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Below are listed the names of students who have completed a Ph.D. program in Human Development and Education and the abstracts from their dissertations since 2012.  If you are interested in viewing the graduates and their abstracts before 2012, please click here.  

July 2017-June 2018


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Myron Eighmy

Dissertation Title: A Report Card for Risk Management in Higher Education for Two-Year Colleges in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan: A Study to Assess Gaps Regarding Risk Management in Higher Education

The purpose of this study was to organize the identified risks into one of the five classifications in order to establish a taxonomy created by peers and to measure the variances in the level of risk at two-year colleges. A universal problem for colleges and universities is the difficulty of finding peer groups that have and are willing to share best practices about managing the risks and the losses experienced due to poor risk management. Because colleges and universities are being asked to do more with less, they cannot afford to miscalculate the potential risks that are associated with events that may affect the institutions’ achievement of specific objectives. Consequently, it is essential to implement an Enterprise Risk Management system that manages the risk appetite when classifying strategic risk, operational risk, financial risk, reputational risk, and compliance risk (Kerr & Hosie, 2013).

Examples of common risks for colleges and universities are identified throughout the review of literature: 24-hour access to buildings, hazing, surveillance cameras and privacy issues, blood-borne pathogens, festivals and sporting events, foreign travel, food contamination, vehicle liability, and bed-bug infestation in student housing. The following research questions guided the study: 1. How do two-year college administrators classify various risks into risk taxonomy? 2. Are there differences among the levels of perceived risk based on the level of administrative position held? 3. What new risks are surfacing at two-year colleges? 4. Are there differences among the levels of perceived risk based on the respondents’ demographics?


Ph.D. of Human Development and Education

Dissertation Title:  Childhood Adversity and Successful Aging

Advisor: Dr. Greg Sanders

Extant literature offers consensus regarding the long-term impacts of childhood adversity (CA) but its impact on successful aging is not well understood. The Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study—a nationally representative sample including 1,017 adults 55–76 (Ryff et al., 2016)—did not include a measure of CA exposure for use in analyses. Two papers were developed for this dissertation. The first paper, An effective measure of childhood adversity for use with older adults, explored whether a cumulative CA measure that is effective for older adults could be developed using existing MIDUS questions. It provided a rationale for operationalization of CA for researchers and for creating a cumulative score of eight CA types. Distributions of individual items and the CA score were consistent with past studies using similar CA measures. The overall factor structure of the scale was consistent with previous research: 1) household dynamics (did not live with both biological parents until age 16, substance abuse in the home, financial distress, moved three or more times) and 2) child abuse and neglect (sexual assault, emotional abuse, physical abuse, emotional neglect). Consistent with the literature, CA score showed a significant negative association with life satisfaction and positive association with number of chronic conditions, and dose-response relationships with cumulative CA. This study demonstrated that CA score, created using existing MIDUS data, was an effective measure for use with older adults. 

The second paper, The impact of childhood adversity on successful aging for older adults, examined the impact of CA score on successful aging for older adults, operationalized using eight dimensions of wellness. Results showed that CA affected successful aging decades later. Controlling for age and gender, hierarchical multiple regression showed a significant negative association between CA score and emotional, physical, social, financial, environmental , and spiritual wellness as well as the cumulative wellness index, and no significant association with intellectual or occupational wellness.. Prevention is the best way to address public health implications of CA. However, the present study provided insight into successful aging and can inform interventions that target adults for whom prevention of CA is not possible.


Ph.D. of Education

Dissertation Title:  Burnout in Athletic Training Students

Advisor: Dr. Claudette Peterson

Burnout has been associated with the helping professions for many years. Athletic training is a profession that has experienced burnout, with a decline in all athletic training professionals after the age of 30 (Kahanov and Eberman, 2011). This dissertation in practice, not only deals with testing the level of stress in athletic training students but also the implementation of stress reducing strategies and techniques to assist with stress and burnout. Therefore, this research will provide answers as to the levels of stress athletic training students experience. In addition, this research will provide insight on the stress reducing strategies and techniques most useful for this group of athletic training students. The instrument developed for this study was a modification of the Athletic Training Burnout Inventory (ATBI) (Clapper and Harris, 2008). The instrument developed for this dissertation in practice was the Athletic Training Student Burnout Inventory (ATSBI). Questions from the ATBI were modified, removed, and created to provide wording that was appropriate for this group of athletic training students. The ATSBI was administered over four time periods: December 2015, April 2016, September 2016, and December 2016. During the course of the first two administration periods, December 2015 and April 2016, the athletic training students received stress reducing information. During the course of the last two administration periods, September 2016 and December 2016, the athletic training students received stress reducing strategies and techniques and were asked to practice them on a weekly basis. There was a total of eight stress reducing strategies and techniques utilized by this group of athletic training students over the course of the semester. On a weekly basis, the students provided feedback on the stress reducing strategy or technique. The quantitative results showed little statistical significance; however, the qualitative information reported as the most beneficial stress reducing strategies and techniques for this group of athletic training students was the following: listening to music, time usage chart and schedule, coloring, the to-do list, and positive thinking.


Ph.D. of Human Development and Family Science

Dissertation Title:  Longitudinal Analysis of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Knowledge and Parent-Adolescent Communication of At-Risk Adolescents

Advisor: Dr. Brandy Randall

Despite declining rates, unintended adolescent pregnancy remains a considerable public health challenge in the United States (Hamilton, Martin, & Osterman, 2015). Unintended pregnancy leads to a host of negative outcomes not only for adolescents, but also for their children who are more likely to get trapped in a cycle of poverty that is difficult to break (Rew & Wong, 2006). Factors such as poverty are difficult to address; nonetheless, sexual reproductive health (SRH) knowledge and parent-adolescent communication (PAC) have been identified as important tools for prevention, and potentially modifiable (Swenson et al., 2009; 2010). The goal of the current study was to examine change in SRH knowledge and PAC. Pretest, posttest, and three-month follow-up data were collected from 176 adolescents (M = 15.70 years, SD = 1.93) who participated in a comprehensive sexual health education program conducted in a Midwestern state with conservative adolescent SRH policies. Study one examined change in SRH knowledge over time, and assessed whether sexual experience, religiosity, cultural awareness, immigration status, and gender moderated change in SRH knowledge. Multi-level modeling analyses showed that SRH knowledge increased; however, the rate decreased over time. Immigrants had significantly lower initial SRH knowledge compared to American-born participants; however, neither group experienced change over time. Adolescents with high cultural awareness had lower initial SRH knowledge; however, their SRH knowledge increased over time whereas it declined for participants with low cultural awareness. Finally, girls had lower initial SRH knowledge; however, they experienced greater growth compared to boys over time. In the second study, we examined the relation between PAC and sexual experience, religiosity, cultural awareness, immigration status, and gender. Our results showed that only immigration status was associated with PAC. At pretest, American-born participants had higher PAC; however, there was no change over time. Discussion focusses on the implications of these findings for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy prevention among at-risk adolescents living in states that are socially and politically conservative towards adolescent SRH.


Ph.D. of Human Development and Education

Advisor: Dr. Robert Nielsen

Dissertation Title: Stress and Work Satisfaction: School Counselors' Perspective


The study’s first purpose was to give school counselors a “voice” regarding their perceived stress. The second purpose was to investigate the relationship between school counselors’ work satisfaction across 12 counselor-related activities and perceived stress as measured by the Perceived Stress Scale-10 (PSS-10). A question about stressors and the variables of gender, age, prior teaching experience, years of experience as a school counselor, school setting, and caseload added definition to the study. This research attempted a census of all North Dakota’s school counselors who had practiced for the last 30 days prior to completing the survey. Initially, participants self-administered and self-selected the survey mode via a URL, QR code, or hyperlink; later, a paper option was offered. When asked about their stressors, 64.6% (n = 204) of the school counselors reported that their greatest stressors in the last 30 days were work-related. The PSS-10 average score was 13.55 on a scale of 0-32, indicating a low-moderate level of stress. As the years of prior teaching experience and experience as a school counselor increased, the perceived stress decreased. No relationship was found between the school counselors’ practice setting or caseload and their perceived stress. Overall, as school counselors’ work satisfaction decreased, school counselors’ perceived stress increased. This relationship was statistically significant for all twelve of the appropriate school counselor activities, but the strength of the relationships varied from a Spearman’s Rho of -.16 for classroom guidance to -.41 for individual academic advising. School counselors who were required to perform ASCA-defined inappropriate activities had a statistically significant, higher perceived stress score than school counselors who were not required to perform those activities. The results, limitations of this study, and recommendations for future research are discussed.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Chris Ray

Dissertation Title: They Say We Suck: The Failure of IPEDS Graduation Rates to Fully Measure Student Success

IPEDS graduation rates have become de facto means for higher education accountability in the United States, used by the federal government, state and local agencies, non-profits and media to compare and rank institutions. IPEDS uses a limited subset of students, as well as an institutional perspective to measure graduation rate. Under this model, the 40% of college students who transfer during their college career are counted as failures because they opt to take alternative, multi-institutional pathways to completion. Failure to consider all student pathways misrepresents actual student outcomes, and represents a flawed system of accountability. This study introduces a student outcome model that distinguishes between institutionally-focused graduation rates and student-focused completion rates. This model was applied to a sample of first-time, full time students from eleven public institutions in the North Dakota University System. Research showed that an alternative student-centric model can successfully measure student outcomes. Consideration of alternative pathways to completion increased the mean measure of positive student outcomes by 20%, ranging from 15–30% across institutions. This research provides theoretical, research, and practical implications for reconsideration for how student success is measured, reported, and studied. An alternative student-focused model of completion offers better research outcomes for studies that were previously limited as they were based on an inadequate definition of student success. Research and theories regarding how factors influence student outcomes can be reframed to include alternative pathways to completion, providing a more comprehensive understanding of students who matriculate and graduate from a single institution, those who transfer and graduate from other institutions, and those who fail to persist to degree. When consideration for alternative pathways to degree is measured and valued, it has potential to affect higher education practice by creating a focus on not only attempting to ensure student fit within an institution, but if fit is lacking, ensuring that the practices, policies, and other supports are in place so that students can transfer and complete at another institution.

JULY 2016-JUNE 2017


Ph.D. of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences

Advisor: Dr. Donna Terbizan

Dissertation Title:  Effects of a Sit-Stand Desk Intervention in a College Class

This disquisition examined the effects of sit-stand desks in a college classroom over the course of a semester and was split into two studies. Paper 1 determined the pattern of sit-stand desk usage over the course of a semester, the relationship to movement outside of class, and likeability of the sit-stand desks. Paper 2 determined the effect of using adjustable-height (sit-stand) desks in a college class on attention (AT), stress (ST), musculoskeletal discomfort (MD), anxiety (AN), and academic performance. Participants (total n=18; control=6) were recruited from two sections of the same course at a public university in Minnesota.

Individual daily standing time for the intervention group ranged from 0-100% of daily attendance time and the daily group average ranged from 2.1-38.4%. Weekly standing was lower (p<.05) in week 8 than week 5, 9, 11, 13, and 15. There was no difference in standing percentage between Wednesdays and Fridays. A third of all standing bouts were less than 0.3 min and two-thirds were less than 2 min in length. Perception Questionnaire answers were positive for using the desk and their effect on ability to work in class. The amount of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) did not differ between groups or between time points (week 7 vs. 14). All participants completed visual analogue scales (VAS) to measure AT, ST, MD, and AN from week 3-15, and took exams at week 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 15. The main findings indicated lower MD scores for the intervention group, higher week 6 than week 11 scores for AN and ST, and more variability in AT and ST scores. Exam scores were not different between groups. There was no difference indirect observation of attention (OAT) between groups (total n=15; control=6) at week 9, 12, or 13.

The results indicate the sit-stand desks were utilized at low levels, and for short durations, for most participants, but perceptions of desk use remained positive. In addition, sit-stand desks were associated with lower MD scores and weekly fluctuations in AT, ST, and AN. Future interventions should attempt to minimize the variability in desk use.


Ph.D. of Human Development

Advisor: Dr. Ardith Brunt

Dissertation Title:  The Role of Music Among Healthy Older Performance Musicians

This qualitative study explored the role of music in the lives of 18 healthy older performance musicians (PMs). PMs began music education in early childhood and developed music competencies of advanced, expert, and virtuoso by voice, instruments, and composing music. The phenomenology approach to data consisted of a 7-item demographic questionnaire, and an 18-semi-structured interview questionnaire. From the themes of community music participation, wellness, and happiness emerged 11 subthemes.

The role of participating in community music validated PMs’ music identity. First, values and beliefs explained music was life and a livelihood; second, music participation continued for decades because conductors chose complex repertoires that encouraged learning, and showcased music competencies. Third, camaraderie and enduring relationships sustained social connectedness, and fourth worldwide travel was inherent to performance and socialization.

