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Promoting meaningful uses of technology in a middle school

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Federal education policies call for school district leaders to promote classroom technology integration to prepare students with 21st century skills. However, schools are struggling to integrate technology effectively, with students often reporting that they feel like they need to power

Federal education policies call for school district leaders to promote classroom technology integration to prepare students with 21st century skills. However, schools are struggling to integrate technology effectively, with students often reporting that they feel like they need to power down and step back in time technologically when they enter classrooms. The lack of meaningful technology use in classrooms indicates a need for increased teacher preparation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact a coaching model of professional development had on school administrators` abilities to increase middle school teachers` technology integration in their classrooms. This study attempted to coach administrators to develop and articulate a vision, cultivate a culture, and model instruction relative to the meaningful use of instructional technology. The study occurred in a middle school. Data for this case study were collected via administrator interviews, the Principal`s Computer Technology Survey, structured observations using the Higher Order Thinking, Engaged Learning, Authentic Learning, Technology Use protocol, field notes, the Technology Integration Matrix, teacher interviews, and a research log. Findings concluded that cultivating change in an organization is a complex process that requires commitment over an extended period of time. The meaningful use of instructional technology remained minimal at the school during fall 2010. My actions as a change agent informed the school`s administrators about the role meaningful use of technology can play in instruction. Limited professional development, administrative vision, and expectations minimized the teachers` meaningful use of instructional technology; competing priorities and limited time minimized the administrators` efforts to improve the meaningful use of instructional technology. Realizing that technology proficient teachers contribute to student success with technology, it may be wise for administrators to incorporate technology-enriched professional development and exercise their leadership abilities to promote meaningful technology use in classrooms.

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2011

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Creep characteristics and shear strength of recycled asphalt blends

Description

The trend towards using recycled materials on new construction projects is growing as the cost for construction materials are ever increasing and the awareness of the responsibility we have to be good stewards of our environment is heightened. While recycled

The trend towards using recycled materials on new construction projects is growing as the cost for construction materials are ever increasing and the awareness of the responsibility we have to be good stewards of our environment is heightened. While recycled asphalt is sometimes used in pavements, its use as structural fill has been hindered by concern that it is susceptible to large long-term deformations (creep), preventing its use for a great many geotechnical applications. While asphalt/soil blends are often proposed as an alternative to 100% recycled asphalt fill, little data is available characterizing the geotechnical properties of recycled asphalt soil blends. In this dissertation, the geotechnical properties for five different recycled asphalt soil blends are characterized. Data includes the particle size distribution, plasticity index, creep, and shear strength for each blend. Blends with 0%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% recycled asphalt were tested. As the recycled asphalt material used for testing had particles sizes up to 1.5 inches, a large 18 inch diameter direct shear apparatus was used to determine the shear strength and creep characteristics of the material. The results of the testing program confirm that the creep potential of recycled asphalt is a geotechnical concern when the material is subjected to loads greater than 1500 pounds per square foot (psf). In addition, the test results demonstrate that the amount of soil blended with the recycled asphalt can greatly influence the creep and shear strength behavior of the composite material. Furthermore, there appears to be an optimal blend ratio where the composite material had better properties than either the recycled asphalt or virgin soil alone with respect to shear strength.

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2011

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Leveraging faculty and peer leaders to promote commuter student co-curricular engagement: a collegiate retention intervention study

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It is commonly accepted that undergraduate degree attainment rates must improve if postsecondary educational institutions are to meet macroeconomic demands. Involvement in co-curricular activities, such as student clubs and organizations, has been shown to increase students' satisfaction with their college

