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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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Now showing 1 - 20 of 3019
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    A seat at the table : an instrumental case study on the personal and professional strategies of resistance Black women professionals adapt while employed at a predominantly White institution.
    (December 2022) Hodges, Tyler J., 1992-; Scott, Lakia.
    Black women have been central to the progression of higher education for centuries yet relegated to background roles in the conversation of equity, inclusion, and belonging. Recent scholarly contributions illuminate and center the plight of Black women professionals at predominantly White institutions as they struggle towards professional and personal persistence. Chilly environments within these educational sites ingrain feelings of isolation and alienation, perpetuating exclusionary policy, practice, and rhetoric. When seeking a seat at the proverbial table of advancement and acknowledgment, Black women professionals are given a mere folding chair for decorative purposes and performative measures. Striving for equity of voice and space continues to be a far-grasping concept. Sustaining professional retention and personal engagement for Black women professionals at a predominantly White institution is paramount in cultivating a thriving environment and sense of agency. Applying Black Feminist Thought as a guiding principle and framework encourages Black women professionals to exhibit personal and professional strategies of resistance in their pursuit of self-preservation and belonging. Black Feminist Thought also gives Black Women professionals a shared language and narrative to center in White spaces. Black women professionals can use their collective agency and voice to disrupt the systems and structures that no longer serve them. In turn, this gives them the freedom to adapt sustainable practices for themselves and the community. This instrumental case study gave insight into the strategies of personal resistance four Black women professionals adapted while employed at a private PWI in the southeast region of the United States. Semi-structured interview findings along with narratives derived from a focus group provided a road map on navigational tools for achieving liberation in the institutional culture. Predominantly White institutions can utilize proposed recommendations as they reimagine their retention strategies for Black women professionals and build culturally responsive spaces of reprieve, connection, and belonging.
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    Transformation through professional development : a multiple case study examination of faculty experiences participating in online diversity, equity, and inclusion workshops.
    (December 2022) Viola-Lawson, Marylynne, 1968-; Earl, Julia Collier.
    Outside the field of education, most higher education faculty receive little instruction or training on pedagogical practice even though they spend a large majority of their time teaching students. This lack of training compounds when educators move into online spaces and must learn how to effectively use technology to engage students. Considering the increased enrollment in online programs of diverse and marginalized students, educators also need professional development specific to diversity, equity, and inclusion practices. The challenge for faculty is their limited time to complete professional development and little incentives from their departments to do so. Faculty also report real fears about participating in diversity, equity, and inclusion professional development. Those fears typically concern facing biases and challenges to their worldview. According to research, even those faculty who do complete professional development on diversity, equity, and inclusion make little change to their teaching practices after. This is a problem for teacher educators whose goal is to create learning that inspires change. Without transformations to teaching practice, professional development is of little value. This multiple case study used data from six interviews with higher education faculty all teaching online who completed an eight-week workshop series on equity and social justice in the digital learning environment. Using Mezirow’s (1991) transformational learning theory as the theoretical framework, the research answered questions about how faculty experienced professional development and the transformations they made to their teaching practice after. Participants included evidence of their transformations by providing artifacts of changes made to their teaching at the conclusion of the series. These artifacts provided an important connection between learning from professional development and actual transformations to teaching. Results from the study indicated faculty experienced increased reflection on their identities, camaraderie amongst attendees, and comfort in having equitable conversations with diverse peers. Participants also reported increased motivation to create inclusive classrooms, greater confidence to make changes, and gained advanced tools to facilitate diversity, equity, and inclusion practices. Professional development educators can apply these study findings to their future training programs to help ensure faculty are making equitable changes to their teaching practice.
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    Vault SEED Homeschool to build racial and intellectual identity : a qualitative case study.
    (December 2022) Johnson, Denise P., 1977-; Ray, Brandi R.
    Schools reflect the nation’s social, political, and moral conditions and often perpetuate negative racial and intellectual identities for Black students more than any other group (Collins-White, 2018; Gadsden, 2017; Jay, 2009; Shelton, 2021; Vandivier, 2018). Black teachers' underrepresentation also poses issues for Black youth within public school spaces (Rocque & Paternoster, 2011). Because of the deep cultural connections shared, Black teachers understand the unique behaviors and cultural idiosyncrasies of Black youth (Lindsay & Hart, n.d.; Rocque & Paternoster, 2011). With a debt owed to Black students, families of these students often look for alternative methods of education. Current studies support the notion that Black families choose to homeschool as a way to exercise freedom (Fields-Smith & Kisura, 2013; Lundy & Mazama, 2014). This qualitative case study described the practices of the Vault SEED Homeschool Collective (VSHC), a cooperative homeschool program formed by Black families, to create positive racial and intellectual identities among its students. Within the Vault SEED Homeschool collective, Black home educators used culturally relevant pedagogy to promote positive outcomes for Black students. The Communities of Practice framework (Wenger, 1998), rooted in social learning theory, formulated guiding principles toward understanding and facilitating learning within a community that informed the research methodology, research question, data collection, and analysis of this study. The central claim of this study indicated that by engaging and learning Black culture, and fostering a sense of community while attending to the academic needs of students, Black home educators promoted and maintained positive racial and intellectual identities for Black youth. Within the Vault SEED Homeschool Collective community, Black students developed positive self-images through a cultural awareness of their historical and present selves. In an effort to remove traditional, hegemonic practices, alternative forms of measuring Black students’ achievement reflected their culture and efforts to belong and thrive in this world.