The role of music and wellness supported PMs’ healthy aging through the life course. First, emotional wellness explained sense ofself to trust and share emotions with others and aligning views of aging to make adaptations to aging processes when needed. Second, intellectual wellness explained the relationship between complex music and brain health. Third, physical wellness explained personal benefits of physical fitness, nutrition, and intellectual energy to performing music. Fourth, sociological wellness explained PMs’ favorite music connected with family, friends, and community.

The role of music and happiness clarified motivations to needing and wanting challenging repertoire. First, lifelong learning of music was resultant to happiness, and, second, happiness was resultant to performing repertoire expertly, and third, performing music was exhilarating and fun despite the countless hours of practice to perform expertly. This study found that music was critical to PMs’ health, happiness, and well-being.

Future research should include audiology because hearing loss is endemic among musicians. Furthermore, establishment of regional U.S. research teams should gather data on yearly cycles, and longitudinal qualitative studies to help build a base of knowledge on PMs, and bridge the gap in literature to reverse the current empty trend. These efforts will help make seminal contributions for all generations and society.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Brent Hill

Dissertation Title:  The Relationship of Organizational Culture and Managerial Leadership

The purpose of this research is to examine the relationship of managerial leadership and organizational culture based on the integration of the two culture theories of Grid and Group Competing Values Framework (Hierarchy, Market, Adhocracy and Clan Culture types), and the managerial leadership theory Full Range Leadership model (Transformational and Transactional Leadership behaviors). The study methods were comprised of a quantitative web based survey research with a convenience sample of an organization. The data was analyzed with Canonical Correlation as well as exploratory data analysis. Thefindings supported the relationship of Group and Clan cultures and Transformational leadership behaviors. More specifically, there was a relationship of Clan culture and Transformational leadership behaviors of Intellectual Stimulation, Idealized Influence, and Individualized Consideration. There was also support for Grid and Market culture and Transactional leadership behaviors. Market culture was specifically associated with Transformational Leadership behavior ofManagement by Exception. The unexpected findings were the relationship of Contingent Reward Transactional behavior and Market culture and therelationship of Group culture to Adhocracy culture. Overall, the finding of the research supported the relationship and integration of the culture theories of Grid and Group and Competing Values Framework and Transactional and Transformational Managerial Leadership behaviors of the Full Range Leadership Model.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Nathan Wood

Dissertation Title: Mitigating Risk of Dropout: A Study Examining Motivational Constructs and Grit



Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Brent Hill

Dissertation Title:  Social Cognitive Perspectives on The Development of Body Image in Adult Women

The purpose of this study was to explore women’s perceptions of the sources of information that led to the development of their body image. Theproblem this study addressed was women receive messages that contribute to negative body image throughout their lifetimes. When these messages are processed passively, especially when cultivated over time, serious disorders and the transmission of unhealthy behaviors to children and peers can result. Different age groups provided insight into events that occur in the decades of their lives, and how influences are perceived differently at different ages. 

This study used Q methodology to analyze the subjective, qualitative perspectives of women concerning influences on the development of their bodyimage. Forty-five women sorted a list of 45 potential influences under two conditions of instruction (one pertaining to adolescence and the other pertaining to adulthood). The data were collected and analyzed, resulting in the identification and description of three archetypes: the Resilient (influenced by positive factors), the Transitional (influenced by a combination of factors), and the Impressionable (influenced by negative factors). The most commonly reported influences were significant others, siblings, mothers, self-talk, and close friend peers. The majority of women reported becoming more resilient to negative influences with age. 

Practitioners must not only treat the outcome of body image dissatisfaction, but also teach resilience and an internal locus of control to help prevent bodyimage issues. The earlier in life this type of education is received, the more likely body image dissatisfaction will be minimized.



Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Nate Wood

Dissertation Title:  The Boundaries of Social Entrepreneurship in Higher Education: A New Framework

Social entrepreneurship (SE) incorporates the more ethical dimensions of innovative business practices in the pursuit of financial sustainability in the advancement of societal goals, and is intended to empower all participants while bringing about positive changes in communities and society at large. An increasing number of colleges and universities are now embracing SE to stay competitive in the higher education market, find new sources of income in times of fiscal constraint, and align with their public service missions. However, despite the interest in SE on the part of the academic community, there is no broad or consistent understanding regarding what actually constitutes SE in higher education settings (SEHE), or about how it is being carried out in the institutions that have adopted SEHE. A multi-case study design explores a proposed initial SEHE framework developed from the literature through a qualitative analysis of the experiences of five higher education institutions recognized for their adoption of SE practices. This qualitative approach utilizing the lens of structuration theory enables the development of a complex understanding of SEHE as a multifaceted social phenomenon derived through the examination of its actors in their structural context.

The revised SIEHE framework, informed by the experiences of these exemplar institutions, is intended both to advance scholarly understanding of the elements and process of SIEHE, and to serve as a model for those undertaking or considering SE implementations at other colleges and universities. The framework sheds new light on the definitional and operational aspects ofSE, and translates concepts that have previously been largely confined to the business literature to other disciplines, enabling their adoption by scholars and practitioners in such diverse areas as education, the social sciences, and the liberal arts. While allowing for a broader scope of the types of socially beneficial projects that could be undertaken by agents, including faculty from a larger range of disciplines, SIEHE’s emphasis on financial sustainability should also be attractive to administrations for enabling access to alternative funding sources.



Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Chris Ray

Dissertation Title:  Assessment Disposition: Qualities and Strategies for Development in Student-Affairs Professionals

Because accountability in higher education has increased significantly, the need for effective assessment practice has also increased. Higher-education personnel, including student-affairs professionals, must be prepared to effectively incorporate assessment with their daily work, not only to address the accountability demands, but also to continue improving efforts that facilitate student growth and learning. While the student-affairs profession has placed assessment and assessment practice as a central issue by prioritizing resources towards professional development in this area, student-affairsprofessionals are falling short in their ability to integrate assessment into practice. This Delphi study explored the student-affairs assessment disposition, its characteristics, and the ways it can be developed. A small panel of student-affairs assessment experts were interviewed to develop a Delphi survey that was facilitated with a larger panel of assessment experts from institutions across the United States. Consensus of agreement was reached after three survey iterations on 41 qualities that define the qualities of a student-affairs professional with an assessment disposition and 40 actions or conditions that could contribute to the development of an assessment disposition.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Chris Ray

Dissertation Title: Re/Braiding Catrachaness: The Testimonio of Subaltern Voice

The current literature about rural feminists in Central American countries lacks details about the experiences women like my Grandmother had. The physical and social realities of my Grandmother breathed collective participation, self-reflection, critical thought, and personal development connected to the social struggle. Becoming an engaged social activist gave her a chance to reflect and act, which are the elements for concientización. Once she became emancipated, she was part of the social change by providing others and me the guidance to our freedom. The simple fact that women acted against an oppressive society, and they took control of their own reproductive rights demonstrates the will of women to find a way to make change and create agency.

Writing this dissertation is my way of carrying on my Grandmother’s legacy, as well as a means to create a space for rural feminist women from the next generation. My narrative offers everyday life discourses inversely related to those presented by the collective organized feminist movement narratives. In this research, I use testimonio as the method of inquiry and product through which my Grandmother’s and my narrative are braided and re-braided as a symbolic way to construct and deconstruct narratives, terms, and journeys. I completed this process under the lenses of theory in the flesh, Freire’s social emancipatory theory, and Mestiza consciousness. Una conscientización embodies and lives in context, no longer abstracted; therefore it embodies social and biological concepts of physical realities creating a generative resistance. I conclude this study with a reflection on the research process and future direction.

JULY 2015-JUNE 2016


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Claudette Peterson

Dissertation Title:  Evaluating Students’ Perceptions of Instructional Practices Employed in Adult Education Program at King Saud University

The purpose of this quantitative study is to describe female graduate students’ perceptions about their democratic empowerment in the classroom at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia. Their perceptions are compared based on female students' tracks. It also investigates the obstacles for democratic empowerment that female students face in the classroom. The theoretical framework depends on Dewey, Freire, and Shor’s perspective on critical pedagogy and Islamic teachings that help to create a democratic (Shura) classroom. Both approaches require freedom, dialogue, collaborative learning, equality, and critique concepts. These five concepts seek to create a critical thinking classroom that also encourages students to be empowered and active learners. However, classrooms that use traditional teaching methods that do not exercise the elements of democratic (Shura) empowerment lead to disempowered students by practicing silence, marginalization, and dependence. The data is collected through a questionnaire survey method, and the participants are female graduate students who study at the College of Education in the Department of Educational Policies. The statistical analysis that is used to answer the research questions are descriptive analysis including means, and standard deviation, one-way ANOVA, and Scheffé Post-Hoc Comparisons. The main results of this study are that Graduate female students practiced and showed the importance of the five elements of democratic empowerment in their classrooms. Also, the results show that there was no statistically significant differences at (α = 0.05) among female students' perceptions about their practices in dialogue, collaborative learning, and equality, in a classroom based on their study tracks. However, there was statistically significant differences at (α = 0.05) among female students' perceptions about their practices in freedom, critique, and the total of practices in a classroom based on their study tracks. The direction of the differences was a benefit for Adult Education track. About the obstacles for democratic empowerment that female students face in the classroom, two themes emerged: pedagogical methods of teaching and obstacle courses. One of the key recommendations is that the critical Islamic pedagogy that is theorized in this study should be applied in the university classrooms in Saudi Arabia, especially for graduate students.



Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Claudette Peterson

Dissertation Title:  Saudi Female Students’ Perceptions of their Democratic Empowerments in the Classroom at King Saud University

The purpose of this quantitative study was to describe the perceptions of students pursuing an Adult Education graduate degree at King Saud University; the students’ perception was examined regarding the teaching practices they received in the classroom. Participants for this study were males and females pursuing Adult Education degrees at King Saud University. It aimed to determine the strengths and weakness of the program’s instructional practices in the classroom from graduate students' perceptions. The study’s theoretical framework came from adult learning theory and the six assumptions of andragogy: the learners’ need to know, self-concept, prior experience, readiness to learn, orientation to learning, and motivation to learn. The theoretical framework came from the five aspects of Islamic teachings: experience, collaboration, learners’ interest, seeking knowledge, and practice and application. Through andragogical assumptions and Islamic teachings, graduate students provided their perceptions about instructional practices students received in the classroom. A survey was used to collect data to evaluate the program. To analyze the data, descriptive analysis, including means, standard deviation, and a T-test, was used. A correlation matrix was also used to investigate the relationship among students’ perceptions of their educational experiences between andragogical practices and Islamic teachings. The result of the analysis demonstrated correlation. However, the learning activities, one of the andragogical process design elements, showed no significant relationships with the rest of process design elements (climate setting, designing the learning experience, evaluating, preparing the learner, and setting the learning objectives). The essential results of this study were that andragogical principles, andragogical-process design elements, the Islamic-principle teachings, and students' perceptions about the Islamic teachings were applied in the classroom for the adult-education program at King Saud University. There was no statistically significant difference of perception based on gender. Students indicated strengths of the program were self-development including classroom activities and course content. In term of weaknesses, students mentioned using traditional methods (including focus on a test and the lack of human relationships) and a teacher shortage. One fundamental recommendation was that both Islamic teachings and andragogy assumptions should be applied in the graduate classrooms because both methods achieve the university’s objective.


Ph.D. of Human Development and Family Science

Dissertation Title:  Media Use, Body Image and Sexual Satisfaction in Emerging Adults

Advisor: Dr. Beth Blodgett-Salafia

Emerging adults in America are avid users of media, including magazines and pornographic film. Use of this media is associated with body dissatisfaction and reduced sexual satisfaction. However, existing research has not examined media use, body dissatisfaction and sexual satisfaction within the same study. Additionally, the effects of pornographic film use on body image have not been extensively studied, and existing research does not adequately consider how reasons for use might relate to effects of viewing this type of media. The present study tests an integrated model of the relationships among media use, body dissatisfaction and sexual satisfaction and examines how reasons for use of pornographic film relate to emerging adults’ perceptions of their own bodies and sexual abilities. First, the proposed integrated model was tested separately by gender, using women’s magazine use as the media variable for women and pornographic film as the media variable for men. Pornographic film use was not a significant predictor in the men’s model. In the women’s model, magazine use had a positive, direct effect on sexual satisfaction. Second, chi-square tests were used to determine whether relationships existed between reasons for, and outcomes of, use of pornographic film. Regardless of gender, use of pornographic film for the purpose of “ideas, tips or instruction” was associated with engaging in body comparison. Reasons for use were not associated with reported reactions to engaging in comparison. T-tests were also used to determine if differences existed in BMI and body image among consumers who reported responding with negative self-evaluations versus those who did not respond negatively when comparing their bodies to the bodies of actors in pornographic film. When compared to those who did not respond negatively to bodycomparison, women who reported reacting negatively to body comparison were higher in drive for thinness and body dissatisfaction while men had higher BMIs, greater drive for low body fat, and greater body dissatisfaction. This study suggests that researchers must consider the possibility of positive effects and include consumer motivations and other dispositional factors as moderators of effects of viewing pornographic film and other media.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Chris Ray

Dissertation Title:  Risk Perceptions in the Management of Student Organizations

The purpose of this study was to examine perceptions of risk in student organization management, including differing perceptions among student leaders, advisers, and university personnel, as well as, how factors such as institutional size and community setting influenced said perceptions. In identifying how these three individual groups articulate risk, the study sought to identify disconnect between the groups. This disconnect could lead to better resources to assist in the risk management processes. In order to achieve the purpose of this study, five research questions were developed.

