Theses for School of Education

Recent Submissions

  • Buddy reading for reading comprehension growth and reading engagement

    Triplett, Kimberly L.; Rickey, Melissa; Austin, Terri; Waltenbaugh, Eric; Waltenbaugh, Jennifer (2008-12)
    "Teachers wonder how to motivate students to become better readers. Teachers of older remedial readers are challenged to provide reading material at students' reading levels relevant enough for them to want to read. Students are less likely to learn strategies to help them comprehend text if they are not engaged with the material. This project provided seventh grade remedial reading students a purpose for reading books at their level by reading children's picture books to first grade students. Prior to the buddy reading sessions, seventh grade students practiced reading with expression and fluency. In addition, their teacher taught cognitive strategies to assist comprehension. Concurrently, their first grade partners were exposed to the same strategies during classroom instruction. The seventh grade readers assisted their first grade 'buddies' in applying the taught strategies during the sessions. This research examined the interaction and engagement of students during buddy reading experiences. In addition, attention was paid to how students used the taught comprehension strategies during buddy reading. Conclusions were drawn from field observations, transcribed recordings, student work, and interviews indicating buddy reading had a positive impact on reading engagement and students' awareness of comprehension strategies to be used during reading"--Leaf iii
  • Classroom culture and indigenous classrooms

    Sikorski, Hishinlai' Kathy R.; Siekmann, Sabine; Marlow, Patrick; Leonard, Beth (2008-12)
    "Indigenous languages have been traditionally learned by doing activities on the land, with the family or around a village. Sometimes, because this is not feasible, Indigenous languages can be learned in a classroom. This is a qualitative research on the author's own Indigenous language classroom with the theoretical foundations of second language acquisition and group formation processes. Data collected were videotapes, audiotapes, student journals, and an exit interview, which were triangulated and verified by an interrater. Results were that the instructor had to possess a philosophy of second language teaching and learning; set high expectations, and create a positive classroom culture. Learners had to be extremely motivated; participate, and pull their own weight. The overall recommendations are that (a) learners need to learn their ancestral language as a second language, (b) Native language teachers need training on theories of second language acquisition, (c) Native language teachers need to have a strong philosophy of second language learning and teaching, and (d) learners need to have a mindset that they will learn to speak their ancestral languages by practicing. These recommendations have worked in the researcher's classroom, and can be extended to any second language teaching or learning arena"--Leaf iii
  • Standards-based learning under the Bering Strait instructional model: can levels be used as valid indicators for proficiency on the Alaska High School Graduation qualifying exam?

    Jones, Carrie A.; Hogan, Maureen; Barnhardt, Ray; Strange, Anthony (2009-08)
    "The Bering Strait School District is an Alaskan school district that took on standards-based education under the umbrella of a larger systemic change encompassed by what has been called the Quality Schools Model. In this model students are engaged in standards-based curriculum that is organized in a manner allowing for time to be a variable in student learning and where groupings (levels) are based upon student readiness in the non-graded system. In this study, the effectiveness of standards-based levels was quantitatively studied by comparing sophomore reading, writing and math levels in the model to their high school exit exam scores in an attempt to determine if an association between the two assessments exists. The application of the chi-squared statistic lead to the conclusion that the level a student is working at in reading or math, within the model, is in fact associated to their proficiency on the high school exit exam"--Leaf iii
  • The impact of parent and student access of student information management systems on student achievement

    Kershner, Catherine Marie; Jacobsen, Gary; Gatto, Mario; Roehl, Roy (2010-12)
    "The introduction of online student information systems (SISs) has provided parents and students the opportunity to more closely monitor student academic performance. Two years after the implementation of an SIS, PowerSchool, in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, data indicates no significant increase in grade point average (GPA) despite significant increases in SIS utilization. System contacts increased during academic years 2008/'09 and 2009/' 10 among populations of middle school and high school students while average GPAs remained essentially unchanged. However, comparisons between SIS contacts and GPAs revealed statistically significant correlations between the two variables, indicating some degree of connection between student/parent monitoring and academic performance. In addition, analysis of student records indicates a positive correlation between average GPAs and contacts recorded during an academic year: records with low GPAs reported fewer contacts with the SIS, with contacts increasing with GPA values. Thus, while families of higher-achieving students are more likely to utilize PowerSchool than lower-achieving students' families, the introduction of PowerSchool has had essentially no impact on promoting academic achievement"--Leaf iii.
  • The effect of freshman teams on ninth graders' academic success in high school