It is commonly accepted that undergraduate degree attainment rates must improve if postsecondary educational institutions are to meet macroeconomic demands. Involvement in co-curricular activities, such as student clubs and organizations, has been shown to increase students' satisfaction with their college experience and the rates by which they might persist. Yet, strategies that college administrators, faculties, and peer leaders may employ to effectively promote co-curricular engagement opportunities to students are not well developed. In turn, I created the Sky Leaders program, a retention-focused intervention designed to promote commuter student involvement in academically-purposeful activities via faculty- and peer-lead mentoring experiences. Working from an interpretivist research paradigm, this quasi-experimental mixed methods action research study was intended to measure the intervention's impact on participants' re-enrollment and reported engagement rates, as well as the effectiveness of its conceptual and logistical aspects. I used enrollment, survey, interview, observation, and focus group data collection instruments to accommodate an integrated data procurement process, which allowed for the consideration of several perspectives related to the same research questions. I analyzed all of the quantitative data captured from the enrollment and survey instruments using descriptive and inferential statistics to explore statistically and practically significant differences between participant groups. As a result, I identified one significant finding that had a perceived positive effect. Expressly, I found the difference between treatment and control participants' reported levels of engagement within co-curricular activities to be statistically and practically significant. Additionally, consistent with Glaser and Strauss' grounded theory approach, I employed open, axial, and selective coding procedures to analyze all of the qualitative data obtained via open-ended survey items, as well as interview, observation, and focus group instruments. After I reviewed and examined the qualitative data corpus, I constructed six themes reflective of the participants' programmatic experiences as well as conceptual and logistical features of the intervention. In doing so, I found that faculty, staff, and peer leaders may efficaciously serve in specific mentoring roles to promote co-curricular engagement opportunities and advance students' institutional academic and social integration, thereby effectively curbing their potential college departure decisions, which often arise out of mal-integrative experiences.

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2011

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Community supported agriculture membership: characterizing food and sustainability behaviors

Description

Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs) have become a viable local source of fresh agricultural goods and represent a potentially new way to improve fruit and vegetable consumption among individuals and families. Studies concerning CSAs have focused mainly on characteristics of

Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs) have become a viable local source of fresh agricultural goods and represent a potentially new way to improve fruit and vegetable consumption among individuals and families. Studies concerning CSAs have focused mainly on characteristics of the typical CSA member and motivations and barriers to join a CSA program. The purpose of this study was to examine whether behavior and attitudinal differences existed between current CSA members and a nonmember control group. Specifically, ecological attitudes, eating out behaviors, composting frequency, and family participation in food preparation were assessed. This study utilized an online survey comprising items from previous survey research as well as newly created items. A total of 115 CSA member and 233 control survey responses were collected. CSA members were more likely to be older, have more education, and have a higher income than the control group. The majority of CSA members surveyed were female, identified as non-Hispanic and Caucasian, earned a higher income, and reported being the primary food shopper and preparer. The majority of members also noted that the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables they ate and served their family increased as a result of joining a CSA. CSA members were more ecologically minded compared to the control group. Frequency of eating out was not significantly different between groups. However, eating out behaviors were different between income categories. CSA members spent significantly more money at each meal eaten away from home and spent significantly more money on eating out each week. In both cases, controlling for income attenuated differences between groups. CSA members composted at a significantly higher rate and took part in other eco-friendly behaviors more often than the control group. Finally, no significant difference was evident between the two groups when analyzing family involvement in food preparation and meal decision-making. Overall, some significant attitudinal and behavioral differences existed between CSA members and non-CSA members. Further research is necessary to examine other distinctions between the two groups and whether these differences occur as a result of CSA membership.

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2011

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Collaboration across organizational boundaries: developing an information technology community of practice : Arizona State University

Description

Rapidly increasing demand for technology support services, and often shrinking budgetary and staff resources, create enormous challenges for information technology (IT) departments in public sector higher education. To address these difficult circumstances, the researcher developed a network of IT professionals

