Festival of Scholars

An annual celebration of research, scholarship, and creativity

Graduate School of Education Poster Session

Date: Thursday, May 2, 2013
Time: 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Location: Soiland Recreation Center
Description: Undergraduate, Masters, and Doctoral students will present their research projects in a poster session format. These projects will focus on inquiry into educational issues pertaining to teacher education, special education, counseling and guidance, and educational leadership. All are welcome to attend.

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Student Abstracts at this Session

Student(s):
Kimberly Austin

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Edlyn Pena
College Experiences of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

More individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than ever before are considering entering postsecondary education (Geller & Greenberg, 2010; Smith, 2007). Although students with ASD are often able to gain admission to college, their common difficulties can greatly compromise their success (VanBergeijk et al., 2008). The purpose of this study was to chronicle the college experiences of students with ASD. Specifically, the study sought to explore the students’ perspective on challenges and successes of their college experiences in hopes of using these data to more accurately identify needed support services. A case study methodology was used to provide an in-depth understanding of the college experience from the perspective of a student with ASD. Four themes emerged from stories of five purposefully selected participants through semi-structured interviews, including significant differences between high school and college, positive faculty interactions, minimal social interactions, and significant opinions of support services.




Student(s):
Jessica Blackshear

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Susan Tandberg
The Lived Experiences of College Students With Mental/Emotional Health Issues in Campus Housing

A robust body of literature exists revealing the significant increase of students attending college with mental health issues. The need for increased services and the shift in the services needed are covered through research conducted by Kitzrow (2012), Kraft (2011), and Wood (2012). Lacking from the literature is a voice of the individuals living this experience. Utilizing a phenomenological construct, eight participants completed three stages of data collection. Stage one involved an Intake Questionnaire; stage two included a 60-minute in-person Interview; and stage three allowed participants the opportunity to review the interview transcript for changes, additions or omissions.

The data will be analyzed for emergent themes.

The central benefit of this study is to reveal the lived experiences this group. This study adds to the body of existing literature and will better inform student development theory, allowing student affairs professionals to better serve this population.




Student(s):
Donna Bragg

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Carlos Dominguez
Teachers’ Perceptions of Bullying at School

School bullying is a serious concern that impacts 20 to 30% of students worldwide (Rigby & Smith, 2011), peaking in grades 6-8, with boys more likely to be involved in bullying as either a target or perpetrator (Nansel, Overpeck, Pilla, Ruan, Simons-Morton, & Scheidt, 2001). Targets of bullying suffer emotionally and academically, and students who bully are more likely to have future problems with the law and in relationships. Understanding how educators perceive and respond to possible bullying situations was the central focus of this qualitative research, which focused on 14 educators of grades 3-8, half of whom received training in the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) last year. Six themes emerged: Differences in Educator Awareness of Bullying; Educators’ Role in Identifying and Addressing Specific Bullying Behaviors; Other Misbehavior vs. Bullying Behavior; Classroom Communication Regarding Bullying; Special Case of Cyber Bullying; and Teacher Training Needs.




Student(s):
Aschlyee Braswell

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Christine McCloskey
Teaching Kindergarteners to Write Independently

Many teachers have a difficult time finding the most effective way to teach writing in kindergarten where the foundation for learning how to write is built. In addition, when a writing program is not provided, teachers must create their own curriculum to move students from learning to write letters at the beginning of the year to writing three to four complete sentences nine months later. The purpose of this study was to determine which of two writing methods, writing workshop or a prompt based on the week’s theme, was more effective at helping kindergarteners learn how to write independently. Students wrote twice a day, once for each writing method, three to five days each week over the course of the study. Writing samples from both models were collected, scored on a rubric, and compared to assess students’ writing growth in each of the two methods.




Student(s):
Angelica Chavez

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Anthony Normore
Yet, Another Closet: Professional Experiences of Latina/o Queer Aspiring Educational Leaders

Despite strides in securing some legal protections in the workplace, queer teachers and administrators continue to remain silenced. Researchers have failed to address the manner in which queer teachers of color must negotiate multiple identities when deciding to disclose their sexual orientation because the vast majority of studies have focused on the experiences of white queer educators. The purpose of this study is to explore the professional experiences of aspiring Latina/o queer educational leaders with a focus on how the intersection of race and sexuality informed these educators’ and administrators’ teaching pedagogy and their decision to disclose their sexual orientation. The goal of this qualitative multiple case study is threefold: 1. to give voice to queer Latina/o educators who have been historically marginalized; 2. provide rich, in-depth description of how the intersection of race and sexual orientation informs the coming out process among queer Latina/o educators; and 3. provide a counter narrative.




Student(s):
Helen Chavez

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Christine McCloskey
A Study of the Effects of the Read Naturally Reading Program on Fluency and Comprehension

Fifth grade teachers will almost always have classes made up of students with mixed ability levels. While challenging above-grade-level students presents its own challenges for teachers, the real dilemma is how to address the needs of students who are reading below or far below grade level. The purpose of this study was to scrutinize the Read Naturally program and report on its efficacy when used with struggling fifth grade readers in a general education classroom. This mixed-methods study consisted of four students who read with the Read Naturally program for six weeks. Student reading levels were looked at and students were also surveyed as to their opinion of reading at the beginning and end of the program.