An electronic survey was used to gather information on risk perceptions. The survey had four sections – demographics; risk scenarios; campus and community environment; and the role the university should play in risk management.

A quantitative analysis of the data occurred focusing on descriptive statistics, and through the use of a two-way between-groups analysis of variance (ANOVA). The ANOVA testing was used to see an interaction between the university and the campus setting and size was present. If no interaction was identified, the study looked at the major effects to see if significant differences were present.

Student organizations provide many opportunities for student development. Well-managed organizations can also be an effective marketing tool for universities. However, despite the advantages, they can also raise questions of risk and liability to the institution (Broe, 2009). This study focused on the current perceptions in risk management of student organizations. While this study identified campus setting and size play a minor role in how risk perceptions are formed, it did identify that an individual’s role at the institution does impact how risk is viewed, and particularly what level of risk is present. Most of the differences occurred between student leader’s and adviser’s perceptions in regards to the perception of risk severity. Student activities professionals can use these perceptions to support stronger training programs. Based upon the results of this current study, such training should focus less on what types of risk are present and instead focus more on how the level of severity could be increased or decreased due to certain factors.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Nathan Wood

Dissertation Title:  Fatherhood and the “Inside American Joke”: The Perseverance of Single Fathers in College

The purpose of this dissertation is to understand the experience of the single father in college. A transformative/feminist perspective, interpreted through the author’s personal lens of motherhood, sheds light on ways patriarchy and masculinity constrain the identities of a group of single fathers. Affordances and drawbacks of the father identity are explored, particularly in the context of school.

Being a father afforded these men certain advantages. They were positive role models for their children and made it a point to be present both physically and emotionally. The fathers demonstrated skills of emotional intelligence, and also did not see themselves as the typical college guy, and reported school being a positive influence in their lives in various ways. School provided structure in these fathers’ lives and their success in education is evidence of their ability to persevere.

However, there were also drawbacks to being a single father. Fathers reported feeling overlooked or dismissed and reported negative connotations about men/fathers. They felt guilt and shame often, experienced financial difficulties and employment disadvantages, and they were also sometimes unsatisfied with living arrangements or their children’s relationship with their mother.

Other challenges depended on the context and varied by participant. These areas included the reactions of surprise in others regarding them being single fathers, and an overall presence of informal support from family and friends but a lack of formal support. The fathers discussed their own coping behaviors, and told of varied experiences with dating. Lastly, despite these fathers’ more androgynous identities, effects of traditional masculinity were observed in the form of gendered or racial commentary or emotional disengagement.

Even though these men find themselves in a world among college men, these single fathers do not identify with that world, nor even the world of traditional masculinity in many respects. The men in this study completely reject the world of the typical college guy. Of most importance, they very much embrace the positive space afforded to them through the identity of being a father.


Ph.D. of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences

Advisor: Dr. Sherri Stastny

Dissertation Title:  Life Skills at a Tribal College: Effects of a Culturally Relevant Educational Intervention on College Retention & Self-efficacy for Healthy Choices among American Indian Tribal College Students

American Indians and Alaskan Natives (AIAN) have the lowest rates of college retention and graduation in the U.S. Additionally, AIAN face health disparities including higher rates of obesity/overweight and Type 2 diabetes. The study purpose was to explore the effects of a culturally relevant life skills curriculum delivered in a family-style environment on self-efficacy, healthy choices, and college retention in tribal college students over four separate semesters. A non-experimental cohort design using mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) was utilized for the study. Participants in the study (full study completion, n=9; initial participants, n=26) were purposively sampled newly enrolled, academically under-prepared tribal college students. Participant demographics included various tribal affiliations, ages, and number of dependents. Research instruments included pre- and post-questionnaires and pre- and post-telephone interviews. General self-efficacy did not increase significantly, nutrition knowledge increased but not significantly, and nutrition attitudes and beliefs were not different between pre- and post-intervention. Dietary analysis reflected improved intake of healthy choices, however none of the participants met dietary recommendations for any food group. Eating behaviors such as eating in front of the TV decreased. Retention of students within-semester was lower among participants than overall students at the tribal college. However, semester-to-semester retention rates of Life Skills at a Tribal College participants who completed the course were significantly higher than those participants who did not complete the course and significantly higher than overall semester-to-semester retention rates at the tribal college. Qualitative analysis revealed a variety of barriers and strategies for making healthy food choices. Addressing self-efficacy and perception of capabilities regarding making healthy food choices can help AIAN students feel more capable of success and impact the quality of their diet. However, challenges remain to college retention and improving dietary intake to meet recommendations.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Chris Ray

Dissertation Title:  Strategic Human Resource Development impact on organizational performance: Does SHRD matter?

In the United States today organizational leaders are concerned with skills gaps, or the limited availability of qualified workers to fill open positions. The reason for their concern is the impact of skills gaps on organizational performance in a number of areas including productivity, customer satisfaction, profitability, and the ability to expand. To address skills gaps, many leaders choose to employ workforce training and development. Strategic Human Resource Development (SHRD) is a growing field of research and practice that aims to integrate and align training and development approaches with organizational strategy to improve organizational performance. However, there is inconsistent empirical support for the claim that SHRD positively affects organizational performance.

The current study investigates this claim using structural equation modeling with scores from National Baldrige Award applicants. Organizations that apply to the National Baldrige Award utilize the Baldrige Framework for Performance Excellence (Baldrige Framework). The Baldrige Framework includes SHRD as part of a systematic approach to improving organizational performance. As such, organizations applying for the National Baldrige Award receive scores for the use of SHRD as well as organizational performance. The current study uses these scores to create a structural equation model that statistically illustrates organizational performance and SHRD’s impact upon it.

The results of the current study clearly illustrate that organizational performance is a construct comprised of multiple types of organizational results and that SHRD positively affects the construct of organizational performance. The results provide a causal inference between an increase in the use of SHRD and improved organizational performance. Therefore, if organizational performance is important, SHRD matters.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Brent Hill

Dissertation Title:  Relationships among Retention, Satisfaction, and Academic Performance

The purpose of this quantitative research study was to examine survey and institutional data of NDSU current and former undergraduate students to describe, measure, and explore relationships among student retention, satisfaction, and academic performance. The study was guided by three research questions that examined factors that may predict satisfaction or intent on the part of students to re-enroll at an institution if given the hypothetical opportunity to do so. It further examined those variables for indication as to whether students remain enrolled at the institution because they are satisfied or if they elicit satisfaction within themselves during enrollment as a result of choosing to remain enrolled at the institution. Student responses to the National Survey of Student Engagement, Student Satisfaction Inventory and Sophomore Experience Survey instruments, along with institutional data were used to create variables for analysis. Potential predictive variables for this study were selected based on Rusbult’s (1980) investment theory.

Linear regression was used to equate the responses for the focal variables related to overall satisfaction and desire to choose the institution again, as the survey instruments used different Likert scales for responses. The researcher used path analysis to develop a model of the relationship and direction between relevant variables associated with satisfaction and retention.

The model shows that student commitment to enroll again at the institution is the only predictor of the same over time. Student commitment to enrollment at the institution does have a positive relationship with on overall satisfaction, faculty contact, and GPA, but their overall satisfaction does not predict whether they would enroll again at the institution if they were able to hypothetically choose to do so. The model also shows that relationships and interactions with faculty and peers affects students’ overall satisfaction but does not have an effect on their willingness to choose to enroll again. The model additionally indicates that students tend to remain at the institution and are thus satisfied versus remaining at the institution because they are satisfied. The results also indicate that student retention tends to model individual investment models to a greater extent than individual consumer satisfaction models.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Jill Nelson

Dissertation Title:  Counselor Education: A Personal Growth and Personal Development Experience

A basic qualitative design was implemented to better understand the personal growth and personal development of seven master’s level counseling graduates in the mid-western United States. Three foundational questions were used to guide the study: (1) How do master’s level counseling students experience personal growth and personal development during the master’s level counselor-training program? (2) What parts of the master’s level counselor-training program contributed most to students’ personal growth and personal development? (3) How do master’s level counseling graduates conceptualize how their personal growth and personal development have impacted their professional identity and their present work with clients?

To address these questions, seven interviews were conducted with professional counselors who had graduated from a CACREP-accredited master’s level counseling program between the years of 2005 and 2013. Sixteen themes emerged from the interviews that addressed four main areas: 1) how master’s level counseling students experience personal growth and personal development, 2) what parts of the training program most impacts personal growth and personal develop, 3) how personal growth and development experiences impact professional’s identity development and present work with clients, and 4) how the terms personal growth, personal development, and professional development are both unique and overlapping concepts. The sixteen themes were supported by direct quotations from the participants. A synthesis of the findings and current literature was conducted and further discussion regarding the limitations of the study, suggestions for future research and implications for counselor education and supervision programs were addressed.


Ph.D. of Education

Dissertation Title:  Utilizing the Concerns-Based Adoption Model in a Professional Development Series for Teachers Implementing New Technologie

Advisor: Dr. Nathan Wood

A growing number of school districts are adopting mobile electronic devices as replacements for textbooks and to improve test scores. Yet questions remain regarding staff preparedness, instructional and pedagogical transformation, and impact on student achievement with this increased use of mobile technologies in primary and secondary classrooms. This evaluation was part of a professional development series that was implemented with K-6 teachers in the process of implementing new mobile technologies into classroom instruction.

This professional development series provided a number of formal, informal, and impromptu opportunities for staff to learn new tools and practices for technology integration, as well as provide occasions to share and reflect upon technology employment practices. A key component to the series was the use of the concerns-based adoption model to track teachers’ questions and concerns and to adjust the training accordingly.

This evaluation report was prepared to provide an overview of the variety of training sessions that were implemented, to document changes that were made based on feedback from staff, and to recommend appropriate modifications and goals for continuation of the professional development series. The overall evaluation data collected indicated evidence supporting the success of this model. Furthermore, there was strong evidence that participants had positive perceptions of the workshops, activities, and support provided through this model.


Ph.D. of Education

Dissertation Title: Faculty and Alcohol Use Communication

Advisor: Dr. Chris Ray

Most institutions of higher education have recognized the detrimental impact of high-risk alcohol use on college students’ success and it has been strongly recommended that prevention practitioners incorporate faculty members in prevention efforts in order to reduce college student alcohol use. Despite the large body of literature that has established faculty members are influential in college student success, the impact and influence faculty members have on college student alcohol use has not been thoroughly researched.

The purpose of this research was to begin to understand if faculty members impact college student alcohol use. Specifically, exploring what students recall about faculty communication related to alcohol use, and the value students place on faculty expectations and communication related to their alcohol use. The findings were generated through adding five additional questions to an already existing survey instrument that was utilized on a biennial basis to collect alcohol and other drug perception and use data from students at 11 different campuses in a statewide higher education system.

Findings indicated that most students never or rarely recall faculty communicating about alcohol. Men at two-year institutions were more likely to report having heard faculty communicate about alcohol use and were also more likely to report instructors’ expectations as an effective way to limit or control their alcohol use. The more drinks students report per week the less effective they report faculty expectations as a way to limit or control their alcohol use; also an increase in the number of drinks per week decreased the likelihood they would change their behavior based on instructors’ expectations.

This study provides evidence that engaging faculty members in prevention efforts by relying on them to communicate expectations and low-risk drinking messages to students may not be as effective as suggested. There is some promise with enlisting the help of faculty with prevention efforts at smaller institutions or within cohort-based academic programs, where the same students and faculty members interact frequently. Focused training with faculty members at these smaller institutions could possibly enhance the positive impact.

