• 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 Quantitative Study Examining Perceptions of Preparedness Among Entry-Level Student Affairs Professionals for an Active Shooter Event on Campus

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

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

      Clark, Jr., Ricky; Tift College of Education
      The purpose of this qualitative single site case study was to examine the practices, policies, and programs at a university with exceptional graduation rates for students of color from low socioeconomic backgrounds. This study identified the impact of various departments, such as financial planning, recruitment and admissions, academic services, curriculum and instruction, and student services, on student persistence, from the perspective of both students of color as well as departmental leadership. This study also identified what students of color from low socioeconomic backgrounds perceived contributed to their success. The research question that guided this study was: How are the institutional factors of Swail’s (2003) Geometric Model of Student Persistence and Achievement implemented at a southern U.S. university with graduation rates for students of color from low socio-economic backgrounds that meet or exceed the national average graduation rate of 59 percent? The selected site was a private liberal arts institution in the southern region of the United States. The researcher conducted semi-structured interviews with faculty, staff, and students; campus observations; and document reviews. Hybrid thematic analysis (inductive and deductive) revealed that peer-to-peer mentoring and faculty/staff to student mentoring, supplemental instruction and tutoring, office or staff devoted to retention efforts, collaborative community campus environment, and consistent financial resources positively impacted the success of students of color from low socioeconomic backgrounds. This study may inform institutions of higher education of successful policies, practices, and programs that may influence persistence to graduate for students of color from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Implementation of the following may influence the success of students of color from low socioeconomic background: interdepartmental cross training, investment of additional time and resources into TRIO programs, creation or expansion of supplemental instruction and tutoring programs, create an office or train a staff member to address student retention, provision of consistent financial resources and education, provision of affinity group opportunities or safe space environments, and creation of a “community feel” on campus. Recommendations for further research include applying this research to various institutional types such as technical colleges, community colleges, HBCUs, Tribal Colleges or public institution; expand current research to include alumni perspective on student success; and expand current research focusing on individual academic departments or units to offer deeper understanding.
    • Self-Efficacy of K-12 Mathematics Teachers in Teaching Math

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

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

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