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

Description

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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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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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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Sustainable water management in Ciudad Juarez

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ABSTRACT Water resources in many parts of the world are subject to increasing stress because of (a) the growth in demand caused by population increase and economic development, (b) threats to supply caused by climate and land cover change, and

ABSTRACT Water resources in many parts of the world are subject to increasing stress because of (a) the growth in demand caused by population increase and economic development, (b) threats to supply caused by climate and land cover change, and (c) a heightened awareness of the importance of maintaining water supplies to other parts of the ecosystem. An additional factor is the quality of water management. The United States-Mexican border provides an example of poor water management combined with increasing demand for water resources that are both scarce and uncertain. This dissertation focuses on the problem of water management in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. The city has attracted foreign investment during the last few decades, largely due to relatively low environmental and labor costs, and to a range of tax incentives and concessions. This has led to economic and population growth, but also to higher demand for public services such as water which leads to congestion and scarcity. In particular, as water resources have become scarce, the cost of water supply has increased. The dissertation analyzes the conditions that allow for the efficient use of water resources at sustainable levels of economic activity--i.e., employment and investment. In particular, it analyzes the water management strategies that lead to an efficient and sustainable use of water when the source of water is either an aquifer, or there is conjunctive use of ground and imported water. The first part of the dissertation constructs a model of the interactive effects of water supply, wage rates, inward migration of labor and inward investment of capital. It shows how growing water scarcity affects population growth through the impact it has on real wage rates, and how this erodes the comparative advantage of Ciudad Juarez--low wages--to the point where foreign investment stops. This reveals the very close connection between water management and the level of economic activity in Ciudad Juarez. The second part of the dissertation examines the effect of sustainable and efficient water management strategies on population and economic activity levels under two different settings. In the first Ciudad Juarez relies exclusively on ground water to meet demand--this reflects the current situation of Ciudad Juarez. In the second Ciudad Juarez is able both to import water and to draw on aquifers to meet demand. This situation is motivated by the fact that Ciudad Juarez is considering importing water from elsewhere to maintain its economic growth and mitigate the overdraft of the Bolson del Hueco aquifer. Both models were calibrated on data for Ciudad Juarez, and then used to run experiments with respect to different environmental and economic conditions, and different water management options. It is shown that for a given set of technological, institutional and environmental conditions, the way water is managed in a desert environment determines the long run equilibrium levels of employment, investment and output. It is also shown that the efficiency of water management is consistent with the sustainability of water use and economic activity. Importing water could allow the economy to operate at higher levels of activity than where it relies solely on local aquifers. However, at some scale, water availability will limit the level of economic activity, and the disposable income of the residents of Ciudad Juarez.

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2011

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A funny thing happened on the way to the hippocampus: the effects of humor on student achievement and memory retention

Description

ABSTRACT Research literature relating to the use of humor as a teaching method or curricula specifically designed to include humor was reviewed to investigate the effects of humor on student learning in various environments from elementary schools to post-secondary classrooms.

ABSTRACT Research literature relating to the use of humor as a teaching method or curricula specifically designed to include humor was reviewed to investigate the effects of humor on student learning in various environments from elementary schools to post-secondary classrooms. In this multi-method study, four instruments and a humor treatment were selected to test the hypothesis that students who receive humor-embedded instruction would perform better on assessments than students who did not receive humor instruction. These assessments were analyzed to show student growth in achievement and memory retention as a result of humor-embedded instruction. Gain scores between a pre- test and two post-tests determined student growth in achievement and memory retention. Gain scores were triangulated with student responses to open-ended interview questions about their experiences with humor in the classroom. The gain score data were not statistically significant between the humor and non- humor groups. For the short-term memory gain scores, the non-humor group received slightly higher gain scores. For long-term memory gain scores, the humor group received higher gain scores. However, the interview data was consistent with the findings of humor research from the last 20 years that humor improves learning directly and indirectly.

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2011

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Quenching our thirst for future knowledge: participatory scenario construction and sustainable water governance in a desert city

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Transformational sustainability science demands that stakeholders and researchers consider the needs and values of future generations in pursuit of solutions to sustainability problems. This dissertation research focuses on the real-world problem of unsustainable water governance in the Phoenix region of

