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An Investigation of Preservice Teachers' Understanding of Buoyancy

Description: The purpose of this study was to examine the conceptual understandings of 55 elementary preservice teachers for the concept of buoyancy. This study used Ausubel’s Assimilation Theory (Ausubel, 1963) as a framework for a 15-week intervention that used pre/post concept maps (Cmaps), pre/post face-to-face semi-structured interviews, and drawings as evidences for change of formation of cognitive structures. Using a convergent parallel design and mixed methods approach, preservice teachers’ conceptions were analyzed using these evidences. Results of the study show that preservice teachers held both scientific conceptions and misconceptions about buoyancy as a force before and after an instructional intervention. Of importance were the existence of robust misconceptions about buoyancy that included inaccurate scientific knowledge about the foundational concepts of gravity, weight, mass, and density. The largest gains in scientific knowledge included the concepts of gravity, surface area, opposing forces, and the buoyant force. These concepts were consistently supported with evidence from post-concept maps, post, semi-structured interviews, and drawings. However, high frequencies of misconceptions were associated with these same aforementioned concepts as well as additional misconceptions about buoyancy-related concepts (i.e., weight, density, displacement, and sinking/floating). A paired t test showed a statistically significant difference (t = -3.504, p = .001) in the total number of scientifically correct concepts for the pre-concept maps (M = 0.51, SD = .879) and post-concept maps (M = 1.25, SD = 1.542). The Cohen’s d effect size was small, .47. Even through gains for the pre/post concept maps were noted, a qualitative analysis of the results indicated that not only were there serious gaps in the participant’s scientific understanding of buoyancy, after the instructional intervention an increased number of misconceptions were presented alongside the newly learned concepts. A paired t test examining misconceptions showed that there was a statistically significant difference (t = -3.160, p = ...
Date: May 2016
Creator: Kirby, Benjamin

Teaching Beyond the Walls: A Mixed Method Study of Prospective Elementary Teachers’ Belief Systems About Science Instruction

Description: This mixed method study investigated K-6 teacher candidates' beliefs about informal science instruction prior to and after their experiences in a 15-week science methods course and in comparison to a non-intervention group. The study is predicated by the literature that supports the extent to which teachers' beliefs influence their instructional practices. The intervention integrated the six strands of learning science in informal science education (NRC, 2009) and exposed candidates to out-of-school-time environments (NRC, 2010). Participants included 17 candidates in the intervention and 75 in the comparison group. All were undergraduate K-6 teacher candidates at one university enrolled in different sections of a required science methods course. All the participants completed the Beliefs about Science Teaching (BAT) survey. Reflective journals, drawings, interviews, and microteaching protocols were collected from participants in the intervention. There was no statistically significant difference in pre or post BAT scores of the two groups; However, there was a statistically significant interaction effect for the intervention group over time. Analysis of the qualitative data revealed that the intervention candidates displayed awareness of each of the six strands of learning science in informal environments and commitment to out-of-school-time learning of science. This study supports current reform efforts favoring integration of informal science instructional strategies in science methods courses of elementary teacher education programs.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Asim, Sumreen

Transfer of Instructional Practices From Freedom Schools to the Classroom

Description: The instructional practices of three current classroom teachers who formerly served as Servant Leader Interns (SLIs) in the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools (CDFFS) Program were examined. Haskell (2001) outlined eleven principles of transfer of learning, which were used to survey the levels of transfer established from service in Freedom Schools to practice in the traditional classroom. Individual surveys, The Freedom School Pedagogies Teacher Observation Record (FSPTOR) along with interviews of each participant were used for data collection; all three components were used to triangulate the findings. The findings from this study verified that low transfer was observed when the minimal application of the principles of learning was applied. This study revealed that for transfer to occur at high levels, it is imperative that adherence to all 11 principals is made, and the understanding of transfer, the application of transfer, and reflection on transfer are implemented. If the transfer of instructional practices is a goal of CDFFS for SLIs, the CDFFS program should consider implementing transfer of learning theory in future SLI training.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Stanford, Myah D

Exploring the Dual-natured Impact of Digital Technology on Student-classroom Engagement in a Texas Public High School