Student(s):
Nicole Curran

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Christine McCloskey
Student’s Perception and Academic Performance

For decades, research has been conducted regarding gender differences between male and female students on academic performance tests. Many of these studies conducted in the 1960’s favored male students on academic achievement tests. Recent data reveal that female students have the ability to compete at the same level as their male peers, but do not assess their own accomplishments, talents, and abilities with as much confidence as their male peers. The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine how students' own perceptions of success directly affected their academic performance. Through the stories of college students, this study sought to explore the participants' perspectives that lead to their own version of success. Findings from this study will help educators better understand what factors contribute to students' career decisions and how to educate all students about the opportunities of the future.




Student(s):
Kristal DeVillers

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Deborah Erickson
Exploring the Motivations of Aspiring Education Leaders in a Leadership Development Community

This study focused on the perceptions of participants regarding their motivation to lead and what effect membership in a leadership development community had on that motivation. The qualitative case study methodology involved interviews and surveys of seven aspiring school leaders, one principal, and one superintendent. The purpose of the study was to explore the effectiveness of building leadership capacity in teachers through a leadership cohort model in order to support leadership succession planning and distributed leadership. This could occur through preparing qualified candidates for vacancies, motivating teachers to take on leadership roles and to provide leadership opportunities for growth. The findings of the study showed the importance of mentoring in motivating teachers to become leaders. Findings also showed that aspiring leaders’ desire to make a difference for others was an important factor in motivation. Suggestions for future research in motivation to lead are included in the study.




Student(s):
Matthew Doyle

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Carlos Dominguez
Gifted Students’ Perceptions of Reading in the Classroom

The purpose of this qualitative study was to ascertain the disconnect between the academic ability and a lack of desire to read school assignments amongst 11th grade GATE students from a high school in an affluent socio-economic neighborhood. Five 11th grade students who were enrolled in an Advanced Placement United States History class were interviewed. The data revealed that students were more likely to read if the material was interesting to them, if it was going to be assessed by the teacher, and if it was a priority deserving of their time.




Student(s):
Cathy Duffy

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Edlyn Pena
Best Practices for Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Program Development and Administration

This qualitative study was developed to identify best practices associated with the development and administration of an effective and efficient PLA program that supports college completion while maintaining institutional integrity. The study involved interviewing administrators at three institutions that have PLA programs that are recognized for their effectiveness in granting college level credit to non-traditional students. Two interviews took place with two institutions in a state system (State 1 and State 2) and the third interview took place with Mid-City University. These three institutions have PLA programs that are regionally or nationally recognized for their success in serving non-traditional student needs. The study was designed to determine how the PLA process is administered in each institution, the role of the faculty in the PLA process, especially as it relates to portfolio development and assessment, and the mechanisms available to support student portfolio development.




Student(s):
Stephanie Enright
and (note that correct name is Stephanie Lopez)

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Carlos Dominguez
Brain Connection: Depth and Complexity Icons on Student Achievement

School curriculum places emphasis on rote memorization, instead of developing students’ understanding of content (Willis, 2007). There is a need for American children to practice innovation and critical thinking skills to be prepared for their future (Carew, 2010). California recently adopted the Common Core State Standards which will replace current California State Standards. Brain research highlights strategies that help increase student achievement as well as prepare students for the future. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of implementing Icons for Depth and Complexity during instruction of a social studies unit on student achievement. This quantitative study took place in the researcher’s third grade classroom. After analyzing and reviewing data from this study, the impact of the Icons for Depth and Complexity on student achievement proved to be statistically significant. The data support the implementation of the Icons for Depth and Complexity into instruction for all students.




Student(s):
Emilie Evenson

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Cynthia Jew
Leadership Team Intervention to Facilitate Pro-Social Bonding in a Third Grade Classroom

Pro-social bonding is important for having resiliency in a progressive and responsive classroom. In order to provide pro-social bonding in the classroom, the study arranged for an eighth grade leadership team to go into a third grade classroom and work on various leadership activities that facilitate pro-social bonding. Ten eighth-grade students were selected and trained in a collaborative leadership and forty developmental skills were then infused with the cultural efficiency model. After the training, the eighth grade students were placed in the third grade classroom in teams with students to work on pro-social bonding activities and positive social modeling aimed at integrating all the needs of the learners into one classroom. This project attempts to impact the classroom by providing a pilot leadership program from the resources present in the classroom. Results reported include a summary of the pre and post survey results as well as post interview surveys




Student(s):
Crystal Fernandez

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Carlos Dominguez
The Effectiveness of Reading Aloud for ELL High School Students

As English Language Learners (ELLs) enrollment increases in the United States, educators are finding ways to implement reading strategies into the curriculum to improve reading comprehension among ELLs and to answer the question: “What is the effectiveness of reading aloud in secondary classrooms and the benefits it has on reading comprehension for ninth grade high school ELLs at an Intermediate Level on the CELDT in a low socio-economic area?” The present study was qualitative action research and focused on student observations as well as teacher and student interviews. The purpose of the study was to support teachers in finding effective strategies to improve reading comprehension among students. As data were analyzed, four key themes emerged: classroom environment, good reading model, reading to clarify, and developing confidence through motivation. Through reading aloud across the curriculum, students effectively improved comprehension skills, built confidence levels, and developed teacher appreciation of reading aloud.




