Doctoral Dissertations

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    Examining the Acquisition and Implementation of Sensory Paths to Support Student’s On-Task Behavior
    (Austin Peay State University, 2021-08) Funderburk, Rachel Aisley
    This study sought to determine (a) the decision-making processes administrators and teachers followed when purchasing and implementing a sensory path intervention in elementary schools and (b) the perceived supports and barriers to the effective use of the sensory path as a means to positively impact student outcomes. Five elementary school administrators and 12 elementary school teachers in a single school district completed surveys; four administrators and five teachers participated in follow-up interviews. This study used an explanatory sequential mixed methods approach. Surveys were a secondary data source and were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Participants for the semistructured interviews, the main data source, were selected by intensity sampling. Interviews were analyzed using in vivo coding. Findings indicated that administrator and teacher decision making processes were informal, acquisition targeted students with disabilities but use expanded to other populations, and efficacy was based on anecdotal observations. Findings also indicated that sensory paths were perceived as being worthwhile but could have been improved with formal implementation plans and greater accessibility. Implications for research include study replication in additional contexts, as there is a paucity of research available on sensory paths and their use in K-12 schools. Implications for practice include the need for formal fidelity of implementation plans and data collection plans, to determine efficacy, prior to the purchase of interventions and for acquisition decisions to include verification of an intervention as an evidence-based practice. Keywords: sensory path, decision-making processes, students with disabilities, diffusion of innovation, fidelity of implementation
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    (Austin Peay State University, 2022-08) Richards, Toni Lynne
    New teachers, or those within their first 5 years of teaching, have an attrition rate of 40% compared to the experienced teacher attrition rate of 8% (NCES, 2012; Taie & Goldring, 2020). Induction programs with organizational supports for novice teachers are in many districts, it is important to conduct program evaluations to review the perceived helpfulness of the programs (Davis & Higdon, 2008). The purposes of this mixed methods sequential explanatory study are to determine (a) the fidelity to which the district induction program was implemented, (b) which components of the district induction program novice teachers describe as most useful to their professional growth, and (c) the ways in which the district mentoring process was useful to novice teachers’ professional growth. Participants were 33 novice teachers in one Middle Tennessee school district during the 2018–2019, 2019–2020, and 2020–2021 school years. Most participants identified as White, non-Hispanic (n = 30), 21–25 years old (n = 18), and attended a traditional 4-year teacher preparation program (n = 20). Thirty-three novice teachers completed Likert-type surveys, which were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Five participants completed semistructured interviews, which were analyzed manually using thematic coding. Findings indicated that attendance at the novice teacher induction program was inconsistent, due to unclear administration expectations, timing and location of meetings, and late hiring dates. Participants spoke about the induction program and district-assigned mentors related to classroom management, lesson planning, expectations of administration, and the role of mentor. Implications for research include investigating differing perceptions and needs of traditional certification and alternative certification teachers, the correlation between program attendance and teacher attrition, and effective novice teacher supports in rural or fringe districts. Implications for practice include training mentors on constructive feedback and the use of the evaluation system, updating program content annually based on participant feedback, providing late hires and conflicting work schedules alternate ways to receive program content, and having consistent expectations from the district and school-based administration regarding program attendance. Keywords: novice teachers, teacher induction, mentoring, professional growth, program evaluation
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    Save Now, Pay Later? The Effects of Adjunct Instructors on Performance-Based Funding
    (Austin Peay State University, 2022-08) Michael, Allison Brooke
    This study examined the connection of faculty status and impacts on student success metrics and performance-based funding outcomes. While the topics of adjunct faculty and performance-based funding are well documented in the available literature, there does not seem to be a study that connects the two issues to determine if faculty status impacts performance-based funding outcomes. The literature does show that the under support of adjunct instructors across higher education institutions may contribute to diminished student success outcomes, which are significant components of performance-based funding. This study utilized institutional data for the 22 public, degree-granting higher education institutions in the state of Tennessee, a state that has had performance-based funding in place since 1979 and utilized an aggressive model during the years of this study. The study utilized three separate analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs) to determine if there was a statistically significant difference in retention rates, graduation rates, and points earned through the performance-based funding formula at 2- and 4-year higher education institutions in Tennessee based on the percentage of adjunct instructors. Institutional data were collected for the 2010-2011 through 2018-2019 academic years, and averages of each variable were used for the tests. The results of the tests revealed that there were no statistically significant differences in any of the population means. However, faculty status was a significant covariant (p = .239) for graduation rates, suggesting that approximately 24% of the variation in graduation rates may be attributed to faculty status.
