE for the development and implementation of consistent and interactive active shooter training for entry-level student affairs professionals. Future research should focus on a specific area among entry-level student affairs professionals, such as residence life professionals, who are more often involved in direct student training of safety policies and procedures. Additionally, future studies might consider historically and underrepresented populations to better understand connections of ethnicity and perceived preparedness for an ASE.
  • Job Expectancy, Burnout, and Departure: Predictors of High School Principal Turnover

    Ross, Tara; Tift College of Education
    Among the many new educational challenges resulting from COVID-19 and existing learning deficits of students in underserved communities, districts and policymakers must address the school disruption caused by constant principal turnover. Extensive empirical studies on principal turnover continually show that transiting leaders impact staff and students at similar rates each year, further widening the gaps in performance for select subgroups of students and the careers of these leaders. The purpose of this study was to examine the causes of principal turnover in relation to those who stay and leave public education after one and three years with a focus on high school principals from a large metropolitan district in a southwestern region of the United States. The researcher aggregated district and school-level certified personnel data of 339 from approximately 2000 school principals through 2017-2020. The data were compiled into two categories: (a) staying on or leaving the job after one year and (b) staying on the job or leaving after three years. Using binomial logistic regression design, the researcher determined the extent that principals leave their schools based on individual and collective influences in the profession. The construct of job embeddedness was used to define the voluntary principal turnover behaviors for multiple years. The analysis showed a decrease in the principals who stayed at the same school from one to three years, with key variables such as the principal’s age, gender, and subordinate leaders predicting their intent to remain with the institution. The impact takes three to five years to improve the school or return student performance to a certain level. Furthering students’ educational path requires the district and school leaders to develop systematic and supportive processes to decrease principal turnover rate, particularly with minority student populations and inexperienced school leaders. Preventing and predicting involuntary principal turnover is necessary to increase and sustain the achievement and school climates conducive for favorable working and learning conditions. Recommendations included systematic efforts for national, state, and district retention initiatives, ongoing professional development on school improvement cycles, coaching for principals beyond their first two years, and greater autonomy at the school level.
  • A Story to Tell: A Study on the Impact of Peaceful Storytelling Within Liturgical Worship

    Wolf, Garrett David; McAfee School of Theology
    The contemporary American Christian setting is often described as a secular age, where the religious is often sequestered to specific places, people, and times. The sacred is regularly thought to be secluded to sanctuaries as opposed to something present and accessible everywhere. To counter the secular liturgies in which people are regularly immersed, the church must discover ways to help move people towards envisioning a different story. Our public worship gatherings are the primary places liturgy can be used to practice, rehearse, and envision our entire lives as being wrapped up into God’s story of reconciliation, redemption, and restoration of all things. By reimagining the liturgical element of passing the peace, this project explores how the story of God conveyed in liturgical public worship connects with the lives of parishioners. The research involves a qualitative method and uses a focus group consisting of eight laity from King of Kings Lutheran Church, who might be moved to seeing the sacred more in their daily lives. This project analyzes how liturgy can be reimagined to act as a tool within our public worship gatherings and church to shape and orient people towards the movement of God in bringing shalom to earth. Over a two-month period, interviews were used to evaluate the impact on the participants before and after each shared their testimony of experiencing the peace of Christ in their life during the passing the peace portion of a weekly public worship gathering. The conclusion of the project is that the focus group members who participated in the project were able to envision the sacred more in their daily lives because of their participation. While this research project did not enable them to define liturgy as the work of the people, their participation did immerse them more discernably into the story that public worship conveys. Finally, for future church development, this research project encourages exploring how liturgy in a variety of forms can help guide people to envision themselves in the rich story and sacredness of God’s presence everywhere.
  • Ministers on the Move: Coaching for Spiritual Discovery for Ministers in Vocational Transition in the Baptist General Association of Virginia

