• 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.
    • A Phenomenological Study of Middle School Students’ Experiences with Agentic Engagement at School

      Berglund, Kirstin N; Tift College of Education
      Many schools today are striving to provide their students with opportunities to take an active role in their education. This proactive role, referred to as student agency, involves students having and making choices, collaborating with their teachers, and having a voice in their education. In fact, agency has been added as a new aspect of engagement, called agentic engagement. The current body of literature on agentic engagement has shown it can help to increase student achievement, motivation, and engagement in class. Although the idea of fostering student agency and helping students to become agentically engaged in class has been growing in popularity, there are many interpretations of how to best implement the necessary instructional practices to provide students these opportunities, including in the middle school setting. This qualitative phenomenological study examined middle school students’ experiences exercising agentic engagement in class. I interviewed and conducted in-class observations of nine seventh-grade students who were the participants in this study. The data analysis process sought to determine the essence of students’ experiences with agentic engagement during their classes. I examined the data using social cognitive theory to investigate students’ actions in class and self-determination theory to better understand students’ experiences with agentic engagement. The data from this study revealed students’ personal and behavioral characteristics as well as the characteristics of the learning environment influenced their experiences with agency and agentic engagement. Within the context of the learning environment, the data revealed students were more likely to have the opportunity to experience agentic engagement when their teachers had an autonomy-supportive teaching style. I only witnessed one student experiencing agentic engagement. An individual textural description of her experience revealed three themes: Demonstrating Self-Knowledge, Communicating with Autonomy-Supportive Teachers, and Collaborating with Autonomy-Supportive Teachers. Recommendations for future research included collecting more qualitative data, interviewing teachers to gather their insights then comparing and contrasting students’ and teachers’ perspectives of agentic engagement, examining the different aspects of agentic engagement to see which ones may be most impactful to students, conducting a similar study in a setting in which most teachers adopt an autonomy-supportive teaching style, and interviewing students across multiple grade levels to compare and contrast their experiences with agentic engagement.
    • An Examination of Commonly Used Fourth-Grade Mathematics Textbooks Through a LatCrit Lens

      Friedrich, Jami Cara; Tift College of Education
      The U.S. public school system is witnessing significant growth in English language learners (ELLs), since the Hispanic population is the largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority group in the country. Simultaneously, there is a persistent achievement gap in mathematics between the Hispanic population and their White, non-Hispanic peers. Mathematics instruction in K-12 classrooms has become more language-dependent due to the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in much of the United States and an increased focus on developing students’ conceptual understanding in mathematics. To better understand the impact of current policy on Hispanic ELL students’ academic achievement in mathematics, it is critical to investigate the language usage in mathematics texts used as instructional resources in K-12 schools. The purpose of this study was to analyze the language in commonly used mathematics textbooks to understand how Hispanic Latinx culture is represented within the texts. Using a critical Latinx (LatCrit) theoretical framework, this study sought to investigate how language is employed in three widely distributed fourth-grade mathematics textbooks, specifically, how language usage may act to include or exclude the Hispanic Latinx culture. The results of this study identified the relative strengths and weaknesses of the texts in regard to supporting ELLs. The relative strengths include the use of Hispanic names, topical themes, relatable terms (specifically school-related terms), and the use of tools to support learning. The relative weaknesses include exclusion of Hispanic historical figures and Latin American locations; variety in topics; the use of tables as a form of adding a layer of complexity rather than simplifying a word problem; and the lack of photographs, graphic organizers, or multiple-choice items. Recommendations for further research include using a research design in which the participants are students currently involved with the text and studying teacher-created word problems rather than textbook word problems.
    • Empathy and Compassion as Predictors or Counselor Burnout and Resilience

      Elder, Carrie L.; College of Professional Advancement
      Empathy is frequently taught as a core disposition and helping skill in counselor education programs. Recent studies have found empathy to activate the pain network within the brain and compassion to activate non-overlapping brain regions. These findings have led neuroscientists to hypothesize that empathy leads to burnout and compassion leads to resilience. These findings have implications for the field of counseling since burnout has the potential to lead to impaired client treatment. The purpose of this study is to use a quantitative, multiple regression analysis to determine if empathy is predictive of counselor burnout and compassion predictive of counselor resilience. Results indicate that increases in empathy, and decreases in self-compassion, are predictive of counselor burnout. Results also indicate that self-compassion, compassion towards others, and a decrease in empathy is predictive of counselor resilience. Furthermore, results indicate that the model that best predicts counselor burnout is empathy (fantasy, personal distress, and less ability to take the perspective of others), working outside of private practice, one to five years of experience, and lower scores on self-compassion and compassion towards others. The model that best predicts counselor resilience is compassion towards self and others, empathic perspective taking, less empathic personal distress, less empathic fantasy, working in private practice, and Republican affiliation. Results from this study indicate that compassion plays a significant role in predicting both high resilience and low levels of burnout. These findings support counselor educators in teaching compassion skills equal to empathy skills to counselors in training as a measure of self and client care.
    • 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.
    • Impact of Spirituality on Occupational Success of Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury

