Electronic Theses and Dissertations

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This collection of theses and dissertation in BEARdocs contains selected theses and dissertations from Baylor University departments that offer graduate degrees. Please note that this is NOT a complete collection of Baylor theses. To search all Baylor theses, use OneSearch, the Baylor Libraries' online catalog.

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    Broadband infrastructure's impact on economic growth in rural southeastern Oklahoma : a qualitative single case study.
    (2023-08) Wren, Lauren Polk, 1988-; Sloan, Amy M.
    Americans utilize high-speed internet access as an essential resource, providing the industry a completive edge, especially in rural communities. Unfortunately, the United States has internet deserts. Irving coined the phenomenon as “the digital divide,” which exists in areas of inaccessibility to broadband services, such as southeastern Oklahoma. The inability to access the internet limits career opportunities and skill development, leading to lower earnings and promotions (Freeman et al., 2016; Mack et al., 2021). The concept of universal service was that all United States citizens should have equal access to wired services such as telephone and electricity. However, former funding efforts failed to complete the connection of rural citizens to such opportunities (Ali, 2020). In the latest Census Report (2022), Oklahoma has a poverty rate of 21% compared to the national average of 12%. Only 88% of Oklahomans completed high school, and 26% completed college. In rural southeastern Oklahoma, a lack of high-speed internet infrastructure impedes economic growth. I designed my qualitative single case study to understand better lifelong rural southeastern Oklahomans’ perspectives on how the current broadband infrastructure impacted rural economic growth. From November to December, I collected data from lifelong Choctaw County, Oklahoma residents through interviews, speed test results, and documentation on current broadband infrastructure news. I used the theoretical framework of community capitals as my researcher’s lens to understand participants’ answers and how they identify challenges of current broadband infrastructure in Choctaw County that impacts economic growth. My study’s method, data collection, and analysis provided answers to my two central research questions: What challenges do Choctaw County residents identify with broadband network infrastructure and rural economic growth, and in what ways do Choctaw County residents perceive the relationship between broadband infrastructure and economic growth opportunities in rural southeastern Oklahoma? The research findings prove that high-speed internet is essential for rural communities to prosper. Likewise, participants identified an evident lack of internet accessibility in Choctaw County and described the areas that lacked access as dead zones or dead pockets. Participants identified that rural employers depend on high-speed internet to compete with urban areas in today’s world.
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    The impact of andragogy on increasing the effectiveness of professional development for teachers : a quantitative study.
    (2023-08) Wilson, Craig Allen, 1968-; LeCompte, Karon N.
    Despite millions of dollars spent annually on professional development (PD) for teachers, most training proves ineffective in changing teacher practice or improving student outcomes on a large scale. The ineffectiveness comes from a lack of content specificity, poor training design and delivery, misalignment of local needs compared to external mandates, and single-dose practices with little follow-through (Gulamhussein, 2013; Jacob & McGovern, 2015; Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2019). More importantly, PD designers lack recognizing the needs and interests of teachers (Darling-Hammond et al., 2017; Guskey, 2021). These include ensuring that training starts with assessing the needs of its participants, creating a conducive environment, and providing voice and choice in selecting PD courses. Furthermore, conventionally delivered PD limits participants’ ability to collaborate and reflect, lacks engagement with activities that are problem-based and immediately applicable in practice, and devalues evaluation of outcomes and future needs. This quasi-experimental study examined the effectiveness of including adult learning theory (ALT), specifically andragogy, in the design and delivery of PD. Andragogy is a theoretical framework of six assumptions or principles of adult needs and interests that impact learning (M. Knowles et al., 2020). It also includes a conceptual framework for applying these assumptions through eight instructional design and delivery elements. The study took place during a voluntary day of PD presented convention-style where participants could choose courses spread out over six 45-minute sessions. Unknown to the teachers, many of the classes were conventional (control), and others contained andragogical principles and design elements (treatment). After each course, participants could complete a Likert-style inventory to rate their satisfaction with each of the fourteen factors. Parametric tests proved statistically significant. In every case, participants rated their satisfaction with the ALT-enhanced courses higher than their conventional counterparts. In addition, the results parsed out four design elements that could predict participant satisfaction with PD effectiveness. Finally, the participants’ ages and teaching experience impacted their satisfaction with andragogical PD. Implications from the results include advocating for and crafting PD to better meet teachers’ needs and interests. Doing so may increase both teacher retention and student achievement.