    Peppler, David; McAfee School of Theology
    ABSTRACT (Under the direction of Denise Massey, Ph.D.) Eight ministry leaders from the Baptist General Association of Virginia participated in a six-session spirituality coaching relationship. All of these leaders were anticipating vocational transitions within the next six months of their ministry. The purpose was to evaluate the effectiveness of coaching for spiritual discovery in their transition discernment process. The model used for these coaching conversations was Dr. Denise Massey’s CARING model, designed to ensure the spiritual nature of pastoral conversations. Participants were given written and oral exit interviews upon concluding their six coaching sessions. Qualitative questions were used to determine the effectiveness of the coaching experience as subject matter varied with each participant. The study shows the promising effects of coaching for spiritual discovery for ministers anticipating vocational transition. Participants explored their connectedness with the Holy Spirit throughout the process. The confidential and subjective topical approach provided participants with needed space to process God’s leadership in light of the external circumstances encountered in their discernment process.
  • A Comparison Study to Investigate Coping Skills of Mental Health Counselors who are Adult Children of Alcoholics and Mental Health Counselors who are Adult Children of Non-Alcoholics

    Morse, Andrew; College of Professional Advancement
    Adult children of alcoholics (ACOAs) often prioritize the needs of others ahead of their own. As this characteristic can lead individuals into maladaptive behavior patterns that involve helping others at their own expense, it may also lead them to careers in counseling or other helping professions. If these counseling professionals have not effectively processed or learned to cope with the potential maladaptive cognitive or behavioral patterns resulting from being raised in alcoholic families, ethical problems concerning potential harm to clients due to counselor effectiveness or impairment may arise (American Counseling Association, 2014). The purpose of this study was to examine if the coping skills of counseling professionals who were raised in a home with at least one alcoholic parent were different from those raised in a home without an alcoholic parent. This quantitative research study of 131 counseling professionals included the Children of Alcoholics Screening Test (CAST) to determine if they are ACOAs or adult children of non-alcoholics (non-ACOAs) and the COPE Inventory to determine their use of 15 different coping skills. Using a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) to analyze the data collected, this study found there to be significant differences between the two groups in both overall coping and dysfunctional coping. The results indicated that counseling professionals that are ACOAs utilized less functional coping skills than their non-ACOA counterparts, leaving them susceptible to potential negative outcomes for themselves and their clients. Continued research is needed to better understand how family-of-origin dynamics can impact counselor well-being and client outcomes.
  • Self-Efficacy of K-12 Mathematics Teachers in Teaching Math

    Sillah, Omar; Tift College of Education
    The need to understand the differences in the self-efficacy of K-12 mathematics teachers based on teachers’ characteristics and school factors is imperative because research has shown teachers’ self-efficacy to be a mediating factor on students’ academic achievement. As such, education policymakers and school administrators need to understand variances in teachers’ self-efficacy so that they could better implement programs to enhance and support the self-efficacy of teachers. This quantitative research used an exploratory cross-sectional design. The study consisted of 50 K-12 inservice teachers from two rural districts in a southeastern state in the United States. The study examined differences in teachers’ sense of self-efficacy (TSES) for teaching mathematics at the K-12 level based on teachers’ gender, teaching experience, education level, and school type (elementary school, middle school, and high school). Findings suggest that teachers’ overall sense of self-efficacy and subscales efficacies (student engagement, instructional strategies, and classroom management) based on school factors and demographic variables were comparable in the context of rural teachers in the southeast United States. The findings of insignificant differences in teachers’ sense of self-efficacy that were discovered in this research might be due to the positive working environment among staff and the dual role of principals as teachers and school leaders that are characteristic of schools in rural settings. Based on the findings of this research, future studies might want to examine the influence of suburban and urban environments on teachers’ sense of efficacy for teaching mathematics in K-12 settings, for the experiences of teachers in rural settings might be unique when compared to teachers in other school environments.
  • Sensing the Presence of God Through Online Worship at Heritage Fellowship in Canton, Georgia