      Pegues, Sir Allen Dupree; College of Professional Advancement
      ABSTRACT SIR ALLEN D. PEGUES IMPACT OF SPIRITUALITY ON OCCUPATIONAL SUCCESS OF INDIVIDUALS WITH SPINAL CORD INJURY Under the direction of SUNEETHA MANYAM, PhD The literature findings indicate that individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) are less likely to obtain employment than people without disabilities. Challenges such as resiliency, spirituality, level of education, and the severity of the injury contribute to their lack of employment. Individuals with SCI should have the same opportunity to achieve occupational success as persons without disabilities. This study was designed to explore the following question: What impact does spirituality have on the occupational success of individuals with SCI? The researcher used the Spiritual Well-Being Scale and Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale to measure each participant’s level of resiliency and spirituality. Convenience sampling was used to collect data from 117 SCI individuals who responded to a Qualtrics survey. The data were analyzed using the ANOVA procedure to gain an understanding of how the independent variables impacted the occupational success of individuals with SCI. The results revealed that resiliency and level of education had a statistically significant impact on occupational success of individuals with SCI. Individuals with SCI with higher spirituality scores did not have as much occupational success as those with lower spirituality scores. Individuals with more education had more occupational success than individuals with SCI with less education. The severity of the injury did not have a statistically significant impact on occupational success of individuals with SCI.
    • Mastering the Ropes of the Climb: A Case Study Exploration of Educator Perceptions of Their Preparedness to Teach in Behaviorally Inclusive Classroom Environments

      Fannin, Kaminsia M; Tift College of Education
      This study examined general education teacher perceptions of being prepared to meet the needs of students with emotional and behavior disabilities in inclusive classrooms. Preparation with the knowledge and skills needed for addressing the various needs of students with behavior disabilities is coupled with the metaphorical backdrop of scaling a mountain. This metaphor was used to illustrate the foundational necessity for training of skills and knowledge for tackling the undertaking, as well as the uphill venture it presents. Current research has examined the effect on teacher attitudes for working with EBD students and its influence on student outcomes. However, few researchers have utilized a qualitative case study to explore the relationship of their perceptions to their preservice and in-service (professional learning) preparation. This study implemented a qualitative design through a single exploratory case study methodology. Semi-structured questionnaires, journal reflections, and a focus group was utilized to gather participant experiences and reflections. Findings indicated 10 emerging themes associated with preparation for behaviorally inclusive classrooms. An overwhelming majority of the negative perceptions were associated with preservice and in-service preparation. Positive perceptions were in the areas of student teaching experiences and school-based collaboration/support teams. The positive perceptions found were not associated with preparation provided by either institution but gained by way of experiences while teaching. Recommendation for further study include expanding the participant pool by diversifying the geographic areas and school districts, gathering perceptions from special education teacher regarding the same institutions to compare to the perceptions of general education teachers, and gathering perceptions from students in behaviorally inclusive classrooms regarding their experiences with the teachers in the environment.
    • Multi-Linear Regression of Georgia Milestones and English Proficiency Assessment Access 2.0 on Georgia’s Middle School English Language Learners