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    The biopsychosocial framework and its application to applied behavior analysis : a qualitative multiple case study.
    (2023-08) Weisdack, Kristan A., 1981-; Meehan, Jessica Padrón.
    Autism is an epidemic, with 1 in every 44 children in the United States having the diagnosis. The cumulative cost of autism between 1990 and 2029 is estimated to rise to $15 trillion in the absence of more effective treatment (Cakir, 2020). It is critical to examine the most widely used treatment for autism, applied behavior analysis, to ensure that practitioners’ methods align with practice standards and that individuals receiving services have consistent, high-quality care. During the intake and assessment process in applied behavior analysis, there is no formalized assessment to guide Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) to determine if the concomitant physiological issues associated with autism cause behavioral problems and to help BCBAs make referrals to appropriate providers. This research involved three BCBAs working with children with autism in the Denver, Colorado, metropolitan area. I applied the biopsychosocial model (BPS) framework to this research to examine the biological, psychological, and social factors each participant explored during their intake and assessment process. The theoretical framework guided the data collection, including a questionnaire, a 12-question interview, and artifact collection. I employed a qualitative multiple case-study design to answer exploratory research questions to gain in-depth knowledge about each participant (Creswell & Poth, 2017). The design led to the description of each behavior analyst’s intake and assessment process; their beliefs and attitudes about how biological, psychological, and social factors impact behavior; and the barriers they faced in collecting medical history information from their clients. The study’s findings indicate that these behavior analysts use different intake and assessment processes, give limited attention to the biological components of behavior, and do not make referrals to providers specifically trained to treat the concomitant issues associated with autism. Behavior analysts will benefit most from this research. The research describes the history of behaviorism, autism, co-occurring medical issues associated with autism, and the practice of behavior analysis. This study highlights the need for a consistent, holistic assessment process, the expansion of the graduate school curriculum for behavior analysts, and the expansion of insurance coverage for holistic behavior assessments.
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    Triarchic space : a multiple case study of the importance of entrepreneurial understanding of the grit required to contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
    (2023-08) Triplett, Rosalind Doyle, 1955-; Sloan, Amy M.
    Earthly challenges daunt entrepreneurial contractors working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The current workforce supporting NASA seeks solutions that propel national space policy forward while embracing new missions and commercial space (Deaton, 2021; Denis et al., 2020; Launius, 2017). Unfortunately, many aspiring entrepreneurs do not understand the essence of grit necessary to become an effective and profitable NASA contractor. Understanding the role of triarchic grit (Datu et al., 2017) benefits entrepreneurs desiring to contract with NASA. Datu et al. (2017) define triarchic grit as passion, perseverance, and adaptability, in an expansion of Duckworth et al. (2007) definition. In the NASA contracting Landscape of Practice (LoP; Wenger-Trayner et al., 2014), a problem exists in estimating and understanding the role of grit entrepreneurs need for long-term NASA contracting success. This qualitative, multiple case study examined the intangible aspects of the role of triarchic grit (Datu et al., 2017) in achieving long-term entrepreneurial success with NASA. I completed a literature review and discovered scant research on entrepreneurs serving NASA. The triarchic model of grit (Datu et al., 2017) provided the theoretical framework for this research. I aligned the methodology with the research design and theoretical framework. I conducted semi-structured interviews with five successful NASA entrepreneurs. I located different types of archival data and conducted an open-ended survey. This research analyzed the triarchic grit needed for long-term success in NASA contracting. The research supports the value of the role of triarchic grit (Datu et al., 2017) in successful NASA contracting and support of NASA missions. I examined the elements of passion, perseverance, and adaptability separately and found constant intertwining, exposing triarchic grit (Datu et al., 2017). The common themes of business ownership, work ethic, setbacks, sacrifice, complex contracting, growth, survival, diversification, and uncertainty emerged within the three elements of triarchic grit (Datu et al., 2017). Triarchic grit (Datu et al., 2017) emerged throughout the research of contracting success in interviews, surveys, corporate, and web data.
