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“Being Wholly Muslim and Wholly American”: Exploring One Islamic School’s Efforts to Educate Against Extremism

Description: This article reports findings from a qualitative case study of an Islamic school in the United States that counters religious extremism through the promotion and development of an American Muslim identity in its students, an ideology that advances the idea that an individual can be wholly American and wholly Muslim without any incongruity.
Date: 2017
Creator: Brooks, Melanie C. & Ezzani, Miriam
Partner: UNT College of Education

Leadership and the Influences of Teacher Absenteeism

Description: This study explored campus principals' leadership behaviors and leadership styles to determine possible influences of leadership on teacher absences. The study was viewed through the framework of Bass and Avolio's (1985) transformational and transactional leadership styles. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire Self-Report (MLQ-SR) was used to identify principals' perceptions of their leadership styles. Absence data were also collected and analyzed for the school years (2012-2013, 2013-2014, and 2014-2015). Data were triangulated using one-on-one interviews with selected principals and teacher focus group discussions. The findings from this study verified that leadership style (described in terms of leadership behaviors) influenced teacher absenteeism indirectly through the culture and climate of the campus. Future research is recommended to discover whether incentive programs decrease teacher absenteeism and how leaders can influence their organizations through their behaviors.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Ayala, Lori
Partner: UNT Libraries

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
Partner: UNT Libraries

District Leadership Supporting PLC Implementation in a Rapid Growth District

Description: A growing body of work has emerged regarding the responsibilities required of district leaders in establishing plans that initiate and create conditions for sustainability of continuous improvement achieved through a systemic reform structure such as professional learning communities. However, limited research exists in respect to sustaining cultures of continuous improvement in rapid growth districts. Rapid growth districts can be described as school systems, which construct and open multiple campuses annually. The underlying premise of this study considered how humans interact with one another within a rapidly changing professional organization. Change theory, professional capital, organizational learning theory, and system reform emerge as the conceptual framework in this study of district support of professional learning communities. Data collection for this qualitative descriptive case study included interviewing six K-12 principals, administering the PLCA-DS survey to 247 K-12 staff members, and document review. Recognition of the importance of the PLC framework, building capacity, development of collaborative culture, and issues resulting from constant change due to rapid growth were the four themes generated by the participants to support continuous improvement in a rapid growth district. The four themes combined with the components of the conceptual framework outline how district leaders in a rapidly changing environment cultivate a process leading to system-wide improvement.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Tinsley, Laurie Huffman
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Longitudinal Impact of Technology Immersion Through a One-to-One Mobile Technology Program on Reading and Math Performance in a Rural Title I Public School District

Description: In conjunction with the Texas Technology Immersion Pilot program (TIP), the State of Texas implemented a four-year annual evaluation called the Evaluation of the Texas Technology Immersion Pilot (eTxTiP). It focused on the technology immersion experience through one-to-one mobile technology of sixth grade students in 22 selected middle schools. Initial findings suggested academic growth, especially in math, increased rigor of student work, greater teacher collaboration, a more positive school environment, and transformation of instructional practices. This study focused on one of the original schools selected to participate in the TIP program, exploring the impact over time of one-to-one mobile technology on one group of students over an 8-year period beginning with their third grade year. The selected school’s demographic makeup reflected a large number of schools within the state, including its size, rural location and economically disadvantaged student population. Based on an interrupted time series design, state assessment data was analyzed using a piecewise growth model. The study revealed no statistically significant academic growth in reading and math performance among the participants.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Ice, Laura R.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Organizational Behavior: Perceptions Analysis of Micro and Macro Organizational Behavior in an Organizational Setting

