• Labels Are For Soup Cans: A Phenomenoglogical Study Of Elementary Principals' Experience With Ascribed School Status Under Georgia's Consequential Accountability System

      Brock, Dana Thomas
      The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of principals working in socioeconomically disadvantaged schools labeled as failing under the pressures and sanctions of test-based accountability. In this era of increasing accountability, strong leadership is crucial to improving the academic achievement in schools labeled as failing. Principals serving disadvantaged student populations in Title I schools are more likely to be penalized for failing to make adequate progress. This study was situated within the specific context of Title I schools labeled as failing. The need exists to understand the experience of negative reform mechanism and its meaning from the perspective of principals. Existing studies do not illuminate the perspective of school leaders. This study utilized an interpretative phenomenological analysis framework to understand how school leaders make sense of their ascribed school labels and consequential accountability mechanisms in the context of Title I schools. The findings from this study provided a deeper understanding of principals’ experiences and beliefs about their schools’ ascribed label. Findings were reported as four themes: responding to the school’s unique needs, feelings of stigmatization, the confluence of forces beyond the school’s control, and questioning fairness in comparisons. This study sought to draw attention to consequential accountability mechanisms as a matter of social justice. Findings of this study suggest that policymakers should focus on the implications of negative labels and structural inequalities in underperforming schools.
    • Leading Large Without Losing Soul: Equipping Senior Pastors Of Large Congregations To Discover, Nurture, And Lead From The True Self

      King, Shaun Michael
      In the context of large church leadership, the success of a congregation is often associated with the public persona of its senior pastor. The result is a very real temptation on the part of the senior pastor to place a high premium on this public persona and leverage the better part of his or her energies in cultivating and preserving it at all costs. Gone unexamined or unattended, this unique dynamic makes it challenging for senior pastors of large congregations to maintain true integrity and lead from a position of authentic selfhood. In a context that often enables narcissistic tendencies of ego-preservation and promotion, it was the primary goal of this project to discover what deliberate practices of personal soul-care would empower and equip senior pastors of large congregations to continually lead from a position of authentic selfhood. To accomplish this task, traits were first identified that were characteristic of large church pastors who led from the true self. Then, five senior pastors of large congregations from across the U.S. were selected and interviewed in one-on-one, guided interviews, to determine what deliberate behaviors and practices aided them in their own personal soul care. The resulting data revealed seven themes that emerged as common among all five pastors. The themes were: A Way of Life, Sabbath-keeping, Personal Accountability and Community, Spiritual Practices, Physical Exercise, Calendar-management, and Staff Community. After introducing the background problem in detail, this thesis traces the theological, biblical, and historical foundations of this quest for authentic selfhood. It then details the particular challenges to this quest, as found within the context of large church leadership. The seven themes that emerged from the project are then described in detail. Finally, the thesis concludes with four practical pathways for future development and work. These pathways are: future writing projects, podcasts, retreats, and staff development.
    • Learning To Dialogue And Discern: Conversations That Matter In The Local Church

      Grammer, Libby Mae
      “How now shall we live?�? “What is right under these circumstances?�? “What has character and morality to do with decision-making and ethical living for Christians?�? These questions and many more feel harder and harder to address in a culture so politicized and polarized that the very consideration of ethical conversation evokes considerable anxiety in individuals and communities. Learning how to navigate the dual enterprises of exploring politicized moral issues in a church community setting and fundamentally changing how a group dialogues requires deep examination of Christian morality, the ethical methodologies to assess it and make moral recommendations in group settings, and the group dynamics and dialogue / discernment models. With the deep social and political divide in the United States today, politically diverse churches like River Road Church, Baptist in Richmond, Virginia have often become silent on issues of moral importance that have become politicized, or have even split along secular political party lines, instead of seeking to find a Christian response to contemporary political and social issues through productive dialogue. This project sought to create a covenantal ethical discerning dialogue that produces a way of having a productive dialogue within church leadership that is theologically rich, intellectually serious, genuinely illuminating about moral issues, and that leaves the community intact. Ultimately, the project results seemed to indicate that such a model for discerning dialogue was necessary and helpful for church leaders, while also providing some insight to needed changes to the dialogue process.
    • Let The Dead Bury The Dead: A Phenomenology Using Student Voice To Understand The Current Perception Of Social Studies Among High School Seniors