Student(s):
Valerie Fury

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Maya Tenenbaum
The Experiences of Dating for Gay and Lesbian Adolescents

Previous research on adolescent dating has covered a vast array of topics including correlations with low self-esteem, academic failure, anxiety, stress, violence, and deviant behavior. Although much research has addressed adolescent dating, there is little information available that addresses the overall dating experiences for adolescents who identify as lesbian, gay, transgendered, bisexual, or queer (LGTBQ). The purpose of this qualitative study is to develop an in-depth understanding of the lived experiences gay and lesbian adolescents encounter when dating. This study uses semi-structured face-to-face interviews with five community college students who identify as LGTBQ. The study utilizes elements of both ethnographic and phenomenological designs in order to provide a unique lens that allows for a holistic view of the individual experiences that are occurring within the larger culture of LGTBQ community members.




Student(s):
Sandy Gonzales

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Maura Martindale
Perceptions of Fully Included 7th and 8th Grade Students in the Co-Teaching Setting

Co-teaching is a teaching strategy used when there are two or more educators co-planning, co-instructing and co-assessing a group of students with diverse needs in the same general education classroom. This research-based teaching strategy has been adopted by schools to meet the learning needs of 7th and 8th grade fully-included students. Research shows controversy between studies and teacher perceptions of co-teaching implementation, but no studies include student perceptions of their learning in a co-teaching setting. The purpose of the present study is to find out if fully-included students perceive their needs to be met through co-teaching. The study consisted of 17 fully-included students in a co-teaching language arts class. Students filled out a student questionnaire using a likert scale; three students were individually interviewed. The results give insight, using research and student perceptions, to implementing co-teaching effectively.




Student(s):
Deborah Greene

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Carlos Dominguez
The Flipped Classroom and Its Effect on the Learning Environment

As the world changes and becomes more technologically advanced and dependent, it is vital that our educational system not only change with the world but lead the way as well. The Net Generation is here and Net Geners have distinctive ways of thinking, communicating, and learning (Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005). Teachers have been using technology to enhance lectures, bring the material alive, and tap into students' different learning modalities (Hay, 2000). The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine the effectiveness of a new technological teaching strategy, The Flipped Classroom. Second grade students traded traditional homework for video lectures during their chapter eight math unit. Statistical data were analyzed and the study concluded that there was no significant impact on student achievement when using The Flipped Classroom model.




Student(s):
Jessica Hart

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Maura Martindale
Teachers' Perceived Attitudes Toward Teaching Fully-Included Students in a K-8 School

The purpose of this study was to assess attitudes of general education teachers toward students who are fully included. The study explored whether general education teachers who were properly trained and offered avenues of support through Professional Learning Centers would positively change in attitude when teaching fully-included students. The researcher tested whether there was a correlation between support and training of general education teachers and positive attitude change. The researcher used surveys to obtain both quantitative and qualitative responses regarding areas of concern and beliefs of a sample of general education teachers. Scores were compared before and after a Professional Learning Center was held by the researcher. Qualitative responses indicated that the general education teachers felt unsupported and not properly trained when working with students who were fully included.




Student(s):
Suely Haynes

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Susan Tandberg
Improving Academic Engagement Through Stress Reducing Exercises

Challenging behaviors in young students often occur during difficult transition periods, resulting in the loss of instructional time. This action research project explores the impact of practicing stress reducing exercises on student engagement. Three first-grade students, diagnosed with mild to moderate disabilities, were selected using the convenience method to participate in this study. Students were given surveys, using a Likert scale, to establish their level of stress during challenging transition periods and its effect on their ability to engage in a learning activity. Interventions were implemented for four weeks, three times a week for twenty minutes. Interventions included deep breathing exercises, yoga poses, music therapy, and dance. Data collected and analyzed were based on observation of the students during and following intervention and documented time for re-engagement in a new learning activity. The practice of these methods may reduce the time during transitions and expand valuable instructional time.




Student(s):
Brynn Hutchison

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Carlos Dominguez
A FASTT Fix: Developing Mathematical Fact Fluency Through FASTT Math

The newly-adopted Common Core State Standards expect teachers to prepare students to be “college and career ready” through classroom standards for technology, mathematics, and more (www.corestandards.org); however, the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed that 60% of fourth-grade students did not demonstrate grade-level competency with mathematics skills (www.nationsreportcard.gov). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the supplemental computer program, FASTT Math, in the development of multiplication fact fluency in fourth graders. The twenty-seven participants were fourth-grade students in the researcher’s class who received an eight-week computer intervention, four times a week. Quantitative data were measured through the use of a pre- and post-tests assessing the students’ ability to answer 50 multiplication facts in three minutes. After thorough analysis, the researcher determined that there was a positive difference between scores before and after the FASTT Math computer intervention.




Student(s):
Allison Inoshita

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Christine McCloskey
Teacher Perceptions of Incorporating an Emergent Curriculum in a Religious School Setting

An emergent curriculum is an approach to learning that centers on the interests of the child. It seeks to find what is meaningful and relevant to the child and build upon that in the classroom. One example of an emergent curriculum is the Reggio Emilia approach. The Reggio Emilia approach is founded on the idea that all children are capable and competent. Given this premise, is it possible to explore an emergent curriculum within the structure of a religious school setting? This qualitative study sought to gain insight into the perceptions of three teachers who worked in a religious school that strived to incorporate both emergent and religious curriculum aspects. The interviews revealed some common themes including the desire for continued education and the importance of the Scholar in Residence to their understanding of the Reggio Emilia approach.




