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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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Incorporating auditory models in speech/audio applications

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Following the success in incorporating perceptual models in audio coding algorithms, their application in other speech/audio processing systems is expanding. In general, all perceptual speech/audio processing algorithms involve minimization of an objective function that directly/indirectly incorporates properties of human perception.

Following the success in incorporating perceptual models in audio coding algorithms, their application in other speech/audio processing systems is expanding. In general, all perceptual speech/audio processing algorithms involve minimization of an objective function that directly/indirectly incorporates properties of human perception. This dissertation primarily investigates the problems associated with directly embedding an auditory model in the objective function formulation and proposes possible solutions to overcome high complexity issues for use in real-time speech/audio algorithms. Specific problems addressed in this dissertation include: 1) the development of approximate but computationally efficient auditory model implementations that are consistent with the principles of psychoacoustics, 2) the development of a mapping scheme that allows synthesizing a time/frequency domain representation from its equivalent auditory model output. The first problem is aimed at addressing the high computational complexity involved in solving perceptual objective functions that require repeated application of auditory model for evaluation of different candidate solutions. In this dissertation, a frequency pruning and a detector pruning algorithm is developed that efficiently implements the various auditory model stages. The performance of the pruned model is compared to that of the original auditory model for different types of test signals in the SQAM database. Experimental results indicate only a 4-7% relative error in loudness while attaining up to 80-90 % reduction in computational complexity. Similarly, a hybrid algorithm is developed specifically for use with sinusoidal signals and employs the proposed auditory pattern combining technique together with a look-up table to store representative auditory patterns. The second problem obtains an estimate of the auditory representation that minimizes a perceptual objective function and transforms the auditory pattern back to its equivalent time/frequency representation. This avoids the repeated application of auditory model stages to test different candidate time/frequency vectors in minimizing perceptual objective functions. In this dissertation, a constrained mapping scheme is developed by linearizing certain auditory model stages that ensures obtaining a time/frequency mapping corresponding to the estimated auditory representation. This paradigm was successfully incorporated in a perceptual speech enhancement algorithm and a sinusoidal component selection task.

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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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Best value implementation program for contractors

Description

The price based marketplace has dominated the construction industry. The majority of owners use price based practices of management (expectation and decision making, control, direction, and inspection.) The price based/management and control paradigm has not worked. Clients

The price based marketplace has dominated the construction industry. The majority of owners use price based practices of management (expectation and decision making, control, direction, and inspection.) The price based/management and control paradigm has not worked. Clients have now been moving toward the best value environment (hire contractors who know what they are doing, who preplan, and manage and minimize risk and deviation.) Owners are trying to move from client direction and control to hiring an expert and allowing them to do the quality control/risk management. The movement of environments changes the paradigm for the contractors from a reactive to a proactive, from a bureaucratic
on-accountable to an accountable position, from a relationship based
on-measuring to a measuring entity, and to a contractor who manages and minimizes the risk that they do not control. Years of price based practices have caused poor quality and low performance in the construction industry. This research identifies what is a best value contractor or vendor, what factors make up a best value vendor, and the methodology to transform a vendor to a best value vendor. It will use deductive logic, a case study to confirm the logic and the proposed methodology.

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2011

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Smooth surfaces for video game development

Description

The video game graphics pipeline has traditionally rendered the scene using a polygonal approach. Advances in modern graphics hardware now allow the rendering of parametric methods. This thesis explores various smooth surface rendering methods that can be integrated into the

The video game graphics pipeline has traditionally rendered the scene using a polygonal approach. Advances in modern graphics hardware now allow the rendering of parametric methods. This thesis explores various smooth surface rendering methods that can be integrated into the video game graphics engine. Moving over to parametric or smooth surfaces from the polygonal domain has its share of issues and there is an inherent need to address various rendering bottlenecks that could hamper such a move. The game engine needs to choose an appropriate method based on in-game characteristics of the objects; character and animated objects need more sophisticated methods whereas static objects could use simpler techniques. Scaling the polygon count over various hardware platforms becomes an important factor. Much control is needed over the tessellation levels, either imposed by the hardware limitations or by the application, to be able to adaptively render the mesh without significant loss in performance. This thesis explores several methods that would help game engine developers in making correct design choices by optimally balancing the trade-offs while rendering the scene using smooth surfaces. It proposes a novel technique for adaptive tessellation of triangular meshes that vastly improves speed and tessellation count. It develops an approximate method for rendering Loop subdivision surfaces on tessellation enabled hardware. A taxonomy and evaluation of the methods is provided and a unified rendering system that provides automatic level of detail by switching between the methods is proposed.

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2011

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A control engineering approach for designing an optimized treatment plan for fibromyalgia

Description

There is increasing interest in the medical and behavioral health communities towards developing effective strategies for the treatment of chronic diseases. Among these lie adaptive interventions, which consider adjusting treatment dosages over time based on participant response. Control engineering offers

There is increasing interest in the medical and behavioral health communities towards developing effective strategies for the treatment of chronic diseases. Among these lie adaptive interventions, which consider adjusting treatment dosages over time based on participant response. Control engineering offers a broad-based solution framework for optimizing the effectiveness of such interventions. In this thesis, an approach is proposed to develop dynamical models and subsequently, hybrid model predictive control schemes for assigning optimal dosages of naltrexone, an opioid antagonist, as treatment for a chronic pain condition known as fibromyalgia. System identification techniques are employed to model the dynamics from the daily diary reports completed by participants of a blind naltrexone intervention trial. These self-reports include assessments of outcomes of interest (e.g., general pain symptoms, sleep quality) and additional external variables (disturbances) that affect these outcomes (e.g., stress, anxiety, and mood). Using prediction-error methods, a multi-input model describing the effect of drug, placebo and other disturbances on outcomes of interest is developed. This discrete time model is approximated by a continuous second order model with zero, which was found to be adequate to capture the dynamics of this intervention. Data from 40 participants in two clinical trials were analyzed and participants were classified as responders and non-responders based on the models obtained from system identification. The dynamical models can be used by a model predictive controller for automated dosage selection of naltrexone using feedback/feedforward control actions in the presence of external disturbances. The clinical requirement for categorical (i.e., discrete-valued) drug dosage levels creates a need for hybrid model predictive control (HMPC). The controller features a multiple degree-of-freedom formulation that enables the user to adjust the speed of setpoint tracking, measured disturbance rejection and unmeasured disturbance rejection independently in the closed loop system. The nominal and robust performance of the proposed control scheme is examined via simulation using system identification models from a representative participant in the naltrexone intervention trial. The controller evaluation described in this thesis gives credibility to the promise and applicability of control engineering principles for optimizing adaptive interventions.

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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