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 Department: Department of Teacher Education and Administration
 Collection: UNT Theses and Dissertations
Academic Reading Online: Digital Reading Strategies of Graduate-level English Language Learners

Academic Reading Online: Digital Reading Strategies of Graduate-level English Language Learners

Date: May 2015
Creator: Knezek, Lois Ann
Description: English language learners (ELLs) face many linguistic and cultural challenges in their attempts to succeed academically. They encounter complex academic text, which is increasingly presented online. Although some research has addressed the challenges that university-level ELLs face when reading online texts, almost all of this prior work has focused on undergraduates. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the reading strategies employed by graduate-level ELLs when reading an academic English text online. Participating in the study were four foreign-born doctoral students from different first-language backgrounds—Arabic, Korean, Urdu, and Vietnamese—and the focus was on commonalities as well as differences among them. All four were enrolled in the same doctoral-level course, which included the reading of a specific online academic article as a course requirement. When reading this text individually, each student participated in a think-aloud procedure, followed by post-reading and discourse-based interviews. Analyses included unitizing data from the think-aloud protocols, coding units for strategies employed, and considering related interview commentary and classroom contributions. In their reading, these students made major use of problem-solving strategies, especially reading segments aloud and questioning. They also employed evaluative strategies as well as metacognitive strategies, which included affirming their understanding or indicating lack of ...
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A Case Study of an Urban Charter School’s Journey of School Improvement: Organizational Theory, Institutional Learning and School Reform

A Case Study of an Urban Charter School’s Journey of School Improvement: Organizational Theory, Institutional Learning and School Reform

Date: May 2015
Creator: Subjinski, Amanda
Description: The problem for this study was the need to increase and maintain in student achievement in charter schools. The purpose of this single-case study was to discover how an inner city charter school with a high percentage of at-risk students increased overall student achievement and attained acceptable performance status when faced simultaneously with administrative challenges and increases in state and federal standards. The participants for the single-case study included the school district’s superintendent, the high school principal, the dean of students, four faculty of the district, and one outside consultant appointed to work with the district by the state of Texas. The sampling for this study allowed for the opportunity to study in greater depth the choice of reform strategies and organizational structure designed to result in increased student achievement and student success over the course of two years. Since this was a single-case study of one charter school district, participants were referenced by the role in which they served. All district, campus, and participant names remained anonymous. The results showed the increased student achievement was made possible by several reform strategies and best practices. The primary reform strategies and best practices that had the greatest impact were consistent campus ...
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A Comparative Analysis of State Funds on Student Achievement of Economically Disadvantaged Elementary Schools in Independent School Districts and Charter Schools in the State of Texas

A Comparative Analysis of State Funds on Student Achievement of Economically Disadvantaged Elementary Schools in Independent School Districts and Charter Schools in the State of Texas

Date: May 2015
Creator: Applewhite, Gary
Description: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between the instructional outcomes in the independent school districts and charter schools in relation to the expenditure of public funds for instruction and total operating expenditures from the general fund. The study considered Texas elementary charter schools and independent school districts, whose school populations were identified as having greater than or equal to 50% of economically disadvantaged students, according to the Texas Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS). The study made use of multiple regression and was an ex post facto cross-sectional analysis utilizing production function theory. The study’s outcomes reported the difference in student achievement between elementary schools in independent public school districts and charter schools were small to negligible for math and reading achievement. The study also reported, there is no statistically significant difference in per pupil expenditure of public funds between elementary schools in independent public school districts and charter schools. Furthermore, there is no statistically significant relationship between student achievement and per pupil expenditure of public funds on elementary schools in independent public school districts and charter schools.
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Funds of Knowledge and Early Literacy: A Case Study

Funds of Knowledge and Early Literacy: A Case Study

Date: May 2015
Creator: Butler, Ami R.
Description: When teachers are charged with educating students that are racially, culturally, or economically different from them, they may have little information on the culture and type of family involvement of their students. This lack of information contributes to perceptions of working-class families as socially disorganized and intellectually deficient. However, research embodying the theoretical framework funds of knowledge (FoK) attempts to counter deficient models through its assertion that all families possess extensive bodies of knowledge that have developed through social, historical, political, and economic contexts. The primary purpose of this study was to carefully examine Hispanic parents’ support of young children’s early literacy development in the home. The knowledge gleaned from an initial study of home support, by spending time in the home of a Hispanic family provided an avenue for action research in the classroom. A second purpose was to determine if the introduction of FoK ways of learning, when applied in the classroom, had an effect on early literacy skills. In addition, I maintained a journal that chronicled my experiences and led to an autoethnographic study of myself as a transforming white, female, prekindergarten teacher. The results indicated that the family possessed extensive FoK developed through historical, cultural, educational, ...
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Gis in Ap Human Geography: a Means of Developing Students’ Spatial Thinking?