    Kahoe, Gregory C.; Morotti, Allan; Doran, Kathleen; Roehl, Roy F. II; Kaden, Ute (2010-12)
    "Education reform and the passage of No Child Left Behind legislation are responsible for many innovative educational programs. The purpose of this study was to determine whether grouping ninth graders who share core teachers, known as freshman teams, affects students' academic success in high school. The study population consisted of 301 incoming freshmen at West Valley High School in Fairbanks, AK during the 2009-2010 school year. Student grades in both English and science were examined. Results of a school-sponsored, Likert-style survey were used to supplement the conclusions. A t-Test for Independent Groups was used to determine whether freshman teams affect ninth graders' academic success in high school. The results were inconclusive with respect to grades. Further, team membership had an effect in only one category: knowing classmates' names. Other factors associated with long-term academic success such as graduation rates should also be examined before widespread school reforms are implemented"--Leaf iii.
  • Computer mediated communities of practice: the state of teacher collaboration in one rural Alaskan school district

    Montague Winebarger, Caitlin (2010-05)
    "The Yukon-Koyukuk School District spans an area the size of Washington State, while serving just over 300 students. Administratively based in Fairbanks, Alaska, the district is comprised of nine rural schools along the Yukon, Koyukuk, and Tanana Rivers which are geographically isolated, and in some cases only accessible by plane or boat. This mixed-methods inquiry, which contains both survey and focus group components, investigates the current use of internet- and technology-based methods and practices for collaborative use by district teachers. Concepts about teacher isolation, and communities of practice provide the framework for this situated study. Both the self-reported skill-set elucidated by the survey and the actual picture of the technological situation at the various sites gathered from the focus group participants suggest that teachers would value an increase in collaboration, but need more training before that can effectively take place. The data help to inform a list of six specific recommendations to the district to address these needs"--Leaf iii
  • Mentoring novice elementary teachers in rural Alaska

    McBrayer, Natalie Ann; Rickey, Melissa; Webster, Joan Parker; Scoles, Lorrie (2010-08)
    "This study investigates the impact of a literacy coach on novice teachers' reading instructional practices. Coaches are used to support teachers in their classrooms in districts across the country to improve student achievement. At this time, the tie between coaches, teachers and student achievement in research is limited. This qualitative study explores the impact of a literacy coach on three novice teachers' and their reading instructional practices. Data was collected using field notes, interviews, collaborative logs and observations. Analysis indicates that teachers relied on the coach to support them in five main areas. Those areas were; teacher request for support in ordering supplies, organizing the classroom, etc.; classroom practice that included working with classroom aides, on going assessment, etc.; teacher learning that had to do with teaching specific skills, professional reading, etc. The last two areas were student improvement and impact of the coach. The results of this study indicate that a literacy coach does have an impact on novice teachers reading practices, which in turn raises student achievement. Test scores, students' daily work and passing levels, indicate evidence of the achievement. More research is needed in the area of teacher mentoring and how it affects student achievement"--Leaf iii
  • The life of my grandmother: Olinka Arrsamquq Michael

    Skinner, Olga J.; Hogan, Maureen; Schneider, William; Leonard, Beth (2009-11)
    "Investigations into texts on the history of Kwethluk, Alaska reveal little, with one published account describing my maternal grandmother. Fueled by my own curiosity, I interviewed four women who knew her before she passed away, to learn of her life, her influence on others, and village history. Critical theory underlies my research and is evident in the documentation of the life of a Yup'ik woman through the voices of female informants. Analysis of the interviews revealed primary process codes that include important periods of life, and roles my grandmother held became subcodes. Her roles are tied together by her desire and acts of caring for others, especially women and children. With the increasing presence of Western influence in a Yup'ik village, several of her roles also establish her as a cultural broker. Life history research, through interviews and supporting historical documents and texts, generated a picture of life in Kwethluk in the 1900s"--Leaf iii
  • A study of the influence of media-based books on independent reading choices

