Autumn Beck (U): A Content Analysis of College-student-proposed Sense of Belonging to a Residential Community Definitions

Co-authors: Matthew Nadler and Dustin Grabsch

We sought to answer the question, "how do students define sense of belonging to their residential community?" To answer this question, we distributed a survey to 2,400 on-campus residents at a 4-year university win the southern United States and received a 38% (n = 920) response rate. 581 respondents supplied a definition. We followed an interpretive research paradigm, which views a phenomenon (sense of belonging to their residential community) through the meanings that people (residential students) attribute to it in a specific sociocultural context (residential community on a specific university campus). The responses produced three emergent themes: space and place, strengthening connections, and outcomes of belonging. We posit a student-grounded definition of residential sense of belonging. Our proposed definition and findings are written with university housing and residence life professionals, campus planners, facilities, and student affairs professionals in mind. This definition further defines what it means to belong to a residential community from the student's perspective, which may inform them on how to best enhance the student experience. Additionally, the findings from this study provide insight into how students experience belonging by an unchosen affiliation. This study adds to the growing understanding of sense of belonging in higher education.

Autumn Beck
Majors: Business Management and Film and Media Studies; Minors: Chinese and Law and Legal Reasoning
Faculty mentor: Dustin Grabsch

Rachael Becker: The Impact of Online Discussion Forums in Introductory Statistics

This study aims to examine the impact that online discussion activities, designed to encourage collaboration and question posing, have on students' understanding of statistical concepts in an undergraduate statistics course. The sample is composed of 82 undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory statistics course. Techniques were utilized to match students that participated in the online discussions to those that did not participate in the online discussions. The differences between pre and posttest grades on the LOCUS assessments were compared to determine if participation impacted student learning outcomes.

Rachael Becker
Program: PhD in Education
Faculty mentor: Tim Jacobbe

Dedeepya Chinnam (U): A Sequential Exploratory Mixed-Methods Study: Motivations of Undergraduate Students To Pursue Multiple Majors

Co-authors: Dustin Grabsch, Sheri Kunovich, Laura Bell, Hannah Webb, Ryan Leibowitz

This project seeks to understand the motivations of undergraduate students to pursue multiple majors. Utilizing a sequential, exploratory mixed-methods design, in phase one we will interview students who are currently pursuing multiple majors to determine themes in their expressed motivations. Following the development of themes, we will issue a brief survey instrument to undergraduate students with multiple majors to determine the prevalence of each motivation theme within the student body. Findings will aid undergraduate general education curriculum committees, academic departments, and higher education institution administrators.

Dedeepya Chinnam
Majors: Business Analytics and Supply Chain Management
Faculty mentor: Dustin Grabsch

Cole Fontenot (U): #BlackAt​: How Social Media Content Analysis Illuminates Experiences of Black Students

Co-authors: Kennedy Coleman, Tara Greig, Kish Parikh

Increasingly, BIPOC college students have utilized social media to share their experiences of racialized trauma while attending higher education institutions. Presenters outline a social media content analysis study of posts from #BlackAtSMU, highlighting themes that arose. Implications at the institutional level and future directions for this assessment methodology are discussed.

Student Affairs Undergraduate Research Team
Mentor: Allison Kanny

Paul Foster: Re-engineering Education: Building on L.S. Vygotsky’s Mind in Society (1978)

Customizing Learning using Embedded Assessment

Paul Foster
Program: PhD in Education
Faculty mentor: Leanne Ketterlin-Geller

Tara Greig (U): Centering Black Student Voices in a Nested Model of Racial Battle Fatigue

Winner: Student Affairs (Undergraduate)

Co-authors: Kish Parikh, Cole Fontenot, Kennedy Coleman

Racial Battle Fatigue (RBF) among college students at predominantly white institutions (PWIs) is an issue of high concern. While higher education research has examined RBF concerning its prevalence, manifestations, and impact on various affective and academic outcomes, relatively few studies have sought to conceptualize this construct within an ecological systems model. This presentation presents findings that examine contributors to racial battle fatigue among Black undergraduate students in a nested environmental model. The study also sought to uncover how these relationships relate to student-level outcomes and how students utilize coping strategies to navigate these systems.

Student Affairs Undergraduate Research Team
Mentor: Allison Kanny

Holly Grubbs: The Principal’s Leadership Impact utilizing Distributed Leadership Practices that drive School Improvement

Winner: Education: Ed.D. in Education Leadership (Graduate)

The role of the principal on the campus has shifted due to the significant workload of managing the school and the increased amount of accountability for teaching and learning. Through a solid vision and focused mission, the school's culture and student learning can achieve success. However, for a school principal to succeed in building the capacity of the teacher and reach the high expectations for student learning, a team of leaders must be in place. Developing an organization is not about delegating the work, but also about creating a team that is collaborative and able to work together through effective communication. While principals may struggle with the federal, state, and local accountability system, it is the success of the campus leadership team that establishes a focused mission for the day-to-day work impacting the teaching and learning for student success. For this reason, principals should look at distributed leadership and the focus of how to lead and inspire those who cross their path. In reviewing Bolden's (2011) synthesis of research on distributed leadership and how it can impact the leadership practice for educational leaders, I found it to be about the communication that takes place between the leaders and followers who are doing the work. The research sets a foundation for a distributed perspective for leading a school organization to success.