Description: The past decade has become rife with an eagerness to integrate new digital technology into teaching. While there have been decades of research done on the importance of curriculum and pedagogy on student engagement, findings of actual technology integration are scarce. Moreover, what does it take to engage students in classroom activities and lessons when technology is introduced? The purpose of this study was to explore how digital technology, when integrated into classroom teaching and activities, impacted the students-classroom engagement based on the interim-cognitive, meta-cognitive, motivational, and behavioral markers. This was explored in a Texas public high school across the four core classes (English, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Data was collected in the form of observational field notes, transcripts of recorded lessons, and Likert-scaled surveys. Thematic analysis was used in analyzing qualitative data, Pearson’s correlation of those components found by factor analysis verified three of the five themes identified from the thematic analysis with statistical significance. The findings suggest that mere use of technology does not have a profound impact on student engagement. Instead, technology tends to amplify the existing classroom culture and social norms agreed upon between the teacher and their students. Texas teachers and students are also redefining the meaning of curriculum to include technology as a result of the attempted integration. This research finds that students’ hands-on activities under teachers’ guidance with the use of technology excel when teachers are molding digital work.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Ayers, Joseph J.

Does an Online Post-baccalaureate Secondary Teacher Certification Program Produce Certified Teachers Who Remain in the Field?

Description: Given issues in education concerning teacher shortages, the omnipresence of alternative certification programs and the growth of online programs in higher education, this study investigated teacher retention for 77 secondary education teachers who completed an online teacher preparation program in Texas. Teacher retention was examined from 2003-2013 and investigated the influence of factors such personal characteristics, working conditions and school setting characteristics on teacher retention. Data was collected electronically utilizing a survey instrument designed by two teacher education experts and I. A total of 21 variables and two open-ended questions were investigated using the survey instrument. Exploratory factor and hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted to identify a multi-factor model for teacher retention utilizing the participants' survey responses. These analyses yielded evidence of the program's effectiveness in preparing teachers for long careers. Specifically, the areas of program support, field experience, and classroom management were statistically significant factors that contributed positively to teacher retention. Additionally, variables outside the program, were examined. These factors included personal characteristics, working conditions, and school setting factors. The predictor model accounted for 56% of the variance; F (17, 54) = 3.015; p = < 0.001. In particular, working conditions contributed to 41% of the variance associated with the teacher retention model. A qualitative analysis of open-ended survey questions was used to further examine decisions to remain in teaching. Support of administration, colleagues, staff, and parents was shown to influence teacher retention.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Brooks, Kanini Wanjira Ward

Elementary Pre-service Teachers’ Perceptions and Experiences of Mathematics Intervention and Response to Intervention Practices

Description: Response to intervention has become a widely implemented early intervention and pre-referral program in many schools due to the reauthorization of the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Limited studies exist that validate how teacher preparation programs are preparing the next generation of teachers to assess students, apply early academic interventions, monitor progress, and make educational decisions for students with learning difficulties as part of an RTI program. The purpose of this study was to examine elementary pre-service teachers’ perceptions and experiences in a mathematics intervention project (MIP), as part of a university mathematics methods course as related to RTI practices. Data were collected from multiple sources, including: Seidman’s three-step interview series with pre-service participants and course instructors, document analysis of the Mathematics Interactions Project (MIP) students’ responses, mathematics methods course syllabi, and observations of the mathematics methods course instruction. Haskell’s transfer theory was used as the framework from which to analyze the data. It was assumed that if a majority of the 11 principles of meaningful transfer were addressed, higher levels of transfer from university instruction to intervention instruction would be observed during the MIP. Findings indicate differences in RTI understanding according to elementary education degree plan. Candidates in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program did not demonstrate a strong foundational understanding of RTI, evidenced by a lower level of transfer about RTI. Alternately, pre-service teachers in the special education degree plan had a stronger foundational knowledge of RTI, discussed how RTI learning was supported, and had more experiences to implement RTI (principles 1, 7, and 9). Pre-service teachers in the Special Education (SPED) certification degree plan demonstrated a higher level of transfer since more of the principles were met; this was foundational in Haskell’s transfer theory. Implications are that elementary education programs, and particularly projects such ...
Date: August 2015
Creator: Hurlbut, Amanda Renee

Physical Activity Impact on Executive Function and Academic Achievement with Elementary Students

Description: This study tested the hypothesis that daily physical activity improves the executive function and academic achievement of 9- to 11-year-old children. The quasi-experimental, pretest–posttest design included 60 eligible fourth and fifth grade students (51.7% female, 98% Hispanic; 10.26 years of age). Twenty-five students elected to participate in school day, zero-hour (1 hour before school starts) physical activity program for 8 weeks. The 35 students who did not sign up for the program served as the control group as masked data provided by the school. Standardized measures, Adele Diamond flanker task and the Wide Range Achievement Test 4, assessed executive function and academic achievement, respectively. Repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to determine differences between groups on executive function and academic achievement. There were no observable benefits from daily physical activity on executive function and academic achievement. Convenience sampling and voluntary attendance potentially limited the effect of exercise on performance.
Date: August 2015
Creator: O’Brien, Caroline Clark