    Bishop, Justin Dwight; McAfee School of Theology
    Can sensory experiences enhance online worship? In an era when church attendance is in cultural decline and online or hybrid worship is becoming the new normal, one wonders how to make the most of this limited time in worship, especially for online worshipers. This thesis examines the biblical and historical use of sensory elements in worship, and it seeks to reimagine them for an online presentation in order to examine the effect of these sensory elements on the online worshipers’ experiences. Ten participants volunteered to take part in four video worship experiences during the Lenten season of 2021, beginning with a survey and semi-structured interview prior to the actual worship experiences and ending with a similar survey and interview. The questions were designed to determine if the sensory elements “enhanced” the overall online worship experience without using the word “enhance.” The themes that emerged from the surveys and interviews indicated that sensory elements were disruptive enough to call attention to the act of worship, enhancing it by making it less of an event to attend and more of an act in which to participate. Finally, in conclusion, this thesis offers ideas for how worship leadership might incorporate more sensory elements in both in-person and online worship that might enhance the divine encounter.
  • "I Just Can't Give Up Now": An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis Of The Role Of Spirituality In The Persistence To Graduation Of African American Male Students At Four-Year Institutions

    Wright, Brandon Joseph; Tift College of Education
    African American males have had the lowest baccalaureate graduation rates compared to all other races/ethnicities and genders in higher education (NCES, 2019). Researchers have identified salient factors that contribute to or impede this population’s persistence to graduation to mitigate this problem. One factor contributing significantly to African American males’ college persistence is spirituality (Herndon, 2003; Riggins et al., 2008; Salinas et al., 2018; Walker & Dixon, 2002; Watson, 2006; Wood & Hilton, 2012b). Thus, the purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the role of spirituality in the persistence to graduation of African American male students at four-year institutions. Smith et al.’s (2009) interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was chosen as the research methodology for the study. Using criterion, homogenous, and snowball sampling techniques, the researcher recruited 14 participants. All participants were African American males who had graduated from a four-year institution in the 2018-2021 year span. The researcher employed one-on-one, semi-structured interviews (12 participants) or an electronic, open-ended questionnaire (2 participants) as data collection methods. The researcher used an audit trail, a reflexivity journal, triangulation, member checking, and rich, thick descriptions to ensure trustworthiness. The researcher used Smith et al.’s (2009) six-steps of data analysis and NVivo to analyze the data presented. The seven superordinate themes that emerged were (1) Spiritual Beginnings, (2) Embracing Identity, (3) Interconnectedness, (4) Oppositional Stimuli, (5) Spiritual Coping Practices, (6) The Spiritual Resolutions, and (7) Spiritual Enrichment. The results of this study suggest that spirituality functioned as a transcendent source of support that provided connection, operated as a coping mechanism, and enriched the lives of African American male college students. In sum, these three auxiliary functions of spirituality supported the participants’ persistence to graduation. Based upon the findings, the researcher recommends a future mixed-methods longitudinal study utilizing the College Students Beliefs and Values (CSBV) survey to track Black males from admission to degree completion. The spiritual and religious measures of the CSBV are comparable to the findings of this study. The researcher also recommends studies to focus on the intersectionality of spirituality, sexuality, and Black identity development of Black queer college males; African American spirituality in Black male college persistence; and spirituality and academic disidentification of Black college males.
  • How A Philosophical Assessment of the Text of Mark 4:34-41 Illuminates an Understanding of Divine Authority in the Person of Jesus