JULY 2014-JUNE 2015


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor:  Dr. Jill Nelson

Dissertation Title:  Capturing the Essence of Canine Animal-Assisted Therapy in Counseling: A Phenomenological Inquiry of At Risk Youths' Experiences of a Residential Canine Animal Assisted Therapy Program

Phenomenological inquiry was implemented to capture the experiences of nine at-risk youths’ unique and shared experiences of a canine animal-assisted therapy in counseling (AATC) program at a therapeutic working ranch (TWR) in the mid-western United States. Five females, and four males ranging in ages between 14 – 17 years participated in individual interviews and reflective journaling. In addition, field observations of the canine AAT-C group sessions were conducted on six separate occasions over a period of six months. Horizonalization of the research data was conducted, resulting in four themes that describe a complex and multidimensional phenomenon. Themes include: (a) a rippling effect on relational patterns across intrapersonal, interpersonal, and therapeutic domains, (b) cross-dimensional identification and realization of skill attainment, (c) therapeutic factors unique to the presence of a dog, (d) building and expansion of one’s community. A discussion of the relationship with existing literature about canine AAT-C and implications for counseling is addressed.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Myron Eighmy

Dissertation Title:  Operationalizing Creativity: Desired Characteristics for Instructional Designers

The purpose of this study was to explore the ways that creativity manifests itself in the field of higher education instructional design and to identify specific core competencies that could be considered desirable in this context. The study utilized the Delphi methodology in which an expert panel of 28 higher education instructional design managers and leaders, established through a selective snowball sampling process, provided both Likert scale and open-ended responses to a series of survey instruments to indicate their level of agreement with topic statements suggested by the literature as being related to creativity in the higher education instructional design context. Through this three-round process, the panel transformed these literature based constructs into their context of practice and reached consensus on 35 of 41 discrete concepts relating creativity to instructional design in higher education.

In parallel with the Delphi process, panelists were asked to provide examples of specific instructional design tasks or duties that embodied traits associated with the topic statements, and subsequently respond to the resulting 27 creativity-related competencies in terms of the desirability that their instructional designers possess the indicated competency as well as the perceived level of correlation between the competency and creative potential in general. This portion of the research effort resulted in the creation of 11 desirable, practical, context-specific instructional design competencies that are tied directly to the broad-based creativity literature.


Ph.D. of Human Development

Advisor: Dr. Ardith Brunt

Dissertation Title:  The Impact of Psychosocial Outcomes in Long-Term Bariatric Patients

The disease of obesity is a serious and significant public health epidemic affecting more than 78 million Americans. The increase in human life expectancy also increases the chance of reduced quality of life and well-being by those suffering from obesity. Obesity-related factors may mean years of physical and psychosocial discomfort, lack of mobility, and chronic ill health. This study analyzed long-term bariatric patient outcomes, specifically, factors regarding post-procedure weight regain, surgeon follow-up, and psychosocial issues related to quality of life (i.e. self-concept and obesity discrimination). The overarching research design for this study employed survey methods, using a cross-sectional, self-reported questionnaire and enlisted both a combined quantitative and qualitative approach to analyze data. Participants over the age of 18 and at least 18-months post-procedure were recruited either from public bariatric support forums ( n = 133) or through a regional weight management center in the Midwest (n = 534), which specializes in bariatric surgery. Results suggests that although some weight regain after surgery is likely, weight regain decreases as a patient continues to maintain adherence to the recommended post-operative diet, as well as the importance of bariatric follow-up and support. Additional results revealed that different aspects regarding the 'self' such as body image, the continued struggle to develop alternative coping strategies to eating, and obesity stigma have an impact for a multitude of years post-bariatric surgery, and therefore can overshadow the benefits of surgery. It is recommended that a critical key to success for long-term bariatric patients is having access and care of multidisciplinary teams including a bariatric surgeon, gastro-intestinal specialist, endocrinologist, nutritionist, and psychiatrist at minimum. Finally, there is also a significant need for long-term bariatric research in the future.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Claudette Peterson

Dissertation Title:  The Experiences of Occupational Therapy Clinicians Transitioning to the Role of Faculty Member: Implications for Faculty Development

This qualitative, phenomenological study was conducted for the purpose of examining the experiences of occupational therapists transitioning from an occupational therapist to a full-time faculty member within a university setting. Using a phenomenological approach based on the work of Giorgi and Giorgi (2008), the study addressed the broad research question: What is the experience of occupational therapists transitioning from the clinic to academia? A purposive sample was used to select 11 occupational therapists for personal interviews.

Six elements of the general structure of the overall experience were revealed. The six elements found were (1) Opportunity and support to make a professional impact through the academic environment, (2) Steep learning curve to survival in the new context, (3) Maintaining emotional equilibrium and sense of competency, (4) The art of teaching, (5) Finding balance: Use of environmental supports, and (6) On the edge of a broader view of the educator role. Each element of the general structure of the experience was supported by the literature and was validated through analysis of the occupational adaptation theory. The intersection of the constructs of occupational performance and adaptation were found to have occurred throughout the process of the role transition of junior occupational therapy full-time faculty. These six elements of the general structure have important implications for practice to recruit, to develop and to retain qualified occupational therapy faculty.



Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Claudette Peterson

Dissertation Title:  Achieving Inclusive Excellence: The Role of Change Agents and Institutional Artifacts in Diversifying Institutions

 The research presented within this disquisition is focused on the work of institutional leaders to address historical inequalities in education by creating transformational culture change towards learning environments that support Inclusive Excellence. Organized as a three-article disquisition, the first article offers a comprehensive integrative review of educational research related to problems of access, achievement, and campus climate for diverse students. This article concludes with significant recommendations for practice and further research to guide continued efforts to embrace Inclusive Excellence. The second article utilizes the Q-Method research technique to investigate the subjective perspectives and experiences of Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) who serve as senior-level administrators focused on efforts to create institutional policies and practices that support Inclusive Excellence for students, faculty, and staff in the academy. The article concludes with several recommendations for practice and further research into efforts to support and advance the role of the CDO in postsecondary settings. The third article presents a qualitative content analysis of institutional websites to assess for evidence of Inclusive Excellence presented within the organizational rhetoric and artifacts presented on these websites. The analysis reveals recommendations for further study in this area, as well as recommendations for practice to guide efforts of institutional leaders to better articulate institutional commitment to Inclusive Excellence within the information presented on these websites.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Brenda Hall

Dissertation Title:  Examining the Psychometric Properties of an Instrument Measuring Treatment Fidelity of Offenders Participating In Moral Reconation Therapy

The availability of quality treatment assessments for offender correctional programs in the United States is limited (Polaschek & Ross, 2010; Singh, Grann & Fazel, 2011). Therefore, a greater focus on the evaluation of assessment is needed to meet the criminogenic needs of offenders completing probation (Bourgon, Bonta, Rugge, Scott, & Yessine, 2010; Cullen & Gilbert, 2013). The researcher's objective in this quantitative study was to examine the psychometric properties of the Moral Reconation Therapy Group Member Evaluation (MRT GME), an instrument designed to measure the fidelity of Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) treatment for offenders on probation. The validity, evidence, and findings were based on the analyses of a secondary data set using 227 scores of offenders who received MRT group therapy while participating in a federal probation pre-trial services treatment program in a Midwestern state.

The psychometric properties of a 26-item "receipt of MRT" treatment scale and scores from a 3-item "self-efficacy" instrument were tested. The "receipt of treatment" scale had an internal consistency reliability (alpha) of .96, and the 3-item scale of self-efficacy had an internal consistency reliability (alpha) of .57. There was evidence of construct validity of the sample scores by utilizing factor analysis. Analysis utilizing the Varimax rotation of the data identified four factors: assessment of self, positive relationships, current relationships, and positive identity. The results of the analysis indicated that the MRT GME and the Self-Efficacy scales correlated positively and explained 68.1% of the variance. Recommended changes to the instrument included adding and revising scale items and incorporating multicultural components into the scale. Limitations of the research, implications, and recommendations for future research regarding fidelity of MRT and implementation of other offender treatment program suggestions regarding fidelity are discussed.


Ph.D. of Human Development

Dissertation Title:   Health Care Provider Anticipatory Guidance Provision Related to Driving Safety/Cessation for Older Drivers

Advisor: Dr. Greg Sanders

Increasing numbers of older adults continue to drive. Aging-related physical and cognitive changes can impact driving ability. Health care providers (HCPs) are ideally placed in society to provide mobility counseling to older drivers. This research explored the frequency of HCP mobility counseling provision to older drivers; HCP demographic and practice predictors of mobility counseling provision; and rural-urban differences in HCP mobility counseling provision, HCP perceptions of mobility counseling provision, and HCP barriers to mobility counseling provision. Data were collected by surveying HCPs in several upper Midwest states. Two manuscripts were produced as a result of this research. The first article focuses on rural-urban differences in HCP mobility counseling. It was found that rural HCPs were less likely than urban HCPs to provide mobility counseling to patients aged 75 or older. Additionally, rural HCPs were less likely than urban HCPs to feel there are adequate resources, less likely to refer patients if they had questions related to driving issues, and less likely to know where to refer older drivers for driving fitness assessments. The second article focused on HCP demographic and practice predictors of mobility counseling provision. It was found that HCP predictors of mobility counseling provision differed by patient age. HCPs that had personal experience with a motor vehicle crash more often provided mobility counseling to patients aged 65 to 74. For older patients (aged 75 or older), HCPs who practice in rural areas, older HCPs, and HCPs with greater proportions of patients aged 65 or older were more likely to provide mobility counseling. This study is important in laying the groundwork for future research focusing on mobility counseling and older drivers, and emphasizing the significant role of HCPs in this process.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Myron Eighmy

Dissertation Title:   Best Practices for Communicating Critical Messages from a Registrar's Office to Traditional-aged College Students

 The purpose of this study was to determine what strategies are most effective for communicating critical messages to traditional-aged undergraduate college students and best practices in evaluating critical messages. A brief history of the function and organizational structure of a registrar's office was explored. The characteristics of Millennials, the uses of technology among college students and in higher education settings, student engagement theory and social media, communication concepts, trends and strategies, and legal compliance and accessibility issues are also examined. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with four registrar professionals. The results of the telephone interviews led to the development of constructs and statements for a Delphi survey. Three rounds of Delphi surveys were used to gather feedback and to gain consensus from a panel of registrar experts to answer the research questions. The 26 Delphi experts were from 24 unique institutions; 17 different states were represented. The researcher summarized communication guidelines and best practices for registrar professionals. Suggestions for future research were also presented.



Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Claudette Peterson

Dissertation Title:   Life in the Slow Lane: An Autoethnography of Identity Development Following Disability in Your Adulthood

The purpose of this manuscript is to view, through an autoethnographic lens, the role of adult education, distance education, and assistive technology on identity changes that take place when becoming disabled in young adulthood within the context of internal and external forces on the development of identity. Constructs were used to delineate the evolutionary sense of one's identity which includes: (1) once formed, one's sense of identity is relatively stable; (2) environmental variables and constraints will create shifts in identity; and (3) internal drives, abilities, and motivations play an important role in the evolution of identity. Each of these constructs was then examined at different levels of identity that included one's Public Identity, Private Identity, Personal Identity, and Self Identity. Information was gathered through a number of personal narratives and historical documents that could then be viewed through the lens of the constructs above. 

By examining these constructs, findings indicated that successfully rebuilding identity after acquiring a serious disability was greatly influenced by strong supports and opportunities available and the internal capacity to make use of them. There was no one specific support that was the only catalyst in this rebuilding. Instead, the complete network of support including adult education, distance education, social supports, and family support was at the heart of successfully rebuilding identity.


Ph.D. of Human Development

Advisor: Dr. Ardith Brunt

Dissertation Title:   Older Adults Fighting Obesity with Bariatric Surgery: Benefits, Side Effects and Outcomes 

The prevalence of obesity has increased at a rapid rate indicating that it is one of the fastest growing diseases in the older adult population. Since life expectancy has increased, some obese older adults are living longer; their quality of life may be compromised. Obese older adults may be facing years of discomfort, lack of mobility, and chronic ill health. This study compares bariatric surgery outcomes across four adult age groups, specifically comparing changes in body mass index (BMI), surgery side effects, existing disease outcomes and quality of life concerns. Satisfaction with the surgery and weight loss is also reviewed as well as the patients overall feelings about their health and future. The research design for this study was a survey method, using a cross-sectional, self-reported questionnaire. The 534 respondents who were 18 months or more post- surgery were divided into four age groups in years: 18-49 (n=171), 50-59 (n=148), 60-69 (n=138) and ? 70 (n=77). All age groups lost weight after bariatric surgery and all groups experienced some weight regain. The older and oldest age groups were as successful at losing weight and keeping it off as the young and midlife age groups. There were significant improvements in eight chronic diseases across all age groups. Older and oldest age groups had similar or better outcomes compared to the young and midlife groups on most diseases and had fewer side effects. Satisfaction with the weight loss since surgery was reported by over 79% of all the age groups, and there were significant improvements in quality of life among all age groups. While all the age groups improved greatly, the young age group (ages 18 - 49) perceptions seemed less positive than the other three age groups which were all 50 years old and older. In conclusion bariatric surgery should be considered for disease management for older adults as much as it is for younger adults.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Roumell

Dissertation Title: Education Doctoral Classrooms: A Community of Scholars or a Community of Resistance

Since its beginning, doctoral education has been designed to serve largely a White male student population, which has resulted in prescribed forms of scholar identity, teaching, and scholarship (Gardner, 2009; Berelson, 1960). This prescribed norm, mold, and fit persist today even as doctoral education continues to diversify its faculty and student populations. 