Student and Family Perspectives on Gifted and Advanced Academics Participation for African American High School Students

Description: Many students and their families do not understand the impact of students’ involvement in gifted or advanced academics educational programs and their potentially positive effects and challenges. Nationally African American students are underrepresented in gifted and advanced academics courses in high schools; however, African American students and families often do not advocate for their inclusion in these educational pathways. A survey of literature supporting this study of voices of African American families concerning gifted and advanced academics participation focused on (1) the historical underpinnings for equity and excellence for African American and for gifted and advanced academics learners, (2) how the lack of an agreed upon definition of gifted and advanced academics by the professional field might contribute to the problem, and (3) how African American parents made educational decisions for and with their children, especially concerning college. Employing semi-structured interviews and a focus group, this qualitative case study examined how four students from each of three groups, gifted and talented, advanced academics, and neither, and a representative group of their parents perceived these programs and their children’s involvement in them within the framework provided by a single school district. African American families in this study asked for a partnership to support their children in building resiliency to choose and remain in gifted and advanced academics programs. Students reported that they could access more rigorous coursework if they were supported by mentoring peers, in addition to informed family and educators. The matching intonations and word choices of the children and parents suggested academic success pathways as students carried the voices of their families with them.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Zeske, Karen

Supporting Mathematics Understanding Through Funds of Knowledge

Description: Parents are often criticized for the types of roles they play in their children’s education. Rather than assuming parents do not contribute to their children’s learning, this study identified the various ways Hispanic parents support mathematics learning in the home. Using a funds of knowledge lens, the history, practices, and experiences of families that contributed to their children’s mathematics understanding was explored. The purpose of this study was to identify the unique funds of knowledge among three Hispanic families living in the same city, specifically, how parents supported their children’s mathematics learning through funds of knowledge. Five Hispanic parents from three households participated in a series of three home interviews. The semi--‐structured interviews addressed family, school, and educational history of the parents, routines of the household, and perceived roles parents played in their children’s mathematics learning. Participants contributed to their children’s mathematics learning through various funds of knowledge including time management, music, sports, construction, shopping, and cooking. Participating parents shared knowledge with their children through questioning and discussion, providing experiences, and promoting practice. In this study, participants valued education and supported their children’s mathematics learning at home and school activities. This study contributes to the existing funds of knowledge research by expanding the work on how Hispanic parents support mathematics learning.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Williams, Julie J

Teachers’ Concerns and Uses of Ipads in the Classroom with the Concerns-based Adoption Model

Description: The purpose of this study was to examine the role of high school teachers’ concerns, willingness, aptitude, and use of iPads in the classroom during the adoption of a new technology. The design of this case study included a sample of eight teachers from the English, math, science, and history departments who were surveyed, observed, and interviewed using the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM). This study is guided by three research questions: (1) What are teachers’ concerns about using iPads in the high school English, math, science, and history classrooms? (2) What are teachers’ levels of iPad use in the English, math, science, and history classrooms? (3) What are teachers’ pedagogical practices as they use iPads in the English, math, science, and history classrooms? To research these questions, the study measured teacher concerns with the triangulation of three diagnostic instruments from the Concerns-Based Adoption Model: the Stages of Concern Questionnaire (SoCQ), the Innovation Configurations Map (IC Map), and the Levels of Use (LoU) matrix. The CBAM model was used to address the scarcity of literature regarding iPad use in content-area classrooms. The findings from the research show that the impact of introducing a new technology is more multifaceted than previously assumed. A teacher’s inclination and skill to use a new technology with their students varies considerably within a school and different approaches are observed across subject areas such as English, math, science, and history. When the Concerns-Based Adoption Model is used in organizational change, teacher concerns are revealed, which leads to finding opportunities for intervention and support by change facilitators who help individuals progress in the adoption of an innovation.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Stewart, Gail

Funds of Knowledge and Early Literacy: A Case Study

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, and social experiences. Results further indicate that introduction of these familial FoK improved the oral language skills of prekindergarten students thus enhancing their early literacy development. Autoethnographic results indicate a personal progression toward not only understanding, but becoming an advocate, for the Hispanic population.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Butler, Ami R.