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    (Austin Peay State University, 2022-08) Inman, Zachary Wayne
    This explanatory, sequential mixed methods study aimed to explore (a) the prevalence of secondary traumatic stress (STS) in resident assistants (RAs) at a 4-year public university in the southeastern United States, (b) the personal and institutional supports and barriers that impact resident assistants’ responses to this STS, and (c) the roles STS plays in resident assistants’ job satisfaction and risk of attrition. Twenty-one resident assistants completed the Secondary Trauma in Resident Assistants survey. Surveys were analyzed using descriptive statistics, hierarchical multiple regression, and logistic regression. Five resident assistants participated in follow-up semistructured interviews, which were analyzed using thematic analysis. Findings indicated that RAs reported moderate-to-severe levels of STS. Factors influencing levels of STS include semesters of experience, quantity and types of trauma incidents, and amount of training. Supports responding to STS include positive self-talk, social and familial supports, locus of control, campus counseling centers, campus involvement, strong supervision, and mental health campus programming. Barriers include negative self-talk, alcohol use, lack of social and familial support, limited training, the RA role, lack of strong supervision, and limited availability of campus counselors within the research setting. Implications for practice include (a) expanded training to address responding to mental health crises as well as coping mechanisms for dealing with STS, (b) training supervisors in best practices of trauma-informed supervision, (c) expansion of counseling center support for residence life programs, and (d) developing protocols for early detection of burnout and STS in RAs as well as interventions to prevent further burnout. Implications for future research include (a) addressing the lack of evidence surrounding resident assistants’ mental health, (b) replicating the study in multiple settings with an expanded population of diverse genders, ages, and ethnicities, and (c) addressing the effects of campus educational programming on STS in RAs.
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    (Austin Peay State University, 2022-05) Napper, Kisha Nicole
    The purpose of this study was to explore public school counselors’ beliefs about service supports and barriers to the academic success of secondary students experiencing homelessness in public schools. The theories that guided this study were Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and social justice theory. Participants for the study were 10 school counselors from a large suburban district located in the Southeast, with 3 to 22 years of experience working in secondary public school settings. This qualitative study utilized a phenomenological research design, and videoconferencing technology was used to conduct in-depth, semistructured interviews with the participants. Further, thematic coding was used to analyze the data. Findings indicated that school counselors received limited or no preservice training to meet the needs of students experiencing homelessness. The findings further revealed that school counselors felt unprepared to comprehensively meet the needs of students experiencing homelessness. Participants also reported a lack of professional development related to homelessness, challenges with student identification and service delivery, and limited access to resources for students experiencing homelessness. Implications for practice include embedding education about homelessness into preservice curriculum and providing ongoing professional development for supporting the needs of students experiencing homelessness. Implications for future research include conducting an evaluation of required preservice coursework at universities that provide school counselor training and have a Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) designation and replicating this study in other school districts to determine if similar results are yielded in other public school contexts. Keywords: homelessness, students experiencing homelessness, secondary students, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, social justice theory, school counselors, public schools
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    The Retention of Education Majors: Implications from the National Survey of Student Engagement
    (Austin Peay State University, 2022-05) He, Hanrui
    Teacher preparation programs are struggling as the pipeline of potential teachers is shrinking. Student dropout in teacher education programs could negatively impact the programs and exacerbate the current teacher shortage issue. This quantitative study aimed to determine if academic integration, social integration, institutional environment, and technology usage were significant predictors of education majors' intention to return. The study's data came from the 2019 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and Learning with Technology (LWT) topical module survey. The participants consisted of 431 education majors from U.S. institutions only. The hierarchical binomial logistic regression analysis results revealed that the quality of interaction with faculty is a statistically significant predictor of education majors' intention to return. Implications for the study include guiding teacher education programs in formulating effective student retention intervention plans. Keywords: Academic integration, social integration, institutional environment, technology usage, education majors, intention to return
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    More Education, Less Mortality: The Role of the Employer in a More Highly Educated Nursing Workforce
    (Austin Peay State University, 2022-05) Clark, Terri A.
