The current model of teaching where one teacher works individually with a group of learners in a classroom in an alternative educational setting promoted unrealistic expectations by assuming individual teachers working alone could meet the needs of all students. To address this problem, I conducted an action research study in which I explored the outcomes of a team-based teaching approach that was implemented to make the dramatic shift away from a traditional, industrial-like, one-teacher, one-classroom model that existed in the school. In the intervention, a teams-based approach was implemented where teachers worked in teams of four to collaborate on professional learning, determine students’ needs, then plan and implement instruction for the same, group of students. A sample of nine educators at Riverview High School completed the Teacher Self-Efficacy Scale (TSES) and the Professional Learning and Teacher Attitude (PLTA) survey to assess self-efficacy for instruction, classroom management, and student engagement, and professional learning and attitudes in a team-based setting. Qualitative data consisted of interview data and data from four focus groups. Findings indicated teachers using the team-based model demonstrated increases in mean scores across the five constructs. Additionally, analysis of the interview and focus group data revealed four themes emerged, including a new school culture, meaningful professional learning, collegiality through collaboration, and increased professional attitudes. The discussion focused on complementarity of the quantitative and qualitative data and how use of the team-based model transformed how education was conceived and delivered at an alternative school for at-risk students. In addition, I described limitations, implications for practice and research, and concluding thoughts.
The operations within universities have become increasingly complex and challenging for various reasons. Notably, some of those challenges have been combated by developing talent within the organization. Although many professional development opportunities abound at Arizona State University and within the ASU Foundation, the options for developing competencies such as collaboration and resilience were lacking. Thus, the purpose of this action research project was to develop several specific competencies for my team to be successful in their current roles and to develop skills affording success in future roles. The setting for this study was Arizona State University, a four-year, public institution. The specific unit under examination was the Arizona State University Foundation, the unit dedicated to raising resources for the university through philanthropy. The intervention consisted of four professional development workshops including the topics of collaboration, resilience, leadership, and a concluding workshop to debrief the three topics and how participants’ new understandings had been incorporated into their professional roles. Prior to each workshop, participants observed a professional development video specifically associated with the topic of the workshop. During the workshops, participants were actively engaged through facilitated discussion on the topics, proposed scenario narratives, and guided participant activities. Following the workshops, participants reflected on their understandings and use of the skills as they engaged in nine weeks of reflective journaling based on standardized prompts. The prompts alternated among the topics of collaboration, resilience, and leadership. I used a concurrent mixed-method action research approach for this study, where I gathered quantitative and qualitative data over the course of the intervention and at its conclusion. Results centered around the themes of collaboration, resilience, leadership, and meta-topics, which included theme-related components such as asking for help, having a shared goal, locus of control, resilience in the workplace, leadership styles, leadership qualities, comfort zone, learning and growing, relationships, and so on. In the discussion, I explained the outcomes relative to theoretical perspectives and previous research that guided the study, presented limitations, proposed implications for practice and for future research, and reviewed personal lessons learned.
It is common for graduate programs to be plagued by delays in on-time student completion or to experience student attrition. Students have experienced such delays in a local program at the University where I am employed as a lecturer. Therefore, this dissertation was undertaken with the aim of supporting university students at the graduate level toward successful on-time completion of their programs. This action research study was multi-phased in its approach; with data collection, and reflection driving the process for intervention delivery and subsequent evaluation. A dynamic approach which included some components of greater structure than was previously seen in the program, was designed for implementation. It was envisaged that this approach would serve as a model of support for students. The following chapters written in article format details the cycles of action research undertaken as part of this dissertation. The first article tells a story written for a wider audience. While the second article presents a more direct look at the implementation of the dynamic structured approach, and lessons learned through the experiential stories of the students. The dynamic structured approach is a framework which was created from a synergetic review of studies on the issues of attrition and delayed completion in graduate programs. The approach was therefore discussed in hopes that it can be used as a model in other graduate programs to ensure that students are supported in a holistic manner. Further, recommendations were made to bolster the approach based on the lessons learned from its initial implementation as well as through the reflections of the researcher-practitioner. The approach has built-in flexibility and is open to refinement and modification to suit the needs of varying institutions for future use.
Studies of discourse are prevalent in mathematics education, as are investigations on facilitating change in instructional practices that impact student attitudes toward mathematics. However, the literature has not sufficiently addressed the operationalization of the commognitive framework in the context of Calculus I, nor considered the inevitable impact on students’ attitudes of persistence, confidence, and enjoyment of mathematics. This study presents an innovation, founded, designed, and implemented, utilizing four frameworks. The overarching theory pivots to commognition, a theory that asserts communication is tantamount to thinking. Students experienced a Calculus I class grounded on four frames: a theoretical, a conceptual, a design pattern, and an analytical framework, which combined, engaged students in discursive practices. Multiple activities invited specific student actions: uncover, play, apply, connect, question, and realize, prompting calculus discourse. The study exploited a mixed-methods action research design that aimed to explore how discursive activities impact students’ understanding of the derivative and how and to what extent instructional practices, which prompt mathematical discourse, impact students’ persistence, confidence, and enjoyment of calculus.