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

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 students, there was variability across students in use of the other strategies. With respect to changes in their spatial thinking, analyses of the sketch maps showed increases in elaboration and accuracy in terms of migration patterns. When GIS maps were compared to sketch maps, analyses showed relations for many students. The six students who served as case studies revealed major connections between personal interests and the reasoning employed in mapping. They also described their entry points into the process. The study shows how real-time data collection, including screen captures, as well as more static measures, specifically sketch maps, can provide ...
Date: May 2015
Creator: Webster, Megan L

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

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, although participants perceived English to be the language with which they were most at ease, they were also confident in their Spanish conversational abilities. Third, with respect to perceptions of language abilities, Spanish 2Pre-AP students noticed an increased ability in listening, speaking, and writing the language. In both courses, students’ receptive ability was one of the highest abilities. Receptive bilinguals reflected a sense of pride and passion for the language. They desired to improve their language through their own self-motivation as a way to connect with family. Fourth, and finally, in reporting on course contentment, participants expressed overall contentment with ...
Date: May 2015
Creator: Baker, Adelita Gonzales

Student Teachers’ Changing Confidence in Teaching

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 by other researchers were the quest of student teachers for perfection while teaching and the need of mentor teachers for control of the content presented by the student teachers, especially during the months prior to state-mandated testing. Implications of the study included the need for university supervisors to mediate between student teachers and mentor teachers in promoting shared ownership of student learning within that community of practice enabled by student teaching.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Stearns, Catherine L

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

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 the assumption. Likewise, assumptions of the levels of use were upheld in the orientation and preparation levels of use noted in the observations. Some mechanical levels of use were observed for a few of the teachers, an anomaly to the assumption.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Fields, Melanie

In-service Teacher Perception of Feedback From Formative Evaluation Within the Teacher Appraisal Process and Its Relationship to Teacher Self-efficacy

Description: The purpose of the study is to describe the current status of and the relationships between teacher self-efficacy and in-service teachers’ perceptions and/or attitudes of (a) the quantity and quality of feedback from formative evaluation, (b) toward feedback from formative evaluation, and (c) the impact of feedback from formative evaluation on teacher self-efficacy. In addition to calculating correlation coefficients, 6 teachers were interviewed – 2 each from high, medium, and low efficacy schools. The quantitative data reported low, positive correlations between all of the factors. Statistically significant correlations were found between 8 of the 12 factors including teacher attitudes toward feedback from formative evaluation and: overall Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (r = .302), student engagement (r = .309), instructional strategies (r = .237) and classroom management (r =.266). Other statistically significant correlations were found between teacher perceptions of the impact of feedback from formative evaluation and its relationship to self-efficacy and: overall Teachers’ Sense of Efficacy Scale (r = .295), Student Engagement (r = .300), Instructional Strategies (r = .209), and Classroom Management (r = .282). The face-to-face interviews and online focus group supported the quantitative findings as the participants reported that they value formative evaluation and feedback and deem it a necessary component of professional growth. Participants felt that they would benefit from an increased number of formative evaluations followed by specific, frequent and positive feedback. The participants indicated that their self-efficacy was not negatively impacted by infrequent observations and/or feedback that lacks detail.
Date: December 2014
Creator: Curran, Chaney L.

Measuring Teaching Effectiveness Using Value-Added and Observation Rubric Scores

Description: This mixed-methods study examined the extent to which teacher performance and student performance measures correlated, and to understand which specific practices of mathematics teachers in Grades 3-5 related to student performance. Research was conducted at five elementary schools in a large, urban north Texas school district. Data sources included component scores and recorded evidence from observation rubrics, interviews with campus administrators, and value-added modeling (VAM) student growth scores. Findings indicated a modest relationship between teacher performance levels and student performance levels. Lack of access to individual teacher VAM data, per district policy, might have impacted the strength of the relationship. Interviews with administrators and an examination of the evidence cited in the observation rubrics identified specific practices associated with highly rated mathematics teaching. Differences in administrators’ experience levels with both mathematics instruction and the observation instrument might have influenced rubric scores and the level of specificity shown in evidence statements.
Date: December 2014
Creator: McKenzie, Andrew