Rapidly increasing demand for technology support services, and often shrinking budgetary and staff resources, create enormous challenges for information technology (IT) departments in public sector higher education. To address these difficult circumstances, the researcher developed a network of IT professionals from schools in a local community college system and from a research university in the southwest into an interorganizational community of practice (CoP). This collaboration allowed members from participating institutions to share knowledge and ideas relating to shared technical problems. This study examines the extent to which the community developed, the factors that contributed to its development and the value of such an endeavor. The researcher used a mixed methods approach to gather data and insights relative to these research questions. Data were collected through online surveys, meeting notes and transcripts, post-meeting questionnaires, semi-structured interviews with key informants, and web analytics. The results from this research indicate that the group did coalesce into a CoP. The researcher identified two crucial roles that aided this development: community coordinator and technology steward. Furthermore, the IT professionals who participated and the leaders from their organizations reported that developing the community was a worthwhile venture. They also reported that while the technical collaboration component was very valuable, the non-technical topics and interactions were also very beneficial. Indicators also suggest that the community made progress toward self-sustainability and is likely to continue. There is also discussion of a third leadership role that appears important for developing CoPs that span organizational boundaries, that of the community catalyst. Implications from this study suggest that other higher education IT organizations faced with similar circumstances may be able to follow the model presented here and also achieve positive results.

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2011

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Constructing a model for small scale fish farmers

Description

Fish farming is a fast growing industry, which, although necessary to feed an ever growing worldwide population, has its share of negative environmental consequences, including the release of drugs and other waste into the ocean, the use of fish caught

Fish farming is a fast growing industry, which, although necessary to feed an ever growing worldwide population, has its share of negative environmental consequences, including the release of drugs and other waste into the ocean, the use of fish caught from the ocean to feed farm raised fish, and the escape of farm raised fish into natural bodies of water. However, the raising of certain types of fish, such as tilapia, seems to be an environmentally better proposition than raising other types of fish, such as salmon. This paper will explore the problems associated with fish farming, as well as offer a model, based on the literature, and interviews with fish farmers, to make small-scale fish farming both more environmentally, and more economically, sustainable. This paper culminates with a model for small-scale, specifically semi-subsistence, fish farmers. This model emphasizes education of the fish farmers, as well as educators learning from the fish farmers they interact with. The goal of this model is to help these fish farmers become both more environmentally and economically sustainable.

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2011

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Factors that influence teacher expectations of Africian American, Hispanic and low-income students

Description

There is a nationwide gap in which African American, Hispanic and low-income students perform significantly lower than their peers. Research suggests that teachers hold lower expectations for these students resulting in lower achievement. There are four main factors that influence

There is a nationwide gap in which African American, Hispanic and low-income students perform significantly lower than their peers. Research suggests that teachers hold lower expectations for these students resulting in lower achievement. There are four main factors that influence teacher expectations: stereotypes, teacher self-efficacy, school culture, language and formal policies and programs aimed at increasing teacher expectations. The purpose of this study was to inquire into the following questions: (1) What are the factors that influence teachers' academic expectations for low-income and minority students? (2) What are teacher's perceptions on the effectiveness of formal policies and programs that are aimed at increasing teacher expectations? More specifically, do teachers feel that top-down formal policies, such as teacher evaluations, uniform curriculum, and performance-based pay are effective in impacting their expectations, or do teachers believe that bottom-up policies, such as book studies and professional learning communities, make more of an impact on increasing their expectations? Ten teachers were interviewed in a school district that is consistent with the state and national achievement gap. The findings revealed that teacher expectations are influenced by the four factors I found in the research as well as two other factors: a cultural disconnect among teachers and students and teachers' level of motivation. A combination of top-down and bottom-up formal policies and programs are needed as teachers are individuals and all respond to various forms of formal policies and programs differently.