    Fisk, Heidi Marie; Burmeister, Richard; Caldwell, Patricia; Kardash, Diane (2011-05)
    The purpose of the study was to discover if children's media programming influences the independent reading choices of students. With this purpose in mind, my research was designed to answer the following question: Did children's viewing exposure to the characters, setting, and story format in media-based books provide them with the essential scaffolding necessary to motivate them to read more independently? This project involved approximately 13 fourth grade students, male and female. All of the students have been asked to choose a book to read, fill out a summary sheet for the book, and participate in a reading conference. The researcher has observed the students during the independent reading times, recorded oral retells of the books and conducted interviews with the participants. The results of the study confirmed that students are indeed motivated to read media-based books more independently. It is recommended by the results of this research to offer media-based books for students' independent reading book selection.
  • Paving the road to college: impacts of Washington State policy on improving equitable participation in dual credit courses

    Hanson, Havala; Vinlove, Amy; McIntyre, Julie; Adams, Barbara; Mazzeo, Christopher; Wong, Kenneth (2019-12)
    This dissertation evaluates early impacts of a state policy to increase participation in dual credit courses in Washington state through subsidizing the cost of college credits for underrepresented rural and low-income students, and through extending eligibility to earn dual credit to students in grade 10. This study evaluates both aspects of the policy, with emphasis on the impacts for underrepresented rural and low-income students, students of color, and English learners. It employs quasi-experimental designs to estimate the impact of the policy on intended outcomes. The study finds mixed early impacts of the policy. While no effects were found for students attending schools near the cutoffs for eligibility for tuition subsidies, promising evidence emerged on the policy's impact on participation in dual credit among students in grade 10. The findings can provide policymakers with early evidence of the policy's effects, identify places where implementation may be strengthened, and serve as a blueprint for ongoing monitoring of the policy's impact and similar evaluations of dual credit policies nationwide.
  • Engineering education professional development for teachers in the Delta Greely School District

    Dougherty, Jennifer; Kaden, Ute; Thorsen, Denise; Larson, Angela (2019-12)
    Over the last two decades engineering has become a new focus in many science curricula, in part due to the emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. Most teachers lack training or education in engineering and are not adequately prepared to implement effective engineering education. This research identifies the needs and constraints of one district, the Delta Greely School District (DGSD), in Delta Junction, AK (approximately 750 students district-wide). Surveys were distributed to fifty teachers and five administrators to gather information on attitudes and beliefs surrounding engineering education. Focus groups were conducted with teachers and administrators to better understand the needs of the teachers and the district as well as the perceived obstacles that currently limit engineering education in the classroom. The results were used to create recommendations for professional development to improve and increase engineering education in the district's K-5 classrooms. The final recommendations focus on a professional development plan and professional development delivery modes. Results of the study support two levels of professional development: one introductory level for teachers unfamiliar or not comfortable with engineering education and one for teachers who are comfortable with the subject and would like to improve their teaching. It was also determined that specific teaching resources (i.e., lesson plans and curricular material) should be part of professional development, and that professional development solution should be designed to complement the specific district-provided resources and curricula.
  • "That's A Hard Question": Undergraduate Students Talk About Culture

    Montague-Winebarger, Caitlin N.; Leonard, Beth (2012)
    In this project I examine the ability of undergraduate students to articulate a working definition of culture and cross-culture. The students were predominately elementary education majors, enrolled in one of two culture-based elective courses at the University of Alaska Fairbanks during the 2010-2011 school year. Through the use of semi-structured interviewing and participatory/observational autoethnographic fieldwork, I provide several viewpoints from which to look at this complex issue. Through the examination of historical and institutional documents, I show that the School of Education within the University has had a long-standing commitment to teacher education in the Alaskan context, including creating teachers who understand the importance of cultural relevance. As this project shows, how students are taking up this aspect of theft teacher-training program is varied, and few students were able to provide a concise and applicable definition or framework for thinking about culture and cultural difference. In order to create culturally relevant teachers, the School must undertake more and better activities to provide students carefully structured experiences with cultural diversity, and culturally diverse learners, as well as ways to talk about those experiences. Like many other universities, students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks come to classes with many stereotypes about cultural groups and the importance, or lack thereof, of multicultural education. In my project, this came forth as resistance to talking about cultural diversity, and resistance to multicultural coursework. The students actively worked minimize cultural difference in favor of thinking in terms of individual, personality, and place-based difference.
  • Alaskan Superintendent Turnover: Is There A Correlation Between Anticipated Turnover And The Organizational Culture Of School Boards In The State Of Alaska