Beliefs of Mathematics Pre-service Teachers About Project-based Learning

Description: This study explored the beliefs of pre-service secondary mathematics teachers about project-based learning (PBL), as they encountered a project-based learning high school where they implemented a project-based unit of instruction. A qualitative study was conducted with one undergraduate cohort in a higher education science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) national initiative that has 40 U.S. replication sites. Using teaching philosophy statements and focus group discussions, the beliefs of STEM pre-service secondary teachers are made visible. The findings from this study reveal a recurring theme: the process of how these pre-service teachers seemed to evolve and mature as teachers, from novice toward becoming an expert, as they asked themselves internal questions that are common to developing teachers. These pre-service STEM teachers experienced 1) internal questions about their own growth as a potential teacher, as evidenced through their verbal and written statements; 2) tension between PBL content and pedagogy; and 3) tension between practice and theory. The findings also infer that there are potential critical variables that may contribute to pre-service teachers’ beliefs. Those variables identified were the following: 1) the sequence of when the project-based instruction (PBI) course was taken; 2) time, as related to when the participant took the PBI course in relationship to the final semester when they were engaged in apprentice teaching; and 3) the field placement location during the apprentice teaching semester.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Watson, Cindy Gay

Do Minutes Matter? Connecting Tardiness to Academic Achievement

Description: Within the scope of all that is expected to be accomplished in education, what difference does a tardy make? This study was designed to examine the significance of tardiness, as it relates to student achievement, as measured by the results of the state math test. It also investigated the generation of change by the campus administrator to improve punctuality, with a new method of enforcing the tardy policy with the use of an electronic data system. This study used archived data from the one high school in a suburban school district in Texas. From a student population of 2,631, two subject groups of 919 and 1,310 were determined. Spearman rho results confirmed a moderate inverse relationship between student tardiness and results on the state math test. Descriptive discriminant analysis indicated that tardiness contributed to 25% of the variance in the results on the state math test, when considered alone, and had a smaller contribution when considered with other variables. A visual review of the data portrayed an inverse relationship between the occurrences of tardiness and the pass/fail results on the state math test; as tardiness increased, passing rates decreased. Wilcoxon signed rank test results revealed a reduction in the magnitude of tardiness with the implementation of a new method of enforcing the tardy policy. Tardiness does impact academic achievement, as affirmed in this study. Also, the campus administrator can implement changes that improve punctuality. This study signified that the phenomenon of tardiness should be given greater consideration as a factor impacting both cognitive and non-cognitive development and endorsed that minutes do matter.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Taylor, Tresa S.

A Multiple Case Study of Two African American Female Administrators in High Achieving Elementary Schools

Description: African American female principals typically lead low socioeconomic elementary schools. Administrators in predominately urban schools are familiar with the needs of minority students. Although Title I funds are provided from the national government via local educational agencies (LEAs), this money is normally not enough to keep up with technology integration and programs of more affluent schools. Therefore, African American female administrators rely on culture to develop meaningful relationships with students, teachers, and parents and makeup for any financial hardships, which may exist during the transformation of urban elementary schools. Limited research is available on academic success in urban schools. Over the years, much of the focus has been on failure of underperforming schools with minority students and leaders. Additionally, there is a lack of research on the leadership of African American female school leaders. Thus, it is important to study successful African American female role models in urban schools. The purpose of this study was to examine transformational leadership skills evident in African American female principals at high-achieving, urban elementary schools. What are the transformational leadership skills evident in two African American female principals who work in high-achieving urban elementary schools? It was assumed that African American female principals applied some or all of the skills of transformational leadership when leading in two different urban elementary school settings. Successful transformational leadership can be categorized under the following four components 1) charismatic leadership (or idealized influence, CL or II), 2) inspirational motivation (IM), 3) intellectual stimulation (IS), and 4) individualized consideration (IC) (Avolio, Bass, & Jung, 1997). Results showed that African American female elementary school leaders displayed all tenets of the transformational leadership theory while leading high achieving campuses. However, the transformational leadership theoy was missing a cultural component from its doctrine.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Taylor, LaBotta

Teachers’ Perceptions of Their Responsibilities in Teaching Social Emotional Skills: a Case Study

Description: This study investigated the beliefs of teachers at a particular elementary campus in North Texas during its first year of implementation of a social emotional curriculum regarding teaching social emotional skills and the influence of those beliefs on their classroom practices. The study drew from the works of Dewey and Bandura in the development of a framework for teacher decision making. A case study design incorporating multiple cases within the case study utilized a mixed-methods approach for data collection and analysis. Ten teachers volunteered and participated in the quantitative data collection, and four of those ten participated in the qualitative data collection through interviews and classroom observations. Data collection methods also included a demographic survey, a questionnaire on teacher beliefs about social emotional learning, and a self-ranking scale of practices related to teaching social emotional skills. Results indicated that although all participants believed social emotional skills instruction was part of their duties as teachers, their practices in teaching social emotional skills varied. Additionally, there was a mismatch between participants’ self-identified practices and the practices that were observed during the study. Administrative support for program implementation was high, but did not necessarily translate to effective practices during the first year of implementation of a particular program. While not significant in this study, variation in teacher characteristics may be important.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Madueke, Nkechi A.