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2011

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The impact of local wellness policies on school meals and wellness in public schools

Description

There has been a push to create and implement school wellness policies. Childhood obesity statistics suggest that schools may have an important role to play in promoting wellness. Childhood obesity has become a significant problem in the United States. The

There has been a push to create and implement school wellness policies. Childhood obesity statistics suggest that schools may have an important role to play in promoting wellness. Childhood obesity has become a significant problem in the United States. The percentage of obese children in the United States has more than doubled since 1970, and up to 33% of the children in the United States are currently overweight. Among the 33% of children who are overweight, 25% are obese, and 14% have type 2 diabetes, previously considered to be a condition found only in adults. This mixed-method study with a string qualitative component study examined three aspects of federally mandated local wellness polices. The study investigated the policies themselves, how the policies are understood in the local school setting, with a particular focus on the impact the policies have had on school meals. The bulk of the research data was generated through 8 in-depth interviews. The interviews were conducted with key stakeholders within 2 elementary school districts in Arizona. In addition, the evaluation of 20 local wellness polices was conducted via a rubric scoring system. The primary component found to be lacking in local wellness policies was the evaluation method. Recommendations for school districts include the establishment of a clear method of measurement.

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2011

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Operationalizing neighborhood resiliency: a grass-roots approach

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This research addresses the ability for neighborhoods to assess resiliency as it applies to their respective local areas. Two demographically and economically contrasting neighborhoods in Glendale, Arizona were studied to understand what residents' value and how those values link to

This research addresses the ability for neighborhoods to assess resiliency as it applies to their respective local areas. Two demographically and economically contrasting neighborhoods in Glendale, Arizona were studied to understand what residents' value and how those values link to key principles of resiliency. Through this exploratory research, a community-focused process was created to use these values in order to link them to key principles of resiliency and potential measureable indicators. A literature review was conducted to first assess definitions and key principles of resiliency. Second, it explored cases of neighborhoods or communities that faced a pressure or disaster and responded resiliently based on these general principles. Each case study demonstrated that resiliency at the neighborhood level was important to its ability to survive its respective pressure and emerge stronger. The Heart of Glendale and Thunderbird Palms were the two neighborhoods chosen to test the ability to operationalize neighborhood resiliency in the form of indicators. First, an in-depth interview was conducted with a neighborhood expert to understand each area's strengths and weaknesses and get a context for the neighborhood and how it has developed. Second, a visioning session was conducted with each neighborhood consisting of seven participants to discuss its values and how they relate to key principles of resiliency. The values were analyzed and used to shape locally relevant indicators. The results of this study found that the process of identifying participants' values and linking them to key principles of resiliency is a viable methodology for measuring neighborhood resiliency. It also found that indicators and values differed between the Heart of Glendale, a more economically vulnerable yet ethnically diverse area, than Thunderbird Palms, a more racially homogenous, middle income neighborhood. The Heart of Glendale valued the development of social capital more than Thunderbird Palms which placed a higher value on the condition of the built environment as a vehicle for stimulating vibrancy and resiliency in the neighborhood. However, both neighborhoods highly valued public education and providing opportunities for children to be future leaders in their local communities.

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2011

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Community food resource assessment in Central City South, Phoenix: a study of community capacity building

Description

Many studies have shown that access to healthy food in the US is unevenly distributed and that supermarkets and other fresh food retailers are less likely to be located in low-income minority communities, where convenience and dollar stores are more

Many studies have shown that access to healthy food in the US is unevenly distributed and that supermarkets and other fresh food retailers are less likely to be located in low-income minority communities, where convenience and dollar stores are more prevalent grocery options. I formed a partnership with Phoenix Revitalization Corporation, a local community development organization engaged in Central City South, Phoenix, to enhance the community's capacity to meet its community health goals by improving access to healthy food. I used a community-based participatory approach that blended qualitative and quantitative elements to accommodate collaboration between both academic and non-academic partners. Utilizing stakeholder interviews, Nutrition Environment Measures Surveys (NEMS), and mapping to analyze the community's food resources, research revealed that the community lacks adequate access to affordable, nutritious food. Community food stores (n=14) scored an average of 10.9 out of a possible 54 points using the NEMS scoring protocol. The community food assessment is an essential step in improving access to healthy food for CCS residents and provides a baseline for tracking progress to improve residents' food access. Recommendations were drafted by the research partnership to equip and empower the community with strategic, community-specific interventions based on the research findings.

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2011