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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • What Would Captain Underpants Do? A Literary Analysis Of Children In School

    Carter, Jeanne Noelle; Reyes, Maria (2006)
    Using cultural studies and critical discourse analysis as guiding theories, this study focuses on the literary representation of school experience by analyzing popular children's literature. The study focuses on literature appealing to the 8--12 year-old audience. Books of primary examination include L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, Barbara Park's Junie B. Jones series, Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby books, Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants series, J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Andrew Clemenet's Frindle, C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia series, Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl books, Betty McDonald's Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, and Walter Dean Meyer's Monster. The general trends found are: (1) Books featuring female protagonists are often concerned with relationships. The protagonists are frustrated that the roles and expectations of school do not allow space for discussing relationships or personal information. (2) Books featuring male protagonists generally focus on themes of power structures and how the students use subversive methods to assert their values in spite of the dominant administrative authority. (3) When books feature children who are working on character or ethical development, those children are often removed from the school context and placed in a more fantastical context. (4) The literature surveyed implies that students value unrealistically committed teachers with no interests outside of the children, who can make lessons clear, relevant, and interactive.
  • The use of social network analysis by school librarians to evaluate and improve collaborative networks in their secondary schools: a pilot study

    Rinio, Deborah; Jacobsen, Gary; Adams, Barbara; Stanley, Sarah; Richey, Jean; Gerlich, Bella (2018-05)
    Social capital, in the form of relationships among teachers, results in sharing information and resources, which leads to improved student academic achievement. As schools continue to seek out ways to improve performance, social capital is often overlooked in favor of development of human capital in the form of professional development and training. Schools that have implemented collaborative groups have the potential to increase social capital, but often fail to structure the groups intentionally or evaluate their outcomes. School librarians in secondary schools often face challenges when it comes to collaboration. The job of a school librarian is inherently collaborative. To effectively serve the school's population, school librarians must understand the needs of their community. To teach information literacy skills, they must have access to students, typically via classroom teachers. Not surprisingly, collaboration between teachers and librarians is a major focus of both professional and research literature, yet librarians report it is one of their biggest challenges. Librarians are urged to start small, work with the teachers who are willing, and hope that others in the school will see the value of collaboration; in other words, build it and they will come. This research sought to determine if school librarians could use social network analysis as an evaluative and strategic planning tool. This study used a mixed-methods approach in a three-phase process to collect social network survey data in two secondary schools, develop the Social Network Analysis for School Librarians (SNASL) Process, and pilot test the process with the school librarians in the pilot schools using participatory analysis. Analysis revealed that the SNASL Process has the potential to enable school librarians to evaluate and improve upon the collaborative network of their school by identifying individuals in specific role positions and producing generative insight regarding the structure of the school network.
  • Alaska Native scholars: a mixed methods investigation of factors influencing PhD attainment

    Jones, Alberta J.; Barnhardt, Ray; Vinlove, Amy; Leonard, Beth; Roehl, Roy (2018-05)
    This study entitled, "Alaska Native Scholars: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Factors Influencing PhD Attainment," investigates the contributing factors influencing the attainment of PhD degrees by Alaska Natives. Originating from a cross-section of rural and urban Alaska communities and tribal ethnicities, this group of scholars attended graduate schools throughout the country. Today many of these PhDs work in universities, conduct research, and advocate for Indigenous people in various leadership roles, both in and outside of Alaska. This study's assumption is these PhD graduates have gained valuable lessons along their path to success and an examination of these factors is relevant to advancing that successs. The findings analyze results from a survey instrument with approximately a 92% response rate from all living Alaska Native PhD/EdD graduates that were able to be located at the time, up to early 2015. Survey participants shared personal, demographic, cultural, social, academic, and economic factors both supporting and hindering PhD attainment. Survey data was validated by ten personal interviews with PhDs from eight different Alaska Native tribes. One goal of this study was to increase our knowledge of the circumstances and factors of Alaska Native doctoral graduates and to build upon knowledge necessary to increase interest and enrollment of Alaska Native PhD graduates. Some questions examined by this study are: What sets of factors do AN PhDs have in common which led to their success? What challenges and barriers are specific to the Alaska Native demographics? If patterns of successful factors exist, can these factors be replicated to expand Alaska Native participation in PhD or other graduate programs? Are there 'lessons learned' in terms of aiding university PhD programs in attracting and graduating Alaska Native students? A stronger PhD representation of this population has implications for leadership, education, business, and policy-making roles serving to increase Indigenous self-determination. Additionally, this research has implications for universities seeking to address gaps in Alaska Native and American Indian faculty representation.
  • Socioeconomic factors that lead to Latino male students leaving school before graduating

