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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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Generalized statistical tolerance analysis and three dimensional model for manufacturing tolerance transfer in manufacturing process planning

Description

Mostly, manufacturing tolerance charts are used these days for manufacturing tolerance transfer but these have the limitation of being one dimensional only. Some research has been undertaken for the three dimensional geometric tolerances but it is too theoretical and yet

Mostly, manufacturing tolerance charts are used these days for manufacturing tolerance transfer but these have the limitation of being one dimensional only. Some research has been undertaken for the three dimensional geometric tolerances but it is too theoretical and yet to be ready for operator level usage. In this research, a new three dimensional model for tolerance transfer in manufacturing process planning is presented that is user friendly in the sense that it is built upon the Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) readings that are readily available in any decent manufacturing facility. This model can take care of datum reference change between non orthogonal datums (squeezed datums), non-linearly oriented datums (twisted datums) etc. Graph theoretic approach based upon ACIS, C++ and MFC is laid out to facilitate its implementation for automation of the model. A totally new approach to determining dimensions and tolerances for the manufacturing process plan is also presented. Secondly, a new statistical model for the statistical tolerance analysis based upon joint probability distribution of the trivariate normal distributed variables is presented. 4-D probability Maps have been developed in which the probability value of a point in space is represented by the size of the marker and the associated color. Points inside the part map represent the pass percentage for parts manufactured. The effect of refinement with form and orientation tolerance is highlighted by calculating the change in pass percentage with the pass percentage for size tolerance only. Delaunay triangulation and ray tracing algorithms have been used to automate the process of identifying the points inside and outside the part map. Proof of concept software has been implemented to demonstrate this model and to determine pass percentages for various cases. The model is further extended to assemblies by employing convolution algorithms on two trivariate statistical distributions to arrive at the statistical distribution of the assembly. Map generated by using Minkowski Sum techniques on the individual part maps is superimposed on the probability point cloud resulting from convolution. Delaunay triangulation and ray tracing algorithms are employed to determine the assembleability percentages for the assembly.

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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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Active and passive precision grip responses to unexpected perturbations

Description

The development of advanced, anthropomorphic artificial hands aims to provide upper extremity amputees with improved functionality for activities of daily living. However, many state-of-the-art hands have a large number of degrees of freedom that can be challenging to control in

The development of advanced, anthropomorphic artificial hands aims to provide upper extremity amputees with improved functionality for activities of daily living. However, many state-of-the-art hands have a large number of degrees of freedom that can be challenging to control in an intuitive manner. Automated grip responses could be built into artificial hands in order to enhance grasp stability and reduce the cognitive burden on the user. To this end, three studies were conducted to understand how human hands respond, passively and actively, to unexpected perturbations of a grasped object along and about different axes relative to the hand. The first study investigated the effect of magnitude, direction, and axis of rotation on precision grip responses to unexpected rotational perturbations of a grasped object. A robust "catch-up response" (a rapid, pulse-like increase in grip force rate previously reported only for translational perturbations) was observed whose strength scaled with the axis of rotation. Using two haptic robots, we then investigated the effects of grip surface friction, axis, and direction of perturbation on precision grip responses for unexpected translational and rotational perturbations for three different hand-centric axes. A robust catch-up response was observed for all axes and directions for both translational and rotational perturbations. Grip surface friction had no effect on the stereotypical catch-up response. Finally, we characterized the passive properties of the precision grip-object system via robot-imposed impulse perturbations. The hand-centric axis associated with the greatest translational stiffness was different than that for rotational stiffness. This work expands our understanding of the passive and active features of precision grip, a hallmark of human dexterous manipulation. Biological insights such as these could be used to enhance the functionality of artificial hands and the quality of life for upper extremity amputees.