Examining the Relationship Between Persistence in Attendance in an Afterschool Program and an Early Warning Index for Dropout

Description: School districts constantly struggle to find solutions to address the high school dropout problem. Literature supports the need to identify and intervene with these students earlier and in more systemic ways. The purpose of this study was to conduct a longitudinal examination of the relationship between sustained afterschool participation and the host district’s early warning index (EWI) associated with school dropout. Data included 65,341 students participating in an urban school district’s after school program from school years 2000-2001 through 2011-2012. The district serves more than 80,000 students annually. Data represented students in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12, and length of participation ranged from 1 through 12 years. Results indicated that student risk increased over time and that persistent participation in afterschool programming had a significant relationship with student individual growth trajectories. Slower growth rates, as evidenced through successive models, supported students being positively impacted by program participation. Additionally, participation was more meaningful if students persisted, as noted in the lower EWI rates, as compared to students who attended less consistently.
Date: May 2014
Creator: King, Teresa C.

A Vygotskian Analysis of Preservice Teachers’ Conceptions of Dissolving and Density

Description: The purpose of this study was to examine the content knowledge of 64 elementary preservice teachers for the concepts of dissolving and density. Vygotsky’s (1987) theory of concept development was used as a framework to categorize concepts and misconceptions resulting from evidences of preservice teacher knowledge including pre/post concept maps, writing artifacts, pre/post face-to-face interviews, examination results, and drawings. Statistical significances were found for pre- and post-concept map scores for dissolving (t = -5.773, p < 0.001) and density (t = -2.948, p = 0.005). As measured using Cohen’s d values, increases in mean scores showed a medium-large effect size for (dissolving) and a small effect size for density. The triangulated results using all data types revealed that preservice teachers held several robust misconceptions about dissolving including the explanation that dissolving is a breakdown of substances, a formation of mixtures, and/or involves chemical change. Most preservice teachers relied on concrete concepts (such as rate or solubility) to explain dissolving. With regard to density, preservice teachers held two robust misconceptions including confusing density with buoyancy to explain the phenomena of floating and sinking, and confusing density with heaviness, mass, and weight. Most preservice teachers gained one concept for density, the density algorithm. Most preservice teachers who participated in this study demonstrated Vygotsky’s notion of complex thinking and were unable to transform their thinking to the scientific conceptual level. That is, they were unable to articulate an understanding of either the process of dissolving or density that included a unified system of knowledge characterized as abstract, generalizable, and hierarchical. Results suggest the need to instruct preservice elementary science teachers about the particulate nature of matter, intermolecular forces, and the Archimedes' principle.
Date: May 2014
Creator: Shaker elJishi, Ziad

A Descriptive Analysis of the Critical Thinking Model in Texas Elementary Education

Description: Contributions from elementary education to the practice and reality of critical thinking are rare, largely because attempts in basic education to elucidate a concept of critical thinking have a hard time breaking through the elusiveness and indeterminacy that characterize the history and reality of the concept. This situation is due to, and a consequence of, the difficulty of delimiting critical thinking from related fields, such as metacognition, higher-order-thinking, problem solving, informal logic, reasoning skills, and decision making, to name a few. Texas school authorities designed and put into practice a battery of tools to evaluate critical thinking through the assessment programs TAKS and STAAR, without taking a position regarding the indeterminacy problems of the content of critical thinking. The purpose of this study was to reconstruct the pieces of the critical thinking model imparted to Texas elementary school children since 1999 and continues today. The findings indicate that the critical thinking model implemented in Texas elementary schools is a particular version of a skills-only approach of critical thinking that follows the classical logical paradigm, consisting of two sets of complementary skills. This model acquaints students with the components and structure of five types of arguments while it fails to substantiate the logic of argument support that demonstrates how reasons support claims and the strength of support. The application of an adequacy conditions rubric showed the strengths of the model at the argumentation analysis level, yet it showed clear signs of incompleteness and inconsistencies at the argument structure level that distort its purpose and function.
Date: December 2013
Creator: Quijano, Oswaldo Jorge