      Mangano, John
      Since the passage of No Child Left Behind, current high school seniors left elementary school experiencing less instructional time for social studies compared to other subjects. The dominance of standardized tests led students to conclude that only tested subjects are important, which excluded social studies. The purpose of this research was to listen to student voice to hear the current perception of social studies and determine what factors form those perceptions. To understand the current perception of social studies, a phenomenology was conducted using social learning theory. A student perception survey of social studies was created and administered to 111 high school seniors in a large southeastern urban high school. From those 111 students, three were selected to participate in a series of three interviews. During those interviews, it was found that two students had a positive perception of social studies with the main factors being parental influence and the use of engaging teaching methods and instructional strategies. Students cited lack of relevance as a leading factor to a negative perception of social studies. They found social studies as an important content area but held a negative perception of the individual social studies classes. Parental perception was a strong factor in forming a positive perception of social studies. Student 3 found social studies a dead subject due to the teacher bias and lack of relevance. He did not understand the purpose of taking social studies. All three students continually cited curriculum overlap between United States history and political system as a factor in a negative perception of social studies. After listening to student voice, the researcher determined that the seniors in the study viewed the content area of social studies with a positive perception but saw lack of relevance within individual social studies classes. Teachers must strive to make class engaging and use effective instructional strategies to ensure a positive perception of social studies. Further research should include curriculum overlap and teacher preparation programs to ensure teacher candidates are taught effective instructional strategies.
    • Leveraging "Small Data" Through Predictive Analytics To Support Clinical Decision-making

      McKinley, DeAngelo
      ABSTRACT DeAngelo Jamond McKinley, BS LEVERAGING “SMALL DATA�? THROUGH PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS TO SUPPORT CLINICAL DECISION-MAKING Under the direction of Ayman Akil, Ph.D. The United States pays twice as much for healthcare on average than any other nation on Earth, yet the quality of care is not guaranteed. Differences in clinical decision-making (CDM) have been identified as a leading contributor to the variability in the quality of healthcare throughout the United States. The healthcare industry has sought to employ predictive analytics to improve the quality of care. The major focus of these efforts has been centered on supporting resource management and streamlining operational tasks, however, there has been little effort to address the needs of clinicians in direct patient care. A better understanding of the mechanisms behind existing interventions and patient specific factors that lead to poor clinical outcomes are critical to improving quality in healthcare. Our central project aim is to demonstrate how and where small data predictive analytics can be used to support CDM. In specific aim 1 we used univariate regression to evaluate the impact of a pharmacist-led intervention in African American patients with heart failure (HF). We found that the pharmacist-led intervention had a greater impact on HF-related readmission than non-HF related readmission. In specific aim 2 we used a linear model tree to identify patient specific factors predictive of 30-day readmission. We found numerous factors predictive of HF-related and non-HF related readmission with no clear distinction between the predictors of these two clinical outcomes. In specific aim 3 we assessed the relationships between medication adherence, lifestyle modifications, and long-term blood pressure control through univariate regression, and the Andersen-Gill model, a timeseries model for predicting the probability of recurrent uncontrolled hypertensive events. Results suggested that a combination of lifestyle modifications may have a comparable effect on long-term blood pressure control to medication adherence along. In this work we supported CDM by evaluating the effect of interventions on a population of intertest, identifying factors contributing to the risk of an untoward medical event, and codifying significant contributors to a clinical phenomenon. In future work we aim to deploy our HF risk prediction model in a clinical setting and assess the effectiveness of model directed interventions on 30-day HF-related readmission.
    • Living In Exile: A Postcolonial Reading Of The Jacob Cycle