Acknowledging the White supremacy structure that is the academy begins to give room to questioning the prescribed scholar identity and the illusion of a scholar community. This disquisition examines the experiences of doctoral students in a mainstream education doctoral classroom through autoethnography,  testimonios , and Photo Voice. In Chapter 2, I will utilize autoethnography to connect my personal narrative and reflections on my experiences early in education, and most recently, in the doctoral education classroom. 

In essence, autoethnography is my tool to let my wild tongue speak and create a space for counter narratives of doctoral students' experiences in the epicenter of White supremacy scholarship, the doctoral classroom. Chapter 3 examines the experiences of six doctoral students in the doctoral classrooms and how they have responded to the academic socialization and culture through the use of  testimonios . 

Chapter 4 is a practitioner piece envisioning what a counter hegemonic pedagogy and curriculum would look like in doctoral education through the use of Photo Voice in a first-year doctoral student classroom. The dissertation concludes in Chapter 5 with a reflection on the doctoral classroom as a Third Space and future directions for research.


Ph.D. of Human Development

Advisor: Dr. Ardith Brunt

Dissertation Title:  Graduate Counseling Students' Interest in Gerocounseling: A Quantitative Study

A growing population of older persons in the United States will require not only additional counselors but counselors who are trained to work with an aging adult population. Recent trends indicate that counselor education programs have moved away from gerocounseling as an academic track as well as eliminating units on aging from courses currently offered to counselors-in-training. Some graduate counselor education programs offer individual courses in aspects of gerontological counseling. If the counseling profession is to meet the rapidly increasing needs of a growing older population, more attention must be given to training counselors to meet the needs of this population. 

The purpose of this study was to assess graduate counseling students, from counselor education programs, regarding the students' willingness to participate in gerocounseling training and identify specific topics of interest that the graduate counseling students would most be interested in counseling aging adults. Forty-four counselor education programs were contacted in the North Central Region of the Association of Counselor and Education Supervision (North Central ACES) and 211 students responded to the electronic survey through Survey Monkey. 

The results showed that graduate counseling students are very interested in gerocounseling and working with older adults. Students were willing to take additional coursework but not to the extent that it would delay graduation. Students indicated that they felt prepared to counsel older adults; however, none of the graduate counseling students surveyed had completed their field experience which could impact that sense of preparedness. 

As the aging population increases, so does the need for counselors who can help older adults with life transitions. It is important that counselor education programs have faculty that identify as gerontology specialists, that graduate counseling students have specialized coursework and are performing research specific to counseling older adults.



Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Jill Nelson

Dissertation Title:  Innovation Hour: A Qualitative Case Study of a School-Wide Advisory 

Innovation Hour is a unique advisory program, created at Anywhere High School to foster increased student connectedness to school. Having a strong connection to school may help students thrive, building capacity and protective factors. Qualitative case study methodology was used to explore the two research questions. First, what were students' and staff experiences with the creation and implementation of Innovation Hour at Anywhere High School? Second, did Innovation Hour meet the driving goal of connecting students to school? Four focus groups with students, teachers, and school counselors were conducted. A thematic data analysis was performed, in which four themes were identified. A belief in Innovation Hour's student-led and delivery focus emerged. Further, while buy-in and logistical challenges were significant, students were resilient in their eagerness to lead. Limitations and direction for future research, as well as recommendations are discussed.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Roumell

Dissertation Title:  The Nexus Between Local Needs and Aspirations of Ugandans and Global Education Goals: A Case Study 

The United Nations promotes access to basic education as an indelible right for all children, leading to the global push for Education for All (EFA) as a vehicle for realizing the global Millennium Development Goals. EFA has regulatory expectations for all participating countries to show programming and progress to achieve the targets by 2015. The Universal Primary Education (UPE) in Uganda, is aligned to these global targets to deliver access, equity, and relevant, quality education for poverty eradication, economic, and social development. However, the relationships among UPE, global goals, and the local needs are not well known. The central question for this case study was whether UPE addresses the local educational needs and aspirations of Ugandans. 

Through the lenses of critical pedagogy, Eituηanane local philosophy, and 'education as a weapon' metaphor, data were collected during three-months of intense field work using interviews, talking circles, and informal discussions with a total of 49 local district participants. Qualitative metaphoric analysis revealed that UPE, while a key to economic progress, is yet to build the social fiber (humanness) and develop knowledge, skills, and the moral aspects of individuals for community living. Consequently, as a tool for achieving global goals, UPE is yet to adequately achieve expected outcomes from local schools, and effectively address daily experiences and educational needs. An Eituηanane -inspired, indigenous research-based approach to community participation and ownership, and teacher training and support is proposed to inform policies, organizational processes, and local practices. The study augments knowledge about policy implementation at local levels.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Brenda Hall

Dissertation Title:  A Qualitative Research Study to Explore the Lived Experiences of Females Who are Homeless and Living in Shelters

Homelessness could affect all persons at some point in life regardless of age, gender, race and class if a person falls prey to certain risk factors such as chronic mental illness, addiction, family disruptions, and sudden or protracted unemployment. The female population is at a greater disadvantage of falling prey to becoming homeless by virtue of their gender and implicit and explicit gender inequality principles woven in society's structural system. The researcher focuses on the female homeless population in order to understand and explore the unique challenges they encounter that have led them to experience homelessness. In addition, the researcher specifically questions why homelessness continues to be a problem because social service programs are often available for persons in need before they become homeless. 

Themes that emerged from the study were better understood utilizing three counseling theories: Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT), Psychodynamic Theory and Narrative Theory. RCT posits that human beings grow through and toward connection. Human beings need connections to flourish, and stay alive. Psychodynamic Theory takes a developmental approach to examine early childhood experiences, whether they be positive or negative, and how such experiences and life events may affect a person's adult life. Finally, Narrative Theory takes into consideration a persons' story, and how this population makes meaning from their experiences. The narratives of this specific population is imperative to give a voice to those who don't have a voice, in particular giving a voice to the female homeless population who are doubly invisible in today's society. It is also necessary to examine such narratives for problem laden or solution focused language; Narrative Theory therefore, offers insight into the power of the word of mouth, tales, stories, accounts, descriptions and what individuals choose to retain or forget during traumatic experiences. 

To this effect, the researcher will conduct a qualitative study by interviewing females who are homeless and residing in shelters in order to understand their unique experiences of homelessness and to deduce how they structured meaning from their circumstances. To enhance the questionings surrounding this dilemma, females residing in shelters in the upper Midwest region were interviewed.





Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Claudette Peterson

Dissertation Title:  Instructor's Attitudes Toward Online Visual Art Courses: Impact of Technology Experience and Incentives 

The general purpose of this quantitative study was to review university visual art instructor attitudes toward online visual art courses, instructor perspectives toward online education instructor incentives, and instructor experience with five main technologies in accredited higher education institutions in the United States. 

The general findings indicate that 1) respondents show a high percentage of visual art instructors have negative attitudes toward visual art online courses; 2) visual art instructors find instructor incentives to be an important aspect for visual art online courses; 3) visual art instructors have a high percentage of technology experience; 4) visual art instructors working full-time at a 4-year institution have more experience with five main technologies than instructors working full-time at a 2-year institution; 5) visual art instructor technology experience and visual art instructor attitude towards online visual art courses have a significant correlation, suggesting that instructors with technology experience are more likely to have positive attitudes toward distance education than instructors with less technology experience; 6) instructors are interested in learning more regarding visual art online courses; 7) visual art instructors support non-materialistic professional development in preparation for visual art online course instruction. 

Research suggests that technology experience and professional development both sustain importance for positive instructor attitudes toward visual art online courses.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Jill Nelson

Dissertation Title:  Counselors' Perceptions of the Mental Health Aspects of Infertility for Heterosexual Women

This qualitative study explores counselors' perceptions of the mental health aspects of infertility for heterosexual women by addressing the following five guiding questions: (1) How do licensed mental health counselors understand the infertility experience for the heterosexual woman client? (2) What is the counselors' experience of working with heterosexual women clients with infertility? (3) What do licensed mental health counselors ascribe as the goal of mental health treatment of infertility? (4) What are licensed mental health counselors' perceptions of appropriate mental health interventions for infertility? (5) What are licensed mental health counselors' perceptions of harmful mental health interventions for infertility?

To address these questions, ten participant interviews were conducted with licensed mental health counselors in the state of North Dakota. Out of the interviews, ten themes emerged which addressed four of the five guiding questions. The fifth guiding question was addressed by using representative participant responses. Themes were substantiated by direct quotes from the participants. An examination of the literature was then conducted to analyze any gaps between emerged themes and the existing literature on the topic. These gaps were addressed in the discussion, which also includes limitations of the study and recommendations for future research.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Beth Blodgett-Salafia

Dissertation Title:  Understanding the Social Effects of Water Intervention Implementation in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Qualitative Study in Kitui, Kenya

Global public health interventions focus on creating solutions to unaddressed humanitarian issues in developing countries; priority projects include providing communities with access to water, food, and healthcare. Nearby access to safe drinking water is a primary public health concern and a frequent public health intervention. Intervention success may depend on other factors in addition to health outcomes. However, previous research has focused solely on health effect outcomes and has not reviewed the impact of social effects from implemented water interventions. The purpose of this study was to understand the impacts of an implemented water intervention on social relationships among community members in Sub-Saharan Africa. A qualitative phenomenological approach with 52 semi-structured interviews was used to examine relationship experiences among primary water gatherers and their families after the implementation of water interventions in the community. This study took place throughout the historically semi-arid eastern region in Kitui, Kenya, where community members have been beneficiaries of various water interventions. Prior to the water intervention, family members experienced economic hardships, diminished community rapport, irregular meal times and food availability, infrequent family conversations, irritation with lack of bathing and cleanliness, and general discontent without the availability of one able-bodied family member. Participants' experiences after implemented water interventions revealed enhanced relationships within household family units and within the community; additional personal time was gained and used to re-build relationships. The newly established relationships encouraged growth through family discussions and in conversations understanding and providing solutions to economic or individual challenges. This research provides evidence of an increased need for access to quality water for communities throughout the world in order to positively impact family relationships, which may ultimately contribute to the acceptance of the intervention. Clearly, the findings from this study are important to consider during the development phase of water interventions.


JULY 2013-JUNE 2014


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Chris Ray

Dissertation Title:  Effective Doctoral Education: Interpreting Factors and Outcomes of Success Through a New Framework, Autoethnography, and Quantitative Study of Passion

The purpose of this disquisition is to increase knowledge about the factors and outcomes of success in doctoral education. Enhanced understanding about the factors and outcomes of success could help optimize effectiveness of the complex systems that educate doctoral students. To achieve the purpose of this disquisition, three manuscripts were prepared. The first manuscript presents a new conceptual framework, the P Model of Doctoral Success, through which outcomes and factors of success could be interpreted. Outcomes of success are presented in terms of personal and professional outcomes. Personal outcomes include personal satisfaction; professional outcomes include measures of program completion, job placement, publications and professional satisfaction. Factors of success are comprised of basic, external, internal, and operational factors. Basic factors include presence, proficiency, perspective, and pertinence. External factors include possibility, place, people, and prosperity. Internal factors include purpose, passion, persistence, and patience. Operational factors include process, practice, play, and pause. The second manuscript presents an autoethnographic method intended to enhance understanding of knowledge creation and reflective scholarship through a process of writing and interpreting personal reflections. Themes revealed through the analysis of reflections included reflective scholar definitions, mindfulness, cycle of knowledge creation, and domains of knowledge creation. The cycle of knowledge creation theme included sub-themes of uncertainty, disciplined inquiry, and new perspective. The domains of knowledge creation theme included interest, career, and literature. Interpretations of the themes are provided. The third manuscript presents a quantitative study exploring passion for research. Existing Ph.D. students and Ph.D. alumni were administered an electronic survey, along with an adapted version of Vallerand et al.'s (2003) Passion Scale. Paired samples t-tests indicated that participants possessed significantly higher levels of harmonious passion than obsessive passion. ANOVA results revealed statistically significant differences in levels of obsessive passion between three stages of doctoral education for participants representing the college of Human Development and Education. Multiple regression results indicated that obsessive passion and harmonious passion were significant predictors of knowledge creation and dissemination in terms of refereed publications. Implications of these results are provided for administrators, faculty, and researchers.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Myron Eighmy

Dissertation Title:   Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivational Factors that Influence Students' Interest to Learn Critical Languages

The present study compared and analyzed intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors that influence students' interest to learn critical language. The study was based on comparison of two intrinsic motivational factors, Interest and Choice, and three extrinsic motivational factors, Effort, Travel goals, and Professional goals, between critical language and commonly taught language learners. The study also examined the role of self-efficacy in learning critical and commonly taught languages. There were 573 students enrolled in Chinese, Japanese, Russian, French, German, and Spanish classes in the spring semester in 2013 who participated in this study. The participants attended five public universities and three liberal arts colleges.