    There is a problem in the United States regarding the percentage of bachelor-prepared nurses in the workforce. The primary purpose of this study was to explore the role of the employer in a more educated nursing workforce through the lens of connectivism. A mixed methods study was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic in the fall of 2021. Chief nursing officers (n = 89) from hospitals and long-term care facilities across one southeastern state were surveyed regarding the percentage of Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)-prepared registered nurses (RNs) in their facilities. Fisher’s exact test (r x 2) was conducted to determine if there was a significant association between the reported percentage of BSN-prepared RNs and the plans, policies, and promotions of the employer, as well as the location and type of facility. Findings suggest that the employer does play a role in the education level of nurses. There was a significant association between the reported percentage of BSN-prepared RNs and the presence of plans and goals for the facility suggesting that the employers’ plans and goals increase the percentage of BSN-prepared RNs in a facility. There was also a significant association between the reported percentage of BSN-prepared RNs and the type of facility suggesting that there are more BSN-prepared RNs in the hospital setting than in the long-term care setting. An additional significant association was found related magnet status suggesting that maintaining or pursuing magnet status does increase the percentage of BSN-prepared RNs in a facility. Four main themes evolved during the coding of the qualitative data. The four main themes were: 1) the need for more nurses, 2) the need for more resources, 3) the need for partnerships, and 4) the ramifications of the pandemic. The implications for practice included raising awareness regarding the need for more BSN-prepared RNs, developing goals related to this initiative, and forming partnerships with key stakeholders.
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    Teachers' Perceptions of Their Preservice Preparation To Support Students Who Have Experienced Trauma
    (Austin Peay State University, 2021-12) Cannon, Heather Noelle
    This study explored (a) how teachers describe trauma and adverse childhood experiences and the impact of trauma and adverse childhood experiences on students, based on their preservice experiences, and (b) how teachers perceive their preservice experiences informed how they support students who display trauma-related indicators. Participants for both phases of the study were graduates from a state university’s college of education located in Middle Tennessee and had at least 1 year of teaching experience. Of the 52 survey participants, 39 earned a bachelor’s degree and 13 had earned their master’s degree; most had less than 5 years of experience. The six semistructured interview participants were White female elementary school teachers with 1–8 years of teaching experience. This mixed methods study utilized an explanatory sequential design. Surveys were completed online and analyzed using descriptive analysis. Interviews were conducted using videoconferencing technology and analyzed using in vivo coding. Findings indicated that teachers had received little to no exposure to trauma or adverse childhood experiences in their preservice programs and had difficulty defining trauma, but could identify some indicators of trauma. Participants indicated that they felt underprepared for meeting the needs of students who had experienced trauma and would have liked more training on trauma, trauma-informed care, and adverse childhood experiences during their preservice experience. Implications for practice include embedding a comprehensive trauma-informed care approach into all components of the preservice experience (e.g., coursework, field experience). Implications for research include evaluating preservice education courses to determine inclusion of trauma-informed practices and replicating the current study in other universities, both locally and nationally.