Student(s):
Laila Jafari

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Maura Martindale
The Social Learning Academy: Using Proactive Teaching Methods to Increase Socialization in Children

The purpose of this study was to examine the use of proactive teaching methods to teach social skills to two 3rd grade students who had been found eligible under the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Over the last decade, social skill group interventions have been emphasized as a way to help students with autism integrate into the general education setting. The researcher wanted to discover whether or not proactive teaching methods were an effective way of teaching social skills to children with ASD. In addition, the researcher wanted to see if both students and general education teachers identified the improvement in socialization and learning of skills. The researcher collected quantitative data through data collection sheets, as well as, a pre-post test questionnaire.




Student(s):
Beulah Jo

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Carlos Dominguez
Improving Student Academic Language and Literacy in the Classroom

In California, 53% of tenth graders scored proficient or advanced on the life science CST as reported by the California Department of Education (2012 STAR Results: State of California, 2012). The Content Area Language and Literacy (CALL) program is designed to increase achievement on standardized tests by improving the students’ literacy skills. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between CALL lesson plans and student achievement on chapter tests in a California high school science classroom. In this quantitative study, the control group received traditional PowerPoint lectures and the test group received CALL lessons. During the test period, eight CALL lessons were implemented. The chapter assessment results before and during the test period were analyzed using t-tests. This study found that there was no statistically significant difference between CALL lesson plans and student performance on chapter assessments.




Student(s):
Emily Kneller

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Carlos Dominguez
Effective Differentiation Mathematical Technology or Not?

New technology for education is developing rapidly and it is difficult for the average teacher to evaluate mathematical programs that may or may not be the most effective for all learners. In this quantitative action research study, the researcher’s purpose was to assess the effectiveness of two digital mathematics programs that allow for differentiation: SuccessMaker and TenMarks. For the first five weeks, ten participants in second grade used SuccessMaker Math for twenty minutes a day. This program automatically adjusted the difficulty based on student performance. For the second five weeks, the second graders used TenMarks. This program allowed the researcher to create math assignments based on specific skills. The results suggested that there was no statistical difference in student growth when comparing the two programs or when comparing student growth within each technology.




Student(s):
Shawna Lane
and (note that correct name is Shawna Randolph)

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Carlos Dominguez
Using Wikis as a Peer-teaching Tool to Enhance Math Problem Solving

Wikis, podcasts, blogs, online chat, and social networking promote the sharing of information and redefine literacy (Beach, 2012). Teachers are focusing on these literacy shifts based on new Common Core standards and Learning for the 21st Century. The Common Core shifts students from making sense of math problems to thinking conceptually and making practical opinions (Robelen, 2012). Based on the lack of research in math and wiki use, the researcher’s action research project determined whether a wiki would promote peer teaching amongst students and elevate their understanding in math articulation. In this convenient sampling research, the researcher completed a mixed-method, quantitative and qualitative study. Quantitative findings measured pre- and post-tests; using the wiki for math purposes was not found statistically significant. From qualitative findings, the researcher determined the following themes: student engagement, math articulation, and peer teaching.




Student(s):
Meghan Lauer

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Carlos Dominguez
Exploring the Effectiveness of an Outdoor Classroom on Academic Motivation and Behavior

Stiff chairs, bulky furniture, inadequate lighting, stuffy air, and crowded classrooms for hours a day all have detrimental effects on student academic achievement. The purpose of this qualitative action research study was to determine how outdoor space affects the academic motivation of seventh grade English students. The study involved observation and interviews of several English students enrolled in a small private school. Data revealed three key themes: traditional classroom limitations, outdoor effectiveness, and positive behavior changes in light of outdoor learning.




Student(s):
Robert Loutsios

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Maura Martindale
Decreasing Transition Difficulties in Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Working in a classroom with students on the Autism Spectrum can be challenging. Routines must be set and followed with little to no room for improvisation. Unfortunately transition times are usually not built in to these routines. Transition times could be a key area of discipline issues. Researching this area could help one better understand triggers to behavior. Decreasing transition difficulties in students with Autism Spectrum Disorder is the goal of the researcher. Using a quantitative method of study, the researcher is investigating the effects on students who use visual schedules during the day to assist in transitioning activities.




Student(s):
Anne Marie Newman

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Susan Tandberg
The Current Practices Used to Transition Students With Disabilities From Preschool to Kindergarten

Students with disabilities succeed in school when service providers and families share all information about the students’ strengths and needs prior to the school year. Currently this is not being done consistently. This action research project identified the current practices used by kindergarten and preschool teachers to transition students with disabilities. This project also looked at the effectiveness of these practices. The researcher sent out 8 electronic surveys to current special education preschool and kindergarten teachers compiled from the district. The survey questions were developed based on themes and practices presented in the literature review. Following the survey, an interview of one kindergarten and preschool teacher was done to provide a deeper understanding of practices. The researcher looked for common trends, themes, and patterns within the data. The results provide information regarding practices promoting effective transitions for students with disabilities from preschool to kindergarten.




