Electronic Theses and Dissertations

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    "Too Wise To Be Counselled by Simple American Fishermen": Benjamin Franklin's Gulf Stream Maps and the Cost of British Arragance
    (2013-05) Nero, Andrea N.; Barker, Rosanne; Baker, Nancy; Domitrovic, Brian
    Throughout the Revolutionary era, Benjamin Franklin was preoccupied with uncovering why a ship's voyage from England to New York took several weeks longer than one to Rhode Island. His cousin, a whaler, informed him of a strong air current in the Atlantic which was responsible for the lag. In the middle of the American Revolution, the two set sail to chart this 'Gulph Stream,' as Franklin named it. Although he did not discover the air current, he did create the first map displaying which routes to avoid, offering seafarers a valuable resource. However, his maps were not put into use until decades later. The publishing of Franklin's research revealed leftover enmity from the British loss of the American colonies. As a result, the British withheld his findings, despite the fact that they would have provided them with faster and cheaper shipping. Years later, the British even went as far as to claim Franklin's research as their own by publishing it under the name of an English scholar. Due to their hostility, Franklin chose to work on his maps alongside the French, rather than the English. Historians are aware of Franklin's work, but no one has examined why the British minimized and ignored his achievement or how this fits into the context of the transatlantic shipping industry upon which these maps sought to improve.
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    Photovoice 2.0: A Research Framework for the Digital Generation
    (December 2023) Aboulkacem, Abigail; Haas, Lory E; Miller, Melinda S; Price, Debra P; Maninger, Robert
    The purpose of this dissertation is to conduct a descriptive case study research that adapted the research framework, Photovoice 2.0 with select doctoral students from Algeria. Due to the immense number of young adults digitally communicating images through social media, it is vital to develop competencies in visual, media, and privacy literacy. Photovoice 2.0 study is deeply rooted in qualitative approach to address the needs of the new media generation. The new framework provided insights into the lives of six Algerian university students. Using Instagram, the participants showcased and addressed issues in Algerian society such as, public infrastructure for wheelchair accessibility, environmental pollution, conditions of public-school housing, and positive aspects of soccer. The participants expressed Photovoice 2.0 as an empowering experience and will continue to use this method in their future academic professions. Additionally, the participants showed positive gains in visual media and privacy literacies. Future implications discuss the various contexts Photovoice 2.0 could be used in universities or public schools to engage students and raise awareness about important issues.
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    From Miss America to Mr. Popo: Exploring Race and Gender Within Nerd-Themed Podcasts
    (December 2022) Jackson, Anthony Samuel; Cabaniss, Emily R; Gardner, Jeffrey A; Leipnik, Olena V
    This paper examines public accounts of women and people of color within nerd fandom podcasts. Current sociological literature provides a symbolic interactionist framework for analyzing identity and community within nerd fandom. Social constructionist frameworks provide explanation for gendered social systems and racialization, both of which are clearly visible within nerd fandom. This study supplements the literature with direct accounts from marginalized nerds via podcast episodes recorded within the preceding five years. Content analysis of twelve episodes from three different podcast series outlined key elements of representation: direct representation (e.g., characters of color in media), indirect representation (e.g., queer- or feminine-coded characters in media), and representation behind the scenes (e.g., writing, directing, and/or producing media). These themes provide critical context as to the experiences of marginalized nerds within nerd fandom.
