• Games Girls Play: A Critical Feminist Ethnographic Exploration Of Online Learning Environments Supporting (en)gendered And (a)gentive Selves

      Warren, Cleopatra E.
      ABSTRACT CLEOPATRA ELAINE WARREN GAMES GIRLS PLAY: A CRITICAL FEMINIST ETHNOGRAPHIC EXPLORATION OF ONLINE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS SUPPORTING (En)GENDERED AND (A)GENTIVE SELVES Under the direction of WYNNETTA SCOTT-SIMMONS, Ed.D Educators continue to seek and discover effective strategies that improve student academic proficiency in the classroom. For female African American students, the debate continues regarding successful instructional, culturally appropriate techniques that best address their academic performance and engagement during a most critical developmental stage. Relatively little research on the multiliterate practices of female African American adolescent students exists. This research study draws on Black feminist thought, culturally responsive pedagogy, and multiliteracies theory. The purpose of this study was to understand the interactive cultural patterns of female African American students in online learning environments. The researcher conducted a qualitative analysis to focus on the oral-kinetic and embodied tradition of handclapping games as a metaphorical framework to examine sociocultural experiences and technology-mediated practices of African American female students in online learning spaces. The study examined distinct, culturally constructed school experiences and critical postures of African American girls who critically interact with technology in multimodal learning environments. The methodology presented empirical qualitative evidence through four fundamental venues that argue for inclusion of culturally congruent curriculum and instruction in responsive classroom environments, which can effectively contribute to student academic performance of African American female adolescents. The discussion points to the primary role of the narrative as a meaningful communication tool in conveying the lived experiences of female African American adolescents across modalities. The findings of this study demonstrated that students’ academic lives were represented in dual worlds, physical and virtual. The conclusion of the study indicated that African American women and girls are constantly negotiating their identities across a paradigm of intersecting oppressions.
    • Georgia Rural District Leaders’ Experiences with the Strategic Waiver School System Flexibility Options: A Multi-Site Case Study

      Jenkins, Cheryl Lynn; Tift College of Education
      As part of the reform efforts of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, flexibility waivers are allowed to enable local school leaders to create an environment tailored to unique school community needs. The purpose of this qualitative, multi-site case study was to chronicle and analyze the implementation of the Strategic Waiver School System (SWSS) flexibility option offered to Georgia school districts. Guiding this investigation were the theoretical framework of change theory, undergirded by an accountability framework for analyzing education reform. The main research question asked: How do successful school districts implement the SWSS flexibility option? Four ancillary questions that examined the school districts’ implementation in terms of commitment, coherency, congruence, and continuity also guided the study. The researcher sought to understand and describe school leaders’ perceptions regarding their experiences with implementing the strategic waiver initiative in selected Georgia school districts. The research participants were district level leaders from four small rural school districts. This research study implemented a qualitative method, which provided the flexibility to investigate this phenomenon in depth. This approach allowed the researcher the opportunity to capture the participants’ feelings and lived experiences with this new initiative. Use of content analysis and Nvivo 12 software of interviews, survey, and documents revealed five thematic codes. District leaders perceived that the initiative had allowed them the autonomy and flexibility necessary to improve educational outcomes for all students. Implications were to provide professional learning opportunities to address the limited knowledge of SWSS waivers held by district leaders and the creation of a monitoring system to track waiver usage and share ideas. Recommendations for future research included targeting suburban district leaders’ perspectives and conducting of a quantitative survey to gather perspectives or rate customer satisfaction.
    • Glp-1r Agonists Improve Cerebrovascular Integrity And Vascular Cognitive Impairment And Dementia (vcid) Beyond Glycemic Control Via Recovery Of Brain Pericyte Function In Diabetic Mice

