• "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.
    • I Saw That In A Movie: A Hermeneutic Study On Students' Historical Thinking Abilities

      Herbert, Courtney Marie
      With the reliance on digital technology as the newest form of 21st century pop culture, students have virtual access to multiple resources that influence their cognition. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to understand how high school students construct historical knowledge and meaning using film and media as a medium, how historical thinking and literacy skills impact student perceptions of history, and the possible disconnections that exist between the skills used in document resources and film/media sources. Data was collected using an online questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, and document analysis of information processing skills used on historical documents used in high school social studies classes. Using Gadamer’ s hermeneutic lens, the researcher incorporated thematic and content analysis. Three themes emerged: Let’s Watch a Movie, Excogitation, and Utilization facilitating Gadamer’ s spiral of fusions. Overall, the results of this case study revealed that teacher usage and student viewing of film and media provide a conduit for understanding historical content. Students have difficulty identifying film and media as trustworthiness and accurate. Employment of historical thinking skills are viable yet inconsistently used by students. There appears to be a strong disconnect in student skill sets based on varying mediums. Further recommendations for research on student’s construction of historical knowledge include but are not limited to evaluation of teacher instructional practices using HTS, how professional development in social studies is utilizing inquiry based techniques to facilitate HTS, and possibly how teacher education preparatory programs are addressing media literacy and use of HTS in the 21st century classroom.
    • Identifying, Constructing And Maintaining Positive Teacher-student Relationships In A Secondary Setting / By Adam Crownover.

      Crownover, Adam
      This study articulates a vision for a relational pedagogy in education. In a policy era characterized by an overwhelming emphasis on accountability for teachers and students connected to content area assessment scores, a humanist recalibration of the priorities of education policy is needed. Rather than a fixation on performance data, I advocate for a consideration of the quality of the relational environment constructed by teachers based in part on the research which suggests that positive teacher-student relationships are connected to other positive outcomes for students, academic and otherwise. Accordingly, this research was guided by three questions: “what is the nature of a positive teacher-student relationship?�?, “What is the relational climate between participating teachers and students,�? and “what practices or behaviors have led to the establishment of these relationships?�? To address these questions, a sequential, mixed-methods phenomenographical study was conducted in three phases. Phase One featured open-ended surveys distributed to 55 students and 84 teachers with questions regarding the nature of positive relationships. These data were used to create the Crownover Student Relationship Survey, a 31-item instrument with relational indicators to which respondents provide feedback via a 5-point Likert-type scale. In Phase Two, the Crownover Student Relationship Survey was administered to 90 sophomores and five teachers to explore student conceptions of the relationships with those teachers. These data were analyzed and qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with participating teachers to uncover practices connected with the student scores. A factor analysis of the Phase Two survey data produced three factors which were then used as deductive themes for organizing the teacher interview data. This study illuminates components of the teacher-student relationship and has led to the creation of the Crownover Student Relationship Survey, a measure which can be used by teachers as way of assessing student perceptions of the relational climate created by the teacher. These data can serve to highlight strengths and areas for teacher growth in the various relational capacities. Subsequent discussion provides insight into practices corresponding to specific parameters. Furthermore, the Crownover Student Relationship Survey data serves as a starting point for exploring the relationships among the various relational variables included as parameters.
    • Images Of God: Visualizing God Through Biblical Metaphor At The Byromville-Drayton Charge

      Bizzell, Josh
      Parishioners in most local churches experience prayer as a process of asking and receiving from God, followed by an expression of thanksgiving for answered prayer. Other dimensions of prayer, such as prayer for the sake of communion with God, are not emphasized as much in many local churches. Imaginative prayer is one manifestation of prayer for the sake of communion with God. Imaginative prayer involves mentally visualizing interactions with God. In order to do this, people of faith must be able to visualize God. Biblical metaphor provides the framework in which persons of faith can imagine God. Building on the work of such religious thinkers as Sallie McFague, this study seeks to identify the primary images of God of parishioners of a rural, two-point charge in the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. This study further seeks to expose parishioners to a diverse array of biblical images for God through the use of Scripture, metaphor, and photographic imagery. Participants are also invited into guided imaginative exercises based upon biblical metaphor. These exercises serve as an introduction to the practice of imaginative prayer. This study reveals that, while many participants continue to visualize God in ways that reflect nature and male anthropomorphic images of God, participants also connect with images of God that reflect nurture and female anthropomorphic images of God. A new dual image for God – God as Mother and Father – is offered as a viable option for the religious imagination. This image also reflects the relationship between the image of God and the male-female human identity attested to in the biblical creation accounts. This study can be used in conjunction with spiritual growth curriculum within the local church, as image reproductions and guided imaginative exercise scripts are included.
    • 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.
    • Imperial Conversion: When Empire Co-opts Religion