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    Effect of Age on the Inflammatory Response in Horses Following an Incremental Exercise Test
    (December 2022) Gentry, Amber Megan; Stutts, Kyle J; Suagee-Bedore, Jessica; Martinez, Rafael E
    Horses experience systemic and external inflammation following exercise as a mechanism of recovery indicated by elevated inflammatory markers and heat. Further, aged horses are at greater risk of prolonged inflammation than young horses. Therefore, the objective of this study was to compare the inflammatory response of unconditioned young (YNG; 14 to 16 mo) and aged (OLD; 19 to 24 yr) Quarter Horses following a 17-min incremental exercise test (IET; 6.44 kph, 16.09 kph, 19.31 kph and 22.53 kph). Blood was collected pre-exercise, 12 h, 24 h, 48 h, and 72 h following exercise. Skin surface temperatures were collected on the left side pre-exercise, 15 min, 24 h, 48 h, and 72 h following exercise. Muscle soreness evaluations were conducted pre-exercise, 12 h, 36 h, 60 h, and 84 h following exercise. Data were analyzed by repeated measures ANOVA using the MIXED procedure of SAS. Plasma percentages of 18:2 were greater in YNG 24 h following exercise than OLD (P<0.05). Plasma percentages of 18:3 and 22:6 were greater (P<0.05) prior to exercise than following exercise. There was an effect of age, where plasma IL-1β concentrations, mRNA abundance of IL-1β, and mRNA abundance of IL-18 in OLD were greater (P<0.05) than YNG. There was an effect of exercise, where mRNA abundance of IL-18 and caspase-1 were greater (P<0.05) 24 h following exercise than prior to exercise. Aged horses had greater (P<0.05) muscle damage 12 h following exercise compared to prior to exercise. The shoulder, forearm, back, and gaskin skin surface temperatures were greater (P<0.05) 15 min following exercise. All four muscle groups on the right side had a greater (P<0.05) muscle soreness score 12 to 60 h following exercise, while only the neck and shoulder on the left side exhibited muscle soreness in response to exercise (P<0.05). These results indicate that the response to an IET is affected by age in regard to plasma lipid content, plasma IL-1β concentrations, plasma CK concentrations, and gene expression of IL-1β, while age and exercise affect expression of IL-18. Additionally, these results suggest that exercise affects body surface temperatures and muscle soreness, regardless of age.
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    Major and Minor Scales: A Survey of Scale Morphology Across Squamate Reptiles
    (December 2022) Doucet, Daniel Sean; Daza Vaca, Juan D; Ulseth, Amber J; Campbell, Timothy L; Randle, Christopher P
    Morphological diversity in squamate reptiles is well documented. Variation in diet habits, locomotion, habitat use, and many other behaviors has led to the radiation of one of the most speciose vertebrate groups. Despite large studies using osteological, physiological, and genomic data to infer phylogenies of the monophyletic order Squamata, the use of integumentary characters has been few and far between. This investigation serves as a preliminary foray into the possible use of scale morphology to address phylogenetic questions. One hundred and fifty three taxa including members from each of the 67 squamate families were scored for 180 integumentary characters. Among these 180 characters, 81 were from a previous study and 99 new characters were proposed. Only 159 of the 180 characters were applied in the analysis. Use of digital microscopy and high-resolution 3D imaging assisted in scoring. It was found that some of these traits may provide discrimination among higher-level clades on a morphospace. Multiple Correspondence Analysis was used to identify character state contribution to the variation seen in the dataset, as well as plot taxa in morphospace. Ancestral state reconstruction of key characters also gives confidence that certain characters may help identify trends in recent squamate evolution. Clades tend to share similar overlap pattern, scale distribution, and often three-dimensional texture of the scale. Use of these data may also resolve the uncertain placement of some fossilized lizards in amber which retain their integument.
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    Effectiveness Of Curriculum Development In Advanced Plant Science In Invasive Species And Agriculture Biosecurity
    (December 2022) Brandon, Jacob Dylan; Anderson, Mark J; Ullrich, Doug R; Ford, Richard K
    The volume and diversity of material that agriculture teachers must be semiefficient in is astronomical in comparison to other disciplines. Texas there are 29 courses that a certified agriculture sciences teacher can teach based upon the local and regional needs. That is why in our study we are looking at developing curriculum Advanced Plant and Soil Science, a course that 144 out of the 1300 high school programs offered to their high school students. Additionally Advanced Plant and Soil science is offered as a science credit in public schools in Texas. This course also coincides with two topics that are seldom discussed in other curriculum materials available to agriculture teachers in Agricultural Biosecurity and Invasive Species. This study will be creating a unit of instruction and curriculum on Agricultural Biosecurity and Invasive Species that align with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) in Advanced Plant and Soil Science. We will first develop the material for the instructors and students with assistance from the Texas Invasives Species Institute. Secondly, we will distribute this material to 10 schools across the state of Texas (n = 10) and gather a pre/post-survey that inquires their knowledge and confidence in teaching agriculture biosecurity and invasive species. We will also receive all the students pre/post-test scores, and all quizzes that are encompassed in the curriculum of 11 lessons. Data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics and a paired t-test in comparing students test and quiz scores to evaluate if the material was absorbed. Then using the same analysis to evaluate the pre/post-survey from the instructors on confidence in teaching and if they absorbed any of the material that they are not used to. This in return will help evaluate material effectiveness for both the student and the instructor in a course and topic that does not have substantial research or guides for teachers.