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    Theory takeaways and the connection between theory and practice.
    (2023-08) Tossato, Ligia Baleki, 1995-; Maxile, Horace Joseph.
    This thesis seeks to help the private piano instructor connect the teaching of repertoire with theoretical concepts. A specific aim of this project is to provide a guide for piano teachers to introduce music theory fundamentals during lessons, which I do through a series of objectives and activities I call Theory Takeaways. The main purpose of these takeaways is to help students build fluency in music theory fundamentals while learning repertoire. This type of preparation can help those who want to pursue an undergraduate degree in music to succeed on entrance exams often required by universities, in addition to preparing them for music theory at the college level. Preexisting theory method books place music theory as something apart from piano playing, creating a significant gap between music theory concepts and the repertoire being performed by the student. This project seeks to explore more correlations between piano playing and learning music theory.
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    All our children are left behind : a qualitative case study examining secondary educators’ perceptions on social emotional learning programming and implementation as a trauma-informed care approach.
    (2023-08) St. Cyr, Ha'Wanna, 1985-; Scott, Lakia.
    There is a critical need for implementing social emotional learning (SEL) curricula in K–12 schools to mitigate the impacts of trauma that scholars face daily. Trauma, including school shootings, poverty, bullying, and abuse, is at crisis levels among America’s scholars (NCSEA, 2019). The absence of a holistic and mandated SEL curriculum has neglected scholars’ basic and psychological needs (Alexander, 2021; Seddio, 2017). Disproportionalities in dropout ratings, the prevalence of viral videos showcasing verbal and physical abuse, and behavioral infractions among scholars of color underscore the importance of a balanced curriculum aligned with understanding scholars’ social and emotional needs (Wardekker, 2001; Raimundo et al., Watson et al., 2020). The goal of the study was to understand the implementation practices of an SEL curriculum as a trauma-informed care (TIC) approach. The TIC Framework guided this qualitative case study and acted as the pedagogical tool to evaluate how the curriculum mitigated the impacts of trauma. Additionally, this study sought to examine the shifts, if any, made in district policies as a result of implementing the SEL curriculum. Instructional and non-instructional educators from a secondary Houston-area public charter school district served as participants in this study. Data was collected using interviews, observations, and documents, which through analysis, revealed four key themes: training is vital, SEL lessons proactively influenced scholars’ behavior, scholars were reluctant to participate based on lesson timing (instructional only), and increased involvement and more positive classroom and campus practices. The findings indicated that SEL was perceived to influence scholars’ behavior positively, but implementation requires more extensive training. Scholars showed reluctance to participate in lessons, but engagement improved as educators made lessons more relatable. Implementation was inconsistent, revealing gaps in policy and stakeholder collaboration. The findings highlight the need for a balanced learning approach that incorporates the SEL curriculum and calls for greater inclusion in policy and practice. Recommendations include (a) the need for parents’ and families’ inclusion in curricular planning and instruction, (b) cross-sector collaboration within campus routines and procedures, (c) implementation of unified policies, and (d) progress monitoring and creation of systems to ensure the consistency of SEL curricular implementation.
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    The construct of looping : a qualitative multiple case study understanding what teachers perceived to be the benefits of looping for instituting social-emotional learning practices.
    (2023-08) Sosa, Valerie M., 1970-; LeCompte, Karon N.