      Sharp, Jordan Robert
      Many religions have been significantly changed by the conversion of an empire to that religion, yet imperial conversion has received little attention within religious studies. Consequently, the goal of this study is to better understand imperial conversion by investigating (1) why empires convert, (2) what makes conversion possible, and (3) how the empire enacts conversion. To do so, this study compares three imperial conversions representing different religions, eras, and cultures: Ashoka’s Buddhist conversion of the Maurya Empire, the Christian conversion of the Roman Empire under Constantine, and Gao Zu’s role in the rise of Daoism in China’s Tang Dynasty. Methodologically, the study is interdisciplinary. First, a historical overview of each conversion explores what factors precipitated conversion as well as how the conversion benefited the empire. Next, sociology is applied to understand what made the conversions possible. Using Emile Durkheim’s concept of the sacred totem and Max Weber’s concept of theodicy, the study examines how the empire promoted pro-imperial values by co-opting symbols that appealed to society’s values concerning sacredness and morality. Finally, cultural anthropologist Talal Asad’s work on power within religion offers a way to understand how the empires enacted the conversion; imperial conversion required a negotiation of power between political and religious authorities. One of the central findings is that imperial conversion is primarily politically motivated, serving a specific goal of the empire. Additionally, the conversion itself, though historically significant, is not as radical as it may seem. Rather than a drastic change in religious devotion, imperial conversion represents a shift: the empire alters policy to better reflect the current values of society and/or to steer societal values in a slightly different direction. Further, imperial conversion is a two-way exchange, meaning that imperial conversion changes the religion as much as, if not more so, as the empire. In addition to the insights about imperial conversion, the study presents new questions about how religion is studied and defined. The concluding section offers recommendations for future study on the boundaries of what constitutes religion, how to describe and better understand religious change, and the interaction between religion and politics.
    • Implications Of A Social Media Course For Adolescent Social Media Usage / By Nneka A. Johnson.

      Johnson, Nneka A.
      The use of social media is becoming more pervasive in our society. Adolescents are suffering dire consequences as a result of their social media postings and many feel that schools are not adequately preparing youth to navigate within this new participatory culture paradigm. The purpose of this study was to acquire an awareness of how a planned curriculum around teaching high school seniors about the various implications of social media changed their social media usage. The study was rooted in Bandura’s social learning theory but more specifically observational and vicarious learning in conjunction with the concept of vicarious punishment. The research design for this qualitative inquiry was grounded in the case study tradition. Four participants were selected for this study, who represented diverse perspectives. The data consisted of three interviews, social media activity, and archival reflective essays from the course. After the data analysis, it was deduced that the students changed their social media behavior as a result of what was learned by observation in the course in conjunction
    • Implicit Bias As A Contributing Factor To Disproportionality Of African Americans In Special Education: The Promise Of A Bias Literacy Intervention

      Whatley, Jillian Katri
      With the extensive research on disproportionality of African Americans in special education, the researcher explored implicit bias as a contributing factor. The purpose of this study was to determine to what extent Bias Literacy Intervention impacts pre- and posttest results of the Teacher Expectations Scale and Personal Objectivity Scale, thus increasing personal awareness of teacher implicit bias towards African American students and the awareness of the how implicit bias potentially influences teacher decisions to refer African American students to special education. The results indicated that the mean comparison of the pre- and posttest of the Teacher Expectations Scale and Personal Objectivity Scale suggest that teachers’ expectations of the last student referred to special education increased and the objectivity mean increased. The results also suggest that the interactive effect of using the IAT-Race as a conscious-raising tool and the Bias Literacy Workshop as a habit-breaking intervention to address implicit bias promoted a sense of awareness among participants regarding their personal bias against African Americans, while providing the participants with strategies to reduce implicit bias. Therefore, the evidence is suggestive and promising in that the IAT-Race and the Bias Literacy Workshop provide baseline data suggesting these methods can reduce implicit bias, thereby promoting awareness of teachers and administrators’ bias and the impact of their personal bias on the referral of African Americans to special education, resulting in disproportionality. Based on the mixed results, the researcher assumes that changes occurred by exposing participants to the Bias Literacy Intervention and the Implicit Associations Test. However, the specifics or the degree to which exposure to the intervention had on participants is unknown.
    • In Their Own Words: Acknowledging Heritage Literacies and Languages with College-Bound English Language Learners in Advanced English Language Arts Classrooms

      Curl, Jennifer Eileen; Tift College of Education
      This study sought to examine how the use of heritage literacies and languages by college-bound ELLs in advanced English classes can help ELLs meet course expectations and inform attitudes towards future ELA courses. Three adult professionals, a teacher, a pharmacist, and a chemical engineer, were purposefully sampled to share their lived experiences and reflections as ELLs in advanced English classes as high school students. The research questions were: (1) What do the narratives of college-bound English Language Learners enrolled in an advanced English course reveal about their use of heritage languages and Literacies? and (2) How do the narratives of college-bound English Language Learners enrolled in advanced English courses inform culturally responsive education? Data were collected through one-on-one interviews between the researcher and individual participants through recorded Zoom sessions, composition artifacts chosen by the participants, and a focus group including all three participants and the researcher. Data were analyzed through multi-level coding (Saldaña, 2016) employing holistic and in vivo coding for level one, pattern coding for level two, and cross-case analysis and narrative coding for level three. Results suggest that disconnections exist between ELLs and ESOL support, cultural use of language, and teacher expectations. Further results indicate microaggressions experienced by ELLs in advanced English classrooms, as well as frustration and confusion, related to advanced English teachers’ instructional practices. Finally, participants experienced disconnections resulting from myths and misconceptions about ELLs in advanced English classrooms. Recommendations for future studies include a focus on the intersection between race and culture, language, and literacy practices among ELLs and how schools can create bridges between ESOL and advanced course pathways.