Description: Understanding organizational behavior (OB) has profoundly influenced organizational performance and how people behave in organizations. Researchers have suggested various micro and macro organizational behaviors to be the impetus for high-performing organizations. Through a policy capturing approach this study builds on these findings by specifically examining the perceptions of micro and macro organizational behaviors in an organizational setting. The participants (n =181) completed a Micro and Macro Organizational Behavior Perceptions Questionnaire. Results showed perception differences exist between subordinates and supervisors. Additionally, participants perceived job satisfaction to be the most important micro organizational behavior, whereas organizational design was perceived to be the most important macro organizational behavior. However when comparing hierarchal positions in the organization, supervisors weighted leadership as the most important and subordinates weighted job satisfaction as the most important organizational behavior. While these findings only scratch the surface as to how organizational behavior is perceived, the implications challenge leaders to close the OB perception gap. Correspondingly, organizational behavior thinking may result in improving individual and organizational performance.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Delich, Joshua T.
Partner: UNT Libraries

District Support: Strategies for Building Capacity in Elementary Principals in a Rapid Growth District

Description: The purpose of this descriptive case study was to examine the role of the central office staff and the strategies used to support capacity building in elementary principals in a rapid growth district. By synthesizing research and models from education reform scholars, the conceptual framework of professional capital, intrinsic motivation, the educational change process, and professional learning communities was generated to advance the understanding of utilizing PLCs as a foundation for central office to initiate and sustain continuous improvement in a rapid growth district. The Professional Learning Community Assessment - District Support developed by Olivier, Huffman, and Cowan was administered to 126 participants within the curriculum and instruction department and three elementary schools to collect data to analyze the five dimensions of PLCs within the school district. Eleven interviews were conducted with members of the curriculum and instruction department and elementary principals. According to the eleven interviewees, and PLCA-DS, six themes emerged to support the role of capacity building in elementary principals using the PLC model as a framework. The PLC infrastructure, supportive central office, collaborative culture, continuous improvement, differentiated opportunities to learn, and data use were the six themes generated by the participants to support continuous improvement in elementary principals. Each of the five PLC dimensions were visible throughout the themes as the findings illustrated six key practices currently in motion within the rapid growth school district used to build capacity in elementary principals.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Jamar, Jacye
Partner: UNT Libraries

School District Actions that Support the Development of Professional Learning Communities in High Schools

Description: A gap exists in education research in the area of district support for campus-based professional learning communities (PLCs). The current study was an examination of practitioner perceptions of district structures and practices that support the development and sustainability of PLCs in public high schools. I examined the perceptions of 341 teachers, campus administrators, and district administrators in a suburban North Texas public school district with three comprehensive high schools. Using a sequential mixed-method design, quantitative data from an electronic survey and qualitative data from face-to-face interviews were collected and analyzed. The findings revealed a generally positive view of central office support among the participants, including consistent ratings from each high school, each campus-level position, each content area, and each level of experience in the district. There was some misalignment of perceptions between campus-level and district-level staff. The study also uncovered a set of best and worst district practices, the six PLC strengtheners and six PLC inhibitors, which were synthesized into a set of recommendations and guidelines for district support for high school PLCs. From participant feedback, I concluded district support is needed and desired by high school practitioners and there are specific district practices and structures that are most effective. While the study results provide a practical set of recommendations for school districts for supporting high school PLC efforts, expanded research is necessary to confirm transferability to school districts of diverse sizes, locations, and demographics.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Axelson, Gregory Carl
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Case Study of Mathematics Teachers' Use of Short-Cycle Formative Assessment Strategies

Description: A single case study was used to examine two middle grades mathematics teachers' use of short-cycle formative assessment strategies. Data was collected using multiple sources to provide a description of this single case. Participant change in knowledge of short-cycle formative assessment strategies was collected and analyzed through participant pre- and post-interviews and targeted instructional support was provided through professional development sessions designed to meet diverse needs of participants. Participant change in use of short-cycle formative assessment strategies was collected and analyzed through classroom observations using Assess Today observation protocol and targeted instructional support was provided through post-observation conferences with written feedback. Findings from the study verified that changes in teachers' use of short-cycle formative assessment strategies were positively influenced by the targeted instructional support provided to each participant during the study. The study further indicated that an assessment of teacher's present knowledge and use of short-cycle formative assessment strategies should be considered before providing targeted instructional support to maximize the learning potential for each teacher. Future research is needed regarding the importance of building student self-efficacy through teacher use of short-cycle formative assessment, as well as the importance of involving students in the formative assessment process.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Davis, Adreana A
Partner: UNT Libraries