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    Brain Training and Athletic Performance in Youth Athletes
    (December 2023) Park, Nocona; Figueroa, Yvette L; Didier, Jennifer J; Davis, Patrick R; Bunn, Jennifer
    The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of cognitive training regarding soccer-specific agility performance with the use of an application, BrainHQ. The study involved 48 soccer athletes, aged 10 to 11, at the competitive and advanced levels, who participated in their competitive spring season.  All athletes completed pre- and post-assessments of a modified Y change-of-direction test and a soccer-specific agility test and were included in the analysis. The experimental group used the training app two-four days per week for 10-30 minutes per day over the course of four weeks. The participants were coded as compliant or non-compliant, post-hoc, based on the level of compliance on using the BrainHQ app. The control group used a blind app with no intentional cognitive training purposes for the same time frame as the experimental group. The repeated measures MANOVA (groups x time) with the covariate of compliance study revealed main effects of time and further univariate analyses presented interactions for time x group indicating the BrainHQ app may contribute to perceptual-cognitive athletic performance. The BrainHQ app use by the experimental group showed greatest time improvements in key variables that influence in-game performance such as soccer-specific agility times, movement speed, and decision-making times. Based on the results of this study, recommendations for training programs; and future study recommendations are offered.
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    (December 2023) Dudley, Christopher Melvin; Ates, Burcu; Eaton, Paul W; Montelongo, Ricardo; Ates, Burcu
    This ethnographic study aimed to understand how the educational goals of Multilingual Learners at community colleges were shaped and examine how institutions may influence goal orientation. A critical ethnographic case study was utilized, employing data triangulation through observations and interviews as data collection methods. Participants included seven multilingual learners who were enrolled at a community college English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program in the Southern region of the United States. This study sought to better understand how institutions may influence goal orientation of these learners. The study was framed through a conceptual framework of goal orientation theory and discourse theory. The four key findings of the study are: Educational Goal Alignment, Oral Communication, Intrusive Advising Support, and Student Labels. These findings are described alongside support interventions that could help multilingual learners reach their goals and simplify institutional and state policy that can label and hinder admissions processes, degree selection, and tuition costs.
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    The Effect of Breakfast on a Resistance Training Session in Female Collegiate Athletes
    (December 2023) Roberts, Haley; Figueroa, Yvette L; Davis, Patrick R; Bunn, Jennifer
    The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of breakfast consumption on collegiate female athletes during a resistance training session and their nutritional habits throughout the remainder of the day. Of 32 recruited, 23 female collegiate Division I athletes from Sam Houston State University participated. The study consisted of three visits. The first visit included baseline measures for heart rate (HR), blood glucose (BG), and salivary cortisol (SC), a wellness questionnaire, 5-repetition maxes for a goblet squat, Romanian deadlift, dumbbell bench press and dumbbell row, and participant familiarization. The next two visits consisted of the randomized conditions: a resistance training session with breakfast (experimental) and another with breakfast omission (control). For each condition, BG, HR, and SC was collected after wait period and prior to resistance training and BG, RHR, SC, heart rate recovery (HRR), and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was collected after resistance training. A two-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used to examine how the condition (breakfast or breakfast omission) and time (pre and post) affected BG, HR, and SC. BG was more stable between pre and post in the experimental condition compared to the control. A matched pairs t-test revealed that breakfast had no impact on RPE. Lastly, a Wilcoxon signed-rank test showed that breakfast increased happiness and was associated with lower academic stress. This study demonstrates the importance of breakfast to female collegiate athletes, coaches, and administration as well as informs the research on nutrition among female collegiate athletes.