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    Teacher preparedness to employ culturally responsive teaching strategies after diversity, equity, and inclusion training : a quantitative causal-comparative design study.
    (December 2022) Castro, Elena Margaret, 1969-; Scott, Lakia.
    The purpose of the study was to examine differences in teacher demographic characteristics and factors associated with culturally and linguistically responsive teaching practices for those who completed or did not complete three voluntary diversity, equity, and inclusion professional development sessions. Participants self-reported demographic data and recorded scaled pre- and post-score information on the factors of curriculum and instruction, relationships and expectations, and group belonging foundations using the Culturally Responsive Teacher Preparedness scale (Hsiao, 2015). The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) calculated descriptive statistics and variable outcomes to measure differences in participants’ self-perceptions of preparedness to employ culturally responsive teaching strategies. Key findings included a training attrition rate of more than three-fourths of the participants. The results highlighted differences in the demographics of teachers who completed the training and those who did not, and differences in the factors of curriculum and instruction, relationships and expectations, and group belonging foundations for teachers who did or did not complete all three training sessions. The study contributes to research aimed at improving educational outcomes for diverse students by measuring teacher beliefs about their efficacy in applying culturally and linguistically relevant strategies. Teacher attitudes toward the factors of curriculum and instruction, relationships and expectations, and group belonging foundations, as measured by Hsiao’s (2015) Culturally Responsive Teacher Preparedness scale, provided insight into teachers’ attitudes about their ability to reach students from diverse backgrounds. Results from the study intended to compel dialogue among school administrators, teachers, and professional developers to ensure high-quality and culturally relevant instruction that reaches all students, especially historically marginalized students and students of color. The findings of the study supported further professional development for teachers in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Specifically, opportunities to discuss bias, its relationship to teachers’ attitudes, and the learning expectations they set for students. Additionally, the findings accented the need to formally engage teachers in professional learning opportunities to apply culturally and linguistically responsive teaching strategies at the classroom level.
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    Exploring faculty perceptions of dual credit students with non-apparent disabilities at a southwest community college : a single instrumental case study.
    (December 2022) Ballard Beasley, Maegan, 1992-; Ray, Brandi R.
    Dual credit programs, which allow high school students to enroll in college courses for high school and college credit, provide students with incredible opportunities to jump-start their collegiate experiences. However, despite expanding program availability and federal laws ensuring equal access to students with disabilities, a significant problem exists with equal access for students with non-apparent disabilities in dual credit programs. Disparate laws and services offered to students with disabilities at the secondary and postsecondary levels exacerbate this problem. The lack of research on the experiences of dual credit students with non-apparent disabilities and the inclusion of students with disabilities in dual credit programs in the United States further exacerbate this problem (Freeman-Green et al., 2018). Ultimately, this problem often creates confusion, frustration, and barriers for dual credit students with non-apparent disabilities. This problem of practice outlines a single, instrumental case study design that sought to explore faculty perceptions of dual credit students with non-apparent disabilities at a large community college in the southwest United States and to understand what dual credit faculty identify as challenges and effective practices for dual credit students with non-apparent disabilities at a large community college in the southwest United States. Qualitative data collection included semi-structured interviews, documents, and archival records. Data analysis utilized thematic analysis and framework analysis to answer the research questions. The findings of this single, instrumental case study indicated that requesting accommodations through the institution’s disability services office, utilizing available resources, and early notice to professors of the student’s accommodations are effective practices for academic success for dual credit students with non-apparent disabilities. Furthermore, this study revealed that communicating with students about their accommodations, emphasizing the accommodations process, and balancing flexibility with academic rigor are effective practices that may reduce barriers to equal access for dual credit students with non-apparent disabilities. Ultimately, this research study fills a significant gap in the existing research and provides insight into the unique experiences of teaching dual credit students with non-apparent disabilities in a community college setting.
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    Online doctoral student retention : a qualitative study exploring eight students' intrinsic motivation.
