• A Narrative Inquiry of Work-Life Balance Among Faculty Mothers in Higher Education

      Riley, Lozarie; Tift College of Education
      Despite women outnumbering men as doctoral degree recipients, women remain underrepresented in higher education leadership roles. Specifically, women at the childbearing age serving as faculty often face challenges such as inadequate maternity leave and family policies that impede pathways for tenure, promotion, and elevation to senior administration. As such, the aim of this study was to explore the work-life balance experiences related to maternity leave and/or family policies of female employees on the path to higher education leadership. To address the research questions of this study, the researcher utilized narrative inquiry to capture the stories of four faculty mothers who gave birth and took a maternity leave period while working to earn tenure. Women’s Ways of Knowing theory served as a framework to understand how participants made sense of their experience. Through core story creation, developed by Polkinghorne (1988) and further extended by Emden (1998), narrative analysis of the stories resulted in a narrative specific to each participant, as well as a narrative of the faculty mother work-life balance culture. Four themes emerged that offer recommendations to advance the faculty mother work-life balance experience: Mentorship, Support to Return to Work After Leave, Advancing Leave Policies, and Work-Life Balance. The findings of this study implied that faculty mothers are disadvantaged by the Family Medical Leave Act, while desiring the creation of university level leave policies specific to pregnancy and motherhood. Recommendations for future studies include qualitative and quantitative study designs.
    • "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.
    • 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.
    • Intercollegiate Athletic Department Staff Members’ Lived Experiences with Policy Implementation for Trans Student Athletes

      Hardin, Brittney; Tift College of Education
      The number of trans students choosing to participate in intercollegiate sports is increasing. However, most NCAA members across its three divisions remain unsure of how to implement inclusive policies for trans student athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics. While current research highlights inclusive policies for trans students in the academic sector of institutions of higher education, little to no research exists that addresses how leaders in athletic departments systematically construct, implement, educate, and embed inclusive policies for trans student athletes in the athletic sector. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to gain a greater understanding and awareness of how leaders in intercollegiate athletics entrench themselves in developing and enacting inclusive policies for trans student athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics at their respective institutions. Utilizing Kotter’s (1995) eight-step model of leading change as the theoretical framework, this qualitative research emphasized the voiced experiences of 10 participants who held a range of position titles and experience within selective NCAA divisions of intercollegiate athletics in various regions of the United States. Data collection for this study consisted of 10 semi-structured interviews and the collection of pertinent web-based documents or documents shared by participants. Data analysis focused on an interpretative phenomenological analysis approach to better understand participants’ personal and social experiences with creating and implementing inclusive policies for trans student athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics at their respective institutions. Data analysis led to the finding that participants’ campus environment and continuous application of identified actionable steps were influential in the process of creating, implementing, and embedding their respective inclusive policies for trans student athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics. The experiences of the participants were found to be transferrable to institutions seeking to develop inclusive policies for trans student athletes. However, further research should explore diverse perspectives, rather than single member experiences, from campus committees who are responsible for enacting such inclusive policies. Additionally, further research should explore the experiences of trans student athletes directly affected by these inclusive policies.
    • Mapping Internationalization at Community Colleges in the United States: Development and Validation of a Short Form of the American Council on Education Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses Instrument

      Lewis, Ashwin; Tift College of Education
      The primary purpose of this study was to develop and validate a short form of the American Council on Education Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses instrument (the Mappings instrument) so that it can be used to measure internationalization at community colleges in the United States. A secondary purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between community college internationalization and the institutional characteristics of control, minority-serving, and urbanicity so that the results can inform the internationalization strategy of the community college. These three institutional characteristics, as defined by IPEDS, were identified in the latest 2016 ACE Mappings survey. The community colleges’ responses to ACE 2016 Mappings instrument were dichotomized and quantified. The instrument development process followed that of Spector (1992). Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to analyze and validate the short form of the Mappings instrument. The final solution was verified using categorical principal component analysis (CATPCA). The frequency distributions were categorized using the Sawilowsky et al. (1990) distribution types. The principal component analysis (PCA) process reduced the ACE Mappings instrument to 17 items while maintaining 72.04% of the information. The PCA process described internationalization as a five-dimensional construct. Cronbach reliability coefficient alpha (α) alpha was used to check the reliability of the short form. The Cronbach coefficient alpha (α) of the five dimensions ranged from .68 to .92. The corrected item-total correlations were all above .3. The distribution were all non-normal. Two types of Sawilovsky et al. (1990) distributions were identified. Using the frequency distributions, this study developed two types of norming strategies. The results of the study showed that there was a relationship between community college internationalization and the institutional characteristics of control, minority-serving, and urbanicity. Private not-for-profit community colleges scored the highest in three of the five dimensions with private for-profit community colleges scoring the highest in the remaining two dimensions. Minority-serving community colleges scored the highest in all of the dimensions except for the curriculum internationalization dimension. Community colleges situated in the city scored the highest in all of the dimensions except for the curriculum internationalization dimension.
    • Masculinity Perception and Motivational Influences on Male Students' Higher Education Academic Success