Student(s):
Heidi Ng

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Christine McCloskey
Teachers’ Perceptions on Integrating Interactive Whiteboards in Their Math Lessons

Instead of writing with chalk on chalkboards, and later with dry erase markers on whiteboards, interactive whiteboards (IWBs) have emerged as a new tool for teaching. This technology has allowed teachers and students to interact with a “whiteboard” in a whole new way. Integrating IWBs in academic lessons has changed the dynamics of teaching and has improved student learning. The purpose of this qualitative study was to discover how teachers felt about integrating IWBs into their math lessons. Ten teachers at Alpine Elementary School were interviewed with a series of open-ended questions concerning their use, knowledge, benefits and/or drawbacks of IWBs. Although research shows an overall positive impact on student learning from integrating interactive whiteboards in lessons, this study shows that there will always be some teachers that prefer to teach lessons in their own way, without using new technology.




Student(s):
Melissa Nunes

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Carlos Dominguez
Does the Behavior Management Program, CHAMPS, Create Champs in the Classroom?

The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine what impact the positive behavior support program, CHAMPS, has on student behavior and academic success for seventh-grade students enrolled in a middle school located in a low socio-economic neighborhood. After interviewing several teachers, the results of the study supported CHAMPS as an effective model to prevent problem behaviors in the classroom. The results included more focused instruction, increased student motivation, more positive teacher student relationships, and greater student achievement.




Student(s):
Jason Peplinski

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Dennis Sheridan
The Prestige of the Teaching Profession

This quantitative study was conducted to survey parent, teacher, and school leader groups about the current prestige of the teaching profession. This topic is relevant because of the growing criticism of public education and the declining numbers of young people choosing education as a career. The study aimed to determine the factors that each stakeholder group finds limiting to the prestige of teaching. Ultimately, this research hopes to provide a direction for reform in the development of teachers. Participants in this study took part in an online survey. This study asked 20 questions on a Likert scale. Over 1400 responses were gathered from a suburban California school district.




Student(s):
Naomi Perez

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Anthony Normore
The Resiliency and Experiences of Migrant Families and Its Implications for Educational Leadership

Migrant students continue to be an underrepresented group in the area of research. A gap in research exists that focuses specifically on factors that contribute to the educational success of migrant students. This study explores the strategies that have been shown to be successful when collaborating with families and community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources to assist migrant students and increase their level of resiliency. A qualitative study was ideal for the information that this study is seeking. An instrumental case study is used to focus on first-hand accounts of experiences, observations, and feelings of multiple case studies (Creswell, 2007). Purposeful sampling is used to select the participants using the following criteria: (1) the participants are former migrant students/parents, (2) they worked in the fields in California, (3) all of the children in the family graduated from a four-year university.




Student(s):
Sarah Piccoli

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Susan Tandberg
3-2-1 Reading Strategy Effect on Comprehension of Informational Text With Students With Disabilities

The Common Core State Standards requires an increase in the use of informational text to raise the academic skill for students. This action research project examined if there would be an increase in the reading comprehension scores of narrative text when informational text is taught prior to narrative text. Students were explicitly taught to use the 3-2-1 Reading Strategy during informational text reading. Subjects for the research were eight, 11-12 year old students with mild disabilities, selected by the convenience method. The researcher taught the 3-2-1 Reading Strategy for a period of seven weeks. A pre-test/post-test was used and a behavior frequency chart was kept to document the number of questions asked during direct instruction. After the instruction was completed, a survey was given to determine students’ opinions about using this strategy. The results of this study will help Special Education Teachers transition to the Common Core State Standards.




Student(s):
Ayelen Pinotti

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Edlyn Pena
Experiences, Benefits, Challenges: Understanding Teachers’ Perceptions About Inclusion

Throughout the years there has been much discussion about the inclusion of special education students, such as students with autism, in the general education classroom. Federal mandates allow students with autism to be included in a general education class with typical peers. Not much research has focused on the benefits of inclusion for general education students. The purpose of this study was to find general education teachers' perceptions about the impact of classroom inclusion of students with autism on general education students. To answer this research question a case study approach was utilized in order to fully understand two general education teachers’ perceptions about the inclusion of students with autism. One common theme emerged from the data: inclusion benefits general education students socially and emotionally. Other important points: the participants believe that inclusion teaches students humanism and leadership. Results show that both participants had positive perceptions about classroom inclusion.




Student(s):
Theresa Plante

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Carlos Dominguez
Changing Education: The Foster Youth Perspective

Foster youth have long been thought of as an at-risk group. The Angel Foster Family Network published a statistic showing only 54% of foster youth will earn a high school diploma (2012). The literature has shown that the educational system will need to broaden its focus to meet the educational needs of foster youth, which historically have not been met (Zetlin, 2006). The purpose of this qualitative action research study was to answer the question: how can teachers provide support and behavioral interventions to help foster youth achieve better academic success in Buena County? The researcher interviewed former foster youth, and transcribed and coded data into three themes: safety and stability, roadblocks to education, and social connections.




Student(s):
Anna Poetker

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Edlyn Pena
California Dreaming: A Narrative Study Exploring the Experiences of Undocumented College Students

Undocumented students, i.e. students who do not have legal status in the U.S., have reported feelings of anxiety, isolation, depression, and frustration due to their legal status. Elements like language, culture, gender, family, immigration, and ethnicity all intersect to create a unique experience and perspective for undocumented college students, which are different experiences from their native peers. The purpose of this qualitative study is to discover the unique experiences of undocumented college students. For this study, I used a narrative approach to reveal the authentic experiences of undocumented students, who have a history of being a vulnerable population due to their sensitive legal status. By using a narrative method and employing one-on-one interviews for this study, I hope to give these students a voice when explaining how one experience—the experience of being undocumented—leads to another experience—namely, the students’ unique experiences in college.