    (December 2022) Harrington, Shanea M., 1989-; Sanguras, Laila Y., 1977-
    Doctoral students completing their degrees is a vital part of success for their organizations, respective fields, and interdisciplinary collaborations. These professionals are often thought leaders, influence policy at varying levels, entrepreneurs, and educators among several other occupations. However, obtaining a doctoral degree is an arduous process for many that choose to pursue this academic pinnacle. The purpose of this qualitative instrumental case study was to explore how intrinsic motivation aided in retention among online doctoral students and to investigate the challenges that may impede their degree attainment. Intrinsic motivation is comprised of three psychological principles: relatedness, autonomy, and competence. When these principles work in conjunction within a supportive environment, they increase an individual’s self-determination and elevate one’s intrinsic motivation to accomplish their goals. Intrinsic motivation is a component within the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) Framework. I explored eight online doctoral students’ lived experiences through written responses and semi-structured interviews. The most prominent theme that emerged was relatedness as all the participants had a community of support among their cohort members, peers, professors, faculty advisors, peer working groups, family, or colleagues and this aided in their retention. Contrarily, several participants encountered issues with at least one instructor, and this demotivated them at times. Regarding autonomy, students successfully experienced volition through making choices regarding different aspects of their dissertation, coursework, groupwork and choosing to view pressure positively. The challenges that participants experienced were problems with work, life, and school balance, program/class structure, and finances. Students successfully experienced competence through teacher/faculty reaffirmation, embracing a growth mindset, applying constructive feedback, and receiving writing center services that helped them grow in their scholarly writing proficiencies. Conversely, statistics emerged as the main challenge for ineptness and lack of competence that students experienced in their program. Implications and recommendations are provided for stakeholders such as prospective and current online doctoral students, program administrators, faculty, doctoral advisors, and staff to provide additional insights and strategies to help this population navigate their programs and obtain their degrees.
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    Identifying the potential implications of the leadership succession process on school employees at an independent school : an instrumental case study.
    (December 2022) Borst, Gina P., 1963-; Pratt, Sarah Smitherman.
    All schools experience leadership succession. If a school does not formulate an educational leadership succession plan (ELSP), the trajectory of the school’s growth and sustainability plan shifts during the transition process. Four critical issues negatively affect the success of a school’s leadership succession transition. The first issue is an informal or non-existent educational leadership succession plan, and the second is limited school employee involvement in the succession decision-making process. The third issue is new principals lacking connectedness to the school’s mission and goals. Fourth, is a disregard for the potential impact of the succession process on the school employees (Gary & Bishop, 2009; Hargreaves & Fink, 2006; Mattar, 2020a). Although studies abound on leadership succession, research focusing on school administrative teams, faculty, and staff remains limited regarding the impact of leadership succession on these key stakeholders. This instrumental case study focused on the implications of a leadership succession process on employees at an independent high school. The transformational leadership theory framework guided the research for this case study conducted at the Grier School, an independent all-girls boarding and day-student high school. The evidence sources for data collection included online questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Forty school employees representing the faculty, staff, and administration graciously volunteered to participate in the instrumental case study and completed the online questionnaire. Eight of the 40 participants agreed to a semi-structured interview. Detailed descriptions emerged from the collected and analyzed data, forming narratives based on three prominent themes—a climate of trust, a sense of meaning, and an empowering environment. The evidence solidified the importance of investigating the implications of leadership succession on school employees and recognized their involvement in the succession process gave voice to those not typically included in such a significant school transition. This instrumental case study addressed the research question and supported the call for continued research on schools' potential growth and sustainability based on the ELSP utilized within the school.
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    It takes two to make a thing go right : a qualitative single-case study exploring faculty perceptions of the role of instructional designers and interpersonal dynamics of their working relationships and collaborative experiences.
    (December 2022) Rodriguez, Alexa, 1990-; Kaul, Corina R., 1969-
    Throughout the development of online courses within higher education, subject matter expert (SME) faculty often rely on an instructional designer’s (IDs) expertise and leadership to produce high-quality learning experiences for their students. Although IDs guide the creation of online courses and programs, instructional design is a profession that has yet to be fully recognized by educators in higher education (Drysdale, 2018; Hudson, 2014). Consequently, IDs often endure lack of understanding and misperceptions of their role by SME faculty which impacts the working relationship (Chen & Carliner, 2020; Drysdale, 2018; Hudson, 2014; Sharif & Gisbert, 2015). Thus, the purpose of the study was to gain a better understanding of how SME faculty perceive the role of IDs and the interpersonal dynamics of their working relationships in the online course development process at Unity University to determine how these relationships can be improved upon for more effective collaboration. To highlight the problem and conceptualize the purpose, the study employed a qualitative single-case study design in which 60-minute semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the lived experiences and perceptions of nine SME faculty who had collaborated with IDs in Unity University’s previous online course development process. Overall, the findings revealed positive overall SME faculty perceptions of IDs in the previous online course development process at Unity University. Four digital artifacts in the form of asynchronous collaborative Google Docs between SME faculty and IDs were also examined and analyzed to ascertain the utilization of this tool in the new agile online course development process at Unity University and its effectiveness for collaborative working relationships. The findings from the digital artifacts revealed a constant level of collaboration and communication on the asynchronous collaborative Google Docs through the usage of the comments function in Google Docs with some areas of intermittent non-responsiveness. To conclude, the implications for the current study highlighted areas of improvement for more effective working relationships and collaboration in the course development process between SME faculty and IDs as well as a framework proposal based on findings for future research of essential elements for effective collaboration: expertise, relationship, communication, and best practices.