    Herbert, David M. Q.; Jacobsen, Gary; Barnhardt, Ray; Laster, Mary; Jorgensen, Spike (2012)
    The purpose of this study is to determine if a particular type of school board culture is predictive of Alaskan public school superintendents' intention to leave their positions. Cameron and Quinn's four types of organizational culture---hierarchy, market, clan, and adhocracy---serve as the model for the study, which surveyed Alaska's public school superintendents during the 2010-2011 school year. The 47 participants completed the Anticipated Turnover Scale and the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument. A correlational analysis was utilized to assess what relationship might exist between anticipated turnover and superintendents' perceptions of their school board culture. No statistically significant correlations were found for any of the specific organizational types and superintendents' intention to quit their job. The findings do not discount the potential for school board culture to impact superintendents' intention to leave their positions; rather they suggest directions future research might take in reframing and exploring this question.
  • Barriers To Ahtna Athabascans Becoming Public School Educators

    Johnson, Michael A.; Jacobsen, Gary; Barnhardt, Ray; Elliott, James W.; Richey, Jean A. (2012)
    Using a mixed-method phenomenological approach, this cross-cultural study utilizes a non-formalized survey and interviews. Data was gathered and presented in a manner consistent with Ahtna cultural norms and values. Survey data set was analyzed by statistical description. Interview transcripts were analyzed thematically through axial coding. The review of literature and data gathered from Ahtna Athabascan participants identified barriers common to other minorities groups evidenced in Ahtna-specific ways. Through a thematic analysis, the data showed barriers, consequences, benefits, and solutions to Ahtna Athabascans becoming public school educators. Through this study, Ahtna Athabascans expressed an overwhelming desire to see more Ahtna Athabascans teachers in public schools. Among the policy and practical implications identified in the study are the need to improve the quality of K-12 educational experiences for Ahtna youth and improved guidance counseling services. The analysis of the data set provides pathways for future Ahtna-specific research and Ahtna-specific solutions for increasing the number of Ahtna Athabascan teachers in local public schools.
  • Differences Between Frequency Of Diagnosis, Diagnosis Extremity, And Global Assessment Of Functioning Score In A Euro-American And Alaskan Native Client

    Niles, Britton Ann; Morotti, Allan; Lewis, Jordan; Strange, Anthony; Sheppard, Dani (2011)
    This research answers the question, given identical client information, history, and presenting issues, but variation in ethnicity, does diagnosis frequency, diagnosis extremity, or Global Assessment of Functioning score differ for an Euro-American male versus an Alaska Native male mental health client. Graduate counseling students, six males and six females, ranging in age from 22--59, currently enrolled at either the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the University of Alaska Anchorage, or Alaska Pacific University, volunteered to participate in the present study. Participants were randomly assigned to view either a Euro-American or Alaska Native client's mock intake session. The mock videos were identical in script and environment; the only difference in the videos is that one male actor is Euro-American and the other actor is Alaska Native. Completed mental health intake forms were compared and evaluated through both quantitative and qualitative methods. Qualitatively, Strauss and Corbin's (1990) three step analytic process, grounded theory, was used to analyze the descriptive part of the intake form. Axis I, II, III, IV and V, of the DSM-IV-TR (APA, 2000), multi-axial system, were quantitatively, assessed to determine diagnosis differences between the Euro-American and Alaska Native client. Results identify that counseling students in training view the Alaska Native client as overall more maladaptive versus the Euro-American client. Counselors-in-training expressed this tendency through more frequent diagnosis and lower Global Assessment of Functioning scores for the Alaska Native client. These results support the need for future research and counselor training programs to be aware of these tendencies of counselors-in-training.
  • Alaska Elementary School Counseling: Current Practices And Future Directions