    D'Agostino, Joseph C.; Wong, Nga-Wing Anjela; Barnhardt, Raymond; Armstrong, Anne Brenner (2012-05)
    Students of color make up a predominant number of learners that leave high school before graduating (National Center for Education Research, 2009). I selected to study Latino males to narrow the scope of my research. The literature I reviewed pointed directly at socioeconomics as one of the primary factors. I feel there are more specific factors involved for many of the individuals impacted. I used a qualitative approach and utilized an anonymous survey and individual interviews to pinpoint some of these factors. The findings from my research further supported that socioeconomics were a leading factor. My data and literature review showed that school environment and stereotyping/discrimination also played a role. I intend to conduct further research to identify the additional sub-factors that are most prevalent to Latino males. My long-term goal is to provide information to my peers that can assist in the construction or reconstruction of programs that can offer the best support for these students.
  • Alaska Native females: understanding body image dissatisfaction in a culturally diverse country

    Naegele, Karaline M.; Cook, Christine; Renes, Susan; Harrison, Lynn (2013-05)
    The current study was conducted to expand literature on body image dissatisfaction (BID) in Alaska Native females. As BID has been a concern for European American females, and many minority groups in America, professionals should examine all cultural groups for the presence of BID. The research was comprised of qualitative interviewing methods. Interviews were conducted with Alaska Native female participants between the ages of 18 and 23 years, attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Research questions addressed whether or not Alaska Native females experience BID, and if so how BID develops and manifests for this population. The study found that all participants experienced BID beginning in adolescence. The development and manifestation of BID varied on an individual basis, reflecting other research findings.
  • Culturally responsive teaching and student self-efficacy in Alaskan middle schools

    Christian, Scott; Kaden, Ute; John, Theresa; Sesko, Amanda; Ontooguk, Paul; Jester, Timothy (2017-12)
    Culturally responsive teaching may provide practices and dispositions which support closing the achievement gap between minority and Caucasian student populations. For this research, culturally responsive teaching can be considered as teaching practices that address students' specific cultural characteristics. These characteristics include common practices such as language, values and traditions but also include concepts such as communication, learning styles, and relationship norms. The research also presents a definition of culturally responsive teaching that extends beyond curriculum and instruction to focus on student teacher relationships, empathy, and the teacher as learner. This research explores the beliefs and practices around Culturally Responsive Teaching in ten Alaskan Middle Schools. A mixed-methods, sequential explanatory research design was used to answer the research questions: 1. How do teachers identify what is culturally responsive teaching, and what is not? 2. How is culturally responsive teaching implemented in Alaskan middle schools? 3. How is culturally responsive teaching connected to student self-efficacy in Alaskan middle schools? Although culturally responsive teaching has become a recognized practice in the fields of teacher preparation and professional development for teachers, the working definitions as well as evaluation tools are inadequate to describe the actual practice that teachers enact when they are engaged in culturally responsive teaching. Despite state regulations requiring Alaska school districts to include teaching practice of the Alaska Cultural Standards in teacher evaluations, there is only limited focused research available about the implementation of the standards in classrooms. Through semi-structured interviews and surveys with teachers and principals, formal classroom observations, as well as a student self-efficacy survey, this research addresses the lack of research and understanding regarding the relationship between culturally responsive teaching and self-efficacy for middle school students. This study identified the integration of local culture and language into academic content areas, teaching through culture, and the establishment of positive, respectful working relationships with students as promising practices for culturally responsive teaching.
  • Strengths-based analysis of student success in online courses