Professional Learning Communities: A Comparative Case Study of Shared Personal Practice

Description: Effective instructional practice has a significant impact on student learning. Shared personal practice within a professional learning team (PLT) is one of the key elements in consistently improved instructional practice. However, this PLT characteristic is often the least evident and the hardest to absorb into PLT culture. This study examined the relational characteristics, facilitating factors, or barriers to shared personal practice within a PLT. Two PLTs in core subject areas across two Texas high school campuses were included in this comparative case study. Data from document analysis, PLC observations, focus group interviews, and in-depth individual interviews were examined thematically to answer the research questions guiding this study. The results of this study revealed that building strong relationships and an emphasis on collective creativity were strong predictors of sharing personal practice. Collective clarity on PLT practices and the purpose of sharing personal practice increased the success and occurrence of sharing personal practice. The results also revealed that the copious tasks of teaching and negative perceptions of being observed by colleagues hindered consistent sharing of personal practice. This study describes the current context of shared personal practice as a foundation for future studies to examine how practice can be transformed.
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Date: August 2017
Creator: Curtis, Anna E
Partner: UNT Libraries

What are the Experiences of African American Female Principals in High-Poverty Urban Schools?

Description: The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of African American female principals serving in high-poverty urban schools. This study was warranted due to the growing number of African American female principal leaders in urban schools over the last 20 years. School leaders in urban school districts are expected to increase academic achievement, support district initiatives, and foster the development of urban communities. The study results will serve as a source of information to educators on similar journeys.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Carson, Dayanna Vontresea
Partner: UNT Libraries

Parental Perceptions of Marketing to Young Children: a Feminist Poststructural Perspective

Description: This study examined parental perceptions of marketing to young children using a feminist post-structural theoretical framework to specifically examine the following questions, 1) To what extent are parents aware of the marketing tactics being directed toward young children? 2) How do power/knowledge relations and practices produce parent’s multiple subjectivities as they parent their children in regards to commercial culture? 3) How can early childhood educators adapt pedagogy and practice in order to meet the needs of children growing up within the context of a commercialized childhood? In-depth unstructured interviews revealed that parents within this study tend to view themselves as solely responsible for their children and do not support governmental regulation of the advertising industry. In most cases, the parents in the study empathized with marketers trying to sell their products to children. Furthermore, while participants in this study were concerned about how consumer culture influences children’s subjectivities, they were more concerned about “adult content” than corporate access to children. Many of the parental perceptions uncovered mirror neoliberal discourses including an emphasis on individual responsibility, the belief that government regulation is censorship and the privileging of economic rationale by systematically representing children as sources of profit. This study utilized Deleuzean and Foucauldian concepts in order to make visible the practices and discourses that discipline children and parents as consumers within the United States neoliberal assemblage(s). This analysis also revealed the very contradictions and complexities that are dramatically shaping parents and young children within the United States’ consumer cultural landscape(s).
Date: May 2014
Creator: Wolff, Kenya E.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Impact of School-Wide Positive Behavior Intervention Supports for African American Males in American Public Schools

Description: Research has shown that African American males are performing poorly in American public schools and are disciplined at a higher rate than other ethnic and gender groups. Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) has a long history of success with individual students and more recently in school-wide settings. School-wide PBIS offers schools the ability to tailor their rules, rewards, and consequences to the specific needs and culture of a school. This descriptive and quantitative study sought to determine if implementation with fidelity of SWPBIS positively correlated to reduced disciplinary measures. The object of this study was to determine in what ways disciplinary rates for African American males differ in American public schools that identify as using SWPBIS with fidelity as compared to American public schools that do not implement SWPBIS with fidelity. Disciplinary rates examined included ISS, OSS single incident, and OSS multiple incidents. Descriptive findings indicated that schools that implement SWPBIS show a lower rate of ISS and OSS incidents for African American males. The quantitative findings did not yield a statistically significance between schools with fidelity of implementation of SWPBIS and schools without fidelity of implementation of SWPBIS.
Date: December 2014
Creator: Luttrull, Pamelia D.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Trends in Special Education Due Process Hearings in Texas from 2010-2015: School, Parent, and Social Justice Issues that Inform a Principal's Decision-Making

