Doctoral Dissertations

Permanent URI for this collection


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 863
  • Item
    (Middle Tennessee State University, 2022) Fateh, Shaghayegh ; Rushton, Gregory T. ; Gardner, Grant E. ; Jones, Ryan S. ; Phelps, Amy ; Cole, Renee
    Having discussions and working together in groups with other learners is the indicator of the collaboration aspect of engagement. Collaborative engagement can be fostered through active learning approaches, since they provide more opportunities for interaction among learners. In Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) classrooms, small groups of peers discuss and verbalize ideas with each other to reach a shared understanding. As students discuss ideas and share ideas with others, they can hear different viewpoints and develop understandings that may not have been possible individually. This dissertation considers this approach toward learning, focused on two big ideas: 1) the English Learner (EL) student population and their engagement in small group conversations 2) the impact of converting a POGIL class to a hybrid format on students' engagement in small group conversations. 1) the English Learner (EL) student population and their engagement in small group conversations Increasing numbers of immigrants in the United States have led to an increase in the number of ELs in American classrooms. A typical challenge for ELs in American science classes is that they are unfamiliar with the norms and expectations of class and may not feel valued and accepted. Instructors may also have lower expectations for them, affecting their learning and achievement. Due to these difficulties, English learners might have a different experience and engage in small group discussions differently than non-English learners in a POGIL-based. Our analysis indicated that ELs are less likely to engage in discursive moves that lead to shared understanding than non-ELs, which could indicate missed opportunities for knowledge construction. In addition, we provided evidence that EL populations may need to be redefined and subgroups within them considered. According to our findings, the EL population can be categorized into subgroups based on students’ educational backgrounds. The defined subgroups of ELs engaged differently in small group conversations and those who spent more time in the US educational system participated more actively in conversations. 2) the impact of converting a POGIL class to a hybrid format on students' engagement in small group conversations. Nowadays, distance education plays an important role in the educational system. Transactional distance theory argues that distance education creates a psychological separation between students and their instructors, preventing students from interacting and being engaged. Studies suggest that distance education could benefit from active learning approaches to reduce transactional distance. In this study, a hybrid POGIL class with half of the students attending in person and the other half participating remotely was investigated to see how this particular active learning approach influenced students' interactions. Despite the active learning approach in this design, analysis of students' conversations showed that they were sometimes less engaged in group discussions when interacting remotely, suggesting that the transactional distance for remote students was present. Student participants and the course instructor attributed this pattern to more distractions in remote classes, difficulties in engagement caused by the nature of online courses, and less accountability. Upon analysis at the individual student level, we found that the patterns we observed for the entire class were not the same for each student. From student participants’ and the instructor’s point of view, sometimes students' personality (e.g., some people are comfortable sharing their ideas with others but some people do not) and their attitudes toward the course could have a greater impact on how they engaged in small group discussions than whether they were in person or remote. To understand the dynamic behind these observed patterns and optimize the learning experience in distance education, more research is needed on student characteristics, group dynamics, facilitation, and task types.
  • Item
    (Middle Tennessee State University, 2022) Webster, Jennifer Michelle ; Lischka, Alyson E ; Jones, Seth ; Kaplan, Jennifer J ; Stephens, Christopher ; Bleiler-Baxter, Sarah K
    Girls are less likely than boys to pursue a degree or career in a mathematics-based field. Girls tend to have higher grades and similar test scores when compared with boys. However, girls’ affective beliefs, including confidence, fall behind those of their male counterparts. The purpose of this study was to understand how girls perceive the connection between classroom activities and their feelings of self-efficacy in the mathematics classroom. I used a multiple case study to explore five Algebra 2 students’ confidence throughout a unit of study on polynomial functions. The study addressed the following research questions: 1. What are high school girls’ perceptions of the connection between various forms of classroom activities and their confidence on mathematics assessments, if any? 2. How do specific forms of classroom assessment contribute to the growth of high school girls’ mathematical confidence, if at all? This case study analyzed survey responses, assessment reflections, and interview data collected from five students over the course of approximately three weeks as their Algebra 2 classes covered a unit on polynomial and rational functions. The survey, reflections, and interview questions were centered around understanding the girls’ confidence in mathematics. Bandura’s (1995) four sources of self-efficacy provided a framework for analyzing the reflection and interview data. The findings of this study included a collection of student perceived benefits and limitations to their confidence in mathematics based on the type of classroom activity discussed. Mastery experiences had the greatest impact on student confidence. Vicarious experiences and social experiences influenced the students’ confidence; however, the social influence came from the teacher rather than peers most of the time. Finally, there were other factors outside of the classroom impacting the students’ confidence in mathematics. This study produced results that are significant in four ways. First, the results connect to prior research by supporting the four sources of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997) as influential to girls’ confidence in mathematics. Second, this study offers theoretical implications as to how Women’s Ways of Knowing (Belenky et al., 1986) informs the four sources of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997). Third, the results provide suggestions for practice for secondary mathematics teachers to support girls’ confidence in mathematics. Finally, questions and considerations for future research emerged from the results of this study.