    Educators engage daily in doing what is best for students and ensuring success for each student, searching for new ways to connect with students, and creating stimulating learning communities is the work (Martins et al., 2022; Swanson, 1999). Looping is a practice in which a teacher progresses to the next grade level with students (Bielefeld, 2016; Grant et al., 1996; Phelps, 2016; Rasmussen, 1998). Looping allows educators to establish positive relationships and support academic progress for students, teachers, administrators, and districts (Elliott & Capp, 2003). Students who do not connect with their teachers become disengaged and may not attend school regularly (Lukkarinen et al., 2016). Students who lack understanding of social situations interact inappropriately with others, fail to recognize and manage their emotions, and do not develop self-regulation skills to succeed (Daunic et al., 2014). Looping allows schools and teachers to provide social-emotional learning (SEL) practices within the classroom, thereby sustaining an understanding of positive classroom environments (Frelin, 2015). In this qualitative multiple case study, the researcher used data from interviews, observations, and artifact gatherings along with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) framework to answer the central research question about what teachers perceived as the benefits of looping for instituting SEL practices. The CASEL (2023a) framework supports short-term, intermediate, and long-term student outcomes addressed in different settings, including classrooms, schools, homes, and communities. Looping provides the time and setting to implement opportunities to cultivate, practice, reflect, and internalize social-emotional skills. The study’s participants included four educators who wanted to address the lack of time to teach SEL during school hours. Participants used the time saved in the looping classroom to foster relationships using their knowledge of students’ strengths and weaknesses and understand how best to group students for cooperative learning. The teachers created opportunities for students to practice communicating clearly, listening actively, and negotiating conflict while they integrated using the practice of SEL. Looping in a school system addressed declining statistics and established positive teacher-student relationships within the classroom (Franz et al., 2010; Hill & Jones, 2018; Klinzing, 2019).
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    Essays on factors affecting physician treatment decisions and treatment access.
    (2023-08) Shriver, Rachel L., 1994-; Richards, Michael R.
    Policies and market changes can affect physician treatment decisions and treatment access which ultimately can affect patient outcomes. Using statewide hospital data from North Carolina and Florida, we analyze the impact of three exogenous shocks on physician treatment decisions and treatment access. Across all analyses, a difference-in-difference or triple difference framework is utilized to assess these impacts. This analysis provides insight into the types of policies that can provide improved physician treatment decisions and improved patient outcomes, including some key and vulnerable patient populations.
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    Pharmacophore-directed retrosynthesis applied to salarin C and phainanoid F.
    (2023-08) Woods, James Evan, 1994-; Romo, Daniel.
    This dissertation describes a new approach to total synthesis, namely pharmacophore-directed retrosynthesis (PDR), applied to two natural products. The first chapter focuses on the history of the potent antiproliferative agent, salarin C (SalaC). This includes the isolation, bioactivity, instability and previous synthetic work performed on SalaC. Chapter Two describes our successful work regarding the synthesis of two model macrocycles and subsequent stability studies. Chapter Three encapsulates a brief review of dammarane-type triterpenoids (DTTs) in general and, more specifically, 13,30-cyclodammarane natural products. DTTs display a wide range of biological activity, including anti-cancer,1-2 anti-viral,2 and immunosuppressive activity.3-4 Chapter Four defines PDR and outlines its applicability with respect to phainanoid F and related DTT natural products, including known SAR, the hypothetical pharmacophore, and our planned derivatives. Finally, Chapter 4 also encompasses our synthetic studies toward the derivatives and synthetic intermediates with potential biological activity.
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    A young woman of color’s transnational lived experiences through an intersectional feminist lens : a qualitative narrative inquiry.
    (2023-08) Sharples, Rebecca L., 1980-; Sloan, Amy M.
    Women in patriarchal societies, especially women of color and young girls, do not experience the same equity as men, regardless of men’s race. Societies expect women to conform to traditional gender roles despite any career aspirations they may have. Women continue to lag men by significant margins in several professional fields. Young females are less likely to envision futures for themselves in male-dominated fields or leadership roles when they do not see other women in those roles. Using the theory of intersectional feminism, this qualitative narrative inquiry study explored the lived experiences of one woman of color, Suzanna Gardner, from the time when she was a young girl through her early adulthood. This study examined how she navigated living in three patriarchal societies and the opportunities she experienced that allowed her to thrive in a male-dominated society as a young woman of color. This narrative inquiry focused on Suzanna’s gender, race, and age as contributing factors to how she experienced the obstacles and the opportunities that she encountered during her life within the patriarchal constructs that surrounded her. Suzanna’s distrust of men, her motivation to defy patriarchal norms, and her need to push herself beyond her limits resulted from the patriarchal confines she experienced. Suzanna’s close relationships, her participation in judo, and her internal determination allowed her to experience success despite the inequities she faced. Women of color and young girls comprise the vast majority of women worldwide but make up only a small portion of workers in many male-dominated disciplines. Society misses out on innovation, research, and contributions from a significant percentage of the population when women of color and young girls experience gender, race, and age-based discrimination. This study emphasized the need to create opportunities for women of color and young girls in patriarchal societies, and hereby contributes to the progression of women’s rights around the world.