      Hallman, Jeff H.; Tift College of Education
      Male higher education students are expected to account for only 40% of the total college and university enrollment and only 40% of the total students who graduate with at least a baccalaureate degree by 2026. The disparity gap trend that began in 1981 has been widening since that year. The level of educational attainment has future consequences to the financial stability and employability that influences skilled, labor-based economies and marriage and childbearing structures. The problem addressed by this study was the declining rate of male undergraduate student educational success. This research sought to determine if there is a relationship between male students’ perceptions of their masculinity, academic motivation, and success at a specific higher education institution. Social role theory, personal construct theory, and self-determination theory served as the conceptual framework to understand if male students’ perceptions of their masculinity influence their higher education decisions and success. A mixed-methods, simultaneous explanatory methodology was utilized to attempt to discover possible links to male students’ academic success. During the Spring 2020 semester, 76 male full-time undergraduate students at a southeastern U.S. university with a relatively lower male student graduation rate responded to an anonymous questionnaire. Findings identified two primary factors that previous researchers suspected may be influencing the educational experience of male students. First, male students who see themselves as traditionally masculine or experience pressure to conform to traditional masculinity ideology are less likely to experience academic success. Second, amotivation is a key influencer of academic success among male undergraduate students. Discoveries such as those found in this study inform and influence higher education leaders, who should consider the contributing factors for declining success of all students and provide interventions and programs. Higher education personnel should assist male students with convolving the conflicting influences surrounding their masculinity and promote the lifelong benefits associated with academic success. Future studies should expand the institutions sampled in the study to determine if geography influences masculinity perceptions and attempt to focus on which aspects of traditional masculinity ideology are most predominate and contributory.
    • 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.
    • Persistence as Resistance: A Phenomenological Narrative Analysis of the Africultural Coping and Motivational Strategies of African American College Students

      Scott, Miraca Joann; Tift College of Education
      Despite decades of institutional efforts to mitigate African American college student first-year attrition, this population continues to have the lowest graduation rates compared to other races and ethnicities (National Center for Education Statistics, 2021). Historically, the collegiate first and fourth years have received more attention from student success researchers due to their direct connection to institutional enrollment and graduation rates (Gahagan & Hunter, 2006); however, more recent research has indicated that the collegiate sophomore year poses the most significant threat to student retention and graduation rates (Perez, 2020). This qualitative study explored how racial-cultural identity salience, culture-specific coping behaviors, and motivation influenced how Afrocentric African American college students avoided college departure to persist to junior year successfully. Framed within an Afrocentric theoretical framework, a phenomenological narrative methodology was employed to assess students’ perceptions of which coping behaviors and motivational factors helped them overcome challenges experienced during their sophomore year at a southern public, four-year predominantly white institution. Six participants were recruited using criterion and snowball sampling techniques. Data analysis revealed 22 subthemes which were consolidated into six emergent themes: 1) Achievement-oriented Motivation, 2) Soundproofing, 3) Centripetal Autonomy, 4) Centripetal Grouping, 5) Self-Care, and 6) Self-Monitoring. Findings suggest an inextricable link between Black sophomores’ need for intraracial connection, the salience of their racial and cultural identity as African American or Black, and their community-centered motivations for persevering during their sophomore year. Implications for practice include establishing wrap-around support for African American sophomore students, championing and amplifying Black sophomore voices, and integrating culturally-aligned theory into higher education policy. For a representative body of literature, researchers are encouraged to abandon using theoretical models that embody Euro-American values when studying Black students. Implications of this study suggest future studies should be positioned using an Afrocentric theoretical framework to illuminate the needs of African American students.
    • Protecting Our Moms: An Investigation of Workplace Incivility and Job Satisfaction for Mothers Working in Student Affairs

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

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

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