The data was collected using the paper-based survey questionnaire. To analyze the data, the following statistical methods were applied: descriptive statistics, exploratory factor analysis, independent sample t -test, one-way ANOVA and Tukey honestly significant test, Pearson product moment correlation coefficient, and path analysis.

The results of the study indicated that extrinsic motivation was stronger for both groups of language learners, critical and commonly taught languages. The findings also proved strong correlation between Self-efficacy and the extrinsic construct Effort and the intrinsic construct Interest .



Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Myron Eighmy

Dissertation Title:  A Study about the Level of a Teacher's Content Knowledge, Pedagogical Content Knowledge, Instructional Practices, and Demographics and Their Effects on Students' Literacy Achievement

It might be assumed that teachers' content and pedagogical content knowledge affect student learning. However, most studies do not include observations of actual classroom instruction.

This study provides empirical evidence that illustrates the significance of a teacher's content knowledge; a teacher's pedagogical content knowledge; instructional methods; a teacher's demographic background; and what, if any, effects they have on students' literacy achievement.

This study was important because at this point in time, there was not any research that could be located that incorporated all these five areas. Teachers' content knowledge, teachers' pedagogical content knowledge, and teachers' demographic data were obtained from a survey instrument that was validated and conducted through the Reading Research Center that houses Path to Reading Excellence in School Sites (PRESS) with which the researcher was collaborating during this project. An observation instrument for the participating teachers was developed to obtain pedagogical content knowledge in the teachers' natural setting. Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) and Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) scores were used to analyze students' achievement scores.

Evaluating data from students or teachers is always difficult. The researcher cannot tie a particular class data set to a teacher's pedagogical contnet knowledge or content knowledge level because the make-up of that particular class might be one that is not motivated to succeed. Therefore, for this study, the researcher took the students as an entire grade level and also used their spring scores so that the students had the entire year to improve. The findings indicated that pedagogical content knowledge and content knowledge were related to student achievement and not instructional practices. This finding was definitely due to some outside variable that needs further research.



Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Myron Eighmy

Dissertation Title:  Study of Assessment Data Usage in Student Affairs-Related Strategic Planning and Student Learning

This qualitative, multiple site case study addressed five key areas (a) accountability; (b) student affairs assessment; (c) student affairs strategic planning; (d) student learning in student affairs; and (e) linkages: connectivity of assessment, strategic planning, and student learning. The study drew upon semi-structured, Skype-based interviews from student affairs practitioners at institutions in six accrediting regions and by analyzing related documents. Research questions framing the study were 1) How are divisional assessment processes linked to student learning? 2) How are divisional strategic plan(s) linked to student learning? 3) How do student affairs divisions integrate or link strategic planning and assessment? 4) Who is involved in divisions' assessment and/or strategic planning, and what are the major responsibilities of these individuals? 5) What are common practices of divisions that successfully link assessment, strategic planning, and student learning? Findings are illustrated across case themes and patterns and organized according to their relationship to assessment, strategic planning and student learning. Implications of this study illustrate the need to increasingly professionalize student affairs work through credentialing so that more practitioners are familiar with scholarly research and can build instruments to understand how student affairs contributes to learning. Study implications also show that professional associations and accrediting agencies can work to set techniques and outcomes that clearly demarcate student learning or, at best, the intention thereof within strategic plans and assessment documents. Lastly, the study results suggest connection of divisional funding models to drive desired outcomes of connections between assessment, strategic planning, and student learning.




Ph.D. of Education

Advisor:  Dr. Claudette Peterson

Dissertation Title: Decolonizing Instructional Design Through Auto/Ethnography

Instructional design is the systematic process of planning and developing learning environments. In contemporary educational contexts, this has come to include also the intentional integration of digital and Internet technologies. Instructional design practitioners are trained to employ formal theoretical process models to guide their practices, roughly analogous to the ways in which a quilt maker may utilize a pattern and systematic process to guide making a quilt. There are few developed models of instructional design to be found in the literature that adequately attend to cultural orientation and none have been developed from within non-dominant cultural Indigenous education contexts. Furthermore, the literature examining the instructional designer as a culturally oriented actor within the instructional design process is limited. Few instructional designers have been trained to operate outside of Western epistemologies. This study interrogated this shortfall in instructional design scholarship and suggests new strategies for practice that can be leveraged in the decolonization project - reclaiming education for Indigenous people according to Indigenous values.


The purpose of this study was to critically examine the practices of an instructional designer working within an Indigenous higher education context in order to identify culturally relevant approaches to instructional design. The study findings suggested that leveraging autoethnographic research strategies, together with a reflexive orientation to practice, may provide a mechanism through which an instructional designer can advance from technician to culturally competent professional, positioned to work effectively in partnership with educators who serve the Indigenous community. The study findings culminated in the Star Quilt Framework for Culturally Competent Instructional Design, a person model for practice, which acknowledges the role of the instructional designer as an actor in the design process. The study findings have implications for professional development of instructional design practitioners serving Indigenous populations, and may offer strategies relevant for culturally competent practices in higher education, in general.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Myron Eighmy

Dissertation Title:   Determining Factors That Serve as Barriers to Integrative STEM Methodology Implementation in K-12 Schools

The purpose of the correlational study was to determine factors that served as barriers to integrative science, technology, engineering and mathematics (iSTEM) implementation in K-12 schools. The sample studied (N = 153) was drawn from classroom teachers and administrators with training in iSTEM methodology or experience in iSTEM methods and subsequent experience regarding implementation barriers.

The researcher developed the Integrative STEM Implementation Barriers Instrument (iSTEMIBI). The iSTEMIBI included a six-point Likert scale measuring levels of agreement to statements regarding implementation barriers. The research utilized the Embedded Design correlational model as detailed by Creswell and Plano Clark (2007). Likert items were developed from identified barriers in the literature and from unpublished research by the researcher regarding barriers identified by K-12 teachers completing iSTEM workshops. The research design allowed open-ended response from participants to support the predominately quantitative data.

Qualitative analysis of the literature review indicated issues and benefits common to the current iSTEM movement and earlier curricular movements. ANOVA and post hoc Tukey analysis methods were utilized to determine paired differences between groups by Implementation Level, Content Area, and Grade Level within 12 researcher-developed barriers constructs and identified factors (p < .05). Eleven factors impacting implementation were identified through principal component analysis and a subsequent path model was developed.

A minimum mean score (x&#773; > 4.0 = Slightly Agree) was established to compare mean scores within the factor by the implementation levels reported. As participants indicated higher levels of implementation, especially at the Partial Implementation and Full Implementation levels, the number of items meeting the minimum mean score criteria decreased. Two factors, Teacher Education Gap in iSTEM and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) were consistently among the highest ranked factors regarding impact on implementation levels. The path analysis also supported the strength of impact of the Teacher Education Gap and NCLB.


Ph.D. of Human Development

Advisor: Dr. Brad Strand

Dissertation Title:   Impact of a Wellness Coaching Program on Bariatric Surgery Candidates Following Weight Loss

A lifestyle approach toward weight loss, encompassing behavior modification strategies, education, and new coping skills may be most effective in adoption of the healthy behaviors necessary for achievement and maintenance of successful weight loss. Limited research exists on the effectiveness of pre-surgery wellness programs on post-surgical health behaviors for bariatric surgery candidates. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of a pre-bariatric surgery wellness coaching program on health behaviors, quality of life (HRQoL), and psychosocial factors.

A questionnaire containing measures of weight (self-report), dietary and physical activity (PA) (7-day IPAQ-short) behaviors, exercise motivation (BREQ-2), HRQoL (SF-12v2), and open-ended questions evaluating the wellness program, was sent out to all participants who engaged in a 12-week weight loss wellness coaching program and all bariatric surgery patients from 2009-2012 (n=782). From the 118 returned surveys (15.0%), participants (age = 51.46 years ± 12.98, BMI = 30.31 ± 7.70) were placed in either the wellness-coaching only group (n=16), surgery-only group (n=58), or surgery plus wellness coaching group (n=44) based on whether they participated in, and completed, the 12-week program and/or surgery. The wellness-coaching only group was excluded for the first set of analysis where weight loss, PA, dietary factors, exercise motivation and HRQoL were analyzed between a control (surgery only) group and intervention (surgery + wellness coaching) group. Compared to controls, participants in the wellness-coaching group had significantly more weekly vigorous PA, total minutes of MVPA, and total weekly PA. Significant differences were also found for two measures of exercise motivation and vitality scores.

The second set of analysis excluded the surgery only group to analyze the impact of the wellness coaching program. Results indicate favorable results for health behaviors. A qualitative analysis found positive results for several psychosocial factors, motivation, and new skills learned. A comprehensive, wellness approach encompassing evidence based strategies toward weight loss had positive results towards health related behaviors and emotional and social well-being. Additionally, participants reported responses consistent with continued engagement in health behaviors and weight loss maintenance.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Myron Eighmy

Dissertation Title:   Supporting Transitions of Homeless Youth: Evaluating Residential Program Frameworks, Structure and Educational Collaborations

With varying definitions and reports of appropriate transitions to independent living situations, it is difficult to decipher which residential models and approaches have the greatest impact on homeless youth. This project was guided by six research questions that focused on the residential structure and programming frameworks of programs serving runaway and homeless youth. Invited to participate in the study were 299 organizations operating 519 residential programs across the United States. Electronic surveys were sent to identified organizations and were followed by paper surveys. The researcher eventually received 71 completed surveys that were categorized as runaway minor and homeless youth programs. The project findings included differences between the two groups of programming including time spent with case manager (minors m = 156.76 minutes / young adults m = 104.17 minutes), length of stay (minors m = 21.47 days / young adults m = 538.94 days), and reasons for program termination including lack of follow through with case plan, unauthorized guests, and nonpayment of program fees.

Similarities found between the two groups included minimum staff requirements, programming frameworks and frequency of programming follow-up. Respondents provided qualitative insight to preferable formal educational characteristics that they had found to be beneficial to the youth that they serve. Respondents indicated that educational culture and services had the greatest impact on runaway minors and homeless youth. Respondents also provided qualitative feedback as to the differences in programming structure and frameworks required when serving street, systems and former foster youth.

Conclusions were drawn from the findings providing discussion topics of accessing collateral information and using standardized intake assessments, maintaining low-barrier admission programs, the difference between case management quality and quantity, the specialized needs of homeless youth subpopulations, program continuums and stand alone programs, and educational flexibility, services and partnerships.



Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Chris Ray

Dissertation Title: Supporting Transitions of Homeless Youth: Evaluating Residential Program Frameworks, Structure and Educational Collaborations

According to critical disability studies scholars, disablism may be the fundamental system of unearned advantaging and disadvantaging upon which all other notions of difference-as-deviance are constructed. If so, a deeply critical and intersectional investigation of enabled privilege/disablism prepares a grounding from which seeds of novel and effective approaches to social and educational justice may be cultivated. Whether or not disablism holds this pivotal position, the costs to us all in terms of personal, ethical, professional, and financial losses are too steep, have always been too steep. In this disquisition I begin by arguing for the prioritizing and centering of a radical emancipatory discourse--across and within all education venues--regarding disability. In Chapter 2, I explore models of disability and notice where awareness of enabled privilege has been absent in my own experience as an educator and call for all educators to consider what might it mean if awareness of enabled privilege and the harms of disablism were at the center of our daily personal, social, and institutional lives. Chapter 3 investigates the perceptions of post-compulsory education professionals regarding what constitutes disability allyship and identifies three unique viewpoints. Chapter 4 blends conceptualizations of allyship developed within various social justice literatures with those identified viewpoints of disability allyship to yield a model professional development approach focused on an intersectional analysis for social justice through disability justice. The dissertation concludes in Chapter 5 with a discussion of core assertions and findings and points to future research priorities.