Holly Grubbs
Program: Ed.D in Educational Leadership
Faculty mentor: Dawson Orr

Brooke Istas: Literature Review of Adult Mathematics Anxiety in the United States

Students who have a higher level of mathematics anxiety seem to perceive mathematics as a negative experience. What key features of adults are influenced by their own mathematics anxiety and/or mathematics avoidance? By using eleven peer-reviewed studies, within the last five years, to synthesize literature on adults in the United States, two themes appear. The first theme is situated around a student's perception of mathematics. Students who have a higher level of mathematics anxiety seem to perceive mathematics as a negative experience. The second theme centers around the impact of stress on a student who is learning mathematics. A few of the studies did indicate a correlation between the higher the level of stress to more mathematics anxiety was reported. One of the studies used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure stress on the brain. This review will look at these studies for understanding of the current research on mathematics anxiety and identify areas for further research.

Brooke Istas
Program: PhD in Education
Faculty mentor: Candace Walkington

Tryna Knox: Reinventing Home, How Middle School Leaders Conceptualize STEM in the Context of Structured Program Implementation

The purpose of this research was to examine how middle school leaders conceptualize STEM education program implementation and to more fully understand how their leadership practices are enacted within their situational context of an intensive structured STEM education program, subsequently referred to as the STEM Academy. The STEM Academy, a four-year project launched in 2016 was designed to promote STEM interests by developing teachers and leaders through intensive summer academies and providing coaching support throughout the school years. Findings reveal that school leaders conceptualize STEM education in similar ways across different campuses and describe challenges and barriers faced while navigating internal and external expectations during implementation of the STEM Academy. While some common themes emerged that led to interpretations across the four cases, each leader contributed a unique lens and perspective and no single, absolute, truth was ascertained from this analysis.

Tryna Knox
Program: PhD in Education
Faculty mentor: Leanne Ketter-Geller

Nancy Le: Moderated Mediation Analysis with Dichotomous Outcome and/or Mediator Variables

In this presentation, I will provide a brief history of moderated mediation analysis, introduce the types of moderated mediation models, and explain how moderated mediation models work with two types of variables: continuous mediator/outcome variables and categorical mediator/outcome variables. Moreover, I will explain why we need to treat categorical outcome variables differently, and provide an example using moderated mediation model with dichotomous outcome variable from the literature.

Nancy Le
Program: PhD in Education
Faculty mentor: Akihito Kamata

Wren Lee (U): Gay & Greek: Designing for LGBTQ Fraternity and Sorority Members

College is a time of exploration and growth for many individuals. It is especially important for LGBTQ folxs; for some LGBTQ folxs, college is the first time they can explore their LGBTQ identities free of judgment. Others seek community and find it within fraternities and sororities. Yet, traditional fraternities and sororities are notoriously not LGBTQ friendly. These organizations promote a hypermasculine, heteronormative, homophobic, and transphobic environment. For LGBTQ Greeks, the situation can be emotionally taxing. Through this project, the investigators aim to deepen their learning about these experiences to build solutions to help LGBTQ Greeks feel confident in their LGBTQ identities in Greek spaces. In the long term, the investigators aim to learn more about how to develop systems to protect and empower LGBTQ individuals in anti-LGBTQ spaces. They will learn about the Greek experience for LGBTQ members at Southern Methodist University and co-create a solution for their intersectional needs. They will employ human-centered design methods to help the LGBTQ Greek community feel comfortable in spaces they might not typically occupy.

Wren Lee
Major: Creative Computation; Minors: Human Rights and Women and Gender Studies
Faculty mentor: Dustin Grabsch

Avery Mercurio (U): Mustangs For Hope: A Community Based Nonprofit Bringing Virtual Learning to Dallas Children

Mustangs For Hope is a new nonprofit organization that provides free, virtual, one-on-one tutoring for underprivileged Dallas children whose families have been affected by COVID-19 after-school program closures. Mustangs For Hope works in conjunction with Voice of Hope Ministries to match K-12th grade students with a college-aged mentor in order to foster community between young learners and college-aged students. Mustangs For Hope believes that virtual learning will remain a cornerstone in education for years to come. For this reason, Mustangs For Hope stands committed to creating an environment where academically at-risk children are never afraid to seek the help they need, to be intellectually curious and to excel in their academic journey.