Gis in Ap Human Geography: a Means of Developing Students’ Spatial Thinking?

Date: May 2015
Creator: Webster, Megan L
Description: Geography education is undergoing change in K-12 education due in part to the introduction of geospatial technologies, including geographic information systems (GIS). Although active engagement in GIS mapping would seem to enhance students’ spatial thinking, little is known about the mapping strategies that students employ or about changes in their geographic knowledge that would result. This study, set in a high school Advanced Placement human geography class, sought to contribute to these areas of inquiry. Participants performed a web-based GIS task focused on global population and migration. Attention in the study was on (a) the strategies students employed when investigating geographic phenomena using GIS, (b) changes in their cognitive maps, as assessed through sketch maps, resulting from the activity, (c) the relationship between GIS maps and sketch maps, and (d) the ways in which a subset of students serving as case studies explained the nature of their mapping. The study employed screen-captures, video-recordings, observations, pre- and post-study sketch maps, and interviews. Analyses of the GIS process revealed that, in creating their maps, the students used a number of strategies, which included searching, layering, removing layers of data, adjusting transparency, editing, and noting. Although searching and layering were employed by all ...
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Levanten La Mano Si Me Entienden: Receptive Bilinguals’ Linguistic and Cultural Perceptions in Secondary Spanish Classes

Levanten La Mano Si Me Entienden: Receptive Bilinguals’ Linguistic and Cultural Perceptions in Secondary Spanish Classes

Date: May 2015
Creator: Baker, Adelita Gonzales
Description: Receptive bilinguals have been in a dilemma of knowing just enough Spanish to write and aurally comprehend the curriculum at the beginning-intermediate levels of a Spanish language course. This dichotomy in classrooms with mixed-ability learners has created a need to reconsider placement and pedagogical structures tailored for these students in foreign language courses. Thus, this descriptive study examined the perceptions of receptive bilinguals, drawn from two secondary Spanish courses regarding receptive bilinguals’ language use, personal Spanish language abilities and confidence, personal beliefs about the language, and contentment with the course. For this study, 31 participants were selected from two public high schools in a suburb of a large metropolitan area in north Texas. Two surveys, a listening assessment and an online questionnaire, were administered at the end of the academic year. The Likert questionnaire items were analyzed using SPSS software, while open-ended questions were coded for recurrent themes. Analyses revealed four major findings. First, with regard to influence on language use, participants’ grandparents created the most interaction with the Spanish language when compared with the other family groups. In addition, Spanish influence through television, literature, radio, and music contributed to students’ early childhood Spanish learning. Second, as to language preference, ...
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Professional Learning Community Dimensions in a North Texas Elementary School’s Culture and Their Impact on Reading and Math Student Growth Scores

Professional Learning Community Dimensions in a North Texas Elementary School’s Culture and Their Impact on Reading and Math Student Growth Scores

Date: May 2015
Creator: Patrick, Linda Denise
Description: The purpose of this mixed methods study was to determine which dimensions, as represented by the Professional Learning Community Assessment – Revised dimensions, are present in the environment of North Texas elementary schools and their impact on student growth. A survey design was utilized in which elementary principals and teachers in a selected school district completed the Professional Learning Community – Revised survey developed by Hipp and Huffman (2009), to gather perceptions of PLC implementation within their school environments as well as reflect strengths and needs regarding each dimension. The results of the survey were analyzed and one-to-one interviews were completed to clarify and support survey results. Bivariate and multiple regression analysis were used to determine correlations between dimensions present in a school’s environment and their impact on student growth. The study found a statistically significant relationship between the dimensions of shared values and vision and shared personal practice and math growth. Although PLCA-R dimensions were not found to be statistically significant in predicting reading and math growth, the effect sizes were notable at 22.4% for reading growth and 15.8% for math growth. This study’s findings provide important information which educators can use to implement practical application of Professional Learning ...
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Student Teachers’ Changing Confidence in Teaching