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    Teaching in the era of COVID-19 : a case study exploring the power load margins and lived experiences of elementary school educators.
    (2023-08) Romero-Autrey, Sonya Lisa, 1974-; LeCompte, Karon N.
    The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) disrupted classroom and school systems across the globe in March 2020. Educators found themselves teaching in unprecedented classroom settings in efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, thus requiring educators to pivot their teaching practices. Educators who taught during the COVID-19 global pandemic felt subjected to significant distractions, stressors, and complex working conditions, yet attempted to create meaningful ways to build relationships with their students. The study explored the lived experiences of four elementary school educators from Roadrunner Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as they taught during the COVID-19 global pandemic. They taught remotely and in-person, with strict mandates and restrictions from March 2020–August 2022. McClusky's (1963) Power Load Margin (PLM) Theory informed this case study by exploring educators' power and load experiences as they navigated teaching during the global pandemic. The theory depicts the margin as the relationship between the load necessary for living and teaching and the power needed to carry the load concerning what educators experienced (Main, 1979). The Power Load Margin Theory provided a valuable lens for analyzing educators' power and load through their lived experiences. The findings of this study highlight the overwhelming stressors, such as anxiety, the uncertainty of the pandemic, issues with technology, and lack of balance due to the abruptness of the pandemic as an imbalance between power and loads. Additionally, educators indicated that distractions like lack of access, highly dysregulated students, broken school systems, students not fully engaged, and a loss of preparation significantly impacted educators' heavy workloads and negatively impacted and increased their load. This study found that the pandemic's complex logistics, including excessive paperwork, conflicting mandates, negative public opinions, and the uncertainty of the pandemic, decreased the participant's ability to carry their professional and personal loads. However, the educators noted that finding ways to create meaningful, innovative, and positive relationships with their students and families increased their power due to having the autonomy to teach and embracing time and circumstances positively.
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    Markers of bioenergetic changes in liver tissue from obese and lean tumor-bearing mice.
    (2023-08) Rodriguez, Rebecca F., 1999-; Wiggs, Michael P.
    Cancer cachexia is associated with the decreased quality of life and has potential to dysregulate whole-body metabolism. The liver is highly understudied in the literature yet is a prominent figure in whole-body metabolic regulation. The purpose of this study was to examine changes in biomarkers of bioenergetics in liver tissue of lean and obese cachectic mice. Mature male mice were fed chow (lean) or 12 weeks of high fat diet (obese). Following the diet intervention, groups were further divided into PBS control or LLC tumor-bearing mice. Tissues were collected 25 days post-injection. Tumor progression in obese mice was correlated with increased expression of lipid metabolism genes, no difference in expression of glucose metabolism genes when compared to the PBS group, and no difference in expression of mitochondrial biogenesis genes when compared to the PBS group.
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    The relationship between professional development and teacher self-efficacy at Protestant Christian K–12 schools : a quantitative correlational cross-sectional survey.
    (2023-08) Roberts-Curtis, Kathi, 1972-; LeCompte, Karon N.
    Christian K–12 schools are under pressure to improve the quality of teaching and learning due to burgeoning school choice options. The increasing numbers of charter schools, homeschooling options, and online schools offer greater competition for students, often for less cost than private schools. In addition, prospective Christian school parents increasingly prioritize teaching quality over shared religious values, thus reducing private Christian schools’ value proposition. As a result, private Christian school leaders are looking for ways to improve the quality of teaching and learning within their schools to attract and keep students. Although teacher quality is difficult to measure, one factor associated with effective teaching is teacher self-efficacy, which is the belief that one can influence student learning. While self-efficacy beliefs are malleable and can improve through high-quality professional development (PD), research shows that many Christian K–12 schools do not offer teachers effective PD. This quantitative correlational study explored the relationship between Protestant Christian K–12 school teachers’ PD activities, years of teaching experience, certification status, and self-efficacy. Using a web-based questionnaire, I surveyed teachers at Christian School International member schools across the United States. Bandura’s (1997) self-efficacy theory, a subset of his social cognitive theory (1977), served as the theoretical framework for the study. According to Bandura (1997), teachers with a strong sense of self-efficacy believe they can influence student learning and are more likely to engage in behaviors associated with quality teaching. Expanding on Bandura’s theory, Tschannen-Moran and Woolfolk Hoy (2001) developed the Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES). The TSES measures teacher efficacy beliefs in three dimensions: instructional strategies, classroom management, and student engagement. Correlation results show that teachers with more experience have higher levels of self-efficacy. In addition, regression analyses reveal that the best predictor of teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs for student engagement, instructional strategies, and classroom management is the form of teacher professional learning activities, specifically mentoring. Implications for these results apply to Christian school leaders seeking ways to improve teaching and learning through enhancing teacher self-efficacy. Recommendations for these leaders include prioritizing mentoring and staying abreast of current research into teaching and learning.