Transformational sustainability science demands that stakeholders and researchers consider the needs and values of future generations in pursuit of solutions to sustainability problems. This dissertation research focuses on the real-world problem of unsustainable water governance in the Phoenix region of Central Arizona. A sustainability transition is the local water system is necessary to overcome sustainability challenges and scenarios can be used to explore plausible and desirable futures to inform a transition, but this requires some methodological refinements. This dissertation refines scenario methodology to generate water governance scenarios for metropolitan Phoenix that: (i) feature enhanced stakeholder participation; (ii) incorporate normative values and preferences; (iii) focus on governance actors and their activities; and (iv) meet an expanded set of quality criteria. The first study in the dissertation analyzes and evaluates participatory climate change scenarios to provide recommendations for the construction and use of scenarios that advance climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. The second study proposes and tests a set of plausibility indications to substantiate or evaluate claims that scenarios and future projections could become reality, helping to establish the legitimacy of radically different or transformative scenarios among an extended peer community. The case study of water governance begins with the third study, which includes a current state analysis and sustainability appraisal of the Phoenix-area water system. This is followed by a fourth study which surveys Phoenix-area water decision-makers to better understand water-related preferences for use in scenario construction. The fifth and final study applies a multi-method approach to construct future scenarios of water governance in metropolitan Phoenix in 2030 using stakeholder preferences, among other normative frames, and testing systemic impacts with WaterSim 5.0, a dynamic simulation model of water in the region. The scenarios are boundary objects around which stakeholders can weigh tradeoffs, set priorities and reflect on impacts of water-related activities, broadening policy dialogues around water governance in central Arizona. Together the five studies advance transformational sustainability research by refining methods to engage stakeholders in crafting futures that define how individuals and institutions should operate in transformed and sustainable systems.

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2014

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Office design: an exploration of worker satisfaction and their perceptions of effective workspaces

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ABSTRACT Recent studies indicate that top-performing companies have higher-performing work environments than average companies. They receive higher scores for worker satisfaction with their overall physical work environment as well as higher effectiveness ratings for their workspaces (Gensler, 2008; Harter et

ABSTRACT Recent studies indicate that top-performing companies have higher-performing work environments than average companies. They receive higher scores for worker satisfaction with their overall physical work environment as well as higher effectiveness ratings for their workspaces (Gensler, 2008; Harter et al., 2003). While these studies indicate a relationship between effective office design and satisfaction they have not explored which specific space types may contribute to workers' overall satisfaction with their physical work environment. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between workers' overall satisfaction with their physical work environments and their perception of the effectiveness of spaces designed for Conceptual Age work including learning, focusing, collaborating, and socializing tasks. This research is designed to identify which workspace types are related to workers' satisfaction with their overall work environment and which are perceived to be most and least effective. To accomplish this two primary and four secondary research questions were developed for this study. The first primary question considers overall workers' satisfaction with their overall physical work environments (offices, workstations, hallways, common areas, reception, waiting areas, etc.) related to the effective use of work mode workspaces (learning, focusing, collaborating, socializing). The second primary research question was developed to identify which of the four work mode space types had the greatest and least relationship to workers' satisfaction with the overall physical work environment. Secondary research questions were developed to address workers' perceptions of effectiveness of each space type. This research project used data from a previous study collected from 2007 to 2012. Responses were from all staff levels of US office-based office workers and resulted in a blind sample of approximately 48,000 respondents. The data for this study were developed from SPSS data reports that included descriptive data and Pearson correlations. Findings were developed from those statistics using coefficient of determination.

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Date Created
2013

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Vulnerability to heat stress in urban areas: a sustainability perspective

Description

Extreme hot-weather events have become life-threatening natural phenomena in many cities around the world, and the health impacts of excessive heat are expected to increase with climate change (Huang et al. 2011; Knowlton et al. 2007; Meehl and Tebaldi 2004;

Extreme hot-weather events have become life-threatening natural phenomena in many cities around the world, and the health impacts of excessive heat are expected to increase with climate change (Huang et al. 2011; Knowlton et al. 2007; Meehl and Tebaldi 2004; Patz 2005). Heat waves will likely have the worst health impacts in urban areas, where large numbers of vulnerable people reside and where local-scale urban heat island effects (UHI) retard and reduce nighttime cooling. This dissertation presents three empirical case studies that were conducted to advance our understanding of human vulnerability to heat in coupled human-natural systems. Using vulnerability theory as a framework, I analyzed how various social and environmental components of a system interact to exacerbate or mitigate heat impacts on human health, with the goal of contributing to the conceptualization of human vulnerability to heat. The studies: 1) compared the relationship between temperature and health outcomes in Chicago and Phoenix; 2) compared a map derived from a theoretical generic index of vulnerability to heat with a map derived from actual heat-related hospitalizations in Phoenix; and 3) used geospatial information on health data at two areal units to identify the hot spots for two heat health outcomes in Phoenix. The results show a 10-degree Celsius difference in the threshold temperatures at which heat-stress calls in Phoenix and Chicago are likely to increase drastically, and that Chicago is likely to be more sensitive to climate change than Phoenix. I also found that heat-vulnerability indices are sensitive to scale, measurement, and context, and that cities will need to incorporate place-based factors to increase the usefulness of vulnerability indices and mapping to decision making. Finally, I found that identification of geographical hot-spot of heat-related illness depends on the type of data used, scale of measurement, and normalization procedures. I recommend using multiple datasets and different approaches to spatial analysis to overcome this limitation and help decision makers develop effective intervention strategies.

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2013