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    Evaluation of Weaning Methods on Performance and Immune Response to Vaccination in Beef Calves
    (December 2023) Browning, Paige Elizabeth; Stutts, Kyle J; Kelley, Stanley F; Martinez, Rafael E
    The weaning process is a stressful process for any species. In beef cattle, several weaning methods have been employed in an attempt to minimize this stress and the effects of this stress which include decreased growth rate and suppression of the immune system. This study was conducted to compare weaning methods of beef calves regarding post-weaning growth and immune function. To accomplish this, a sample of Angus and Angus cross beef calves (n = 147) were stratified by age, sex, and sire and divided into three treatment groups: abrupt weaning (AW), fence line weaning (FL), and nose flap weaning (NF). All calves were vaccinated at weaning (d 0) and weaned according to their treatment group. Blood samples were collected via coccygeal venipuncture on d 0 and d 14 to evaluate immune response to vaccination and quantify cortisol concentration as an indicator of stress. Weights for each calf were recorded biweekly for 42 d after weaning. Data were analyzed using the PROC MIXED procedure of SAS with main effects of treatment and sex and their interaction using ANOVA. Weaning weight, post-weaning weights, and post-weaning gain data were analyzed with age of calf included as a covariate. Body weights were not different among treatment groups at weaning, or 14 d, 28 d, or 42 d post-weaning, however, the FL group had a greater (P < 0.05) total post-weaning gain than the AW group with the NF group being intermediate to the other treatment groups. There was no effect of weaning method on cortisol concentration at weaning or 14 d post-weaning, but a difference in immune response was observed. Calves in the NF weaning group had a greater (P < 0.05) immune response to vaccination than calves in the AW or FL weaning groups. Based on the results of this study, alternative methods of weaning may have a positive impact on calf weight gain throughout the post-weaning period and immune response to vaccination in beef cattle by diminishing the stress of the weaning process.
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    (December 2023) Davis, Courtney Nicole; Slate, John R; Resilla, Clare; Branch, Tershundrea; Lunenburg, Frederick C; Hemmen, Janene W
    Purpose The purpose of this traditional dissertation was to determine the participation rate of Black students in AP courses and to ascertain their success rates in all AP courses and in specific AP courses (i.e., English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science) across four school years, 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020, and 2020-2021 in the State of Texas from a Critical Race Theory perspective. Another purpose of this traditional dissertation was to ascertain the degree to which trends were present in the participation and success rates of Black students in all AP courses and specific AP courses (i.e., English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science) across three school years, 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020 in the State of Texas from a Critical Race Theory perspective. Method A quantitative, causal-comparative research design and Critical Race Theory were the tools used in this traditional dissertation. Black students AP participation rates and success rates were analyzed using Texas Annual Academic Performance Reports from the Texas Education Agency for all campuses in the State of Texas in all AP subjects and in specific AP subjects (i.e., English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science) across four school years (i.e., 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020, and 2020-2021). Critical Race Theory was the structure used to analyze past discriminatory practices and current barriers that present challenges toward improving the AP participation and success rates of Black students. Findings Black students are not successful on their AP exams at the same rate they are participating in the College Board’s AP program. The AP participation rates and the AP success rates of Black students decreased in all AP subjects, and specifically in AP English Language Arts courses, AP Mathematics courses, and AP Science courses between the 2017-2018 school year and the 2020-2021 school year. The average participation rates of Black students in AP English Language Arts and AP Science courses between the 2017-2018 school year and the 2020-2021 school year decreased by at least 3 percentage points. The participation rates of Black students in AP Mathematics courses were very consistent, but at rates below 10%. The average success rates of Black students in AP English Language Arts and AP Science courses between the four school years decreased by at least 2 percentage points.