      Burke, Monica Hilrey; Tift College of Education
      During the academic year in the state of Georgia, EL students in public schools take the Georgia Milestones End-of-Grade and the ACCESS 2.0 assessments, which are in line with the state-mandated subject area standards in mathematics, science, language arts, and social studies, as well as English language proficiency standards (Georgia Department of Education [GaDOE], 2019a, 2019b). However, the Georgia Milestones End-of-Grade math test has not been assessed for its relationship with differences in ACCESS 2.0 overall literacy, reading, and composition scores for middle schoolers in Georgia. The purpose of this quantitative multi-linear regression study with ex post facto data was to examine the relationship between the Georgia Milestones End-of-Grade math assessment scores and the differences in ACCESS 2.0 overall literacy, reading, and writing scores (between the school years of 2017 and 2018) of middle school students in Georgia. The study was conducted within a school district in/of the state of Georgia. The collection process yielded 164 EL students in the sample. Fifty-nine percent (n = 97) of the sample were male, and forty-one percent (n = 67) were female. Middle grades were identified as sixth, seventh, and eighth grade levels. Sixth graders comprised 38% (n = 62) of the data set included sixth graders, seventh graders comprised 31% (n = 51) of the data set, and eighth graders comprised 31% (n = 51) of the data set during the 2017 academic year. The study found a relationship between increased writing skills and math achievement scores. Using linear regression, it also found a relationship between improved literacy and math achievement scores. A non-statistically significant relationship was found between difference reading scores as predictors for difference math scores and /or increased math score achievement. The study’s findings have implications for preparing ELs for college and career readiness by propelling them forward in language acquisition and academic achievement. To gain a broader perspective of ELs student achievement in varying regions of Georgia, the study may be expanded to include populations samples from the north and central school districts in the state of Georgia.
    • On the Shoulders of Giants: Helping Students Understand Mathematics through its History

      Henderson, David K; Tift College of Education
      The IDEAS curriculum and instruction model was designed to help secondary students better understand mathematics by incorporating the historical development of the subject into classroom instruction. IDEAS is an acronym that describes the components of the model: I (Introduce the concept through a hands-on activity); D (Discover the historical, cultural, and human context through biography); E (Examine the primary sources through inquiry); A (Actualize the learning through written reflection); and S (Synthesize the understanding through practice and application). This study examined the effectiveness of the IDEAS model in a secondary setting, with 107 students enrolled in a pre-calculus course at a large suburban Title I public school in the southeastern United States. The IDEAS model was studied in both a classroom (face-to-face) context and a digital (online) context. A mixed methods approach was used, employing a quasi-experimental design, to determine the effectiveness of the intervention (the implementation of the IDEAS model). Quantitative data included pre- and post-intervention questionnaires, content assessments, and written reflections. Qualitative data included written reflections and one-on-one interviews. The main findings of this study were that the IDEAS model (1) increased participants’ understanding of the nature of mathematics (p < .02; d = .66); (2) helped participants develop a more positive attitude toward mathematics and its history; and (3) increased participants’ academic achievement in mathematics (p < .05; d = .33). These results have implications for secondary students, teachers, administrators, and researchers.
    • Seventh Graders’ Construction of Novel Insights in Interdisciplinary Learning

      Pabutoy Flores, Peluchi Bermudo; Tift College of Education
      Interdisciplinarity holds a promise of improving students’ learning by providing opportunities to connect what students are learning in schools to relevant real-life issues. However, despite some literature supporting the effectiveness of interdisciplinarity, there is a lack of understanding of what and how students learn from this approach. This study sought to understand students’ learning experiences in the course of an interdisciplinary unit of study through the lens of the pragmatic constructionist epistemology of interdisciplinary understanding. Conducted at a private international school in the Southeastern United States, the qualitative single case study methodology involved one math teacher, one English teacher, and 11 seventh-grade students. The data generated from various sources, such as the teachers’ collaborative unit planning documents, class observations, student focus group interviews, one-on-one semi-structured interviews with teachers, and student assessment documents were analyzed and interpreted using inductive and deductive thematic analysis to generate findings. The results show that a collaboratively designed interdisciplinary course of study that includes relevant and student-centered teaching and learning approaches promoted strong interdisciplinary grounding, which enabled students to integrate knowledge and skills. Moreover, students effectively integrated their learning from different subjects and their own in order to develop a deep understanding of their topics and produce an effective product. This integration process led to their construction of novel insights, which were cognitive and practical in nature. In addition to the cognitive and practical novel insights, the students also constructed humanistic novel insights, which showcased their new worldviews. The students’ construction of humanistic novel insights can help develop dispositions or global competencies they need to thrive and become change agents in the complex world. Thus, interdisciplinarity helps promote the development of well-rounded students who are globally competent. These results led to recommendations that focus on teacher development as curriculum designers, support structures for teachers, tools for evaluation and design of interdisciplinarity, and community connections. Considerations for future research include empirical studies with different age groups, subjects, issues or topics, and programs as well as longitudinal studies on students’ development of key dispositions.
    • 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.
    • The Effects of Math Literacy Utilizing a Reading Apprenticeship Framework on Math Achievement of Analytic Geometry Students