      Bailey, Joseph Martin
      We have previously shown that diabetes causes pericyte-dysfunction that leads to loss of vascular integrity and vascular-induced cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID). Glucagon-like peptide-1(GLP-1), used in the management of type-2 diabetes mellitus, improve cognitive of diabetic patients beyond glycemic control, yet the mechanism is unknown. In the present study, we hypothesis that GLP-1 agonist improves VICD through prevention of diabetes-induced pericytes dysfunction in a non-glucose dependent way. Methods: Control and diabetic mice were randomly assigned for saline or Exendin-4 (GLP-1 agonist 30 ng/kg/day), delivered through osmotic pump over 28 days. Vascular integrity was assessed by measuring cerebrovascular neovascularization indices (Vascular density, tortuosity, and branching density). Cognitive functions were evaluated with Barnes maze and Morrison Water maze. Human brain microvascular pericytes, HBMPCs, were grown in high glucose 25 mM/ sodium palmitate 200 uM (HG/Pal) to mimic diabetic conditions. HBMPCs were treated with/out Exendin-4 and assessed for oxidative stress and angiogenic properties. Results: Diabetic mice treated with GLP-1 agonist showed a significant reduction in all cerebral pathological neovascularization indices (P<0.05). Exendin-4 vascular protective effects was accompanied by significant improvement of the learning and memory functions of diabetic mice (P<0.05). Our results showed that HBMPCs expressed the GLP-1 receptor. Stimulation of HBMPC with GLP-1 against under diabetic conditions restored pericyte functions, decreased diabetes-induced inflammation, oxidative stress, and migration. (P<0.05). Conclusion: Our results provide novel evidence that GLP-1 agonist produces neurovascular protective effects in part through targeting pericytes. Restoration of pericyte functions in diabetes represent a novel therapeutic target for diabetes-induced vascular remodeling and VCID.
    • Goal Setting Theory In Action

      Carr, Stacy
      ABSTRACT STACY COKER CARR GOAL SETTING THEORY IN ACTION Under the direction of ANDREW GRUNZKE, Ph.D. In education, there is a need to find strategies and tools to increase self-efficacy, motivation, and reading proficiency in students. The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of an established goal-setting process in an elementary school with a high population of economically disadvantaged students. This case study was governed by two research questions concerning the effects of goal-setting. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with faculty, focus group interviews with students, and document analysis of student goals and reading fluency scores. Using Locke’s goal-setting theory, the researcher incorporated thematic and content analysis. Three deductive interpretive themes emerged: Self-Empowerment, Thinking Deeper, and Life Skills. Three inductive interpretive themes emerged: “What You Can Be, Not What You Are; It Takes A Village; and Everyone Has A Voice. The results of this study showed that a consistent goal-setting process had a positive effect on student self-efficacy, motivation, and reading proficiency when the goals are specific, measurable, achievable, reasonable, timely, and challenging.
    • Hardwired For Purpose: A Journey In Reclaiming Call Language As Narrative At University Of Lynchburg

      Brooks, Katrina Stipe
      ABSTRACT KATRINA STIPE BROOKS HARDWIRED FOR PURPOSE: A JOURNEY IN RECLAIMING CALL LANGUAGE AS NARRATIVE AT UNIVERSITY OF LYNCHBURG Under the direction of Dr. Robert N. Nash, Jr., Ph.D. Despite the interpretations of Christian tradition and history, restricting call language exclusively to the ordained lacks biblical support. Reclamation of call and call language requires a new framework to restore it to its original and biblical meaning in the life of the church. This qualitative, ethnographical study investigates a sample population’s journey to reclaim call language and restore it to its original and biblical meaning in the life of the church. The study aims to observe the ability of a sample population, comprised of seven evangelical students, to imagine a new framework for call language as inclusive language for all Christians and assimilate the call language into their personal narrative. Over the course of five sessions, the sample population engaged the biblical text, Call Waiting: God’s Invitation to Youth, and group session materials. Responses to the reflection questions and session materials were recorded in the student journal entries. In addition to the journal entries, the session engagement tools, the project evaluation rubric, and call stories written by the sample population served as data collection tools items. Analysis of the collected research data indicates the sample population engaged the sessions at a high level and assimilated the call language into their personal narrative as evidenced in their journal entries and call stories. Recommendations for further study include: changing the sample population profile and analyze the data’s connection to the project goals, substitute a different text and/or reflection questions, increase the number of sessions, change the context to the church, and explore call and call language in the life of the ordained. Another recommendation for further study would be finding a church that implemented call language as inclusive language for all Christians and explore the catalyst for change, methodology implemented, or impact on the membership.
    • Haunted By Faith: An Ethnographic Study of Signals of Transcendence in Nones