Ph.D. of Human Development

Advisor: Dr. Pam Hansen

Dissertation Title: External Ankle Supports Alter Kinematics and Kinetics During Drop-Jump Landing and Forward-Jump Landing Tasks

This research project was designed to understand the influence of excessively restricting ankle range of motion (ROM) on knee injuries, especially non-contact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. Participating in physical activity without injuries is important to maintain physically active life style and well-being. To prevent ankle injuries, external ankle supports (EAS) are widely used in sport settings by limiting frontal plane ankle ROM; however, the EAS also restricts sagittal plane ankle ROM that could increase the risk of non-contact ACL injury by intensifying the medial knee displacement (MKD) and ground reaction force (GRF). In this research, the effects of external ankle supports (EAS) on landing mechanics were investigated among 19 physically active college-aged females. Two research manuscripts report the results of this research project.

The first manuscript investigated the effect of EAS on landing kinematics and kinetics during a drop-jump landing task. The results demonstrated the use of EAS altered the ankle displacement, total MKD, and vertical GRF; however, no relationship was observed between isokinetic plantar flexor strength and landing mechanics. The second manuscript compared the effect of EAS on landing kinematics and kinetics between drop-jump landing and forward-jump landing tasks. The result exhibited the use of EAS similarly affect ankle displacement, knee displacement, peak MKD in drop-jump landing and forward-jump landing tasks. However, the landing tasks affected the posterior GRF differently, and the EAS altered vertical GRF differently in the two landing tasks.

Overall, excessively restricted ankle ROM changed the landing kinematics and kinetics, especially MKD and GRF during landing tasks. Our findings indicate that healthcare professionals should use EAS with care because the overly limited ankle ROM could increase the risk of non-contact knee injuries by increased MKD and GRF.

Future research should include an examination of the effect of EAS on the magnitude of ACL strain, an assessment of the strength of the other muscles, an evaluation of the muscular activation during a landing task. These studies help understand the landing techniques and strength training to reduce the risk of non-contact ACL tear among physically active population.



Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Liz Roumell

Dissertation Title:   Moving to the Other Side of the Desk: Learning Experiences of Preservice Teachers as They Transition to Becoming Professional Teachers

This study sought to understand learning through the lifeworlds of preservice teachers who are in the last semester of their elementary education program at a Midwest University.  The research was an explorative study into preservice teachers' understanding of how they learn, how they define learning, and how their own experiences as students will transfer, as they become professional educators. 

This study addressed the overarching question: What does it mean to learn and think about learning through the lens of 21st century senior standing elementary education preservice teachers as they transition to the other side of the desk? This study employed a staged data gathering design in which 25 preservice teachers participated in an online questionnaire, a focus group session, and individual interviews.  The data was analyzed systematically according to methodology outlined in transcendental phenomenology procedures.  Two categories of themes were identified: (a) Preservice teachers' own learning, and (b) Preservice teachers' teaching.  Within the categories, eleven themes were identified that addressed learning according to the lifeworlds and experiences of the preservice teachers involved with the study.  The lessons learned through this study can be used to inform teacher education programs as more and more 21st century learners are taught to become teachers of other 21st century learners.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Myron Eighmy

Dissertation Title:   Defining Economic Success as it Pertains to Native American Owned Businesses Located on/or Adjacent to North Dakota Reservations

Successful economic development is essential in building and sustaining a healthy community. The purpose of this study was to identify indicators of successful economic development as it pertained to Native American owned businesses located on/or adjacent to North Dakota reservations. More specifically this study sought to explore specific relationships between the perceived level of importance of knowledge, skills, and attitudes and sustainable Native American owned business ventures. Using a quantitative correlation research design, 194 Native American owned businesses located on/or adjacent to the four reservations in North Dakota: Spirit Lake, Standing Rock, Fort Berthold, and Turtle Mountain responded to a self-administered 69 item survey instrument. The instrument was designed to gain an understanding of how important each factor was to the business owner and to what extent the business owner used each factor. The compiled research data was analyzed in addressing the following questions: (a) How important are knowledge, skills, and attitudes to the sustainability of Native American owned businesses? and  (b) To what extent are Native American environmental factors, knowledge, skills, and attitudes significant for emerging verses mature Native American owned businesses?

Native American owned businesses play a significant role in their communities. This research indicated Native American owned businesses need planning and organization skills to be successful. Strategic planning, operational planning, communication, managing change, innovation, and human resources are all essential planning and organization skills that both emerging and mature businesses need.

Emerging Native American business owners also need to be technically proficient in their field. Therefore, they should be encouraged to participate in training which focuses on technical skills. They also need to solicit critical suggestions from a business network to be successful. Receiving constant feedback on the performance of the business will assist emerging business owners in identifying and correcting issues which would otherwise hold a business back or cause it to go out of business.

Tribal administrations and tribal economic development offices may benefit from this study by providing foundational knowledge to advance their economic development efforts. The results from this study may also benefit higher education business departments who offer economic development courses.


Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Liz Roumell

Dissertation Title:   Using Learning Modules for Instructor Neutrality in Ethical Quagmires: A Cross-Curricular Study in Academic Debate

The purpose of this disquisition is to add to the body of educational research through practitioner, quantitative, and qualitative inquiry on the topic of academic debate. In a three-tiered study, the author conducted research for this dissertation with the intent to examine argumentation and debate in higher education. The settings for this research were a comprehensive regional university and a research-intensive university. Debate was implemented to introduce topics of controversy with the intent to spur discourse on such topics.

The author examined the use of academic debate in undergraduate and graduate education. The results are reported in three articles. The first of the three articles illuminates, through practitioner research, the processes employed in quantitative and the qualitative research. This study investigates the use of learning modules for instructor neutrality in ethic quagmires, that is, topics of controversy in higher education.

Article 2 was a quantitative investigation of the impact of debate in undergraduate education. Over 6 semesters, participants (n=349) took part in a quasi-experimental study. The author designed and incorporated four learning modules to instruct students on the basic tenets of debate. Students were tasked to complete the modules outside of face-to-face class time. Students then participated in an in-class debate. Data were collected through a survey instrument designed for the study. Participants' open-ended responses were also examined.

The third study, a qualitative study, investigated the lived experience of doctoral students in an in-class debate. The debate in the qualitative study was a cooperative learning activity as part of an Education Doctoral Program course titled Foundations of Education Research at North Dakota State University. The author investigated whether academic debate may have had a catalyzing influence on the debaters at the doctoral level. The author conducted semi-structured interviews of 7 of 12 classmates and the professor. The author used descriptive phenomenological analysis in the investigation of the interviews to examine the lived experience of doctoral students in a debate setting, following the use of learning modules for debate instruction.



Ph.D. of Education

Advisor: Dr. Nathan Wood

Dissertation Title: Perceptions of Secondary Mathematics Teachers Concerning Influences on Pedagogical Practices

The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of Secondary Math Teachers (SMTs) concerning the influences that affect teaching practices and also investigate the possible existence of pluralistic ignorance concerning the way SMTs perceive the effects of influences on their own teaching practices versus the way they perceive the effects of these same influences on the teaching practices of a typical SMT. While other studies have quantitatively analyzed teaching influences through the use of traditional surveys (Weiss, Pasley, Smith, Banilower, & Heck, 2003; Whittington, 2002; Banilower, Smith, Weiss, Malzahn, Campbell, & Weis, 2013; Smith, 2013), this study used Q methodology to analyze the subjective, qualitative aspects of SMT perceptions concerning influences on teaching practices.

Nineteen SMTs from North Dakota sorted a list of potential influences under two conditions of instruction (one pertaining to themselves and the other pertaining to their beliefs concerning the typical SMT). The data were collected and analyzed, resulting in the identification and description of three archetypes: the Realists, the Pragmatists, and the Self-Referents. Furthermore, there was evidence to suggest the existence of pluralistic ignorance amongst the participants based on the inconsistency between their two sorts. This was particularly evident concerning Pragmatists who inaccurately viewed themselves as unique.


JULY 2012-JUNE 2013


Ph.D. of Education

Dissertation Title: Counting Coup with Western Education in a Contemporary Post-Assimilated Paradigm. A Research Study on American Indian Success

Advisor: Dr. Nathan Wood

"The beaver doesn't try to be like the bear or the buffalo, he knows who he is...and he is proud of who he is" (Big Dog, 2012). The aforementioned quote depicts how this author interpreted the identities of his sample of ten purposefully selected Native Americans and exemplified their wish to remain who they are. These contemporary warriors illustrated the ability to transculturate in a non-Indigenous world and to accomplish what had been forced upon their ancestor's centuries earlier. Despite the invasion on North American soil and the near extinction of the Indigenous American through attempted genocide, colonization, assimilation, forced education and religion, these Native American advanced degree holders have illustrated an adept ability for walking in two worlds; indigenous and western. Emergent themes of family, spirituality, culture, and resilience were all influential in these participants' stories as they successfully negotiated their way through a western-European educational paradigm while illustrating how Indian Reservations, code switching, boarding schools, and Native American Culture and Ceremony were major components in construction of these themes. This Native American researcher utilized both western and indigenous worldviews in ascertaining emergent themes through an Indigenous qualitative research methodology. The researcher's theory of a conflict between acculturation and enculturation to have apparently juxtaposed meaning from pre-European to post-European invasion represents a data-grounded vision. This possible paradigm shift for the above theoretical position initiates a call for additional research. Historically, the Native American has seen traumatic distress of disease, high suicide rates, low socioeconomic status, loss of Indigenous language, and academic disparities and may be related to identity theft and could suggest inability to succeed by this underserved group of tribal college affiliates. However, literature instills the importance of the historical aspect and the calamity endured; yet each participant was able to successfully achieve advanced degree attainment. The stories of these Native Americans demonstrated their understanding of successes in western education systems from the vantage point of timeless knowledge and Native value systems. "I would rather not be anything else. I want to be Native. I'm so glad that the creator made me Native" (Mshkiki, 2012). 


Ed.D. of Education

Dissertation Title: Teacher Concerns and Perceptions About the Implementation of Professional Learning Communities at the High-School Level

Advisor: Dr. Justin Wageman

This study investigated concerns and perceptions about the implementation of a professional learning community at the high-school level. The No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to be accountable for increasing the achievement of all students. The school reform model researched in this study is the concept of a professional learning community (PLC). A PLC establishes a framework in which teachers commit to working in collaborative teams to accomplish high levels of learning for all students (DuFour & Eaker, 1998). 

A mixed-method research design was used in this study to test the three research questions, focusing on the concerns of implementing a PLC at the high-school level. The quantitative survey data were collected from 100 core (English, math, science, and social science) and non-core instructors at a high school in a suburban community in North Dakota, utilizing the Stages of Concern Questionnaire (SoCQ). The qualitative survey was constructed based on results from the SoCQ and was administered to 13 department chairpersons at the same high school. Study participants were asked to identify their years of teaching experience and if they were a core or non-core instructor. 

The results of the quantitative statistical analysis indicated that, regardless of years of experience, the stage of concern that was the highest was Stage 0 (Awareness). Awareness indicated that the respondents had little concern about the innovation. Likewise, core and non-core teachers also rated Stage 0 as the highest concern stage. 

The qualitative responses indicated that, at the time of implementation, the purpose of PLCs was not made clear. In addition, it was reported that many teachers were unsure what to do with the time. Additional responses indicated that many staff members feel comfortable with the innovation and have practiced the concept of a PLC in the past. 

The concept of a PLC holds great promise for the improvement of schools and results. The model of a professional learning community is simple in definition, yet complex in implementation and execution. The process of identifying professional development for a successful transition to adopt and practice the fundamentals of a professional learning community is paramount. 


Ph.D. of Education

Dissertation Title: Determining the Essential Components of State and Institution Dual Credit Program Policy in New Mexico

Advisor: Dr. Myron Eighmy

The purpose of this Delphi study was to determine the essential components of dual credit in New Mexico. Dual credit experts from colleges and high schools in New Mexico were asked to participate in a three-round Delphi study to determine what the future policy of dual credit should be, and why it should be that way. 

Definitions of dual credit may vary significantly from one state or program to another. For the purpose of this study, dual credit program will be defined as "a program that allows high school students to enroll in college-level courses offered by a postsecondary institution that may be academic or career technical but not remedial or developmental, and simultaneously to earn credit toward high school graduation and a postsecondary degree or certificate" (SB 943, 2007, p. 1; Title 5, Chapter 55, Part 4, New Mexico Administrative Code, 2008, p. 1; Title 6, Chapter 30, Part 7, New Mexico Administrative Code, 2010, p. 1). Dual credit courses may be offered on a college campus, online, or at a high school location. 

The first round instrument was developed by the researcher based upon an extensive literature review regarding Dual Credit and specific items relating to the structure of dual credit in New Mexico. Subsequent instruments were developed based upon responses from the expert panel in the previous round. Consensus and non-consensus items were used to develop recommendations for dual credit policy and can be used by stakeholders to guide institution dual Credit procedures. Recommendations from this study may be used by other states to analyze dual credit policies. 