This study offers a potential solution to a problem of practice that has long challenged practitioners and researchers—the persistence of Calculus I as a gatekeeper for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). In this investigation it is suggested that Good and Ambitious Teaching practices, including asking students to explain their thinking and assigning group projects, positively impact students’ persistence, confidence, and enjoyment. Common calculus discourse among the experimental students, particularly discursive activities engaging word use and visual representations of the derivative, warrants further research for the pragmatic utility of the fine grain of a commognitive framework. For researchers the work provides a lens through which they can examine data resulting from the operationalization of multiple frameworks working in tandem. For practitioners, mathematical objects as discursive objects, allow for classrooms with readily observable outcomes.
This action research study explored the effects of implementing a professional learning community (PLC) as part of an eighth-grade advisory program on teacher confidence and attitudes toward social emotional learning (SEL) and perceptions of school climate. The two-semester long study was implemented in a K-12 private independent school. Using a mixed-methods research design, this study answered the following three research questions: 1) How does participation in a PLC to develop teacher social emotional competence (SEC) and curriculum for an eighth-grade advisory program focused on SEL affect teachers’ confidence in advisory and SEL? 2) How does participation in the PLC affect teachers’ attitude toward advisory and SEL? 3) What affordances and constraints are experienced by teachers participating in the PLC during remote learning? Likert scale surveys were administered at the start and conclusion of the intervention. The surveys measured teachers’ confidence in and attitude toward advisory, how well advisory supported remote learning, and perceptions of administrative support for the program. Semi-structured interviews were conducted at the midpoint and conclusion of the intervention. The interviews assessed perceptions of the advisory curriculum, teachers’ confidence and attitudes toward advisory, and affordances and constraints of the PLC. Study findings indicated three key results. Participation in the PLC (a) promoted teacher competence and commitment toward SEL, (b) increased SEL professionalism, and (c) increased camaraderie among advisory teachers as they evaluated the affordances and constraints of remotely teaching SEL. PLC participants demonstrated a more nuanced assessment of advisory curriculum and how to implement SEL content, and an increased commitment to continued professional growth. The PLC also fostered teachers’ sense of connection with colleagues. This study contributed to existing research on professional development for SEL and its effects on teacher efficacy and school climate, including satisfaction as an SEL teacher. In relation to practice, suggestions for middle school SEL interventions include the incorporation of collective learning for teachers as well as distributed leadership to promote teacher efficacy and commitment to SEL. Future research should focus on measuring the effects of teachers’ collective learning and distributed leadership on school climate outcomes for students.
The community college leadership pipeline is a source for concern in the face of anticipated retirements, yet most administrators come only from the ranks of classroom faculty, not from the full spectrum of all faculty. Librarians, whose experiences lend themselves to many administrative duties, seldom advance into administrative positions. This study was centered on the development of a career coaching intervention by which participants from a subset of California community college libraries received guidance from administrators who had previously been librarians. The aim was to see whether such an intervention could increase administrative skills, improve self-efficacy to perform in administrative roles, increase perceptions of the desirability of attaining such positions, and lead to greater intent to move onto such career pathways. The study found that a career coaching program had mixed success at addressing the study aims, but that it also opened space for librarians alone to explore other leadership and professional growth opportunities. The research argues for the restaging of such a career coaching program, centered on librarians only, so as to encourage their advancement, whether into administrative ranks at their community colleges or otherwise.
Situated in a majority-minority school setting, this action research study focused on developing culturally responsive teaching (CRTchg) approaches in a group of Caucasian teacher leaders. Highly qualified teachers who determined the curriculum, professional development, assessments, and school-level policies were leading two alternative schools, but this group of predominantly majority teachers had difficulty relating to their African-American and Hispanic students and fostering student learning. Specifically, the intervention provided methods to encourage and support them on their journey towards implementing CRTchg. I developed interactive professional development workshops to introduce concepts from servant leadership. Additionally, I used culturally responsive school leadership and critical race theory as part of the professional development process to promote the implementation of CRTchg and foster a sense of self-efficacy for its use. In the study, I used a mixed-methods approach that included surveys, reflective journals, and interviews to gather data to determine how and to what extent professional development sessions for these teacher leaders affected their perspectives and teaching styles with respect to CRTchg. To understand better these effects, I explored six constructs including servant leadership listening; servant leadership awareness; servant leadership empathy; servant leadership building community; using CRTchg; and self-efficacy for employing CRTchg. Quantitative results indicated teacher leaders scores on the four servant leadership variables, increased significantly indicating they were more aware of cultural matters, listened more closely to students, were more empathetic, and engaged to a greater extent in building community with their students. Additionally, quantitative data showed significant increases in teacher leaders use of CRTchg and their self-efficacy for its use. Results from the qualitative data were consistent with those from the quantitative data and exhibited a high degree of complementarity, pointing to the same conclusions. Notably, as they progressed through the workshops, teacher leaders questioned educational and cultural assumptions that influenced their instructional practices and revised them as they began to implement CRTchg, which made their instructional practices more meaningful to students. The discussion focused on the complementarity of the data, understanding the results, limitations, implications for practice, implications for research, and personal lessons learned.
