School of Education Hosts Annual Educational Research Forum on April 26

The School of Education's annual Educational Research Forum will be held on Wednesday, April 26, from
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm, in both the ETC Lobby and first floor. The school’s doctoral students will present their dissertation research, with topics ranging from student achievement, emotional intelligence attributes, and engaging students with disabilities.

Faye Schilling (Doctoral Student, ’16)
Professional Learning Communities: The Catalyst for Student Achievement in the Common Core Era
Abstract: Pennsylvania educators experienced large declines in student achievement since the inception of the new, more rigorous Common Core Standards. Between 2014 and 2015, proficiency rates on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) exam dropped significantly. The most dramatic declines in achievement were experienced in middle school grades fifth through eighth (“PSSA Scores Dive as Tests Get Harder,” n.d.). The purpose of this quantitative research was to examine the effects of cognitive constructivist Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) on middle school student achievement in math and English Language Arts. The study centered on two measurements: (1) how teacher lesson plans changed to match the rigor and expectations of the Common Core Standards; and (2) how students’ PSSA scaled scores changed from 2015 to 2016, after the implementation of PLCs. Results indicated that the implementation of PLCs did have a positive impact upon teacher methods and instructional focus, as revealed through the data results of improved of teacher lesson plans. However, most of the PSSA test scores did not significantly improve across the two years. Educators still appear to face challenges in the quest to improve student achievement.

David Tate (Doctoral Student, ’16)
Superintendent Perceptions of Summer Learning Loss and Summer Reading Programs
Abstract: Summer learning loss refers to the decline in children’s academic development that occurs during time away from school when they are not participating in an academic summer program. Students have vastly different summer experiences. Some attend instructive camps, summer school or have language-rich discussions with family members while others have no educational programming and fewer language experiences overall. Summer learning loss affects students from a low SES more than students from an advantaged background. Public school superintendents serve as gatekeepers between policy and program implementation. The current study examined the perceptions of New Jersey school superintendents regarding summer learning loss. Specifically, the study sought to evaluate superintendents’ understanding of and opinions about summer learning loss and to determine if differences exist as a function of several variables, including district student enrollment, summer reading program offerings, and District Factor Groupings. Descriptive analyses indicated that superintendents’ understanding of summer learning loss was consistent with findings from current research. Differences in superintendents’ perceptions of summer learning loss and the efficacy of summer reading programs were evaluated on four factor dimensions. Between groups one-way MANOVAS found no significant differences as a function of student enrollment or summer reading program offerings. Perceptions were found to differ significantly on two of the four factor dimensions as a function of superintendents’ District Factor Grouping status—knowledge of summer learning loss and acceptance of stakeholder input. The impact of these findings as they relate to summer learning loss and summer reading programs is discussed.

Shawn Mark (Doctoral Student, ’16)
Identifying the Most Preferred Emotional Intelligence Attributes for School Principals
Abstract: Studies have shown that principal leadership does not directly impact student-learning outcomes, but their influence on teaching and learning is more indirect, via the leadership they provide to teachers who implement the instructional practices in the classroom. Since much of the principal’s influence on student learning in his or her school is indirect, research has shown that the way the principal leads his or her school, and the way he or she supports the work of teachers is of great importance. The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of principals and teachers about the most preferred emotional intelligence attributes of school principals. Specifically, this study was designed to find if there are significant differences in the perceptions of principals and teachers in the importance of principal self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and social skill. Seventy-eight principals and 100 teachers from Pennsylvania public schools were surveyed about their perceptions of 24 emotional intelligence attributes of principal leadership. Between sample t-tests analyses comparing principal and teacher perceptions of the importance of each component of emotional intelligence were conducted. Significant differences in the perceptions of principals and teachers in one of the four components of emotional intelligence was identified. The impact of these findings as they relate to principal leadership is discussed.

Tiffany Watson (Doctoral Student, ’17)
Engaging Students with Disabilities: Using Student Response Technology in Elementary Classrooms
Abstract: Student engagement refers to the behaviors that suggest whether a student is interested in the learning process. Finn (1989) developed the participation-identification model to explain the correlation between student engagement and identification with school, suggesting that increased participation leads to an increased sense of belongingness in school. This identification with school in the early years may lead to academic achievement in the future. Technology is often used as a means for increasing student engagement. Student Response Technology (SRT), where students use handheld clickers to respond during classroom instruction, is one form of technology used to engage students in the classroom. The current study examined the effect of SRT on student engagement in elementary classrooms for students with disabilities. This single-subject, multiple baseline across participants study took place at a small private school in New Jersey, specifically serving students with disabilities. Student engagement, including rate of participation, latency of response, accuracy of response, on task behavior, and student-initiated questions was evaluated across four male students with disabilities SRT was implemented for each participant at a different, randomly selected time during the study. Both visual and statistical analysis yielded a relationship between use of SRT and student’s participation, and on-task behavior.

Colleen Mooney (Doctoral Student, ’17)
An Examination of the Relationship between a High School Advisory Program and Student Attendance, Academic Achievement, and Discipline Referrals
Abstract: Although educators attempt to differentiate their instruction to meet the needs of individual students, student engagement remains a concern at the high school level. Effective high school advisory programs are a means of increasing student engagement, as they enable students to develop a meaningful relationship with an adult in the school setting. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between participation in a high school advisory program and student attendance, academic achievement, and discipline referrals in a large suburban public high school in southeastern Pennsylvania. The researcher analyzed ninth and tenth grade student performance data of a group that participated in the advisory program for two years and a group that did not participate in the program. She examined the student performance data for at-risk students in each group. The researcher conducted a Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) to compare the mean number of absences, GPA, and number of discipline referrals for each group and to determine whether significant differences existed between the two groups. She utilized an independent samples t-test to determine whether significant mean differences existed between the students at risk for school failure in each group. The findings reveal a significantly higher mean GPA for the group that did not participate in the advisory program and non-significant mean differences in disciplinary offenses and absences. The researcher surveyed and conducted follow-up interviews with faculty advisors to supplement the quantitative data. The researcher then discusses the implications of this study for practice and future research.

Jan Cook (Doctoral Student, ’17)
The Female Veteran’s Voice: Their Challenge When Faced by Stop Out Enrollment
Abstract: This research was a response to literature calling specifically for more investigation of female student veterans who have experienced stop out enrollment, a temporary interruption in enrollment. The research asked three questions about the unique challenges of female student veterans: (1) From the female perspective, what are the stop out enrollment challenges of student veterans, male and female? (2) From the female perspective, what are the stop out enrollment challenges that female student veterans face because they are female? (3) From the female perspective, what challenges associated with stop out enrollment threaten the persistence of female student veterans at community colleges? Nine female students and three veterans’ advisors at two community colleges were interviewed. The interviews were analyzed using corpus linguistics methodology and the constant comparative method for the coding. Results of the analysis identified only two gender-related challenges, pregnancy and lack of access to a military vehicle. This study supports previous research of primarily male veteran cohorts and adds a way of conceptualizing the challenges faced by both male and female veterans, the need for connections when entering the military, when deployed, and when returning to campus.