Student(s):
Kristin Price

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Edlyn Pena
First-generation Peer Mentors’ Engagement and Leadership Development

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore how lived experiences prompt first-generation college students to engage as peer mentors, and how they experienced leadership development. Participants included 13 first-generation college students, six of which were alumni, who engaged in peer mentoring. An explanatory model that surfaced from data collection is presented, demonstrating the process some first-generation college students underwent through peer mentoring. Family, service, and validation emerged as the central phenomena of the study, which also included emerging themes: (a) (dis)engagement, (b) peer mentor engagement, (c) intrapersonal development, (d) professional development, and (e) transformational learning.




Student(s):
Marissa Probst

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Susan Tandberg
Self-Monitoring of Academic Performance in a Special Education Classroom

Ninety percent of children that have a specific learning disability are deficient in the area of reading which often hinders achievements in other curriculum areas. This action research project examined the effects of self-monitoring of student performance. It shows how graphing and tracking progress affected student academic outcomes in reading fluency. From a population of 13 students in a mild to moderate, special day class, 10 students were selected to participate in this study. This research was validated by a records review of a quantitative approach, specifically a pre-test and post-test in which students determined their reading fluency rate and identified their growth based on the Hasbrouck-Tindal Table of Oral Reading Fluency Norms, set a reading fluency goal and utilized the Read Naturally program as intervention. Results of this study will provide relevant information for educators interested in using self-monitoring of performance to improve student academic performance.




Student(s):
Sandra Ronald

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Maura Martindale
Teaching Decoding Skills to Students With Moderate Intellectual Disabilities

Reading instruction for students with moderate intellectual disability has historically focused on sight word instruction. With the enactment of No Child Left Behind in 2001, there has been increased attention to reading instruction using phonics for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The purpose of this quantitative study was to research the efficacy of using phonics instruction to teach word recognition and decoding skills to three upper elementary school students with moderate intellectual disability. Using the intervention program Road to Reading, the participants received intervention in small groups consisting of 30 minutes of instruction four times per week. A one group pretest and posttest design was used for this study in a self-contained special education classroom. It was hypothesized that after participating in seven weeks of intervention the participants would improve their word decoding skills, reading one syllable, two to three phoneme words.




Student(s):
Rebecca Ryan

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Carlos Dominguez
Library Relevance

Technology has permeated everyday life for countless teenagers. Cell phones, computers, and iPods are prevalent at many schools. As of February 2011, e-book sales exceeded paperback and hardback books (Braun, 2011). Traditionally, school libraries have exclusively used paper books, but many are now expanding their resources with electronic resources. Understanding preferences of the school population is necessary to library improvement (Dando, 2005). The purpose of this practical action research study was to gather information to improve a school library at a small private school in Southern California. The researcher administered a 29-question survey, with open and closed-ended questions, to 143 student and faculty participants. The researcher compared and contrasted answers between students and adults as well as e-reader owners and non owners. Interesting results emerged, indicating reading genre preferences, electronic resource familiarity, and a desire for easily accessible, light weight books.




Student(s):
Andrea Sansing

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Christine McCloskey
Online Homework and Academic Achievement in a Secondary Mathematics Setting

Recent quantitative research suggests that homework positively impacts academic achievement, especially for high school students (Patall et al., 2010). With the push towards higher test scores, many educators are looking towards technology to help overcome some of the challenges that homework presents. Online homework has the potential to provide more than traditionally assigned pencil-and-paper homework by providing scaffolding, tutoring, and instant feedback. Additionally, it can provide instant grading for teachers. This study looked at the effectiveness of online homework in a secondary mathematics classroom. Four Algebra I classes were compared during a pretreatment period utilizing traditional pencil-and-paper homework and a treatment period utilizing online homework. Test scores, homework completion rates, and homework accuracy rates were compared during these two periods. Results found an increase in homework completion rates, a decrease in test scores, and no change in homework accuracy.




Student(s):
Juan Santos

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Dennis Sheridan
An Assessment of School Belonging and Academic Motivation Among Latino Middle School Students

Students in middle school are faced with a myriad of challenges. Latino students also struggle due to a variety of factors that affect the population as a whole. During this difficult time, it is critical that students feel a connection to school as this may help increase their level of academic motivation, leading to higher academic achievement. I conducted quantitative research, through the use of an online questionnaire on Qualtrics, to survey over 200 7th and 8th grade students at a suburban middle school. The results of the survey were analyzed in order to determine whether or not there is a connection between the degree of school belonging that students feel at school and the level of academic motivation that they possess. This information will be shared with educators in order to adapt best practices to meet the needs of middle school students.




Student(s):
Patrick Schmidt

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Diane Rodriguez-Kiino
The Impact of Perception on Technology Decision-Making: A Case-Study of a Four-Year University

Higher Education, with its predisposition towards shared governance and diffused power structures, creates a complex environment in which to make effective technology decisions. Technology use is expanding exponentially causing a continuous disruption of administrative and academic computing. Understanding the relationship between governance, decision-making, and leadership and how perception plays a role enlightens the needs-analysis phase of technology decision-making and informs best practices and principles. The purpose of this study is to collect, deconstruct, analyze, synthesize, and interpret data related to the environment of a single four-year institution in order to distill the essence of leadership, perception, and process during the needs-analysis phase of technology decision-making. A qualitative case-study was employed, drawing upon interviews, documents, and other artifacts as the primary sources of data. Case-study research in this context is explanatory in nature (Yin, 2009) and was chosen, in part, from my constructivist viewpoint and interpretation.