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    African American male undergraduate and alumni perceptions, understandings and utilizations of career center resources in improving internships and full-time job opportunities.
    (December 2022) Pullam, Mark A., 1972-; Sanguras, Laila Y., 1977-
    African American undergraduate males are not utilizing the career center as a resource for internships and full-time job opportunities. Jacobson et al. (2017) suggest career centers are essential in preparing students for future employment and career growth. Career centers on college campuses activate the gap between skill attainment and matching undergraduate talent to professional employment opportunities. African American students do not utilize the career center benefit until it is too late (Parker, 1995). Failing to utilize the career center can equate to fewer opportunities and falling behind peers seeking professional internships and full-time experiences pre- and post- graduation (Cruzvergara et al., 2018). I used a qualitative descriptive multiple case study approach to conduct this research. The data collection originated from two cases and nine participants. Case 1 participants were four current undergraduate African American male students. Case 2 participants were five alumni African American male students. The theoretical framework informing this study was African American male theory (AAMT; Bush & Bush, 2013). AAMT examined the historic social disparity within the African American male experience that ultimately originates an undesirable ripple effect in the communities of learning, culture, conscience, and societal equilibrium for the African American male (Bush & Bush, 2013) Four key findings emerged from this study. The key findings are as a communal experience, the career center and its resources are broadly underutilized by African American undergraduate males, African American undergraduate males are not academically or socially the same, African American males are resilient and resistant, and without professional development and internships, African American undergraduate males are challenged to earn full-time gainful employment before graduation. Gainful employment is a measure of success and a return on investment for graduates and higher education institutions. Colleges and universities are motivated by student success and gainful employment, and the implications of this research will bring professional development attention to marginalized populations. Further research by professional organizations like the National Association of Colleges and Employers, and the inclusion of faculty in the university-wide professional development and career services utility promote positive outcomes for all students.
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    Who helps the helpers? An instrumental case study to allay professional burnout for school counselors.
    (December 2022) King, Yady S., 1977-; Shanks, Neil.
    This Problem of Practice explored professional burnout experienced by high school counselors with varied years of experience. Burnout is a psychological experience of negative feelings and stress stemming from work related hazards (Maslach & Leiter, 2016). Gabassi et al. (2002), found professional burnout to be most significant in the helping professions because of the relationship demands between helper and client. Further, Morse et al. (2012), estimated that between 21% and 67% of helpers experience burnout and for school counselors, it is often the result of role misunderstanding, large caseloads, and unrelated duties assigned (Bardhoshi et al., 2014; Coll & Freeman, 1997; Fye et al., 2020; Gündüz, 2012; Holman et al., 2019; Noble, 2011). An extensive literature review uncovered the limited research describing preventive and resisting strategies for school counselors, thus an intervention from nursing, a similar helping profession, provided the basis for the instrumental case study research design to answer the question, what characteristics of professional burnout do school counselors exhibit before, during, and after participating in a research-based program. Six high school counselors in the NoCal school district participated via informal surveys, Stress management and resilience training (SMART; see Magtibay et al., 2017) intervention modules, and post-intervention questionnaires resulting in rich and descriptive qualitative data. The coding process was strenuous to protect the participant’s identity, and Maslach’s (1998) multidimensional theory of burnout, informed the theoretical framework, guided the data collection, and subsequent analysis. This study found emotional exhaustion occurred at any time during the academic year and was triggered by either one traumatic event or a series of challenging experiences faced. Next, depersonalization negatively Sinfluenced the participants’ relationships with the educational system, campus administration, and district leadership. Reduced personal accomplishment was significant for all school counselors, regardless of years of experience. Lastly, building connections and setting boundaries were important strategies outside of a systematic approach, to address professional burnout. The findings of the study supported the importance of exploring professional burnout in school counselors to prevent further impairment, improve services for students and families, decrease counselor attrition, and provide preparation programs with definitive teaching strategies to reduce the effects.