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    (December 2023) Islam, Ahsan Ul; Islam, ABM R; Liang, Fan; An, Min Kyung
    People’s opinions and actions in everyday life are increasingly influenced by artificial intelligence. However, representation in the design of these technologies has the potential to undo decades of progress in gender and ethnicity. These biases threaten the strides toward equality in these areas, casting a shadow over our progress. The concerns surrounding gender and ethnicity biases have pervaded numerous fields, none more prominently than within artificial intelligence, especially in pre-trained deep learning models. These models, celebrated for their capacity to extract knowledge from extensive datasets, hold immense potential to revolutionize society and decision-making. However, they are not impervious to the biases embedded in the data upon which they are trained. It raises the possibility of unintentionally perpetuating and amplifying societal biases linked to gender or ethnicity. The issue of gender bias in deep learning models has gained significant traction in recent times. As these models have become increasingly ubiquitous across various applications, it has become evident that they often perpetuate and exacerbate long-standing gender biases inherent in the training data. This paper embarks on a methodical and empirically rigorous exploration, delving into the nuanced landscape of gender and ethnicity bias within a diverse array of pre-trained deep learning models. Through meticulous scrutiny of these models’ performance about gender and ethnicity-based predictions, we aim to unearth invaluable insights regarding the presence, intricacies, and magnitude of bias.This research paper offers a comprehensive and empirically grounded examination of gender and ethnicity bias within a diverse range of pre-trained deep-learning models. This investigation involves a meticulous analysis of how these models perform when making predictions related to gender and ethnicity. By scrutinizing their predictions, the aim is to unearth valuable insights into the presence, nuances, and extent of these biases within AI systems. Furthermore, this work introduces an innovative, holistic solution to mitigate gender and ethnicity bias. We present CNN models strategically crafted to address and rectify biases about gender and ethnicity effectively. This model represents a pioneering step towards combating bias on multiple fronts within AI systems. This research thus contributes significantly to the broader understanding of bias within AI technologies. Simultaneously addressing gender and ethnicity bias and proposing a practical remedy and the way for more equitable and unbiased advancements in artificial intelligence. Through rigorous analysis and innovative solutions, we seek to ensure that AI systems respect and uphold the principles of fairness, inclusively, and diversity, thereby fostering a more just technological landscape for all.
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    Synthesis and Characterization of Metal Ferrite Nanoparticles and their Bactericidal Efficacy against Xanthomonas Pathogens
    (December 2023) Sehlaoui, Morad; Trad, Tarek M; Thompson, David E; Petrikovics, Ilona
    Metal ferrite nanoparticles possess unique characteristics which allow for applications across a wide range of fields. Recently, these particles have been in the spotlight for their use as bactericidal control agents. The ability of stearate and cholate capped zinc and manganese ferrite nanoparticles to inhibit the growth of bacteria in the genus Xanthomonas was the primary investigation of this work. Both the zinc and manganese ferrite nanoparticles were synthesized using a pressure-assisted, heat mediated coprecipitation method in which surface functionalization and core formation occur in one step. The particles’ surfaces were functionalized with stearic and cholic acids, whose presence was confirmed using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR). Analysis of the particles’ crystal phase using powder X-ray diffraction (XRD) confirmed a single spinel phase in both the ZnFe2O4 and MnFe2O4 nanoparticles. Relative elemental analysis was performed using X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy to confirm the presence of zinc and manganese in the particle materials. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) revealed particles with semispherical morphologies and a mostly monodisperse size distribution with particle sizes < 10 nm. Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) analysis of the particles revealed much larger hydrodynamic diameters, ranging from 108.4 nm to 581.2 nm, with evidence to suggest that the particles were agglomerating strongly in solution. The bactericidal results showed that the stearate and cholate-capped particles inhibited growth of several of the Xanthomonas test species, to varying degrees. While the results are not a clear indicator that the particles could be used as an alternative to traditional antibiotic treatments, due to issues with the tris dispersant used, they do suggest that the particles have potential for fulfilling this role.
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    Effect of Cell Culture Condition or Bisphenol A (BPA) Exposure on the Wound Healing Response In Vitro
    (December 2023) Hays, Emily E; Harper, James M; Lynne, Aaron M; Ulseth, Amber J
    Wound healing is a process comprised of overlapping phases: inflammation, tissue formation, reepithelization, and remodeling; all of which can be influenced by exogenous factors such as environmental pollutants. Bisphenol A (BPA), a monomer used in the manufacture of many plastics, is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that may influence cell proliferation and/or cellular migration during wound repair. Here I used an in vitro model of wound healing to investigate the effect of varying the composition of the cell culture media in conjunction with BPA exposure to determine how each of these factors may influence the kinetics of the wound healing response. Specifically, the degree of closure over 24 hours was measured in the presence or absence of bovine serum in the cell culture media in cells pre-exposed to varied concentrations of BPA. Using an algorithm developed for ImageJ to autonomously estimate the rate of wound closure, we found that the presence of serum in the culture media significantly increased this rate in (p ≤ 0.001). Prior exposure to BPA had no effect on the rate of wound closure, regardless of dose or cell culture condition (p ≥ 0.05). Collectively, these data suggest that serum growth factors are essential mediators of wound closure in vitro, whereas BPA exposure has no significant effect.