  • Item
    A Way Back: Educator Perceptions of Restorative Practices and Its Effect on the Learning Environment
    (Middle Tennessee State University, 2022) Campbell, Casey Wade ; Quarto, Chris ; Hooser, Angela ; Carter, Lando ; Krahenbuhl, Kevin
    Over the last decade, restorative practices have emerged as an alternate form of school discipline as a result of the negative effects of exclusionary discipline practices. Restorative practices seeks to limit exclusionary practices and keep more students in the classroom while focusing on student accountability and relationship building. The purpose of this qualitative instrumental case study was to explore the perceptions of school staff on the implementation of restorative practices and their effect on the learning environment in order to answer the following research questions: (1) How do teachers and administrators perceive and experience the discipline process in schools where restorative practices are emphasized? (2) How do teachers and administrators perceive the effect student behavior has on the learning environment in schools that emphasize restorative discipline practices? An urban Tennessee middle school that had been implementing restorative practices school-wide for four years, was chosen as the case for this study. Four school staff members were chosen utilizing purposeful sampling techniques to participate in individual semi-structured interviews. To provide context to interview data, the researcher also collected and examined four consecutive years of student achievement data, student discipline data, and student attendance data. Interview data was analyzed using first and second cycle coding methods. This study found mixed results for the utilization of restorative practices. All participants perceive restorative practices as having a positive effect on school culture and believed their use resulted in fewer behavior incidents. Positive effects reported included a focus on building relationships, more caring classroom communities, and conflict mediation strategies that helps to teach students how to successfully deal with conflict. However, participants still expressed reservations that the amount of time dedicated to the RP could take away from instructional time. Participants also reported serious concerns about how students who do not seem to respond positively to restorative strategies affect the learning environment.
  • Item
    Revisited Relativistic Dirac-Hartree-Fock X-ray Scattering Factors for Neutral Atoms with Z = 2 – 118, and Chemically-Relevant Ions: All Cations, Selected Monovalent Anions, and the Excited (Valence) States of Carbon & Silicon.
    (Middle Tennessee State University, 2022) Shiroye, Olukayode oloyede ; Anatoliy, Volkov ; Khaliq, Abdul ; Li, Cen ; McDougall, Preston
    This is a two-article dissertation structure which comprises of four chapters. Chapter one gives the general overview of the research interest, motivation and identified gaps in the literature. The chapter two and three compose of the first and second papers submitted for publication respectively. Chapter four discussed the conclusion drawn on the results obtained from the research and how this result compares to previous studies on X-ray scattering factor calculation. For this dissertation, two papers have been submitted for publications on revisited relativistic Dirac-Hartree-Fock X-ray scattering factor for neutral atoms with Z = 2 – 118 (He – Og) and Chemically-Relevant Ions: All Cations, Selected Monovalent Anions, and the Excited (Valence) States of Carbon & Silicon. The X-ray scattering factor calculation used the recently developed DBSR_HF program [Zatsarinny & Froese Fischer (2016). Comput. Phys. Comm. 202, 287 – 303] to calculate the fully relativistic Dirac-Hartree-Fock ground-state wavefunctions for all atoms with Z = 2 – 118 (He – Og) and 318 chemically relevant ions. The calculations use the extended average level scheme and include both the Breit interaction correction to the electronic motion due to magnetic and retardation effects, and the Fermi distribution function for the description of the nuclear charge density. Using the total and orbital (spinor) energies, charge density maxima, atomic mean radii and means spherical radii (Guerra et al., 2017) for the neutral atoms and total electronic & ionization energies for ions, adequate comparison have been made between the results obtained and several previous studies. A newly developed Fortran program SF was used for a precise integration of the X-ray scattering factors by employing the DBSR_HF’s B-spline representation of the relativistic oneelectron orbitals. Interpolation of the obtained X-ray scattering factor has also been done in the v 0 ≤ sin ? /? ≤ 2 Å −1 and 2 ≤ sin ? /? ≤ 6 Å −1 ranges using the recommended analytical functions for a four-term and five-term expansions. The X-ray scattering factor values obtained from the uniform treatments of the all the species seem to represent an excellent compromise among all the previous studies and should be a good replacement for values in Volume C of the 2006 edition of International Table for Crystallography (Maslen, Fox & O’Keefe, 2006).
  • Item
    Underwater Treadmill Training in Adults with a Unilateral Transtibial Amputation
    (Middle Tennessee State University, 2022) Norred, Zachary Ryan ; Caputo, Jennifer L. ; Stevens, Sandra L. ; Johnson, Samantha ; Fuller, Dana K.
    ABSTRACT A unilateral transtibial amputation (TTA) propagates secondary physical conditions and complications that may negatively impact quality of life and health. Often, there are challenges to balance, posture, and functional mobility. Underwater treadmill training (UTT) is an alternative modality for people with a TTA that can address these concerns. Series case studies were conducted with three adults (1 female, 2 males) with a TTA to establish the efficacy of UTT within this population and to better understand the challenges to activities of daily living (ADL) and physical activity (PA). Participants completed a 6-week underwater treadmill training protocol and participated in a focus group. Pre-, mid-, and post-UTT measures of balance, fall risk, center of pressure, and weight distribution were assessed. Pre- and post-assessments of walking capacity and balance confidence were also measured and cardiovascular responses to exercise were monitored during the UTT. Outcomes of training increased balance, reduced fall risk, and improved weight distribution from left to right and front to back with increased reliance on the prosthetic limb. Balance confidence during PA and functional mobility improved. Cardiovascular responses and rate of perceived exertion were positive and linearly associated with walking bout time and walking speed, respectively. The focus group revealed themes of a need for increased planning and decreased tolerance when performing ADL. Residual limb symptoms underscored themes of challenges with cardiovascular and resistance training exercises. Participants also noted being more active post-amputation to increase health or physical fitness and attempt to return to pre-amputation levels of PA. Reponses also highlighted themes of improved balance or posture while standing or ambulating and increased confidence while performing activities with a prosthesis following UTT. Improved muscular fitness was also a consistent theme with all improvements resulting in increased exercise tolerance. Overall, UTT was an effective and safe training modality which yielded improvements in physical performance and function for people with a TTA. Participation in UTT can increase physical fitness to minimize objective and subjective challenges associated with completing ADL and being physically active in those with a TTA.