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

      Collins, Robert Don
      This project explores a preaching approach to healing a congregation that has experienced serious conflict within the church. Through the use of storytelling preaching, this project studies the ability of a story to break through the emotional barriers and deep-seated fears within a congregation. The goal of this project was to guide congregants toward overcoming their fears associated with major church conflict. This project is a qualitative study that utilized guided group discussions and a six-week sermon series to promote healing across a congregation. The sermon series exclusively and purposefully used a storytelling approach to preaching. Group discussions occurring before and after the sermon series provided data about the amount of church-related fear experienced by the participants and the progress made at the conclusion of the sermon series. This project guided the congregation to engage biblical stories throughout the sermon series that focused on overcoming fear associated with crises, conflict, and change. Hearing these stories helped people remember their own stories and embrace God’s call on their lives and the life of their church. The results indicate that storytelling preaching is a useful tool for helping a congregation moved beyond their fears and into a season of healing and hope. The project participants exhibited decreased levels of fear and a healthier understanding of their fear. They also demonstrated a much higher level of hope about their church and its future. Further study is needed to truly understand the full potential of combining group discussions with sermons to create a healing atmosphere and culture throughout the congregation.
    • Helping The Helper: Analyzing The Effects Of Clinical Supervision On Levels Of Burnout

      White, Adrienne Denise
      The hallmark of mental health counseling requires working with people who are experiencing current or previous pain, trauma, stress, grief, anxiety, as well as various complicated psychological needs (Maslach et al, 1996). The constant experience of sadness and emotional fatigue can lead to a form of stress called burnout. Studies report that beginning counselors have been shown to be more vulnerable to symptoms of burnout (Freudenberger, 1990; Tziporah and Pace, 2006). However, despite the knowledge and research on burnout, little attention is devoted to the therapeutic value of beginning counselor’s engagement in clinical supervision to combat symptoms of burnout. This research evaluated and identified a significant relationship between the symptoms of burnout, using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), and supervision styles, using the Supervisory Style Inventory (SSI) among beginning counselors in the United States of America.
    • Hidden Figures No More: Factors That Contribute To Stem Graduate Degree Attainment In African American Women

      Booker, Ansley Alicia
      The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of African American women with STEM doctoral/professional degrees to gain insight into their unique perspectives of barriers that inhibited and catalysts that facilitated their matriculation, graduation, and job success. The methodological approach used to address the research problem was qualitative, specifically grounded theory, to allow each participant to describe her journey and experiences as an African American woman STEM graduate. Participants held doctoral/professional degrees in computer science, physical sciences, or engineering. A purposeful sample of the population was interviewed in order to provide a narrative account of their persistence. The data unearthed seven major themes including Effects of the “Double Bind�?, Effects of Academic Environment, Intrinsic Constructs, Influence of Support, Barriers, Facilitators, and Career Determining Factors as it relates to African American women overcoming barriers in STEM graduate degree attainment and career choice.
    • High School Students' Physics Epistemological Beliefs

      Smeltzer-Schwab, Audrey D.
      ABSTRACT AUDREY D. SMELTZER-SCHWAB HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS’ PHYSICS EPISTEMOLOGICAL BELIEFS Under the direction of KAREN W. SWANSON, Ed.D. This study was conducted to examine the extent to which high school students’ physics epistemological beliefs varied from the beginning of the semester where they had no physics instruction and after 11 weeks of high school physics instruction. A correlational study was conducted in the fall of 2017 at an urban high school in southeastern Pennsylvania. Fifty-two students completed the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey (CLASS) before any physics instruction. The CLASS was also completed by the same students after 11 weeks of high school physics instruction. Scores were evaluated on a 1 to 5 scale, ranking students’ physics epistemological beliefs on a novice-to-expert continuum. Data was analyzed with a repeated measures ANOVA. A statistical significance was found between the overall pretest and posttest scores. All of the mean scores for the posttests were higher than the pretests, showing that physics epistemological beliefs became more expert-like with more physics instruction. Overall, none of the controlling factors were influential. In terms of the controlling variables, gender, grade level, and GPA had no statistical significance on any category of the CLASS. Ethnicity was statistically significant in the Personal Interest category and socioeconomic status statistically impacted the Problem Solving Sophistication category. Small to medium effect sizes were observed throughout the study. Results from this study demonstrated that high school students’ physics epistemological beliefs can become more expert-like in high school after traditional physics instruction. However, further study on high school students’ physics epistemological beliefs is necessary.
    • Histone Acetylation Patterning: A New Direction To Reveal The Clinical Efficacy Of Hdac Inhibitors