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    (December 2023) Garza, Matias M; Fuller, Matthew B; Silvestre, Gabriela J; Montelongo, Ricardo
    To better inform key stakeholders in student affairs divisions, an investigation was conducted to determine whether student affairs perceptions of assessment culture varied according to years of experience in higher education. A quantitative study was conducted to determine whether years of experience in higher education have any effect on the dependent variables (a) Clear Commitment to Assessment; (b) Assessment Communication; (c) Connection to Change; (d) Fear of Assessment (Fuller, 2013; Fuller & Lane, 2017; Fuller & Skidmore, 2014; Fuller et al., 2016). A stepwise sequential linear regression was used to examine the correlation between the independent and dependent variables to determine if any of the dependent variables could be predicted. The results indicated that Time as a Student Affairs Member had an effect on two of the four dependent variables regarding the perception of assessment culture. However, in future experiments, researchers should examine the effect of reported variations. Additionally, the discussion on how to use the findings of this study includes suggestions for additional research on this topic.
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    Scars, Marks, and Tattoos: How Appearance Influences Rearrest and Reconviction
    (December 2023) Martone, Andrew J; Orrick, Erin A; Toman, Elisa L; Lehmann, Peter S
    This thesis aims to describe the influence appearance has on rearrest and reconviction for individuals within the United States Criminal Justice system and analyze how visible scars, marks, and tattoos influence rearrest and reconviction rates. The dataset for the analysis comes from “The LoneStar Project, Texas Study of Trajectories, Associations, and Reentry” and includes information on a cohort of individuals released from prison between 2015 and 2016. This thesis examines two research questions. First, do visible scars, marks, or tattoos impact the likelihood of rearrest? Second, for those who are rearrested, do visible scars, marks, or tattoos impact the likelihood of reconviction? Each research question is tested through chi-square analyses and binary logistic regression analyses. Results explain that visible scars, marks, or tattoos have a statistically significant relationship with rearrest likelihood.
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    The Lived Experiences of Queer Faculty Working in CACREP-Accredited Counselor Education Programs
    (December 2023) Pitts, Erin; Rice, Kathleen; Jorgensen, Maribeth F; Henderson, Susan E
    Queer professionals have historically experienced discrimination, persecution, and oppression in the workplace. While the field of counselor education has ethical and accreditation standards that require multicultural inclusion and competence, no empirical studies currently explore the experiences of queer counselor educators in the workplace. An interpretive phenomenological approach was used to explore the experiences of queer faculty working in CACREP-accredited counselor education programs. Four participants completed semi-structured interviews, resulting in the development of four themes: 1) career journey, 2) visibility matters, 3) if not us then who, and 4) work in progress. These themes were used to provide implications for counselor education programs. Recommendations for future research related to this topic were also provided based on the findings of the study.
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    Differences in Meeting College and Career Readiness in Mathematics as a Function of the District's Rural Setting: A Statewide Investigation
    (December 2023) Barrón, Carlos L; Slate, John R; Lunenburg, Frederick C; Hemmen, Janene W; Resilla, Clare; Branch, Tershundrea
    The purpose of this journal-ready dissertation was to determine the extent to which a rural school district setting was related to the performance on the College and Career Readiness standard in mathematics for African American boys, Hispanic boys, and girls in the State of Texas. In contrast to urban districts that tend to offer greater opportunities in advanced mathematics coursework, the relationships between a school district setting and enrollment in advanced mathematics coursework had not been explored to determine how African American boys, Hispanic boys, and girls performed in rural school districts across the state of Texas (i.e., Rural Remote, Rural Distant, and Rural Fringe). The research design in this journal-ready dissertation was a causal comparative design. Archival data were downloaded from the Texas Academic Performance Reports using a Public Information Request for the 2016-2017, 2017-2018, and 2018-2019 school years. Each data file for the 1,068 public school institutions had the total number of annual graduates, the percent of graduating girls meeting college ready, the percent of graduating Hispanic boys meeting college ready, and the percent of African American boys meeting college ready in mathematics. Descriptive statistics were calculated for all rural school district types combined and then separately. Inferential statistics were conducted, and no statistical significance were present across the three rural school district types across the 2016-2017, 2017-2018, and 2018-2019 school years. Observed in this investigation at least 70% of African American boys were not college ready in mathematics across all three school years in rural school settings. Of importance to this investigation, two-thirds of Hispanic boys who graduated from rural school districts in Texas were not college ready in mathematics even though the Hispanic community was the fastest growing community as reported in the 2020 US Census. Consequently, less than one-fifth of all high school female graduates in the State of Texas had not met a college ready indicator in mathematics in contrast to 55% of female graduates who were not college ready in mathematics when they graduated from one of the three rural type settings across the 2016-2017, 2017-2018, and 2018-2019 school years.