      Lauersdorf, Zachry Carl
      ABSTRACT ZACHRY CARL LAUERSDORF LIVING IN EXILE: A POSTCOLONIAL READING OF THE JACOB CYCLE Under the direction of DAVID G. GARBER, Ph.D. The Jacob Cycle of Genesis is one of the most fascinating series of stories from the biblical text. These stories are marked by Jacob’s deceitful nature, life in exile, and eventual return from exile. These stories are also marked by God’s continual protection and blessing of Jacob throughout the stories. These stories have as much to say about God as they do about Jacob. This thesis attempts to connect the stories of Jacob with the Judean experience of the Babylonian Exile, to see how that experience may have shaped these stories. Given that this thesis examines the effects of empire on the biblical text, this study utilizes a postcolonial literary analysis of the Jacob texts and exilic prophetic texts to determine how the Jacob texts bear the scars of the exilic experience. To determine the postcolonial nature of the Jacob texts, this thesis addresses the following questions: (1) How does Jacob’s flight from home and subsequent divine encounter at Bethel reflect a postcolonial worldview?; (2) How is Jacob’s labor in Laban’s household significant with regards to postcolonial thought?; and (3) How do Jacob’s character and personality reflect a postcolonial worldview? The conclusion of this study is that the Jacob texts exhibit a large exilic influence, and the character of Jacob is a hero for the colonized and the exiles. Further studies could examine other texts in the book of Genesis, especially the stories of younger brothers, through a postcolonial lens to see how the theme of exile is present in them.
    • Locus Of Injury: The Relationship Between Moral Injury And Locus Of Control

      Wheeler, John
      The purpose behind this study was to determine if a relationship between locus of control (LOC) and moral injury (MI) exists, and to contribute to the pool of existing research for MI. Findings established that there is a relationship that exhibits moderate strength. Additional findings also note a moderate to strong relationship between impaired function from MI and MI symptom severity. Correlational analysis did not identify a significant relationship between LOC and MI impaired functionality, implying unique characteristics between these two distinctions of MI. Further implications suggest that as LOC travels from external to internal, MI symptomology will decrease.
    • Lord Your Servant Is Listening: Using Listening Prayer As A Means For Discerning The Call To Vocational Ministry

      James, Freddye G
      ABSTRACT FREDDYE G. JAMES LORD, YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING: USING LISTENING PRAYER AS A MEANS FOR DISCERNING THE CALL TO VOCATIONAL MINISTRY Under the direction of DENISE M. MASSEY, PH.D. Discerning whether or not women and men have received a call to ministry from God has been difficult historically. Listening to God’s voice requires one be in relationship with God and be intentional about the pursuit of hearing. This research was designed to use listening prayer, a type of contemplative prayer, to help the five young men and women of Ministry Apprenticeship Necessary for Tactical Leadership Development (MANTLE) at Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral(WOF) use listening prayer as a tool to hear from God regarding if they have been called to vocational ministry. This group was selected for this research project because of their selection for leadership development at WOF. Group members met for six sessions to learn about listening prayer, the call to vocational ministry, and to practice listening prayer exercises. A pre-project survey, group observation notes, post-project survey, group members’ oral reports from journaling, and an experiential paper from each group member were used to generate data. The qualitative data was analyzed by coding. While this study was not designed to provide results with statistical significance, listening prayer, when understood and practiced consistently, is profitable as a tool for discerning the ministerial call. All group members heard from God regarding a call to vocational ministry, four affirmatively and one who did not hear but intends to continue to listen. This study gave participants a means to hear from God and cultivate an ongoing dialogue in the context of an intimate friendship with God. The positive results point to the need for further study on the topic.
    • Making Sense Of Mathematics Through Number Talks: A Case Study Of Three Teachers In The Elementary Classroom

      Westbrook, Miranda
      Mathematics instruction in the United States has historically consisted of procedures and rote learning practices. Reform efforts in mathematics education support a conceptual approach that integrates reasoning and understanding of problems. Classroom number talks nurture the essence of learning in mathematics. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of number talks in developing number sense and number relationships in third-grade students pursuant to teacher perception. This study also explored the instructional practices of teachers during number talks, using Parrish’s (2011, 2014) five fundamental tenets. An analysis of the types of questions that teachers pose during classroom number talks to elicit student responses was also conducted. An embedded, multiple-case study design was used to examine participant perceptions through a within-case analysis and a cross-case analysis. Three teacher participants in a large suburban school district in the southeastern United States served as the primary units of analysis, while the students in their classrooms served as the subunits of analysis. Over the course of a six-week period, each participant completed four, audio-recorded interviews and three video-recorded observations. The findings suggested that classroom number talks influence students’ number sense understanding by encouraging them to verbally reason about their thinking. Conclusions were (a) number talks promote accurate and precise communication about mathematics; (b) the learning environment is critical to the success of number talks as students who feel their responses are unappreciated by other students may be reluctant to participate; (c) the role of the classroom teacher is vital to the success of number talks; and (d) the dialogue during number talks was dominated by student-to-teacher discourse. Opportunities for future research include: (a) investigating the reliance on mental strategies learned through classroom number talks; (b) exploring the effects of number talks in a small-group setting; (c) examining the number talks practices of teachers at different grade levels; and (d) studying the impact of classroom number talks on students in various subgroups.
    • Manager in the Middle: A View of Strategic Planning in Higher Education from the Middle Management Perspective