      Foster, Karonda Antwanette; Tift College of Education
      This study addresses the issue of a lack of math literacy skills that are necessary for academic achievement. The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine if the literacy intervention, Reading Apprenticeship (Schoenbach, Greenleaf, & Murphy, 2012), effects the student achievement of high school Analytic Geometry students. Previous research suggests that the Reading Apprenticeship (Schoenbach, Greenleaf, & Murphy, 2012) effects student achievement and self-efficacy of students and teachers in science, English, and history. However, no previous research study measured student achievement of Analytic Geometry students. In this study, data was collected and analyzed from 84 students from a suburban high school in Georgia. Due to preexisting schedules, students were conveniently placed into experimental and control groups. The experimental group received the Reading Apprenticeship (Schoenbach, Greenleaf, & Murphy, 2012) during classroom instruction, while the control group received traditional classroom instruction. Both groups of students were administered a pretest and posttest developed by USATestprep. The instrument used was closely aligned to the Georgia Milestones assessment. The posttest results were analyzed using an ANCOVA. There was a statistically significant difference in the mathematical achievement of Analytic Geometry students who receive a literacy intervention using the Reading Apprenticeship model (Schoenbach, Greenleaf, & Murphy, 2012). Recommendations for future research include increasing the sample size, balancing group sizes, implementing the study in a face-to-face classroom setting, and extending research to other topics in mathematics. Recommendations for future practice includes exposure to math text in math classes and an increase of math literacy skills used in math classes.
    • The Language Use of Young Children Living in Poverty: An Ethnographic Case Study

      Knowles, Roxanne Ramirez; Tift College of Education
      ABSTRACT ROXANNE RAMIREZ KNOWLES THE LANGUAGE USE OF YOUNG CHILDREN LIVING IN POVERTY: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC CASE STUDY Under the direction of JANE WEST Ed.D. The language use of children from low-income households is often viewed as deficient when compared to wealthier children. This deficit-thinking view negatively stigmatizes young children as young as kindergarten. A growing body of research seeks alternate frameworks to view children from low-income households from a nondeficit lens. The purpose of this research was to view the language use of children from low-income households from a nondeficit perspective. This ethnographic case study used a Bakhtinian dialogical lens to analyze the language use of four pre-K students over the course of their school year. Data collection included field notes, informal interviews, and audio recordings of the children’s conversations. Data analysis focused solely on the children’s transcribed conversations. Three Bakhtinian dialogical concepts were evident in the children’s language use: speech genres, carnivalesque, and multivoicedness. Conclusions included children use language intentionally, children use play as an avenue to explore friendship and relationships, children’s language use can be understood through the application of Bakhtinian concepts, children learn speech genres, and children are aware of unspoken power dynamics. The primary implication of this research is that there are alternatives to deficit thinking such as Bakhtinian dialogism that can benefit teachers and students. Recommendations for future research include more studies that use Bakhtinian dialogical concepts to study young children’s language, as well as studies that concentrate on a singular Bakhtinian concept as well as alternate Bakhtinian concepts not utilized in the current study. Further research regarding the children’s use of carnivalesque should also include longitudinal studies. Additionally, future research on children’s language use should include the children’s families.
    • Transgender Student Perceptions of Institutional Approaches that Facilitate Persistence and Graduation

      Mooring, Stephanie Ann; Tift College of Education
      The increased visibility of transgender students in higher education institutions highlights the need for institutions to recognize the types of barriers encountered by this student population in order to implement institutional approaches to help retain these students. As such, this study sought to understand the impact of institutional approaches on transgender students’ decisions to persist in college as well as how these students conceptualize their successful progression in their institutions. To explore the perceptions of transgender college students regarding their higher education experiences, the researcher conducted qualitative research using Tinto’s (1975, 1988) theory of student departure as the theoretical framework. The interviews of 13 participants were analyzed using thematic analysis methods, which resulted in two themes: Barriers Encountered by Students and Ability to Persist. Findings show that participants came to their institutions expecting to find an accepting and supportive environment; however, most participants were disappointed by the lack of adequate support resources provided by their institutions. To compensate for this lack of institutional support, participants took a do-it-yourself approach to constructing their own support systems. The findings of this study identify improper pronoun usage, the attitudes and lack of trans competency of faculty and staff, inadequate counseling centers, trans incompetent LGBT groups, and a lack of transgender programming events as barriers that participants encountered at their higher education institutions. The findings also indicate that institutions can better serve this student population by hiring transgender faculty and staff, making the campus community more trans competent through educational programming, and providing safe access to physical spaces and adequate support. Recommendations for future research include examining how institutions evaluate their transgender student supports, exploring the thoughts and attitudes of professors toward sexual minority students, comparing different pronoun use protocols as well as faculty and student perceptions of each method, and exploring the attitudes of cisgender college students toward their transgender peers.