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    Exploring the Effects of Self-Paced Learning, Inquiry-Guided Learning, and Collaborative Learning on Middle School (6-8) Students' Interest in Pursuing STEM/CS
    (December 2023) Romero, Kayleigh Danielle; Lester, Li-Jen Y; LaPrairie, Kimberly N; Ko, Pat
    The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine any correlations between an increase in knowledge from activities which utilize self-paced learning, inquiry-guided learning, and collaborative learning pedagogical strategies and students’ intentions to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and computer science (CS). The students were comprised of underserved, underrepresented middle school (6-8) students from the Southeast Texas area who took part in computer science and STEM-themed summer programs at Lamar University, in Beaumont, TX. Data for this study was analyzed using descriptive statistics, correlational statistics, parametric tests, and non-parametric tests. Tests included paired-samples t-tests, Wilcoxon signed-rank tests, comparison of means reports, and Kruskal-Wallis tests. Results from this study indicate that all three of the selected learning strategies, self-paced learning, inquiry-guided learning, and collaborative learning, produced positive effects on student self-perceived CS knowledge and interest in STEM/CS. The results suggested that overall, self-paced learning may have the least amount of effect. However, none of the three learning strategies seemed to indicate no effect or negative effects. Additionally, it was shown that when ethnicities were compared, inquiry-guided learning showed the highest average gain in student self-perceived CS knowledge among the three learning strategies for all ethnicities. All ethnicities also showed a higher average interest in CS courses than CS careers. There were varied interest levels in terms of CS careers when comparing by grade level, however, all grade levels showed similar interest levels in terms of CS courses. Implications for practice were offered including the suggestion that middle school CS educators might consider incorporating the learning strategies independently or in combination while developing CS curriculum. Also, it was suggested that middle school CS educators might focus on developing students interest in CS courses in middle school more than their interest in CS careers. Recommendations for future research were made including ways to expand the generalizability of the results of future related research. Though the relatively small sample size of the study’s participants cannot fully reflect full representations of the experiences of the studied demographics, the study still offers insights into the effectiveness of the targeted learning strategies.
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    (December 2023) Johnson, Angela M; Lane, Forrest C; Martirosyan, Nara; Hollas, Victoria S
    Adult learners seeking to earn a high school equivalency (HSE), like the general education development (GED), must often overcome major difficulties to persist (Comings, 2007) and succeed academically (Hansman & Mott, 2010). Adult learners might require hundreds of hours of training in GED programs to make up for early departure in high school (Comings et al., 1999). Students who complete 100 or more hours of instruction are more likely to earn an HSE certification (Reder, 2014). However, 50% of individuals who enroll in GED programs exit before engaging in 35 hours of instruction (McDonnell & Soricone, 2014). Only 11% of adult learners in GED programs attended classes continuously for a year (Comings et al., 1999). Researchers have asserted persistence, a noncognitive skill, is critical to adult learners reaching their longterm goals (Credé et al., 2017) and academic achievement (Abuhassàn & Bates, 2015). Grit is a noncognitive skill associated with overcoming barriers, persistence, and goal commitment over an extended period of time (Duckworth, 2006). Studies have examined grit in the context of primary (Sutter et al., 2022), middle (Sturman & Zappala-Piemme, 2017), and secondary schools (Eskreis-Winkler et al., 2014). However, examining grit and its relationship to various outcomes of GED students is almost nonexistent in adult education literature (Pemberton & McCadden, 2019). The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the relationship between the eight-item Short Grit (Grit-S) Survey scores, persistence, and academic achievement, of adult learners enrolled in a GED program at a large urban nonprofit. The data were v examined using a series of chi-square tests to explore the relationship between grit (independent variable) and academic achievement and persistence (dependent variables). Grit was collapsed into three ordinal categories for comparison. The results revealed that the association between grit, academic achievement, and persistence was not statistically significant.