    Gering, Carol; Sheppard, Dani'; Morotti, Allan; Adams, Barbara; Renes, Susan (2017-08)
    The purpose of this research was to increase understanding of post-secondary student success in online courses by evaluating a contextually rich combination of personal, circumstantial, and course variables. A strengths-based perspective framed the investigation. Mixed-method data were collected and analyzed sequentially in three phases: two phases of quantitative collection and analysis were followed by qualitative interviews and comprehensive analysis. The study first used logistic regression to analyze existing data on more than 27,000 student enrollments, spanning a time period of four academic years. The second phase of research enhanced the modeling focused on a subset of the total population; students from a single semester were invited to complete an assessment of non-cognitive attributes and personal perceptions. Between the two phases, 28 discreet variables were analyzed. Results suggest that different combinations of variables may be effective in predicting success among students with varying levels of educational experience. This research produced preliminary predictive models for student success at each level of class standing. The study concluded with qualitative interviews designed to explain quantitative results more fully. Aligned with a strengths-based perspective, 12 successful students were asked to elaborate on factors impacting their success. Themes that emerged from the interviews were congruent with quantitative findings, providing practical examples of student and instructor actions that contribute to online student success.
  • Management of large interdisciplinary team science projects: a multi-methods approach to examining competencies

    Veazey, Alice Danielson; Monahan, John; Cahill, Catherine; Daniel, Mary Jo; Taylor, Karen (2017-05)
    Over the past fifty years, the world has experienced a significant increase in the scale and complexity of scientific research that is focused on society's most important issues. This type of research requires a team approach from people with diverse skill sets working together across multiple disciplines, and that trend is reflected in a significant rise in collaborative research. "Team science" is the focus of research efforts intent on better understanding the challenges and maximizing the effectiveness of collaborative research. Projects that involve large teams of scientists require a thoughtful and planned approach to leadership and management in order to achieve the stated goals and outcomes. The science community has recognized that in order to run effective team science projects, people must identify the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and beliefs that define the competency set for large-scale team science leadership and management. This study used a mixed-methods approach to obtain both quantitative and qualitative data through group concept mapping to develop a concept map of the competencies required to lead and manage large, interdisciplinary team science programs. These results were then used as a lens to examine the competencies identified through the content analysis of hiring documents for positions related to a broad spectrum of team science efforts. Expert team science managers defined a list of five critical competencies: project management, shared leadership, personal competence, social competence and communication. Analysis revealed that hiring practices do not identify these skill sets in position descriptions and announcements, typically focusing on project management and communication and neglecting the remaining three competencies. In order to hire people capable of managing large science teams, hiring practices, training programs and career tracks must be developed and align with these core competencies.
  • Schools in rural Alaska with higher rates of student achievement: a search for positive deviance in education

    Hill, Melissa M.; Jacobsen, Gary; Adams, Barbara; Richey, Jean; Barnhardt, Ray (2017-05)
    This study sought to identify schools in rural Alaska with higher rates of student achievement and study what factors contribute to that success. Alaska Native students make up a large majority of the students attending school in small remote villages across the state. Data, however, have shown that Alaska Native students constantly perform lower than any other demographic group on every subject level and lower at every grade level when tested using state assessments. This study begins with a journey to understand the complexity of the problems that affect schooling in rural Alaska, ranging from teacher turnover to school district size and oversight. However, it is important to examine this current challenge by examining the history of education and how that history has affected Alaska Native people today. To identify schools in rural Alaska with higher rates of student achievement, a binary variable was used to determine positive deviance. Data analysis drew on academic achievement of each school as measured by the 5-year average score of the school in three subjects: Reading, Mathematics and Writing. While the results did not yield a case study for positive deviance, the findings and conclusion, using a critical race theory lens question whether schools today, intentionally or unintentionally, are still modeled after the same framework and operate in the same fashion as they did when they were intended to assimilate Alaska Natives to become better citizens. Using an advocacy worldview, this study draws upon the unchallenged truth that schools in rural Alaska may never perform as a collective as well as or better than their urban counterparts under this model.
  • Literacies and engagement: incorporating Yup'ik literacies in a language arts classroom