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    Fine Arts Teachers' Perceptions of Student Growth Portfolios as an Element of Teacher Evaluation
    (Austin Peay State University, 2021-12) Braem, Walter Riley
    The primary purposes of this study are to describe (a) fine arts teachers' perceptions of the portfolio model as a summative evaluation measure and (b) to determine how fine arts teachers use their summative evaluation scores to inform their teaching practice. An additional purpose is to understand how teachers' level of overall effectiveness scores have changed since implementing the Tennessee Fine Arts Student Growth Portfolio Model. Participants of the study were fine arts teachers with at least 4 years of full time teaching experience in their discipline and who had participated in the student portfolio system for a minimum of 2 years. Twenty-eight high school fine arts teachers from five districts across the state completed the survey portion of the study. Of the 28 survey participants, 16 were female and 12 were male; all but three were White; most (n = 22) were tenured and 16 of the 28 had at least a master’s degree. Six teachers participated in follow-up semistructured interviews. Of the six, four were female and two were male; all were White theatre teachers. This study used a convergent mixed methods design. Participants completed the Perceived Value of Teacher Portfolios Questionnaire developed by Tucker et al. (2003). The survey was completed online and analyzed using descriptive analysis. Semistructured interviews were conducted using videoconferencing software and analyzed manually using in vivo coding. Findings indicate that fine arts teachers had a negative perception of the fairness, feasibility, utility, and accuracy of the student growth portfolio as an element of teacher evaluation. Participants reported issues with artifact manipulation, technology, depth and timeliness of feedback, teacher time requirements and efficiency of the portfolio system, and mistrust and integrity of peer reviewers as factors contributing to their negative perception of the portfolio system. Implications for research include study expansion to include a wider range of grade levels, urban and rural population centers, and relative wealth of the school system. Implications for practice include providing adequate and ongoing training to teachers and peer reviewers, access to required technologies, and ensuring that peer reviewers are selected based on a record of teaching excellence.
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    (Austin Peay State University, 2021-08) Herndon, Kimberly Denise
    This study examined differences in participation or nonparticipation in an ACT preparation course, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status on ACT scores. Practice ACT scores were used as a covariate to control for individual differences in student scores. Participants consisted of 264 students from one graduating class at a large high school in Middle Tennessee. Five separate Analysis of Covariance tests were run to determine differences on composite scores and scores for each subtest of the ACT (English, math, reading, and science). Results indicated no statistically significant interaction effects between any group combinations of ACT preparation participation, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Results also yielded no statistically significant differences for ACT preparation participation or race/ethnicity, with no statistically significant differences existing between students who participated in an ACT preparation course and those who did not or between students of the majority and minority racial/ethnic groups. A statistically significant difference was found for socioeconomic status on English, mathematics, and science subtest scores but not for composite or reading scores.
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    (Austin Peay State University, 2021-08) Edwards, Reginald Horatio
    ABSTRACT The problems addressed in this dissertation were about the differences in the number of suspensions and expulsions across secondary schools in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The purpose of this quantitative study was to investigate a large sample of rural, independent, metropolitan, and micropolitan schools to see how exclusionary discipline differed between ethnicity/race, gender, school classification, and school diversity groups. The questions were addressed through an analysis of discipline data from the Kentucky Department of Education Safe Schools Report for the academic years 2017-18 and 2018-19. Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Racialized Organization Theory served as theoretical frameworks for this study. The findings from the examination of the sampling of suspensions and expulsions data revealed that European American students were suspended and expelled at higher averages than any other ethic/racial group. Once extreme outlier schools were excluded, European American students averaged 130 suspensions and expulsions. In addition, the results found that an average of 115 male students were suspended and expelled which is 2.5 times higher than the rate for female students. When analyzing exclusionary discipline according to the school classification, results revealed, on average, more students are suspended and expelled from metropolitan schools. Finally, an analysis of diverse schools versus schools that lack diversity found that diverse school have higher averages of suspensions and expulsions. This study confirms and highlights that male students are subjected to exclusionary discipline at greater rates than female students. In addition, metropolitan and diverse schools have more suspensions and expulsions than other comparable groups. Keywords: exclusionary discipline, disciplinary practices, disciplinary policies, zero-tolerance, discipline gap, critical race theory, racialized organization theory