Recent Submissions

  • 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.
  • Choke Inductors in RF Phantom Circuit

    Radi, Amjad; School of Engineering
    This research work provides examples of how different inductors can be used for RF isolation in a range of circuits from relatively narrow band applications like portable devices up to broadband networks for data distribution. The different types of inductors used in these applications are identified and discussed. As an RF circuit designer choosing RF inductor choke might become a challenge, as this inductor is critical to get the desired signal from the antenna to get received to get processed and deny the undesired one from passing through. Common choke type are the ones used for common applications such as radio reception (FM and AM), modern digital radio reception (XM and DAB) and GPS. A failure of choosing this RF choke can cause the loss of the desired signal, increasing noise level and therefore failure of design. In this research work, the author would experiment, discuss and show results for choke inductors used for 100MHz which is used for FM reception and 220MHz which is used for DAB radio.
  • Treatment of Neuropathic Pain Using 1-O-Hexyl-2,3,5- Trimethylhydroquinone (HTHQ)

    Shoaga, Elizabeth Omolara; School of Medicine
    Neuropathic pain is caused by a primary lesion or injury to the nervous system and can be spontaneous, with no obvious peripheral stimulus. Pain results from the complex interplay between signaling systems and individual perception. Neuropathic and chronic pain effect more than 100 million Americans while costing the country billions of dollars annually to treat and manage. The purpose of this research study was to discover if preemptive or post-injury treatment with 1-O-Hexyl-2,3,5- trimethylhydroquinone (HTHQ), a hydroquinone monoalkyl ether known for its antioxidative abilities, effectively alleviates neuropathic pain induced by partial sciatic nerve ligation in rats. In order to test the effectiveness of HTHQ in reducing neuropathic pain, we began by taking preliminary baseline behavior assessments to test animal pain response prior to injury. Some animals were treated with HTHQ for three consecutive days prior to the performance of partial sciatic nerve ligation (pSNL) surgery, while some were treated each day beginning four days after the induction of injury. Animal behavior was observed again for 10 days after nerve injury and drug treatment. The levels of antioxidant and pro-inflammatory proteins were analyzed using the western blot technique in order to determine the effectiveness of HTHQ at treating neuropathic pain. Preliminary findings suggests that treatment with HTHQ three days prior to nerve ligation surgery showed an increase in antioxidant catalase, an enzyme responsible for converting hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen, in the spinal cords of injured rats compared to those that were not treated 10-days after nerve injury. Our findings also demonstrate that rats treated with HTHQ three days prior to nerve injury showed an increase in antioxidative protein SOD2 but also decreases the expression of pro-inflammatory protein IL-1ß compared to vehicle treated neuropathic rats. There were no therapeutic changes seen in rats treated with HTHQ four days after pSNL surgery.
  • Transfer Receptivity: An Examination of Factors that Influence Transfer Student Retention at a Four-Year Public University

    Joseph, Daurette Lavon; Tift College of Education
    While eighty percent of students enrolled in community colleges express the intent to transfer to a 4-year institution and earn a bachelor’s degree, only seventeen percent actually reach that goal within 6 years of transferring. This study addressed the problem using case study methodology to identify, understand, and describe factors at a four-year public university that influence community college transfer students’ successful degree completion. The setting for the study is a four-year public university with a consistently competitive degree completion rate for community college transfer students. In their most recent report, seventy nine percent of transfer students who entered the university from community college settings received a bachelor's degree within 6 years. The study was guided by three research questions related to the institution’s culture, strategies, policies, and procedures in academic and financial aid advisement. Multiple data collection methods were used, including document analyses and staff interviews. Eight critical university documents were reviewed inductively before interviews were conducted with eleven staff of the institution. The researcher gathered their reflections and insights using open-ended interviews. Data analyses revealed four themes that addressed the research question: Validating Experience and Evaluating Needs, Collaborating Internally and Externally, Creating Advising Opportunities, and Supporting Engagement and Resource Connections. The findings strongly indicate a critical need for transfer student institutional support. Further, the findings suggest that universities should evaluate transfer students' needs based on their experiences, form strategic internal and external partnerships to anticipate and address transfer student transition issues, and support and facilitate transfer student engagement. The study adds to the emerging literature on transfer receptivity by focusing on the four-year institution and its role in supporting transfer students through their transition and degree completion. The classroom provides a unique opportunity for transfer students to engage socially and academically. Future research should consider the faculty’s role and influence on transfer students’ engagement.
  • Measurement of Intrinsic Cognitive Load and Mental Effort in Pre-Licensure Baccalaureate Nursing Students: A Focus on Instructional Design in the Synchronous Online Classroom