    Robleto, Moises; McAfee School of Theology
    ABSTRACT (Under the direction of JEFFREY WILLETS, Ph.D.) Explicitly or implicitly and whether we like it or not, there are problems which arise when modern Christians read the Bible as a Christian text, as part of their religious practice. The focus of this study will be on the philosophical problems caused by the historical distance between the Biblical world and ours. Those problems arise when a modern lens is applied to an ancient religious text. In this thesis, I will give particular focus to the ways that conceptual confusions arise in understanding the text by providing a philosophical analysis of the concept of miracles in Mark 4:35-41 and how this Biblical account in the life of Jesus and his disciples illuminates the concept of divine authority. I will show how modern assumptions can distort readings and meanings of the text. I will also show how the reading of the text may be freed from these confused assumptions by making a philosophical assessment of the concept of miracles to support the claim of Jesus’ divinity. There are many philosophical questions to be asked about what we find in the text of Mark 4:35-41 regarding a miracle performed by Jesus and how we can ascribe sense to it as twenty-first century readers of the Bible. The stated purpose for undertaking this inquiry was to study the concept of “Divine Authority” this was accomplished by means of a thorough study of leading postmodern scholars own published writings, and lectures, giving special consideration to the work in Philosophy of Christianity by Gareth Moore. How are we to understand the story of Jesus calming a storm? Such writings tended and clarified what we find in the story of a Storm Stilled. The story is not told in causal terms, it is not a matter of cause and effect, in fact, the story is told as one simple command and nature obeys. And so in this essay I respond to the disciples question, not “How did he do it” but, the real question, “What sort of a man is this, that even the winds and sea obey him?”
  • Haunted By Faith: An Ethnographic Study of Signals of Transcendence in Nones

    Napier, Nathaniel James; McAfee School of Theology
    Study after study demonstrates that Christendom is no longer the dominant regulative force it once was. Faith, specifically faith in the Christian story, can no longer be presumed as the dominant narrative in West. According to Pew Research, 1/5 of the US public and 1/3 of adults under 30 years of age, are now no longer religiously affiliated. To press the point further, Nones (persons who claim no religious affiliation) now comprise 20% of the total adult population and it is estimated only 15-20% of the US population regularly attends Sunday worship. The cultural landscape of American religiosity has shifted. This new culture, dubbed by philosopher Charles Taylor as A Secular Age, is milieu in which the church now finds itself. Given the rise of the Nones, the church now has a mandate not only to label them, but to understand them so that it can better understand how to communicate the Gospel in a changing world. While data demonstrates a lack of devotion to institutional religion, one may wonder if there are expressions of something more than immanence in the lives of those that claim to be Nones? Is there a non-reducible experience to which their lives attest, expressions that are regular occurrences but not empirically justified? If so, what are they and might these expressions be a means of connecting people of faith to people who are non-religious? To this end, this thesis ethnographically explores the sociological phenomena of signals of transcendence in Nones as a means of discerning where the old world of the gods may still be operative experientially for those that have never been a part of organized faith. As a point of further novelty, this thesis does not interview former Christians, but focuses on those who have been raised in this Secular Age and never had a personal confession of faith. To accomplish this goal, this thesis has three primary large movements: theory (chapter 2), method (chapter 3), and research (chapter 4). After introducing the parameters of the thesis in chapter 1, chapter 2, explores the philosophical, biblical, and theological foundations within which to understand this problem and engage it. Charles Taylor sets the stage of our problem, providing a history of ideas that lead to our context. Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological theory then provides a frame for understanding human behavior from within his concepts of habitus and field. The Book of Acts and the Psalter provide biblical engagement. Finally, phenomenology as theological method is introduced, and an anthropological model of contextual missions issued. In chapter 3, method is specifically framed, with special attention to the various sorts of transcendence at work in persons. The project goes into greater statistical depth about the church’s cultural challenges, and then turns its attention to the qualitative approach at work in this thesis and the reflexive interviewing method employed. This chapter ends with a brief description of the participants and a pastoral understanding of the role of ethnography within the missional enterprise of the church. Chapter 4 is the main body of the reflexive interview process with human subjects and the application of ethnographic technique. This chapter uses five registers of Peter Berger and Edward Farley that occur across all interviews as a means of interpreting participant data. The categories of Tradition, Obligation, Play, Damnation, and Hope are explored in detail as viable transcendent signals in Nones. This chapter ends by framing these findings. Lastly, the thesis concludes by offering a summation of the research and offering a taxonomy of deep symbols that are embodied in Nones. It presents the novel findings of the research, including the new root metaphor of Home for all signals. Finally, it argues that ethnography must be included in any new missiological mandate of the church.
  • Using Facial Features to Produce an Augmented Reality System