    McMorrow, Samantha Gale; Morotti, Allan (2010)
    Professional school counseling has roots as far back as the nineteenth century in the United States. Along the way there have been many changes in title and duties for the school counselor, who by recommendation of the American School Counseling Association as well as the state of Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, acts as the professional leading the comprehensive counseling program. Elementary comprehensive counseling programs are designed to be developmental in nature and preventative in practice. Additionally, they are intended to make the counseling program available to all students, not just those who are high achieving or at risk within the school community. However, there is a great deal of variance in how programs operate in Alaska. This research used mail surveys to gather data from potentially all elementary school counselors in the state of Alaska. Data were then considered in regards to the suggested comprehensive counseling program to evaluate and produce informed recommendations. One of the specific challenges that Alaskan elementary school counselors face is that of larger than recommended student-to-counselor ratios. Additionally, many counselors are operating in more than one school. Counselors working in the field suggest that curriculum is a much needed resource as well as recommendations that a counseling coordinator be employed to assist in bringing a more uniformed structure to counseling programs in the state of Alaska. School counseling, as well as education in general, has undergone many changes over the last century. Counseling programs in Alaska will need to continue to change and adapt if they are to meet the needs of students and communities.
  • The Influence Of Positive Mother-Child Verbal Interactions On Adolescent Mothers' Literacy

    Baron, Heather-Lee M.; Rickey, Melissa; Melvin, Mary Jo; Reyes, Maria Elena; Rickard, Anthony (2010)
    The purpose of this six-month qualitative microethnographic case study was to determine what influence a family literacy program based on positive mother-child verbal interactions would have on the participating adolescent mothers' literacy skills. The design of the program was founded on the Hart and Risley study (1995) and their findings regarding the five categories of significant family experiences that enhance children's vocabulary: language diversity, feedback tone, symbolic emphasis, guidance style, and responsiveness. These experiences stress the importance of affirmative interactions between children and their parents. The three adolescent mothers who participated in the study were single, white, of low socioeconomic status, and enrolled as high school seniors in the same school district in rural northwestern Pennsylvania. One participant was 11 weeks pregnant with a boy, one participant was parenting an 11-month old girl, and one participant was 18 weeks pregnant with a boy and parenting a one-year-old boy. The study found that the girls who participated in this program showed a growth of one grade level in their expository text reading levels. The results also suggest a relationship between the participants' attitude and motivation scores and their participation level in the study. Finally, the researcher believes that external/environmental factors may also have influenced the participants' participation level and the overall results.
  • Correlation Between Teacher Turnover Rates In The State Of Alaska And Standardized Test Scores In The Area Of Mathematics On The Standards Based Assessments/High School Qualifying Exam

    Roehl, Roy F., Ii; Brayboy, Bryan; Barnhardt, Raymond; Noble, Diane; Rickard, Anthony; Strange, Anthony (2010)
    This study utilized bivariate correlations, partial correlations, multivariate analysis including Hotelling-T, and observed power to investigate the possible correlations and connections of teacher turnover in Alaska's public school system to performance on the standards-based assessment of the Alaska High School Qualifying Exam (HSQE). The study focused on the results in the content area of mathematics involving the 10th grade standards-based assessment (SBA). Results from the study indicate two primary correlations exist as applied to the proficiency levels on the mathematics portion of the 10th grade mathematics SBA, teacher turnover and percent Alaska Native of school population. The results indicate that teacher turnover is statistically significant with an inverse relationship in relation to standards-based test scores, and the students most likely being impacted by teacher turnover are located in Alaska school districts that have large Alaska Native student populations.
  • Protective Factors Promoting Psychosocial Resilience In Biracial Youths

    Kawakami-Schwarber, Gail K.; Morotti, Alan (2010)
    Resilience in adolescents is the achievement of positive outcomes and the attainment of developmental tasks in the face of significant risk. This study identified protective factors promoting resilience in the development of positive self-identity in biracial youths. The rapidly rising biracial youth population is a vulnerable group facing potentially higher risks for mental health and behavioral issues compared to their monoracial counterparts. Identity development, a central psychosocial task of adolescence, is a complex task for biracial youths since they must integrate two ethnic identities. For biracial youths, mastery of the psychosocial identity developmental task can be daunting as they face stressors such as racial stigmas and negative stereotypes, which may lead to identity problems manifesting during adolescence. Sixteen biracial individuals ranging from age 18 to 29 years participated in this qualitative research project. Comparisons were made to identify patterns and themes for factors affecting self-esteem and ethnic identity level among the participants. Brought to light were culturally-based protective factors stemming from individual, family, and social domains promoting psychosocial resilience in fostering healthy biracial identity resolution. Risk factors unique for the biracial population were also identified. The findings underscore the importance in understanding how the environment shapes and influences the ways biracial youth negotiate their dual identity. The research results can be integrated into appropriate prevention and intervention techniques for application by professionals and families to further healthy identity resolution in biracial youths.

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