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    Differentiated instruction in higher education : an embedded qualitative single case study.
    (December 2022) Estes, Morgan, 1986-; McCall, Madelon.
    Higher education in the United States does not effectively meet the needs of diverse learners due to the persistence of lecture-based teaching methods (Dosch & Zidon, 2014; Ernst & Ernst, 2005; Jorgensen & Brogaard, 2021; Turner et al., 2017). Evidenced by this overreliance on the lecture-based model is the rise of students required to retake courses, longer time to degree attainment, and a decrease in overall degree attainment rates despite colleges becoming increasingly accessible to more diverse student populations now than in the past (Brock, 2010; Dosch & Zidon, 2014; Schmidt et al., 2015). The inclusion of the tenets of Differentiated Instruction (DI) can positively impact student learning outcomes by promoting changes in instructors’ delivery and instructional methods within higher education. DI is extensively researched and implemented in K–12 settings, yet there exists little research about its effectiveness in higher education. This embedded qualitative single case study investigated the experiences and perceptions of a Communication Science and Disorders (CSD) instructor and her respective students regarding DI use in a higher education course. The CSD instructor completed online professional development modules, which disseminated pertinent information regarding DI principles and practices and how those could be applied to a Language Development class. The data collected, including open-ended questions, a research assignment artifact, and a pre-and-post DI questionnaire, allowed for in-depth analysis of instructor and student perceptions. The findings indicated that the use of DI strategies improved instructor DI awareness and validation of instruction and student appreciation for more varied use of teaching methods reflecting DI principles. The implications of the study are that DI can improve higher education instructor teaching practices and thus, increase student understanding and performance of learned content. The impact of the study lies in the potential that DI can have on reaching diverse student learners, decreasing remediation rates of courses, and increasing the number of students reaching degree attainment. The findings of this study provide evidence for positive change in college courses that support learning for all students.
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    Exploring the relationship between hygiene and motivator factors relating to teacher’s intended retention in Title I south Mississippi schools : a quantitative study.
    (December 2022) Baylis-Satcher, Jessi Rebekah, 1989-; Kaul, Corina R., 1969-
    Nationwide, the teacher shortage and turnover concerns are an ongoing, ever-growing issue in public education. Ingersoll and Perda (2009) define turnover as the “migration of teachers from one school district to another” (p. 8). In 2016, the nationwide report on teacher retention showed that nearly half a million teachers will leave their schools or profession by the end of the year (Fuller et al., 2016). Finding a remedy for high attrition and low retention could build a sustainable solution to shortages in K–12 public education. Teacher retention refers to the percentage of teachers that remain within their school after the previous year of teaching. On the other hand, attrition refers to the number of teachers that leave or do not return for the next school year, which is averaging around 12% of all U.S. teachers annually (Moore, 2012). This quantitative study examined the relationships between teachers and their perceptions of administrator support, job-related stress, COVID-19 related stress, and self-efficacy to create a positive work environment. This study also examined the factors behind a teacher wanting to return to their current job position, switch school districts, or leave the career altogether. This study aligned with the Motivational Two Factor Theory created by Herzberg, Mausner, and Snyderman (1959). Herzberg et al. (1959) posited that “certain factors lead to positive attitudes towards work, and others lead to negative attitudes” (p. 12). This study focused on the motivational factors that lead to burnout and stress among public school teachers of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Utilizing three scales, Bandura’s (1959) Teacher Burnout Scale, Lee’s COVID-19 Anxiety Scale, and Seidman and Zager’s (1986) Self-efficacy Scale, this research demonstrated that some stress and burnout are present in Hattiesburg, Mississippi teachers, but a majority of participants remained neutral about their levels of stress and burnout. The results suggest a variety of correlations including administrator support, attitudes towards students, and discipline as factors that create burnout among teachers. Minimal COVID-19 anxiety was present but revealed other factors led to stress over COVID-19. Additionally, when stress and burnout are present, teachers show a higher tendency to want to leave their current jobs.
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    Child protective services and the school enrollment process for foster students : a need to streamline the process for success.
    (December 2022) Bates, Jamie Lynn, 1979-; Ray, Brandi R.