Description: This study explores all due process hearings that occurred in Texas public school districts from 2010-2015. Special attention was paid to the reasons for the hearings within the legal reports addressed and their outcomes. The study was conducted using a quantitative approach involving a legal document content analysis of due process hearings to select the participants to be interviewed with a qualitative semi-structured interview protocol. Following this process, nine participants from one district were interviewed. Responses were then analyzed for themes and patterns using qualitative methods, and conclusions were drawn based on the data. The study found that campus and central office administrators believed socio-economic levels, lack of empathy shown to parents, and distrust contributed to parents' decisions to file due process complaints or litigation. They also believed that placement decisions influenced by student discipline, parent denial about the impact of the disability on children, and parent entitlement played a role. Lastly, the nine participants found that parent advocacy and communication were strong contributors to the amount of due process hearings held at Evergreen ISD.
Date: December 2017
Creator: Poton, Marcy Rose
Partner: UNT Libraries

School System Improvement through Building Leadership, Adult Learning, and Capacity: A Consideration of Instructional Rounds as a Systemic Improvement Practice

Description: The problem of the study was determining the supportive conditions related to instructional rounds (rounds) to understand better what conditions may allow for sustained systemic improvement over time. Three Texas school districts were studied to understand the perceptions of district leaders, principals, teacher leaders, and teachers with regard to the sustainability of instructional rounds as a systemic improvement practice, the supportive conditions necessary for sustainability, the salient characteristics that differentiated rounds from other improvement practices, and the potential of rounds to build organizational capacity. Observation of network rounds visits and document analysis was conducted to determine alignment of perception with observation and documents. Findings include perceptions, themes, and critical factors for the sustainability of rounds as an effective systemic improvement practice. Supportive conditions emerged as the most significant perception expressed by the participants. Implications for action for school districts beginning or continuing implementation of instructional rounds are suggested based upon findings from participant perceptions and observation of networks. Suggestions for future research are shared. With supportive conditions in place, instructional rounds has the potential to serve as an effective systemic improvement practice.
Date: December 2017
Creator: Warnock, Teresa Georgeanne
Partner: UNT Libraries

Practices that Influence Instructional Coaches' Perceptions of Effectiveness

Description: As instructional coaches are being implemented across the country, their purpose is reviewed, as well as which types of instructional coaching tend to have the most impact on teachers' instructional growth. In this study, I explored instructional coaching and coaches' perceived effectiveness as they work with teachers. A look at the effect of non-evaluative feedback with an instructional coach, and how that helps sustain teachers' pedagogical practice, is taken into consideration as coaches' work towards developing teacher efficacy. I examined instructional coaching through the conceptual framework of professional development and change. This qualitative study included a focus group, personal narratives, and individual interviews to analyze the components of successful instructional coaching models, and how well instructional coaches feel supported as they work with teachers. Findings demonstrated that instructional coaches perceive their work with teachers to be effective and provided information on the practices and conditions that surround their work. The information gained from the study provides a resource for district leaders to evaluate a current coaching model program, or implement a new coaching model program, within their district.
Date: December 2017
Creator: Koehler, Laura Yvette
Partner: UNT Libraries