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    Exercise behavior and motivation for physical readiness training of soldiers at Fort Bragg, NC : a qualitative single case study.
    (2023-08) Rivera, Joshua H., 1980-; Kaul, Corina R., 1969-
    Soldiers often struggle to stay motivated to excel in physical fitness and reach their peak physical performance. This lack of motivation presents a problem for the U.S. Army because physical fitness is essential for combat readiness. If soldiers are not combat-ready for the physical demands of future wars, then the nation’s national security may be at risk. Soldiers must be ready to face any physical fitness challenges that can occur on the battlefield. This qualitative single case study investigated why and how some soldiers achieve peak physical fitness and what strategies these individuals use to attain their determination to address the problem. Their experiences can help with the problem with the motivation problem and thereby increase physical readiness. Snowball sampling resulted in eight volunteer soldiers who self-reported high degrees of peak physical conditioning. Data collected included semi-structured interviews, in-person observations of soldier workouts, and analysis of workout routines. The data analysis process deductively identified five a priori themes related to the self-determination theory (SDT): autonomy, competence, relatedness, and extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Furthermore, inductive coding captured three themes: life events that triggered working out, work out passion, and strategies to stay motivated. The emergent theme of strategies to stay motivated bifurcates into self-talk and goal-setting components. The study’s results found that seven of the eight participants’ data supported all five a priori themes. Only one participant did not exhibit the a prior themes of competence during the interview, observation, or with his collected artifact. The emergent themes yielded similar results, with six of the eight participants displaying all three emergent themes. Two participants did not discuss life events during their interview that led to their pursuit of peak physical fitness. The results and implications of this study could assist key senior and mid-level leaders and individual soldiers in tackling the motivation problem among service members in the U.S. Army. The physical fitness strategies identified in this study, such as self-talk and goal setting, can help increase physical performance by assisting soldiers to stay motivated.
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    A qualitative case study to understand high school graduates’ experiences in a career and technical education center’s hospitality and tourism program.
    (2023-08) Walker, Etinne D., 1978-; Meehan, Jessica Padrón.
    As the hospitality and tourism workforce evolves high school Career and Technology Education (CTE) hospitality and tourism programs must remain relevant and innovative (Gauthier, 2020). One of the main goals of offering hospitality and tourism as a program of study during high school is to transition graduates into the hospitality and tourism workforce (Texas Education Agency, 2019). The problem remains in determining why students do not pursue a long-term career in hospitality and tourism, despite CTE efforts in investing financial resources into CTE high school programs. I used qualitative methodology for this study to understand hospitality and tourism graduates’ experiences in the hospitality education program at Ace CTE Center in rural North Texas and to explore why these graduates did not pursue a career in hospitality and tourism after graduation. I applied the seven elements of Lent and Brown’s Social Cognitive Career Theory (2008) to examine hospitality students’ career decisions about not working in the hospitality industry. There were four participants in this study. Each participant responded to a questionnaire. I conducted two semi structured interviews with each participant. Information obtained from participants revealed strengths and weaknesses of the Career and Technology Education hospitality and tourism program and assessed reasons for the lack of interest in the hospitality and tourism industry after high school graduation. The findings from the study reveal participant experiences in the hospitality and tourism program and why they chose not to pursue a career in hospitality and tourism. The implications from this study indicate connections between the elements of Lent and Brown’s (2008) Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) framework and graduates’ decisions not to pursue a career in the hospitality and tourism industry. The findings in this study confirm that the elements that create SCCT theoretical framework are still relevant in the 21st century and directly impact student decisions about pursuing a career in the hospitality and tourism industry. As a result, I encourage key stakeholders to utilize the findings from this study to streamline work-based programs and strategize educational priorities to improve the student experience in the hospitality and tourism program.