Avery Mercurio
Majors: EMIS and Mathematics
Mentors: Gheorghe Spiride and Lindsay Davis

Denise Patton: Asset-oriented parent engagement for supporting the use of decontextualized language with preschoolers in LSES Latino families

Winner: Education: Ed.D. in Ed. Leadership

Parent participation in their preschoolers' language development helps build kindergarten readiness, particularly parents' use of decontextualized language (DL), language about abstract concepts or that does not reference the here and now. Thus, various parent training methods about DL have been developed. Most studies evaluating parent use of or training in DL focus on educated, middle-class, white families and/or parent training programs that are deficit-oriented in their design. This qualitative study, therefore, focused on Latino families of low socioeconomic status (LSES) and positioned them as assets in their preschoolers' language development. Accordingly, phase one of the study consisted of interviewing four LSES Latina parents regarding how they used language when talking with their preschoolers, as well as what more they preferred to learn about preschoolers' language development and how they preferred to learn it. Phase one findings suggest that LSES Latino families do use DL with their preschoolers and in similar ways; however, their interests in further training content and methods varied, except for preferring technological applications for learning more. The phase two interviews will garner the subjects' feedback regarding the resource's effectiveness in its dual aim of being asset-oriented and growing them as developers of their preschoolers' language skills.

Denise Patton
Program: Ed.D in Education Leadership
Faculty mentor: Alexandra Pavlakis

Mark Pierce and Celestina Rogers: How Schools, Shelters, and Service Providers Support Students Experiencing Homelessness During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We have stumbled into one of the largest accidental experiments in the history of education. The COVID-19 pandemic forced districts to flip their traditional instructional programming from in person learning to distance and hybrid models. This research will be an embedded case study bounded by a conurbation of southern metroplex cities, suburbs, and rural areas encompassing 11 counties and a population of 7.5 million. ​It will consist of up to 50 semi-structured, open ended interviews with shelter workers, parents, teachers, administrators, counselors, and students 18 and older. The study will seek to understand how the COVID-19 quarantine affected the educational and social emotional lives of students experiencing homelessness in multiple settings and to ascertain how the future of distance learning may enhance social and organizational capital for students who are homeless and highly mobile. How can education writ large enhance the positive aspects of this event while mitigating the negative aspects to help fill in the gaps in distance learning and involvement for the benefit of homeless and highly mobile students? The evolving educational landscape that is responding to the pandemic may reveal how connectivity can enhance social and organizational capital as well as how it creates deficits in social and organizational capital.

Mark Pierce and Celestina Rogers
Program: PhD in Education
Faculty mentor: Alexandra Pavlakis

Robyn Pinilla: Creating a Bridge Between Research and Practice for Valid Assessment Use

Winner: Education (Graduate)

Co-author: Elizabeth Adams

While the educational measurement and assessment community asserts that tests themselves are not valid but that inferences made based on scores require validation (Cizek et al., 2008; Kane, 2013), this message has not been well translated to educators. A test's development, purpose, and use should align to interpret scores and make informed decisions properly. However, usage in practice does not always align with intended purposes. Researchers could help prepare teachers to use tests in valid ways, specifically with novel assessment formats necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditionally, the measurement and assessment community placed the onus of valid use and interpretation on the end-user, the teacher. We herein propose streamlining a process in which researchers make validity evidences accessible and understandable to teachers. We examine what sources of validity evidence support classroom assessment use, how teachers can access this information in a meaningful way, and what sources of validity evidence seem superfluous or missing from the extant literature. This research proposes a method for researchers to facilitate valid use and interpretation of tests by gathering sources of validity evidence in a practitioner friendly format to put the end-users, teachers, at the forefront of the test validation process.

Robyn Pinilla
Program: PhD in Education
Faculty mentor: Leanne Ketterlin Geller

Tiffini Pruitt-Britton: Measuring High School Students’ Funds of Knowledge for Learning Mathematics

Winner: Education (Graduate)

Co-author: Candace Walkington

Mathematics experienced by students can be derived from the contextually situated "real world" experiences of the educator, which is typically White and middle class and not a reflection of the demographics of many classrooms in the United States. Activities where students find connections to their lives and interests have shown promise in enhancing student performance and experiences in mathematics classrooms. In this study, mathematics funds of knowledge are assessed in a novel survey instrument, reinforcing the salience of relating math experiences to students' lives and acknowledging skills and knowledge originating from experiences outside of the math classroom.

Tiffini Pruitt-Britton
Program: PhD in Education
Faculty mentor: Annie Wilhelm

Kim Pryor: Teacher Training: Does it Translate?