The purpose of this action research study was to understand better student perceptions of entrepreneurship opportunities, with a particular focus on exploring how a peer-mentor might play a helping role supporting the entrepreneurial activities of their peer students in a college environment. This action research study focused on the experience of a five-week, virtual mentorship program. The theoretical perspectives guiding the research included the work of Ajzen, Bandura, and Stets and Burke. In this mixed method study, quantitative data were collected for three constructs—self-efficacy, entrepreneurial identity, and entrepreneurial mindset. Quantitative data were gathered using pre- and post-intervention surveys. Qualitative data were gathered through written journal reflections and semi-structured interviews at the end of the study. Participants were undergraduate students serving as mentors and first-year, full-time students engaging as mentees. The study was conducted during the fall 2020 semester and occurred in a fully, virtual format in response to COVID-19 public health considerations. Modest increases in levels of agreement with entrepreneurial self-efficacy and relational support for entrepreneurship were indicated from the analysis of the quantitative results. A slight decline for entrepreneurial identity also occurred. Qualitative data provided richer understandings of student perspectives. Themes around the perception of self, relationship with others, entrepreneurial focus, and feelings towards entrepreneurship emerged from the mentee’s qualitative data. Central themes for the mentor data included helping, focusing on the college experience, and feelings as a mentor. The perspectives of mentors and mentees were also explored in analysis of journal entries. Students indicated they valued entrepreneurial activity and mindset, with the majority expressing future goals relevant to entrepreneurship. The discussion focused on the complementarity of the data, connection of the outcomes to the theoretical frameworks, personal lessons learned, limitations of the study, and implications for research and my own practice.
In this dissertation I design, implement and conduct a mixed methods action research project to develop intercultural competence in domestic university staff members. My research took place at my place of employment, a research one university in the American southwest. As the director of an international student service center, I had direct observations of the interactions between domestic staff members and our international students with lower English proficiency. With the observations came the realization that this communication could be both more effective and more efficient. To address this problem, I developed three workshops to provide participants with the skills to have more productive communication with their students. I used a mixed methods approach to investigate how this innovation influenced the three constructs associated with intercultural competence: cultural awareness, cultural empathy and language modification.
Quantitative data consisted of both pre- and post-intervention surveys. Results relating to all three constructs showed significant gain between the pre-intervention and post-intervention surveys. Analysis of the qualitative data engendered four assertions. 1. As staff members learned more about a student’s culture, they become more cognizant of the communication strategies they used and become confident they could reduce conflict, ill-communication and miscommunication between students and staff member. 2. Staff members were not aware of the complexities of the English language. 3. Only after understanding the difficulties non-native English speakers face do the staff members truly understand the student experience and become willing to make sincere efforts to communicate more effectively. 4. It is incumbent on the staff member to everything possible to facilitate a successful interaction with the student.
There has been an ever-increasing demand in the United States to produce educated science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals. Because more women and minority students have begun their higher educational preparation at community colleges, these institutions have been uniquely positioned to support these students and increase the number of STEM graduates. Nevertheless, to attain this commendable goal, community college staff and faculty members will need to redouble their efforts to provide active and sustained programs and interventions to support and assure student persistence in STEM fields.
To address the problem of practice, the researcher engaged in a variety of validating practices to influence women and minority students’ intent to persist in a STEM degree. Thirteen, first-year women and minority students participated in the study. Validation theory (Rendón, 1994) provided a framework to inform the intervention and forms of validation. The validating practices included two advising visits and intentional email communications to students in their first semester at community college.
A mixed methods approach was employed to examine two objectives: (a) the types of validation students experienced in their first semester and (b) the influence of validating advising practices on intention to persist in STEM. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB; Ajzen, n.d.) guided study efforts in relation to the second objective. Data gathered included survey data, interviews, email communications, and researcher journal entries. Results suggested students experienced academic and interpersonal validation by in-class and out-of-class validating agents. Although not all experiences were validating, students were validated to a greater extent by their academic advisor. Because of validating advising practices, students in this study developed confidence in their ability to be capable college students. Students also felt motivated and expressed intentions to persist toward a STEM degree.
The discussion focuses on explaining outcomes of the four research questions by connecting to the extant literature. In addition, limitations of the study are presented. Finally, implications for practice, implications for future research, and lessons learned are also shared.