Supportive Systems for Building Capacity of the Elementary Instructional Coach

Description: The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine the systems in place to build the capacity of elementary instructional coaches in a fast-growth district. Through syntheses of research from educational scholars, the conceptual framework was developed with a focus on building capacity of instructional coaches in an ever-changing environment of fast-growth through the lens of professional learning communities, human and social capital, and support from district and campus administration. This study assessed the perceptions of six instructional coaches, six principals, and six district leaders from Rose ISD regarding the school district's support for building the capacity of instructional coaches within the elementary instructional coaching program. The three-part data collection process included document analysis, in-depth interviews, and focus group interviews to support triangulation of data. Through the a priori coding process, the following four themes emerged that highlight key components needed to support district leaders in establishing systems to build the capacity of instructional coaches in an ever-changing environment caused by fast growth: structured time for professional learning, program clarity, collaborative support systems, and implementation of a professional learning community framework. This study revealed a specific need to further understand systems for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the instructional coaching program in an ever-changing environment of a fast-growth district.
Date: December 2017
Creator: Fiori, Christy
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Effect of Professional Learning Communities on Perceived Teacher Self-Efficacy

Description: This qualitative case study examined the effect of PLCs on teacher self-efficacy, and whether the type of PLC structure on each campus affected efficacy. The overarching research question that guided the study was, to what extent does perceived teacher self-efficacy change as a result of the practice of PLCs? Participants were selected using purposive and convenience sampling. Ten teachers and two principals on two different campuses participated in teacher focus groups and one-on-one principal interviews, respectively. The available literature on the topics of professional development, professional learning, teacher collaboration, and teacher self-efficacy yielded the discovery that collaborative practices can be used to improve a school and/or district or used to enhance positive practices that already occur. This study adds to the body of research as it develops the area of teacher efficacy and influence of PLCs. Using the coding software, NVivo, focus group data were coded into themes and further comparisons were made with categories derived and saturated until conclusions were drawn. The data show teacher self-efficacy increases as a result of PLCs when teachers are able to experience positive feedback from teammates, shared leadership, trust and honesty, and a freedom to fail. For those teachers who are not on a campus where PLCs are present, the data suggest they created their own PLCs as the need arose. These teachers experienced all of the same benefits of those teachers on a campus where a formal PLC structure exited; however, their stress level was higher.
Date: May 2018
Creator: Prince, Coryn Elizabeth
Partner: UNT Libraries

Socially Just Principals' Pursuit of Cultural Proficiency

Description: The purpose of this research was to explore how the personal and professional experiences of school leaders strengthened or hindered their ability to engage in social justice leadership to advance educational equity and encourage culturally proficient practices in their schools. I employed a descriptive multi-case study and the research was viewed through a conceptual framework that included social justice, equity, and the five elements of cultural proficiency. Five principals from three different school districts were selected as participants. They represented elementary, middle and high schools. Interviews consisted of semi-structured face to face interviews with each principal participant and one focus group interview with five participants. Each participant also provided a cultural autobiography. Findings revealed while principals may care deeply about providing equitable opportunities for students, the interest does not supplement knowledge, skills, experience, and support. The information gained from this study can inform the practice of school leaders, and the way in which districts and programs of educational leadership prepare school leaders to serve and address the needs of all students as public schools become more culturally diverse.
Date: May 2018
Creator: Kelly, Elizabeth
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Identification and Placement of Latino Students in Advanced Mathematics Courses

Description: Using a phenomenological approach, this qualitative study examined the perspectives of Latino parents and their involvement in the decision of their child to enroll in an advanced mathematics course in sixth grade. Since enrollment in Algebra I in high school is said to be a strong predictor of college attainment and with the growing number of Latino students across the nation, this study has the potential to help district and campus leaders establish whole-school systems for communicating with Latino parents to encourage their children to enroll in advanced mathematics courses at earlier grades. Participants in this study included four sixth-grade students enrolled in an advanced mathematics course, four enrolled in regular mathematics, their mother or father, two mathematics teachers, a school counselor, and two district administrators. Data analyzed included audio recordings of semi-structured interviews of each of the participants. The findings suggested that the district has proactively developed a systematic process of creating that includes six data points to create a student profile of students that will do well in advanced mathematics. This process is helping the district close the gap between total Latino school enrollment and the enrollment of Latino students in advanced mathematics. The findings also suggested that specific communication with parents about the importance of enrollment trajectories might influence the enrollment of students into advanced mathematics courses at earlier grades.
Date: May 2018
Creator: Blanchard, Myrna Elizabeth
Partner: UNT Libraries