    Smith, Nicole Elena; Georgia Baptist College of Nursing
    One of the most significant challenges in nursing education is identifying effective approaches to teach the foundational knowledge of nursing. Students are often overwhelmed by instruction. It is important for educators to explore how instructional design strategies and student characteristics impact learning. Based on the cognitive load theory, all instructional designs should be analyzed from a cognitive load perspective. The purpose of this study was to examine how instructional design strategies, influenced by the principles of the cognitive load theory, affect the cognitive load and mental effort of pre-licensure baccalaureate nursing (BSN) students in the United States. This study used a two-within repeated-measures design examining students' perceived mental effort and intrinsic cognitive load while controlling for prior knowledge (N = 39). There were two within-factors with two levels [complexity: simple and complex; and instructional strategy: cooperative learning (CPL) and cooperative learning with a problem-based component (CPL + PBL)]. All participants experienced a short lecture, then completed the Paas scale and Cognitive Load Rating Scale (CLRS) subscale for intrinsic load after engaging in a simple CPL or CPL + PBL activity followed by a complex CPL or CPL + PBL activity. In both cases, the simple activities required slightly more mental effort and intrinsic cognitive load when compared to the complex activities. The CPL + PBL instructional strategy required slightly less mental effort (Paas) and intrinsic load (CLRS) when compared to CPL. As content became more complex, the CPL + PBL strategy resulted in lower perceived mental effort and intrinsic cognitive load. However, differences were practically and statistically insignificant. Preliminary evidence suggests that when tasks are complex, the CPL + PBL strategy may be more impactful in its effect on mental effort and cognitive load. Further research is warranted to examine the potential of the novelty effect and total cognitive load while including student characteristics such as prior knowledge as a control variable. Building support for effective instructional design strategies that consider students’ cognitive load has the potential to improve pedagogical practices in nursing education leading to a better-prepared nurse graduate and improved patient outcomes.
  • Institutional Factors that Support and Impede Black Female Undergraduates at Predominantly White Institutions

    Pickens, Wanda V; Tift College of Education
    Under the direction of Dr. Olivia Boggs, Ed.D. The study addressed the persistently deficient baccalaureate degree attainment of African American females, documented by a graduation rate of 45%, compared to a national average of 65% for all women. Using phenomenological methodology, the study explored the academic, social, physical, emotional, psychological, and financial experiences of 11 Black female college alumnae who successfully completed their bachelor’s degrees at a [Predominantly White Institution (PWI)]. The depth of the inquiry allowed participants to retrospectively recall and ascribe meaning to their academic and non-academic undergraduate experiences. Each of the subjects provided insights into barriers and hindrances encountered during their undergraduate matriculation. Further, participants described experiences that facilitated, strengthened, and empowered their degree pursuits. Using theories of Black feminist thought along with a second lens of intersectionality, the study was guided by the following research question: What are the shared experiences of Black female undergraduates at predominantly white institutions that defined their lived experiences, the expectations placed upon them, and how they maneuvered through their educational journey? Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and analyzed utilizing a six-phase approach to thematic analysis. Findings revealed four themes: Non-Relatability and Non-Affirmation, Increased Self-Awareness Within PWI Spaces, Lack of Mentorship, and Retention Team. Findings further illustrated positive and negative influences of the participants’ academic, cultural, and social lived experiences. Recommendations were discussed that encompassed specific initiatives. The first initiative promoted the development of an empathetic approach design of support services specifically for Black female undergraduates. The second initiative advocated for equipping faculty and staff members who interface with Black female students regularly with the proper training they need to understand and embrace the African American culture. The third initiative involved utilizing dialogue and other tools to prevent exclusionary behaviors, policies, and stifling structures of power that hinder progress of retaining marginalized student populations. These initiatives aimed to guide university administration, faculty and staff who are committed to a transformative process to increase graduation rates for Black females matriculating at PWIs.
  • Exploring Voluntary Turnover of Nurse Practitioners in the United States