    Gehman, Michael J.; Hogan, Maureen; Leonard, Beth; Siekmann, Sabine (2017-05)
    The use of culturally relevant teaching practices and local literacies has been shown to increase student engagement in other studies. To observe the impact of Yup'ik literacies on student engagement, I designed and implemented a teacher, action research study that asked students to create a yuraq song to demonstrate their mastery of this topic. I spoke with members of the community to ensure the study was culturally acceptable and seen as beneficial, as well as to gain understanding about yuraq because I am an outsider to the culture. Students were observed and recorded throughout eight class periods while writing an academic essay and creating a yuraq song. Their actions in the classroom were analyzed to create an operational definition of engagement from a Yup'ik perspective, which was used, in conjunction with discussions with community members and students as well as student journals to determine if the yuraq task was able to foster deep, meaningful engagement. Their actions were also analyzed using James Paul Gee's work on "Big D" Discourse to identify the impact a local literacy had on their school Discourse. The data were able to illuminate a clear definition of Yup'ik engagement consisting of collaboration, physical action, and intense listening; deep student engagement similar to concept of Csikszentmihalyi's flow was observed in some but not all students; and the use of Discourse that matched the task and setting, but did not attempt to alter the power structure of the dominant Discourse in the school. The findings held a large degree of local validity for the participants, and were used to adjust teaching strategies to benefit this class.
  • Homeschooling in Alaska: parent perceptions and homeschool regulations

    Cavan, Lisa R.; Fabbri, Cindy; Adams, Barbara; Armstrong, Anne; Hogan, Maureen (2017-05)
    Homeschooling is a growing trend in the United States and Canada. States vary as to what regulations are required to homeschool a child. Current studies from the United States and Canada focus on the academic achievement of students who are homeschooled, the homeschooling styles that were used, along with education levels and income levels of those who teach at home. The studies only include students who are known to be homeschooled and do not account for the ones that are not required to participate in standardized testing. Research was conducted, first using online surveys completed by families that homeschool in Alaska, then with interviews that had more open-ended questions to allow for more detailed input. In Alaska, parents can choose to homeschool through a correspondence program or homeschool independently without having to notify the state. This research revolved around the following three questions: What does homeschooling look like for families in Alaska? What are parents' perceptions on homeschool regulations in Alaska? Why do parents choose to homeschool with a correspondence program that has more regulations than if they homeschool independently? Findings suggest that parents tend to have an eclectic approach in their teaching and student progress is measured by curriculum assessments, observation and discussion, much like is seen in a public school classroom. Parents may not fully understand the difference between homeschool regulations and regulations for correspondence programs in Alaska. Funding seems to be a top reason to enroll in a correspondence program. As the sample for this study was limited, it would be beneficial to have additional research regarding homeschooling in Alaska.
  • Funding issues associated with schooling in Alaska and Ghana

    Donkor, Harry; Monahan, John; Reyes, Maria; Barnhardt, Ray; Lehman, John (2007-05)
    This thesis provides a comparative analysis of the educational funding systems in Ghana and Alaska. The issues discussed in this thesis include the equitable and adequate distribution of funding for the educational needs of the various school districts in both countries. This study will focus on three areas : (1) Review of the history and foundation of education in the Alaska, and Ghana ; (2) Study of education funding for K-12 education in Alaska and Ghana; (3) Making a determination on whether educational funding in Alaska and Ghana is sufficient to meet the funding needs of K-12 schools. In this study I will be attentive to two major areas : (1) Adequacy - Is the money being spent sufficient? (2) Equity- Is there equal funding for all K-12 schools in Alaska and Ghana? The goal of this research is to learn through this research more about adequacy and equity.
  • How drama in Kodiak motivated my teaching

    Fogle, Tamie Everton (2004-08)
    In order to help myself overcome several frustrations which had arisen in my secondary classroom, I began looking for teaching techniques that would motivate both myself and my students. The Kodiak Island Borough School District Inservice trainings led me to the use of drama as an instructional tool. In order to understand how drama and theatre differed, I began my research with a phenomenological study of the directorial staff for the play Peter Pan. That research showed me that I needed more information about how the drama techniques could be applied. Therefore, I conducted semi-structured depth interviews with seven teachers who had also attended the training in order to compare how they had utilized drama techniques in their classrooms. I discovered an amazing variety in the types of drama these teachers used as well as the ways that they applied their knowledge to their teaching practices.

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