Student(s):
Suzanne Shaw

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Deborah Erickson
Cyberbullying Management Within Independent Middle Schools: A Multiple Case Study

Cyberbullying among students has become an emerging issue for school communities, partly due to almost ubiquitous Internet access, instant messaging, and a myriad of social media websites. Thus, the central focus of this research study was to describe how school leaders are effectively managing and reducing the amount of cyberbullying incidents. This study implemented a qualitative multiple case study design and interviewed 18 participants at three independent middle schools in southern California. Interviews revealed that school leaders take immediate action to resolve incidents, but that more follow-through with victims and perpetrators is needed. Regardless of the seriousness or scope of the incident, victims can experience repercussions for some time after an initial incident has been rectified. Questions for additional research include: why do repercussions occur after some incidents are properly handled by school officials?; and what protocols are in place for schools to ensure follow-through for both victims and bullies?




Student(s):
Cynthia Sheaks-McGowan

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Edlyn Pena
Envisioning Possibilities: A Narrative Inquiry Into Educational Goal Transformation

While the demand for early childhood education (ECE) programs has increased dramatically in recent years, the percentage of degree holders in the ECE field has declined. Numerous studies report that teachers with bachelor’s degrees and specialized training in early childhood education are better able to support children’s development and school readiness. The purpose of this narrative study was to explore the transformative experiences of community college early childhood education students who expanded their educational vision beyond completing the minimum twelve units required for employment toward earning an associate’s degree and transferring to a four-year institution. The study used a questionnaire and interviews as the primary methodologies. Participants’ stories pointed to the significant influences that came from both within and outside of the college environment. The themes of crystallizing career aspirations, relationships, student engagement, and envisioning emerged from the life stories that were collected from the participants.




Student(s):
Kriss Siciliano

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Susan Tandberg
Improving Comprehension Utilizing Visualization Strategies

Students who do not master reading comprehension will discover every avenue of academics closed. This action research project analyzed the effects of teaching reading comprehension through visualization strategies to elementary school students with learning disabilities. This project used a pretest posttest design using the Burns and Roe informal assessment to measure comprehension in resource elementary school students. Participants included 8 students in the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th grades selected by convenience sampling. Intervention occurred three times a week for four weeks during existing meeting times. Direct instruction, utilizing the Read Naturally series coupled with nine visualization questions, was utilized to assist students to “see” the topic in their minds. Pretest posttest scores were analyzed to determine the effects of the visualization strategy. Results of this study will provide relevant information to educators who are interested in implementing the visualization strategy for elementary age students with learning disabilities.




Student(s):
Melissa Spence

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Edlyn Pena
Instructional Strategies for Reading Comprehension in Non-Verbal Students With ASD

Rising numbers of students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) stimulate the need to rethink instructional delivery in the general education environment. As students with ASD are increasingly included into general education classes, it becomes imperative to employ effective reading comprehension strategies for these students to keep pace with their general education peers. The purpose of this study was to develop effective reading comprehension strategies for non-verbal students with ASD in elementary classrooms. A case study approach was utilized to garner an in-depth understanding of the strategies used by two general education teachers that promote reading comprehension for their non-verbal students. Two common strategies emerged from the data: the use of visuals and peer support. Other strategies included kinesthetic activities, high-interest materials, providing choices, decreased teacher verbiage, and realia. Results indicate that various strategies seem effective in promoting reading comprehension in non-verbal students with ASD.




Student(s):
Sydney Spink

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Susan Tandberg
Does Placement of Students in Special Education Influence Their Perception of Academic Capabilities?

Placement in Special Education may influence students’ perceptions of their academic capabilities. This study looked at the attitude of students towards school, their interest level, and how placement influenced their ability to perform in class. The study used a sample of 25 students in a 7th grade resource classroom. A survey was administered that encompassed ranking how students ask for help in general and special education classes, as well as asking them to state their favorite class. A follow-up interview was held based on the survey results to further evaluate students’ responses. Observations of two students in general and special education classes were performed to monitor how students asked for help during class. These data were analyzed to determine whether students’ perceptions differ in placements. Results of this study will provide relevant information to educators that work with students with special needs.




Student(s):
Brittany Stellin

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Maura Martindale
The Effects of Informing General Education Elementary School Teachers of the Benefits of Inclusion

The Individuals with Disabilities Act and Least Restrictive Environment regulation have ensured that a full continuum of educational services for students with disabilities, including access to general education classrooms for as much of their school day as appropriate, is available in every public school district. In many cases, the challenge of including special needs students in their classrooms has led elementary general educators to have an overall dissatisfaction with inclusion. The purpose of this research study was to determine whether informing general education elementary teachers of the benefits of inclusion will improve their attitudes towards it. The study consisted of a pre-test/post-test method, which surveyed such teachers, qualitatively and quantitatively, before and after viewing a researcher-created presentation informing them of the benefits of inclusion for all students. Results of the pre-test and post-test were compared to determine whether an improvement of attitudes occurred after the teachers received the video treatment.