    Collaboration between Child Protective Services (CPS) and public schools is vital when enrolling a foster student in school (Somers et al., 2020). Successful school enrollment sets a foster student up for success by having all their services and educational accommodations in place from the first day. Therefore, foster students’ stakeholders in the school enrollment process must work together to improve their educational outcomes. The improvements can occur by streamlining and improving the school enrollment process (Pears et al., 2015). Moreover, an unsuccessful school enrollment can place foster students academically behind and increase the likelihood of academic failure (Zetlin et al., 2006a). Increasing collaboration with stakeholders to improve the school enrollment process can provide foster students with their needed services upon enrollment (Somers et al., 2020). The current literature does not investigate the causes of failed school enrollments. The high academic failure rate encountered by foster students and the gap in the literature makes the investigation into the school enrollment process worth researching. This qualitative single case study provided data through one-to-one interviews that allowed me to explore the participants’ knowledge, experiences, and perceptions of the school enrollment process for students in foster care. I selected four participants to interview regarding the school enrollment process and its impact on the academics of foster students. I applied the theoretical framework of resiliency to examine the impact of the school enrollment process. The qualitative design, data collection, and analysis were crucial for addressing the research question. The study addressed the following research question: How does the current school enrollment process impact the educational success of foster students living in the State of Texas? Collaboration between CPS and the school impacts the school enrollment process. This study will benefit highly mobile foster care students with multiple school enrollments. The study gave insight into the difficult school enrollment process that can increase the likelihood of academic failure and challenges and close the gap in the literature. The participants’ perceptions offered a detailed and thick description to provide insight and to provide awareness into a complex and ever-changing problem regarding the school enrollment process.
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    A qualitative case study on teacher stress and burnout : discovering lived experiences of teachers in a unique school in Utah.
    (December 2022) Williams, LaunaLe, 1969-; McCall, Madelon.
    The education profession is struggling with keeping teachers in the teaching profession and the problem is worsening (Carver-Thomas & Darling-Hammond, 2017; Sulit, 2020). Teachers are leaving the profession because of stress and burnout (Aflakseir & Nemati, 2018). Teachers at Water Canyon High School (WCHS) were at risk of burnout and leaving the school. Because of the complex religious history of the economically disadvantaged community and the lack of education, many factors contributed to teachers’ stress and burnout at WCHS. The purpose of this study was to discover lived experiences of teachers at WCHS by exploring what caused them to experience stress and burnout in an underachieving school in Utah and what strategies they practiced to alleviate stress and burnout to improve teachers' overall mental health and well-being and stay at WCHS. The research design for this problem of practice was a qualitative instrumental single case study design to first discover teachers’ lived experiences with stress and burnout and then to use the PERMA Theory of Well-Being as the theoretical framework to discover how teachers alleviated stress (Seligman, 2011). I used surveys and face-to- face interviews with each participant to gather those experiences. The focus was discovering what teachers indicated caused them stress and what strategies they practiced to alleviate stress for improved mental health and well-being with the intent of teacher retention. The findings of this study were that teachers at Water Canyon High School had experienced different levels of stress and burnout. Teachers indicated that relationships with students, colleagues and administrators and practicing stress coping strategies and self-care helped alleviate their stress. Teachers also indicated that having meaning and a purpose in their job helped alleviate stress. These findings provided insight into the lived experiences of teachers at WCHS and how they coped with stress. The implications of the study laid the groundwork for school administrators to be aware of the causes of stress, provided evidence of using research-based support strategies, and focused on mental health to improve teacher retention at WCHS and ultimately improve student achievement.
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    Unlocking employee motivation : an explanatory sequential mixed methods study examining the impact of a career development program on employee motivation.
    (December 2022) Williams, Athena M., 1981-; Earl, Julia Collier.
    This explanatory sequential mixed methods study aimed to understand the effect and influence a Career Development Program (CDP) had on the basic need satisfaction and autonomous or controlled motivation of individual contributors in a medium-sized software company operating in the United States. In 2022, the United States economy continues to attempt to recover after the Covid-19 pandemic. The United States experienced a significant increase in employees electing to leave their current jobs in search of better work-life balance, remote working opportunities, and job satisfaction (Ellerbeck, 2022). A recent survey shows that nearly one in every five employees will likely resign from their current employer within the next 12 months (PwC, 2022). These statistics illustrate a growing need to ensure employees feel invested and motivated at work. Furthermore, employees with high intrinsic motivation also have high job satisfaction and low turnover intention (Deci et al., 1989; Kalgin et al., 2018; S. Kim & Park, 2014; Nie et al., 2015). Kim and Park (2014) also found that extrinsically motivated employees demonstrated the same desirable outcomes at work for lower turnover intention and high job satisfaction. This study included three phases, quantitative, qualitative, and finally, the integrated mixed methods phase. The first quantitative phase of the study consisted of data collection using Gagné et al.’s (2015) Multidimensional Work Motivation Scale (MWMS) to assess the participants’ controlled and autonomous motivations before and after program participation. After the quantitative data collection and analysis, the second qualitative phase explained the quantitative results with the participant’s perceived need satisfaction and motivation after program participation. Finally, the study looked at both data sets and integrated the results for analysis as a cohesive whole. The study found compelling evidence to support a career development program’s ability to increase controlled motivation and satisfy the basic needs of competence and relatedness. The participants reported feeling positive job-related outcomes, high job satisfaction, low turn-over intention, and higher productivity because of the program. The results highlighted the efficacy of using a well-designed career development program to motivate and engage employees.