    Sharma, Pragya; School of Engineering
    Under the direction of Anthony Choi, Ph.D. In the following work, an augmented reality system is proposed that takes the gaze of the eye, along with facial movements for assistance, as an input to allow the user to interact with a sample menu from a restaurant. Currently, the only way for a customer to order food at a restaurant is by touching a menu in person or by having the customer touch a screen. In either instance, the customer is having to interact with surfaces that are shared by many individuals, with the risk of contracting any number of illnesses. Such is a bigger problem when it comes to living through a pandemic, for instance, where interaction between shared surfaces poses a higher risk of exposure to the virus. Using an already trained neural network that incorporates pre-identified facial landmarks that every user possesses, the program can keep track of the user’s gaze and show the positions of both the left and right pupils, respectively. Along with this, the program begins with the user opening their mouth to pass a certain threshold and starts to read input. The user guides the cursor with the movement of their face within the green box shown on screen. By stopping facial movement, the user can select a menu item with the wink of their left eye. While conducting tests to see if the program was displaying correct coordinates, user testing took place and it was found that nine times out of ten, the program was displaying the correct coordinates. With more practice, the user was able to get used to using their facial movements to guide the cursor, although the cursor control speed could be better adjusted for future testing. Along with this, such exaggeration of facial movements could be adjusted so that the user does not feel awkward utilizing the system.
  • The Influence of Sexual Frequency on Marital Satisfaction Across Ethnic Groups

    Bayonne, Latessa Hill; College of Professional Advancement
    Despite the vast research dedicated to sexual frequency, it is typically researched in an insular fashion. Examination of sexual patterns have been linked to sexual satisfaction and relationship or marital satisfaction or utilized from a biological perspective to define sexual functioning terms. Very little research has connected sexual frequency to marital satisfaction from a multicultural perspective. Even less researched is the correlation between sexual frequency, marital satisfaction, and ethnicity. Specifically, how various ethnic groups view the influence sexual fluency has on marital satisfaction? This study examined the influence of sexual fluency on marital satisfaction across several ethnic groups. A comprehensive survey was created to examine the relationship between the aforementioned variables. The population proposed for the study were students enrolled at Mercer University, Atlanta Campus, and subscribers to the Counselor Education and Supervision Network (CESNET) Listserv with instructions that only married individuals should complete the measures. The full Marital Satisfaction Inventory-R (MSI-R) and one specific subtest and singular question from the Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory (DSFI), along with a demographic questionnaire, were distributed electronically to both populations and the responses created the sample. Demographic information such as frequency of sexual intercourse, race, gender, age, and religious affiliations will be analyzed. It was hypothesized that the majority of the participants would represent the ethnicities with the largest rates of enrollment at Mercer University, Atlanta Campus: conveniently the institutional data was selected for this prediction since the Counselor Education and Supervision Network (CESNET) Listserv does not publish any demographic data. It was also hypothesized that minority students, regardless of specific ethnicity, will report similar views on the relationship between sexual frequency and marital satisfaction than compared with their Caucasian peers. A Chi Square test for independence was selected to explore the relationship between two categorical independent variables (i.e., ethnicity, sexual frequency) and categorical dependent variable (i.e., marital satisfaction). This statistical technique compares the observed frequency of cases that occur in each of the categories (Pallant, 2020). Keywords: marital satisfaction, sexual frequency
  • 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.

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