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    Teachers’ of mathematics likelihood of recommending subject-specific accelerations.
    (2023-08) Payne, Anna M., 1981-; Kettler, Todd.
    This study investigated K-12 teachers’ of mathematics likelihood of recommending subject-specific academic acceleration in mathematics by a conceptual replication of the Teacher Attitudes Toward Subject-Specific Acceleration (TATSSA) instrument (Rambo & McCoach, 2012). The population of K-12 teachers’ of mathematics (N=118) scores on the TATSSA was compared to the original population of core subject teachers by comparing model fit and factor structure of the scale and was viewed through a framework of the Integrated Behavioral Model (Montano & Kasprzyk, 2015). Teachers’ of mathematics perceived norms on acceleration was weighed against their likelihood to accelerate. Through structural equation modeling, the conceptual replication of the TATSSA was confirmed and the model was improved by adding the Perceived Norms scale to the model. This study looks at how personal characteristics of K-12 teachers of mathematics moderate their likelihood to accelerate gifted students. A sample of 118 teachers of mathematics took the Teacher Attitudes Toward Subject-Specific Acceleration (TATSSA) instrument (Rambo & McCoach, 2012) and the Mathematics Teaching Efficacy Beliefs Instrument (MTEBI) (Enochs et al., 2000) to see if mathematics teacher self-efficacy or grade level taught moderates the likelihood that a teacher will recommend subject- specific acceleration for a given student. Structural equation models were run and it was determined that teacher self-efficacy did not increase the proportion of variance in the model predicting teacher likelihood to accelerate, but grade level of the teacher did impact likelihood to accelerate, with elementary teachers being more likely to accelerate a student than middle level mathematics teachers. Ideas for further study and implications for teacher professional learning are offered.
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    A space to fit in : a descriptive case study examining Black male students’ collegiate experiences at a Hispanic-serving institution.
    (2023-08) Nash, Trevor, 1981-; Scott, Lakia.
    Black men often enter higher education spaces with two main disadvantages: being Black and Being male. As a result, their journey to earning a degree comes with several challenges, including maintaining their identity and finding that sense of belonging on many college campuses. However, the increase in diverse student bodies across multiple universities in the United States should help deliver a positive holistic academic experience. Therefore, this descriptive case study explored Black male students’ lived experiences at a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). HSIs are still a relatively young group of tertiary institutions in the United States. However, they continue expanding, offering another option for Black men to pursue a college education. The study answered the following research questions: To what extent, if any, does attending an HSI impact Black male students’ identities? How do Black male students deal with belonging at an HSI? To answer these questions, 11 Black male students attending an HSI participated in this descriptive case study. Museus et al.’s (2016) Culturally Engaging Campus Environment (CECE) model of college success served as the theoretical framework for this study. Museus created the model to examine student success at racially and ethnically diverse college campuses. However, most work regarding Black male students occurs in Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs), thus leaving a gap in the literature on this demographic in HSI settings. This study’s findings revealed that attending an HSI does not significantly impact Black male students’ identities. The reason is closely linked to their ability to belong in this environment, as most participants indicated. Additionally, Black male students attending an HSI strived to find a space free of racial discrimination, microaggressions, and stereotype threat. They did so by joining predominantly Black student organizations where they saw a representation of themselves. Furthermore, the institution gave them a space (Black-led and other minority student organizations) to be themselves, making being in this academic space less challenging.
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    Comparison of skeletal muscle ultrastructural degradation, calpain concentration and localization in patients with peripheral arterial disease.
    (2023-08) Wilburn, Dylan, 1994-; Funderburk, LesLee K.