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2013

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Behavior of colloids with anisotropic diffusivities

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Locomotion of microorganisms is commonly observed in nature and some aspects of their motion can be replicated by synthetic motors. Synthetic motors rely on a variety of propulsion mechanisms including auto-diffusiophoresis, auto-electrophoresis, and bubble generation. Regardless of the source of

Locomotion of microorganisms is commonly observed in nature and some aspects of their motion can be replicated by synthetic motors. Synthetic motors rely on a variety of propulsion mechanisms including auto-diffusiophoresis, auto-electrophoresis, and bubble generation. Regardless of the source of the locomotion, the motion of any motor can be characterized by the translational and rotational velocity and effective diffusivity. In a uniform environment the long-time motion of a motor can be fully characterized by the effective diffusivity. In this work it is shown that when motors possess both translational and rotational velocity the motor transitions from a short-time diffusivity to a long-time diffusivity at a time of pi/w. The short-time diffusivities are two to three orders of magnitude larger than the diffusivity of a Brownian sphere of the same size, increase linearly with concentration, and scale as v^2/2w. The measured long-time diffusivities are five times lower than the short-time diffusivities, scale as v^2/{2Dr [1 + (w/Dr )^2]}, and exhibit a maximum as a function of concentration. The variation of a colloid's velocity and effective diffusivity to its local environment (e.g. fuel concentration) suggests that the motors can accumulate in a bounded system, analogous to biological chemokinesis. Chemokinesis of organisms is the non-uniform equilibrium concentration that arises from a bounded random walk of swimming organisms in a chemical concentration gradient. In non-swimming organisms we term this response diffusiokinesis. We show that particles that migrate only by Brownian thermal motion are capable of achieving non-uniform pseudo equilibrium distribution in a diffusivity gradient. The concentration is a result of a bounded random-walk process where at any given time a larger percentage of particles can be found in the regions of low diffusivity than in regions of high diffusivity. Individual particles are not trapped in any given region but at equilibrium the net flux between regions is zero. For Brownian particles the gradient in diffusivity is achieved by creating a viscosity gradient in a microfluidic device. The distribution of the particles is described by the Fokker-Planck equation for variable diffusivity. The strength of the probe concentration gradient is proportional to the strength of the diffusivity gradient and inversely proportional to the mean probe diffusivity in the channel in accordance with the no flux condition at steady state. This suggests that Brownian colloids, natural or synthetic, will concentrate in a bounded system in response to a gradient in diffusivity and that the magnitude of the response is proportional to the magnitude of the gradient in diffusivity divided by the mean diffusivity in the channel.

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2013

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Towards haptic intelligence for artificial hands: development and use of deformable, fluidic tactile sensors to relate action and perception

Description

Human fingertips contain thousands of specialized mechanoreceptors that enable effortless physical interactions with the environment. Haptic perception capabilities enable grasp and manipulation in the absence of visual feedback, as when reaching into one's pocket or wrapping a belt around oneself.

Human fingertips contain thousands of specialized mechanoreceptors that enable effortless physical interactions with the environment. Haptic perception capabilities enable grasp and manipulation in the absence of visual feedback, as when reaching into one's pocket or wrapping a belt around oneself. Unfortunately, state-of-the-art artificial tactile sensors and processing algorithms are no match for their biological counterparts. Tactile sensors must not only meet stringent practical specifications for everyday use, but their signals must be processed and interpreted within hundreds of milliseconds. Control of artificial manipulators, ranging from prosthetic hands to bomb defusal robots, requires a constant reliance on visual feedback that is not entirely practical. To address this, we conducted three studies aimed at advancing artificial haptic intelligence. First, we developed a novel, robust, microfluidic tactile sensor skin capable of measuring normal forces on flat or curved surfaces, such as a fingertip. The sensor consists of microchannels in an elastomer filled with a liquid metal alloy. The fluid serves as both electrical interconnects and tunable capacitive sensing units, and enables functionality despite substantial deformation. The second study investigated the use of a commercially-available, multimodal tactile sensor (BioTac sensor, SynTouch) to characterize edge orientation with respect to a body fixed reference frame, such as a fingertip. Trained on data from a robot testbed, a support vector regression model was developed to relate haptic exploration actions to perception of edge orientation. The model performed comparably to humans for estimating edge orientation. Finally, the robot testbed was used to perceive small, finger-sized geometric features. The efficiency and accuracy of different haptic exploratory procedures and supervised learning models were assessed for estimating feature properties such as type (bump, pit), order of curvature (flat, conical, spherical), and size. This study highlights the importance of tactile sensing in situations where other modalities fail, such as when the finger itself blocks line of sight. Insights from this work could be used to advance tactile sensor technology and haptic intelligence for artificial manipulators that improve quality of life, such as prosthetic hands and wheelchair-mounted robotic hands.

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2013