    Strobehn, Patricia K; Georgia Baptist College of Nursing
    Access to care has been hindered by turnover in the NP workforce. The purpose was to describe the voluntary turnover behaviors of NPs to inform a contemporary model of NP voluntary turnover. A cross-sectional, descriptive, and exploratory secondary analysis of participants who self-identified as nurses with active certification, licensure, or other legal recognition to practice as an NP from a state board of nursing in the United States from the 2018 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN) was used. Participants were excluded if they didn’t provide patient care or indicated involuntary reasons for leaving. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze four NP voluntary turnover groups informed by Herzberg’s Dual-Factor Theory of Job Satisfaction (i.e., dynamic leavers, static leavers, dynamic stayers, and static stayers). Two-step cluster analyses were used to distinguish subgroups of NP dynamic leavers reporting similar NP differences, reasons for leaving, working conditions, and training topic needs. Dynamic leavers (those who changed jobs but stayed in nursing) reported the highest percentages (35.2%) of job dissatisfaction. The study culminated in two cross-validated models best distinguishing dynamic leavers (i.e., Model 1: Burnout and Model 2: Job Satisfaction). The findings highlight job satisfaction, lack of good management, burnout, and other working conditions as contributors of NP voluntary turnover for dynamic leavers and support a wide variety of literature emphasizing job satisfaction as a predictor of NP turnover intention. Both models demonstrated strong validity evidence. The population estimates from the 2018 NSSRN parent study revealed findings related to race should be cautiously considered. Further refinement of Model 1: Burnout and Model 2: Job Satisfaction could maximize retention strategies, promote workforce development, shape healthcare policy, and project the future supply and distribution of NPs in the U.S. health care system. Future NP training initiatives should focus on working in underserved communities, social determinants of health, and evidence-based care. Accurate workforce projections related to scope of practice and the estimated costs of NP turnover would be beneficial. Instrumentation measuring burnout, stress, organizational climate, and satisfaction should be validated in the NP population. This study should be replicated using accurate race and ethnicity variables.
  • Who is the Woman in Mark 5?

    Samuels, Rochelle; McAfee School of Theology
    This study explores the potential impact the woman in the Mark 5 biblical text weighs on Jesus’s ministry. The research gives texture to a character that is often used as an object lesson of faith in the scope of biblical exegesis. Using redaction criticism and a Womanist discourse the research finds the woman to be a critical element of the inclusion of woman and other marginalized persons in Jesus’s ministry.
  • How Can Music Assist in the Subversive Intent of the Eucharist?

    LeGrand, Caroline Dean; McAfee School of Theology
    This thesis explores the Christian ritual of the Eucharist in conjunction with another crucial Christian ritual element—music. It first looks to scripture—1 Cor 11:17-34—and considers what the Apostle Paul believed was the original intent of the Eucharist as established by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. The conclusion is that it is intended to be a subversive ritual for liberative communal change. The thesis then takes a shift to explore music and its capacity to both solidify and, contrastingly, subvert the existing structure of communities. Operating through the lens of postcolonial theory, it asserts that music can allow subaltern peoples to subvert hegemonic culture through musical hybridity. The thesis finally brings these two elements together—Eucharist and music—to explore how music can assist this subversive intent of the Eucharist in contemporary worship practice. The conclusion is that hybrid music can be applied in the worship of congregations where a hegemonic culture is in the majority population in order to disrupt the homogeneity of that congregation’s music practices and allow outside voices—the voices of the subaltern—into the boundaries of the community, thereby beginning to shift a community’s hierarchical social structure. This hybrid music worship practice, crucially at the moment of the Eucharist, assists the Eucharist in fulfilling its intent to liberate oppressed peoples. The hope is that the method established in this thesis can be applied wherever hegemonic and subaltern forces are at play in the world.

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