Ph.D. of Human Development

Dissertation Title: Structured Life Review and Its Impact on Family Interactions

Advisor: Dr. Greg Sanders

Communication has been deemed by Nelson, Schrader, and Eidsness (2009) as critical to the ability to provide quality end-of-life care. While past research has focused on communication between healthcare professionals and the patient/family unit, this qualitative study explored the impact of a life review technique on family interactions. Structured life review interviews were conducted with fifteen residents of a skilled nursing facility in the presence of family members. Follow-up interviews were conducted with elders and family members to determine the impact of the intervention on family interactions as well as individual effects. Using qualitative methodology, open-ended questions were employed to enhance our understanding of the participant's experience through the life review process. Themes that emerged included: affirmation of prior knowledge, living legacy, new information, opened communication, enhanced understanding, affirmation of the older adult, testimonials, and bridging distant family relationships. Two articles for publication were produced as a result of the project. The first article defined and reviewed all of the themes identified in the study.

Along with the discussion of themes, its potential as a tool to improve communication and family interactions was explored. The second article focused on the psychological impact of the life review process experienced by the individual as well as the family system. In addition, the implications for social work practice with older adults were examined and recommendations for implementation were reviewed. Possible direction of future research was also discussed.


Ph.D. of Human Development

Dissertation Title: Osteoporosis Educational Intervention Effects on Knowledge, Beliefs, Self-Efficacy, Dietary Calcium and Vitamin D Intakes

Advisor: Dr. Greg Sanders

Osteoporosis is a serious public health issue, which is growing in significance because of our aging population.  It is estimated that 34 million individuals in the United States are at risk for osteoporosis. Education may be key to increasing preventative behaviors in younger adults to help prevent osteoporosis in later life.

One purpose of this study was to determine the validity and reliability of three revised scales, which were revised to include vitamin D related items: Osteoporosis Knowledge Test –D, Osteoporosis Health Belief Scale-D, and the Osteoporosis Self-Efficacy Scale-D. These revised scales were then used to determine the effects of educational interventions (lecture versus hands-on activities) on osteoporosis knowledge, health beliefs, self-efficacy, dietary calcium, and dietary vitamin D intake in a sample of college age adults.  

A sample of 153 college age men and women completed online pre and post-questionnaires to assess osteoporosis knowledge, health beliefs, and self-efficacy using the validated revised Osteoporosis Knowledge Test (OKT-D), revised Osteoporosis Health Belief Scale (OHBS-D), and revised Osteoporosis Self-Efficacy Scale (OSES-D) respectively.  Pre and post three-day food diaries were used to assess dietary calcium, vitamin D, and kcalorie intake.

In general, the college age adults in this sample were low in osteoporosis knowledge. Both intervention styles increased osteoporosis knowledge and health beliefs but not self-efficacy. Dietary calcium intakes at baseline met the recommendations while dietary vitamin D did not. No significant increases were found in dietary calcium or vitamin D intake after the educational interventions. Osteoporosis health beliefs were a significant predictor of dietary calcium intake (p<.044) and vitamin D intake (p<.047) accounting for approximately 11.2% and 10.1% of the variance respectively. Self-efficacy was a significant predictor of vitamin D intake (p<.01) only, accounting for approximately 7.3% of the variance.

These findings suggest different types of osteoporosis educational interventions may increase knowledge and health beliefs in college-age adults but may not change behaviors. Perhaps tailored interventions towards specific health beliefs and self-efficacy are needed to warrant behavior change.


Ed.D. of Education

Dissertation Title: A Descriptive Study of Alternative Schools and Programs in North Dakota

Advisor: Dr. Justin Wageman

The study investigated alternative schools in the state of North Dakota. The objectives of this descriptive study were to examine the characteristics of effective alternative schools, to identify the common characteristics of the North Dakota schools, and to determine to what extent North Dakota schools integrated the common features of effective alternative schools.

The data were collected by a 45 item electronic survey. Twenty-nine administrators and alternative school teachers participated in the survey. The responses were categorized to calculate the number, percentage, means, and frequencies of the responses of the participants. The data indicated that the North Dakota schools did integrate the common characteristics of effective alternative schools. They incorporated safe, non-threatening learning environments. They determined the most frequent criteria for admission was continued academic failure and habitual disruptive behavior in the traditional school setting. They were personalized with small size and class size. They were separated from the traditional schools and had a less than 15 to 1 teacher—student ratio. They included caring, qualified staff who had high expectations and who chose to be involved. The staff followed-up with students and they acted as advisors.

The schools offered individualized instruction with a varied curriculum. Instruction was self-paced and delivered through dialogue. Classes linked learning to real-life experiences and online programs were offered. The schools offered choice, flexibility and included social skills instruction. They used innovative and creative teaching strategies to help connect with students. Fairness and flexibility were present to deal with disciplinary issues. The data also indicated that more alternative schools and programs are needed.


Ph.D. of Education

Dissertation Title: The Use of Non-Cognitive Constructs to Predict Success of First-Year Students in a College of Business

Advisor: Dr. Claudette Peterson

This study examined the relationship between academic hardiness, emotional and social competencies, academic success (as measured by grade point average), and persistence, in a sample of 178 first-year College of Business students at North Dakota State University.  Students were administered the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory – University Edition (ESCI-U) and the Revised Academic Hardiness Scale (RAHS) within the context of their first-year experience course as part of an on-going assurance of learning project at the College.  Additional data was collected at the end of the semester relating to the students cumulative GPA as well as persistence data (did students re-enroll the following semester).

Regression analysis was conducted to evaluate how well the data from the instruments, separately, predict student GPA and persistence.  The outcome of the analyses indicates that all components of academic hardiness (commitment, control-effort, control-affect, challenge; as measured by the RAHS) were predictive of student GPA.  Further, the component of commitment was predictive of a student’s persistence. Emotional and social competencies (as demonstrated as a composite score of the ESCI-U) were found to be predictive of a student’s GPA but not predictive of a student’s persistence in this study. 

The findings of this dissertation study support targeting curriculum specifically to these two constructs, to further develop these skills and attitudes in students.  The benefit of this would be the impact that development of these skills and attitudes can have on GPA (and persistence, in the case of RAHS – commitment), but additionally these skills and attitudes are sought out by organizations that are hiring graduates.


Ph.D. of Human Development

Dissertation Title: The Association Between the Consumer Nutrition Environments and Free and Reduced School Lunch Rates

Advisor: Dr. Gary Liguori

This study examined the relationships between neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES), measured by free and reduced school lunch rates, the nutrition environment.

In the first part of this study trained surveyors used the Nutrition Environment Measure Survey-Stores (NEMS-S) to document availability of healthy food items in sixty retail food stores (96% of total community retail food stores) categorized as 'ethnic grocery', 'supermarkets', and 'convenience'. Community neighborhoods were divided by elementary school district, allowing neighborhood SES to be determined by the percentage of free and reduced price lunch provided to students and are thus grouped as high or low SES neighborhoods. Surveyors also used the NEMS-R to document nutritional availability and promotional signage in 187 restaurants categorized as being full service (n= 93) or fast food (n= 94). Restaurant locations were categorized as low SES, moderate SES, or high SES, based on the number of free and reduced lunch served in neighborhoods public elementary schools.

In the second part of this study, Fargo, ND was subdivided by elementary school bounders and free and reduced school lunch rates were collected to categorize schools in to three SES categories. Census block groups were also used to subdivide Fargo and census poverty rates were used to classify SES categories for block groups. To determine access to healthful food choices data from the first part of this study was used to compare between SES indicators (free and reduced lunch rates; census poverty data) and also within groups.

Take together; the results from both parts of this study emphasize the need to improve nutrition quality within all communities. This cannot be accomplished without a combination of government policies, consumer involvement, and a change in the food industry system; all are needed to address nutritional availability and access in communities. Governments can set policies to promote good nutrition, incentives to locate food outlets in low income areas and improving zoning laws. Most importantly, governments can work with food outlets to promote healthful eating and nutritional choice making, thereby encouraging the consumer to make the best choice possible for their health.


Ph.D. of Education

Dissertation Title: Emotional Intelligence Levels in Baccalaureate-Prepared Early Career Registered Nurses

Advisor: Dr. Chris Ray

The increasing complexity of the healthcare environment calls for increasing emotional intelligence (EI) competence in nurses so as to establish effective relationships that facilitate positive patient outcomes. Because nurses need to be competent in EI, it is important to determine if professional nursing programs prepare graduates in emotional intelligence and whether years of professional experience contribute to development of emotional intelligence.

This study assessed the emotional intelligence competence of 164 baccalaureate nursing alumni who graduated during the years 2007-2010 from three Benedictine institutions in the Midwest to see if there was growth of EI with experience as a registered nurse, and to determine if age, gender, grade point average (GPA), and years of total healthcare work experience prior to graduation predicted EI. Participants completed the Mayer Salovey Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) and a demographic survey.

Findings from this study indicated 79.4% of participants were competent or higher on the MSCEIT total EI score. Percentages of nurses scoring in the competent or higher range on each of the four branch scores of perceiving, using, understanding and managing emotions were 80.6%, 72.7%, 84.2%, and 84.9% respectively. An independent-sample t -test found no significant differences on EI scores between graduates with 1-2 years compared to 3-5 years of experience as a registered nurse. Results of a linear stepwise regression for determining the usefulness of age, GPA, gender, years of total healthcare experience prior to graduation and years of experience as an RN to predict the total EI score on the MSCEIT revealed being female as a significant predictor ( p = .015). Being female was a significant predictor for the using emotions branch (p = .047). Significant predictors of EI on the understanding emotions branch were GPA (p < .001) and being female (p = .023). There were no significant findings regarding the perceiving and managing branches of the MSCEIT.

The findings of this study indicate there is work to be done to improve the EI competence of nursing graduates. Continued research on the topic of EI and nursing is needed to build the knowledge base on how to promote positive patient outcomes.


Ph.D. of Education

Dissertation Title: Lives at Risk: High School Dropouts in the Northern Plains Region

Advisor: Dr. Ron Stammen

Education is essential to personal welfare. As educational levels increase, personal income rises, the quality of life improves, and society benefits as criminality declines, tax income increases, and the cost of social programs decreases. Unfortunately, every year thousands of students leave high school without graduating.

Various factors place students at-risk of dropping out, but the question remains why some at-risk students drop out while others graduate. This phenomenology investigates dropping out by following the philosophy of Jürgen Habermas, guided by the work of Max van Manen. Participants discussed their lifeworld experiences and explained factors that had caused them to leave school. 

Through conversations with dropouts, this study discovered five themes related to dropping out. These were: In participants' lifeworlds, dropping out was not unusual; participants' world views often disconnected from life's realities; participants remained resilient despite their disadvantaged lives and educational setbacks; participants lacked social capital that could have helped them escape their lifeworlds, and participants had often been invisible to people who could have provided help. These themes do not stand alone, but meld into a picture of lives lacking the basic elements of success and the supporting relationships needed to succeed. 

The study concluded that schools cannot alter many elements dropouts' lifeworlds but can reduce dropping out by identifying potential dropouts and providing supportive personal relationships. This dissertation includes recommendations on how schools can better support disengaged students and recommendations for further research and action to increase graduation rates. 


Ph.D. of Human Development

Dissertation Title: Changing Rural Communities: An Exploration of Older Adults' Experiences

Advisor: Dr. Greg Sanders

This research was designed to better understand the perceptions and experiences of older adults who live in small towns and rural areas.  In this qualitative study, 13 individuals were interviewed to gain an in-depth understanding of their experiences related to aging, community change, and well-being.  Participants ranged in age from 69 to 90.  Two articles report the results of this research in Chapters Three and Four.

The first article presents the themes that reflect the participants’ perceptions of living in changing communities.  Data analysis revealed five themes:  elders were saddened by losses in their community but were resigned to accept them; diversity among the rural communities affected views about community; dwindling social networks and opportunities left elders feeling isolated and lonely; attachment to place was strong, and commitment to stay on despite concerns for the future

The second article focuses on the daily life experiences, challenges, and strategies of older adults living in rural communities.  Four key themes emerged from participants’ responses about their lived experiences in communities that have undergone long-term changes: social interactions were limited; sense of social connectedness had weakened; daily life experiences depended on community and individual characteristics; and elders sought to manage challenges.  

Overall, there was a strong desire to remain in rural areas in spite of challenging conditions, with attachment to place being a factor contributing to the commitment to age in place.  Daily experiences and challenges for participants were influenced by both community and individual characteristics.  Person-environment relationships served as environmental comfort, maintenance, or distress for rural elders.  Participants expressed disappointment in the deteriorating social interactions and social connections in their communities, resulting in feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Future research should include a closer examination of the environmental characteristics that serve as resources or stressors for rural elders and of the personal competencies that help older adults adapt to changing environments and manage their lives effectively.  These studies help identify specific environmental and personal characteristics that either promote or hinder well-being for elderly living in rural communities. 

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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