    There have been major advances in imaging techniques in the past few decades that could further our understanding of physiological processes. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a specific type of atherosclerosis that impedes blood flow to peripheral limbs that contributes to the development of a myopathy. Several interventions have been proposed to combat the negative outcomes of this disease but have not been completely successful. New approaches to treat this disease require an in-depth look at the structures and proteolytic events that contribute to the mortality rate within this population. It has been proposed that maintaining muscle mass could improve the life expectancy and functional ability of PAD patients. However, exercise is severely impaired in this population which creates difficulties maintaining skeletal muscle size and function. Identifying and targeting the proteolytic systems contributing to the atrophy and myopathy of PAD could be an alternative approach to slow muscle loss and improve the quality of life for these individuals. There has been limited research on the proteolytic systems active within PAD skeletal muscle and this proposed research aims to elucidate these concepts for future ideas related to treatment options and interventions.
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    Assessment literacy in practice : a quantitative study investigating elementary and secondary teachers’ approaches to classroom-based assessment at a Virginia school division.
    (2023-08) Mims, Heyana E., 1992-; Foster, Marquita D.
    Teachers assess the efficacy of their instructional decisions through the dynamic, complex practice of assessment, but the variety of assessment processes underlines the many facets of teachers’ assessment competencies. The development of practical professional learning opportunities that consider the variety of assessment approaches used in K–12 classrooms is limited by the absence of a comprehensive understanding of teachers’ assessment literacy (AL). This study investigated how elementary and secondary teachers prioritize their assessment practices within the context of their classroom in one Virginia school division. This study used a quantitative research method to study elementary and secondary teachers’ primary use of assessment concerning teaching, learning, and assessment scenarios and their response to differentiating student needs in the context of a school division. Using scenario-based items of the Approaches to Classroom Assessment Inventory (ACAI) developed by DeLuca et al. (2016), I collected information about teachers’ approaches to the purpose of classroom assessment and fair assessment practices. The instrument focused on teachers’ responses to common assessment scenarios illustrating the challenges teachers confront concerning student assessment performance, planning for student assessment, differentiated assessment, and summative assessment (Deluca et al., 2016). Results from this study revealed a significant difference in secondary teachers’ use of assessment of learning techniques versus elementary teachers’ use. However, there were no statistically significant differences in elementary and secondary teachers’ use of assessment for learning and assessment as learning approaches. This study also revealed that secondary teachers’ use of standard, differentiated, and personalized approaches to fair classroom assessment did not differ significantly from that of elementary teachers. Research on teachers’ approaches to classroom assessment can tap into a more localized understanding of assessment practice. A teacher’s responsibility as an assessor extends beyond their assessment knowledge and abilities, including their beliefs and experiences that impact their classroom practice (Looney et al., 2018). This study recognizes how professional context influences teachers’ use of classroom assessment and instructional decision-making.
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    Using cultural-historical activity theory to understand teacher perceptions of gender disproportionality in special education : an exploratory case study.
    (2023-08) Madden, Emma N., 1989-; Scott, Lakia.
    There is an overrepresentation of male students in special education programs, specifically due to behavior, attentional deficits, and lack of staff training. Exploring issues regarding the process of initial referrals to special education is critical because subjective opinions and biases alter the outcome for all students. As a result, special education programming disadvantages already marginalized groups of students and continues to perpetuate stereotyping of learning centers and substantially separate programs. Additionally, female students receive support at a different rate than their male peers, thus, the potential decrease in female students’ motivation and persistence associated with academics. This qualitative exploratory case study helped twelve special education professionals communicate their viewpoints regarding how teacher belief systems and training shape their ability to provide tiered learning and instruction to all student profiles. Participant’s years of experience, type of role in special education, and school demographics differed, as to provide well-rounded opinions on disproportionality. This research study utilized Cultural-Historical Activity Theory as a framework to explore the interplay of tools and rules in the special education community. A brief open-ended survey and semi-structured interviews provided the pathway to gain the perspectives of purposefully selected participants. Five of the twelve initial survey participants completed follow-up interviews to share their knowledge of special education disproportionality and student planning. All study participants held multiple roles in special education, including the ability to make initial eligibility determinations. The study found that despite state and legal mandates on changes within the special education referral process, teacher perspectives continue to cause overpopulation of male students in moderate and severe special education placements. Critical stakeholders must be aware of gender-based biases and negative stereotypes around special education. This study also showed a perceived lack of professional development for all teaching staff surrounding the process and eligibility determination for students with disabilities.
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