Student Teachers’ Changing Confidence in Teaching

Date: May 2015
Creator: Stearns, Catherine L
Description: Research shows that student teachers find the mentor teacher and the student teaching experience itself the two most influential factors in their practicum experience. This study examined five student teachers and the two mentor teachers of each in elementary school settings within a metropolitan school district in North Texas. Lave and Wenger’s (1991, 2002) community of practice theory informed this study. Data sources included mentor teacher interviews, student teacher interviews, student teacher observations, student teacher/mentor teacher dialogue journals, and student teacher reflections. A collective case study approach was followed to gain a detailed understanding of the experiences of the five student teachers, looking specifically at their confidence in teaching and the factors associated with it. Findings indicated that the confidence in teaching of all five student teachers changed throughout their practicum experiences. Results suggested many factors influenced these changes. Student teachers shared that the student teaching experience, the grade level/subjects taught, their relationships with their students, and their relationships with their mentor teachers contributed to their confidence. The mentor teachers perceived that student teachers’ confidence could be influenced by consistency in classroom management and their interactions with their mentor teachers. Two areas of influence on student teacher confidence not uncovered ...
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Transfer From a UTeach Replication Site to the Classroom: A Study of First and Second Year Instructional Practices

Transfer From a UTeach Replication Site to the Classroom: A Study of First and Second Year Instructional Practices

Date: May 2015
Creator: Fields, Melanie
Description: Concerns based adoption model (CBAM) instruments were used to examine instructional practices of six graduates from a highly stylized, inquiry-based secondary math and science preparation program. Teachers were in the first or second years of teaching mathematics in six different secondary settings, ranging from poverty to wealthy schools. CBAM assumptions were tested. The primary assumption about concerns was that new teachers’ highest concerns would be within the self and task dimensions. According to Hall and Hord, it was assumed that the levels of use are typically in the orientation and preparation stages as a new teacher begins to implement an innovation, in the case of this study, inquiry-based instruction. All three instruments of the CBAM model were used for data collection and included: the Survey of Concerns Questionnaire, Innovation Components Configuration Map, and Levels of Use matrix. Teachers were observed, interviewed, and surveyed, three times each, across a five-month period. The findings from this study showed that the teachers had similar concerns and levels of use, which supported the assumptions outlined by the CBAM principles. Across the six teachers, the self and task concerns were high, aligning with the assumptions. However, unrelated and impact dimensions were noted, in opposition to ...
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Analysis of Texas Education Agency Commissioner of Education Decisions Regarding Superintendent, Associate Superintendent, School Administrator, Athletic Director and Central Office Administrator Term Contract Nonrenewal Appeals From 1983 to 2013

Analysis of Texas Education Agency Commissioner of Education Decisions Regarding Superintendent, Associate Superintendent, School Administrator, Athletic Director and Central Office Administrator Term Contract Nonrenewal Appeals From 1983 to 2013

Date: December 2014
Creator: Ramirez, Carlos
Description: I conducted a legal analysis of decisions by Texas Commissioners of Education in appeals by Texas school administrators from nonrenewal decisions made by Texas school districts from 1983 to 2013. I analyzed the findings of fact and conclusions of law described in the commissioners’ rulings to determine the legal basis of school districts’ decisions to nonrenew school administrators’ term employment contracts. I also examined the legal rationale for commissioners’ rulings and determined which party most commonly prevailed in these administrative proceedings—the respondent school district or the petitioner school administrator. In particular, the study determined factors that contributed to commissioners’ decisions to overrule or support school districts’ nonrenewal decisions. A careful review of commissioner decisions, which are accessible on the Texas Education Association website, identified 44 commissioner decisions involving appeals by superintendents, associate superintendents, public school administrators, athletic directors, or central office administrators concerning school districts’ term contract nonrenewal decisions from 1983 to 2013. Commissioners’ decisions in these cases were surveyed using legal research methods. This study provides recommendations to assist local education agencies to refine current policies and regulations regarding the nonrenewal of administrators’ term contracts, and provides insight on Texas Commissioners’ rulings on term contract nonrenewal appeals brought by ...
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