      Flanders, Kimberly Sharron; Tift College of Education
      Strategic planning is a process that can assist institutions in responding to and preparing for the myriad changes in higher education; however, a lack of communication and other challenges can hinder institutions’ ability to effectively engage in the process. Because middle managers serve as liaisons between organizational leadership and front-line staff, this transcendental phenomenological investigation sought to understand the experiences of middle managers in the strategic planning process through the lens of path-goal theory. Criterion and snowball sampling were used to identify twelve middle managers to participate in semi-structured, topical interviews. The data were analyzed utilizing the modified Van Kaam method of analysis of phenomenological data to develop a description of the phenomenon. Findings from this investigation indicated that middle managers experienced strategic planning as a top-down process implemented with a team approach and the goal of benefiting students and the institution. The participants shared that they would like to be included in strategic planning discussions early in the process to help shape institutional priorities and actions based on their experiences with students, parents, and other stakeholders. Additionally, the participants agreed that their teams should be included in the strategic planning process to garner more buy-in and to provide a robust breadth of knowledge and experience in the discussions. The middle managers in this study also noted that the attitude of the leadership and support from an institutional research, or similar, office impacted their experience with the strategic planning process. Strategic planning leaders can utilize the information gleaned from this study to more effectively engage middle managers in the process, such as by providing trainings and early involvement. Future research in this area should study middle managers working at different types of institutions and should include more faculty participants.
    • Manipulation of the SUMO Activating Enzyme (SAE) by the Viral Oncoprotein, LMP1

      McKinnon, Ashton Taylor; School of Medicine
      As a ubiquitous virus, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infects 95% of the global population. Although typically asymptomatic, its latency has been shown to cause a variety of different types of cancers, such as Burkitt’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Latent Membrane Protein-1 (LMP1) has been shown to be the principle oncoprotein of EBV by facilitating dysregulation of many pathways through both direct interactions and downstream modulation. This project focuses on the direct interactions of LMP1 with the SUMOylation process. SUMOylation is characterized by the addition of a Small Ubiquitin-like Modifier (SUMO) to a target protein. This helps to facilitate cellular growth and proliferation, protein stabilization and turnover, amongst other cellular processes. We hypothesize that LMP1 directly manipulates the SUMO Activating Enzyme/SUMO E1 (SAE) through a variety of mechanisms. This project investigates the interactions of SAE and LMP1 utilizing immunoprecipitations. Our results show that SAE modulation occurs through interactions in a C-Terminal Activating Region (CTAR) -2 dependent manner. Another aspect is understanding the effect LMP1 has on SAE stabilization. This is done by treating LMP1-expressing cells and non-expressing cells with cycloheximide over a set time course. Western blot data shows a steady decrease in the amount of SAE present in non-LMP1-expressing cells, while SAE remains relatively stable in LMP1-expressing cells. Lastly, the lab is interested in how LMP1 affects protein trafficking. This utilizes immunofluorescence to tag proteins of interest in whole cells and visualize them using confocal microscopy. In addition, we use cellular compartmentalization to detect cytosolic and nuclear proteins in comparison to whole cell lysates. Immunofluorescence results show more SAE present in the cytosol of LMP1-expressing cells, while in negative counterparts, we see SAE primarily in the nucleus. This is confirmed in western blot data from compartmentalization experiments. Our findings suggest that LMP1 is capable of interacting with a variety of different proteins, including direct interactions with enzymes involved in the SUMOylation process, specifically SAE. Future work aims to elucidate how LMP1 can affect other enzymes in the SUMOylation process.