Student(s):
Bobby Swain

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Janice Tucker
Academic and Post-Secondary Comparison of Students in Perceived Gang Versus Gang Free Schools

This study examines variables related to academic achievement, transition to post-secondary studies, eventual earnings from employment, and similar achievement indicator variables which are part of the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS: 2002), conducted by the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Variables recorded for students perceived to be in schools where gangs are present are compared to like variables of students perceived to be in gang free schools. Research questions are: What is the relationship between gang presence in school and (a) academic achievement, (b) transition to post-secondary education, and (c) skill and salary level of post-secondary employment of the cohort under investigation? These factors are then subjected to statistical analysis using IBM’s Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), version 20.0, to determine if or where there are significant differences between the two groups of students.




Student(s):
Christina Tangalakis

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Edlyn Pena
Living the Dream: Undocumented Students’ Experiences of Paying for College

The central research question that drove this study was “How do undocumented students navigate their post-secondary educational careers in the absence of state and federal support?” Implicit in this central question is whether the absence of government support for undocumented students creates barriers to access, retention and completion of higher educational programs for this population and how students overcome them. The ultimate purpose of this study was to inform policy to create pathways of access, retention, and success for undocumented students.




Student(s):
Shannon Taylor

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Diane Rodriguez-Kiino
Leading With Purpose

Religion, faith, spirituality; these words are often used synonymously but in definition can have substantially different meanings. In higher education, it is difficult to delineate these terms and to address their significance for today’s college student. Because women are entering and graduating from college with degrees in record numbers, it is important to study how we are preparing our young women to lead society and to create thriving communities. A young woman’s leadership development is critical during the collegiate experience and can be informed by her spiritual formation. Utilizing a case study design, the purpose of this study is to explore the intersection of undergraduate female spiritual formation and leadership development. Specifically, this study seeks to answer, “In what ways does undergraduate, female spiritual formation influence leadership development?” Higher Education needs to prepare young women today to lead tomorrow through understanding spiritual formation and leadership development.




Student(s):
Skyler Venables

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Carlos Dominguez
Preparing Young Citizens: How Fifth-Grade Teachers Plan Successful Presidential Library Field Trips

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library’s Air Force One Discovery Center (AFODC) hosts over 25,000 students every year, approximately 90% of which are fifth-graders (AFODC, 2012). Some of these classes arrive to the site ready to learn while others simply experience an entertaining day away from school. The AFODC offers a civics education program unlike any other, but some question whether the history taught at such institutions is appropriate for impressionable young minds (Baptiste & Townsend, 2008). The purpose of this qualitative study was to answer the question, how do fifth-grade teachers prepare their students for an academically worthwhile presidential library field trip? The case study examined interviews from seven teachers who have consistently led successful class visits to the AFODC. Findings suggest that rising above political partisanship may be a unique but important step when planning a presidential library excursion.




Student(s):
Lisa Visser

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Susan Tandberg
Improving Comprehension Through Teaching the Question Answer Relationship, a Close Reading Strategy

Prior research shows that teaching specific reading strategies to improve levels of comprehension are not only beneficial but necessary for students with mild to moderate learning disabilities. In this action research project, a pretest/posttest design used a Maze Measure, to measure comprehension levels of students within a specialized academic instruction class. Participants included seven students in seventh grade selected by the convenience sampling method. Twice a week, students were given instruction on how to use the Question Answer Relationship, a close reading strategy. Following each instructional period, students read science articles and answered teacher-made questions. Graphic organizers were used by students to answer the four specific types of questions. The students’ responses to the questions were analyzed through data collection to determine whether the questions were answered correctly. This study will provide information for teaching strategies to improve levels of students’ comprehension.




Student(s):
Ryan Webb
and (note that correct name is Ryan Keller)

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Susan Tandberg
An Analysis of Perceived Curriculum Collaboration Needs Between General and Special Educators

Special education teachers in self-contained classrooms are required to provide instruction in grade-level standards for students with disabilities in classes ranging from Algebra to American Government. Many special educators have limited background in subjects they are assigned to teach, and may have to teach several different subjects throughout the day. This research was designed to ascertain the level of mastery of current secondary special educators from a local school district in their respective subject areas, and to identify their perceived needs related to collaborating with secondary general education teachers on curricular and lesson planning. The researcher sent an online survey to all special education teachers within a local school district. The survey addressed their educational backgrounds and perceived needs related to content-area instruction. Of the respondents, four volunteers were selected for a follow-up interview. Data were analyzed to identify collaboration needs between general and special educators.




Student(s):
Amy Williams

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Carlos Dominguez
Problem-Based Learning

The purpose of this qualitative, action research study was to examine teachers’ experiences with problem-based learning in an elementary school setting. Problem-based learning is a student-centered approach to gain problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Students must work in cooperative groups to analyze and solve a given problem. The participants were seven teachers who teach grades first through fifth. The teachers were chosen via a convenience sampling at a local suburban elementary school. The teachers were surveyed and asked to describe the benefits and drawbacks of problem-based learning in their classrooms. The results of the study showed that the teachers saw increased problem-solving and critical thinking skills in their students when problem-based learning was used. The participants also saw the extended length of time needed to incorporate problem-based learning in their classroom as a drawback.




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