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    Guiding light : a qualitative case study to describe what factors prompt African American male educators to teach elementary education and their experiences in this role.
    (December 2022) Emenaha, Ugochi M., 1983-; Pratt, Sarah Smitherman.
    There are too few African American male teachers in K–8 classrooms. The number of African American teachers (female and male) declined after integrating schools. 1954 Desegregation allowed African American students equal access to quality schools but did not make room for teachers to follow (Hodge et al., 2008). Additionally, the salary and respect level given to teachers in general has impacted the quality of applicants and the diversity of applicants (Carver-Thomas & Darling-Hammond, 2019; Ingersoll & May, 2011). While the number of African American female teachers has increased since the sixties, African American male teachers have not increased as steadily in today’s schools. African American male educators can positively impact all students in K–8 classrooms—especially African American students, who make up nearly half of the students in public education. However, male teachers are typically concentrated in high schools, highlighting the intersectionality between male, African American and K–8 teachers. Little research has been done focusing on the lack of African American male teachers in K–8 classrooms. I conducted a single case study on the experiences that impact African American male teachers in public school settings. Students can learn a lot from different cultures, but they tend to perform better if exposed to teachers who look like them (Fregni, 2019). Additionally, research shows that African American students who have African American teachers are likely to show academic success eventually; if an African American teacher teaches an African American student by third grade, their chances of graduating from high school increase (Fregni, 2019; Graham et al., 2014). Exploring four male teachers’ life experiences sheds light on why African American male teachers choose certification in specific grade levels. The study resulted in three findings that could contribute better understanding why the number of African American male teachers in K–8 classrooms should increase and in what ways to support them. I categorized their experiences into three main categories: mentoring, connecting and building relationships, and otherfathering. Based on these findings, I recommend increasing the number of teacher mentors, the opportunities for professional and financial growth, and the opportunities for teachers to connect.
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    Something made me doubt myself : a descriptive case study of the effects of teaching online during the Covid-19 pandemic on teacher self-efficacy.
    (December 2022) Webb, Laurie K., 1983-; Scott, Lakia.
    In the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused policymakers to mandate school closures. Teachers left the familiar in-person classroom environment and began teaching in an unfamiliar virtual setting with little to no training. This sudden switch caused them to downshift in their pedagogical practices, and they experienced a decrease in self-efficacy due to a lack of mastery experiences. A reduction in self-efficacy made them far less impactful in the virtual setting than in the physical classroom. This descriptive case study explored in-service teachers’ feelings of self-efficacy regarding the shift between in-person and virtual instruction due to the COVID-19 school closures. The literature in this study focused on the tenets of self-efficacy to shed light on how the transactional distance between teacher and student heavily impacted teachers’ methods and caused them to downshift. The study included open-ended, one-on-one, semi-structured interviews and a photolanguaging focus group with five participants from a suburban middle school in Southeast Texas. The combination of interviews and a photolanguaging focus group provided detailed descriptions and deep discussion, revealing the impact of the participants’ lived experiences and their decrease in self-efficacy during the COVID-19 pandemic. A sudden change with little to no training and lack of experience impacts self-efficacy. The implications of this study suggest that teachers felt feelings of isolation, fear, desperation, and anxiety as they navigated through the ups and downs of virtual instruction. The findings of the study revealed the following themes. Teachers felt isolated from their colleagues and students during school closures. They experienced fear of failure and were desperate to find resources and be trained. Teachers ultimately doubted their ability to teach successfully in a virtual environment. The study benefits teachers by providing a case for the need for training and experiential learning in virtual instruction. The study also closes gaps in the literature that emerged after the pandemic. Teachers experienced hardships during this time with little support. Still, they desire to receive more training and support in the future as a means of preparation for possible future events of this proportion.
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    Building a sense of community : a descriptive study exploring the perceptions of school administrators regarding economically disadvantaged students placed in disciplinary alternative education programs.
    (December 2022) Laredo Clark, Thelma, 1978-; Ray, Brandi R.