      Nguyen, Trang Thuy Thi
      Recent data highlight the virtually unlimited therapeutic potentials of histone deacetylation (HDAC) inhibitors in treating cancer, inflammatory diseases, and psychiatric disorders. This unlimited therapeutic potential is due to the pleiotropic effects of HDAC inhibitors at cellular and systemic levels. The wide range of effects induced by HDAC inhibitors may have different consequences on histone acetylation that may result in various responses from cell type to cell type and from individual to individual. In this project, we used six different transformed mammalian cell lines from three species and different tissues. We treated them with sodium butyrate (NaBu), vorinostat (SAHA), and trichostatin A (TSA). After that, we used high-resolution two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis to resolve histones and show the global changes in histone acetylation without using antibodies. We found that NaBu, SAHA, and TSA differentially caused an increase in acetylation of core histones in different cell lines. This result indicates that HDAC inhibitors may cause differential epigenetic patterning in different cell types. Thus, we chose seven different HDAC inhibitor drugs, which belong to different classes, to treat the HEK cells. The purpose of this experiment was to test how different HDAC inhibitor drugs affect the histone acetylation in one cell line. We hypothesized that HDAC inhibitor drugs differentially targeted histone subtypes with potentially differing consequences in chromatin structure, gene activity, and clinical outcomes. We found that both canonical and variants histones involved in histone modification and acetylated in a sequence. We proposed that the histone acetylation pattern may be a new way to learn the efficacy of HDAC inhibitor drugs.
    • Histone Variants In Gene Therapy And Cancer Epigenetics / By Earnest Landon Taylor

      Taylor, Earnest Landon
      Part I Enhancement of DNA transfection by NP, a highly basic and reversibly phosphorylated peptide derived from the N-terminal region of sea urchin sperm histone variant SpH1, was investigated in HEK293 cell cultures. NP and its corresponding C-terminal peptide CP were prepared by digestion of purified SpH1 with Staphylococcus aureus V8 protease followed by separation of the resulting N-terminal and C-terminal peptides using hydroxylapatite chromatography. Transfection vectors containing NP or CP, NP or CP mixed with polyethylenimine (NP-PEI and CP-PEI, respectively) and NP or CP crosslinked to PEI (NPxPEI and CPxPEI, respectively) were generated and mixed with a plasmid bearing a FLAG-tagged beta-2-adrenergic-receptor gene (FLAG-β_2AR) to create the corresponding transfection complexes. Free peptides (NP and CP) didn’t enhance transfection, rather they suppress transfection compared to PEI alone. Transfection efficiency of chemically crosslinked NPxPEI-DNA enhances transfection rate up to 1.4 fold increase compared to PEI-DNA. The data shows that the NPxPEI vehicle had an improved condensing capability than that of PEI alone at same mass ratio. Our results demonstrate that NP is a potential transfection vehicle when crosslinked with PEI. Part II Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States and accounts for 25% of deaths, which are roughly 1,600 deaths per day, and almost 587,000 deaths per year. Cells become cancerous due either to changes to their DNA or epigenetic alterations that cause misregulation of histone modifications. The acetylation alterations of H2A, H2B, H3, and H4 histone were also screened by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. The retinoblastoma binding protein 2 (RBP2), a histone demethylase belongs to the JARID1 protein family and is known to demethylate the H3K4 methyl groups. First, Wbras and H2009 cells lines will be screened for expression of RBP2 by western blot analysis. The histone deacetylation drugs, Vorinostat, MS-275 and 4-Phenyl-3-Butenoic Acid (PBA) were used at varying concentrations ranging, to test its effect on the expression of RBP2 and H3K4 methylation marks in H2009 and WBras1 cells. Results indicate that PBA showed the ability to increase covalent histone modification of H3, H4 and H2B in WBras1 cells while only modifying H3 and H4 in H2009 cells, and very similar migration patterns can be seen with it structurally similar compound Vorinostat (SAHA). RBP2 expression was decreased when treated with MS-275, SAHA and PBA, which lead to an increase in H3K4me2 and H3K4me3 expression.