    Exclusionary discipline like a Discipline Alternative Education Program (DAEP) has not decreased student discipline referrals. Instead, economically disadvantaged students are often disproportionally assigned exclusionary discipline consequences, and often the impact of these consequences are overlooked (Anderson & Ritter, 2017; Moore et al., 2020; Skiba, 2014). The need to respond to student discipline referrals with consequences that do not exclude students is becoming a more evident issue. This descriptive study explored administrators’ perceptions regarding the use of exclusionary discipline, the available discipline strategies, and known outcomes for economically disadvantaged students. The literature highlighted in this study included an overview and history of policies leading to the use of DAEPs, the argument that there is a lack of evidence that exclusionary discipline curtails discipline incidents, the argument that there is a lack of awareness regarding its influence on economically disadvantaged students, and finally, the implications addressing the adverse effects on students. The researcher held semi-structured interviews with five participants from school districts in the El Paso area. The researcher applied McMillan and Chavis’ sense of community theory (1986) to connect the findings to the four elements shared in their theory: “membership, influence, reinforcement: integration and fulfillment of needs, and shared emotional connection” (p. 9). The findings highlight that the lack of discipline strategies impedes schools from supporting economically disadvantaged students recommended for an exclusionary discipline consequence. Participants shared that students are often “thrown away” into a DAEP classroom without the proper skills to rebuild relationships and rejoin their school community. The administrators also shared that with the current strategies, the number of discipline incidents was not decreasing. The findings also reveal that school administrators do not feel that exclusionary discipline is helping students return to their traditional classrooms and not return to DAEP. School administrators shared equity issues they have seen that impacted student outcomes. The information discovered encourages school districts to implement more restorative and rehabilitative practices for discretionary discipline reasons.
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    The calm after the storm : a qualitative case study on the role of resilience and post-disaster interventions in the recovery of Head Start programs.
    (December 2022) Jones, Shaunte V., 1980-; Shanks, Neil.
    In 2019, for the first time in 18 years, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) provided the Office of Head Start (OHS) with emergency funding for Head Start grant recipients impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. This funding provided Head Start programs with numerous post-disaster interventions necessary to recover from, respond to, and prepare for the next disaster. OHS encouraged grant recipients to utilize the disaster recovery funding to build more resilient facilities and to provide children, families, and staff with the tools and strategies needed to build their disaster resilience (Administration for Children and Families, 2018). Although grant recipients have received funding and implemented many of the interventions, OHS does not know how effective the interventions have been in building resilience across programs and among staff. This qualitative descriptive case study explored the role of resilience in disaster recovery for Head Start programs impacted by the 2017 Hurricane Maria and the 2020 earthquakes in Puerto Rico. I designed this research study to determine if the interventions OHS provided helped build disaster resiliency in Head Start program staff and administrators. I used purposive sampling to select eleven participants across three sites to participate in the study. I conducted semi-structured interviews with administrators and program staff and collected disaster recovery applications and mental health action plans from the three sites. The data analysis approach included comparing data across sites, reviewing cases, and coding and interpreting the data to reveal themes. This study showed that resilience is necessary for recovery and that acknowledging and addressing the mental health of children, families, and staff promotes resilience. The participants’ voices provided insight into the importance of supportive leadership that provides a sense of safety and community post-disaster. Overall, the OHS disaster recovery process was successful for Head Start grant recipients in Puerto Rico impacted by Hurricane Maria who participated in this study. The post-disaster interventions provided Head Start programs with everything they needed to reach the level of disaster resilience necessary to be prepared for the next disaster.
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    Understanding drivers of technical debt by factors that cause reductions to innovation within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs : a mixed-methods exploratory sequential study.
    (December 2022) Potts, Wallace C., 1986-; Earl, Julia Collier.
    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has large amounts of technical debt that has persisted for years. This technical debt was the source of outages, security vulnerabilities, and service stability and scrutiny from the media, congress, and the Veteran community. The goal of this study was to better understand technical debt through the eyes of the technical teams who maintain the systems of the VA. This study followed an exploratory sequential design. The first portion of the study identified a framework that collected common core beliefs about why technical debt persists in the industry. The study then analyses areas of technical debt that exist in organizations that cause technical debt to persist. Using these two elements of core beliefs and technical debt, this study evaluated technical teams’ feedback at the VA via focus team interviews to identify their beliefs on technical debt. The qualitative finding was technical debt persists because it is hidden, and because of internal cultural practices. These two issues were the technical teams’ most commonly held core beliefs. During the interviews, several of the teams identified evidence of their claims. The second portion of the study evaluated the claims from the participants against institutional data sources to determine if the participants’ perceptions of technical debt aligned with institutional data sources. The final portion integrated the qualitative feedback from the participants with the analysis of institutional data sources culminating in mixed-methods findings. The mixed-method finding was technical debt persists because it is hidden through internal cultural practices, in this case, a culture that has created large amounts of process and documentation debt. Institutional data sources corroborated the statements made by technical teams on their core beliefs and observations on technical debt. The study documented three implications and recommendations; the first was a recommendation on how to reduce the lack of documentation contributing to technical debt. The second was an interim step to lessen the impacts of process debt. The third recommendation included providing easier access to existing funds through better explanation and a clear process around the various colors of money.
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