Probing the impact of multiple socialization experiences on early-career faculty’s approach to teaching

Faculty socialization and development occurs before and during the early career, as faculty gain a sense of identity and belonging in academia. Despite the modern professor wearing many hats, socialization processes often deprioritize teaching development. Still, early-career faculty learn to teach because they must, and do so through myriad means in sometimes divergent contexts: their graduate, other early-career and employing institutions. They also approach teaching from increasingly diverse backgrounds and encounter increasingly diverse students. Colliding faculty and student diversity and lacking teaching development suggests possible tension and stress but also growth as faculty navigate teaching in the early career. Yet the lived process of teaching development is largely neglected in socialization research. This study addresses how early-career faculty are shaped as teachers within an increasingly diverse higher education context. Using interview and document data from faculty at one public 4-year research institution, this qualitative case study probes how early-career faculty conceptualize teaching identity, how they experience teaching development and how these experiences contribute to their development. In addressing these questions, this study elucidates teaching development experiences and outcomes of early-career faculty working at diverse institutions.

Kim Pryor
Program: PhD in Education
Faculty mentor: Sondra Barringer

Olga Romero: Latina Principals’ Beliefs and Motivations to Implement STEM Programs in Elementary Urban Schools

This research aimed to investigate why some Latina principals decided to implement Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs in the urban elementary schools they lead. This research specifically explores the motivations and belief systems that school principals embraced as they move forward in the challenging task of implementing a rigorous, non-traditional STEM curriculum in urban schools that have minimal resources, training, and implementation support. The study also aims to seek out an explanation of what drives these principals to go above and beyond the established district expectations for their schools. Using an ethnography approach in my qualitative study method, I examined the belief systems, motivations, and experiences of seven Latina principals who have successfully implemented STEM programs in a large urban city in the Southwest elementary schools.

Olga Romero
Program: Ed.D in Educational Leadership
Faculty mentor: Dawson Or

Dayna Russell Freudenthal: The Development of the Project GROW Expressive Vocabulary Assessment

Co-authors: Jennifer Stewart, Ph.D.; Stephanie Al Otaiba, PhD.; Brenna Rivas, Ph.D.

According to the National Reading Panel (2000), researcher-developed measures best assess vocabulary instruction's impact because they are more sensitive to gains than standardized measures. This study details the initial development of a proximal vocabulary assessment for a robust kindergarten vocabulary intervention (Project GROW) for students at-risk for reading difficulties. The purpose of the Proximal Project GROW Expressive Vocabulary assessment is to measure a student's expressive vocabulary knowledge of specifically targeted Tier Two, social emotional learning (SEL) focused academic vocabulary words. The assessment, similar to those used in prior research (Coyne et al., 2007; Baker et al., 2013), has been developed to evaluate the effects of explicit vocabulary instruction closely aligned to the intervention and examine student response to instruction. This assessment focused on student acquisition and mastery of child-friendly definitions of age-appropriate academic vocabulary identified and explicitly taught in the context of the unit storybook via evidenced-based instruction, including explicit vocabulary instruction and dialogic reading. The measure will be piloted as a pre-and post-test for prototype units of the intervention this Spring.

Dayna Russell Freudenthal
Program: PhD in Education
Faculty mentor: Stephanie Al Otaiba

Marc Sager: Association between Food Security and Student Success

The purpose of this paper is to create a research design to find a correlation between food security status and student success, as well as measure how school funding per student and the location of participants' high school moderates student success. This research design employs regression analysis and multiple regression analysis to calculate correlational coefficients and determine associations. Future directions for research include (a) observing an interrupted time series intervention quasi-experiment of food retailers being built in food deserts, and measure the impact the natural intervention has on students' GPA, and (b) depending on the results and findings of this study, another direction for future research is to qualitatively examine the students that reside in food deserts, but are considered food secure.

Marc Sager
Program: PhD in Education
Faculty mentor: Anthony Petrosino

Min Wang: Instructional Technology to Support Students’ Mathematical Problem-Posing

Co-author: Candace Walkington

Problem-posing is an instructional activity that has been suggested to be beneficial for students' mathematical learning. However, the gap between problem-posing research and classroom implementation remains. The purpose of this presentation is to demonstrate how instructional technology can be integrated in mathematics classrooms to support students' problem-posing in different contexts. In this project, students were instructed to create geometry proof problems using the Hidden Village motion capture game, Algebra word problems using the ASSISTments web-based platform, and general mathematical problems based on students' surroundings using the online walkSTEM Gameboard. In addition, this presentation discusses students' learning behaviors, problem-posing performances, and dispositions toward mathematics when participating in these problem-posing activities.

Min Wang
Program: PhD in Education
Faculty mentor: Candace Walkington

Hannah Webb (U): A Thematic Analysis of Conference Programs for Residential College Professional Associations

Co-authors: Laura Bell, Nikita Kulkarni, Grant Stoehr

Many professional associations in higher education hold conferences and conventions on an annual or biannual basis, often with residential college stakeholders taking part. Using a qualitative historical research perspective, we derived themes from conference program schedules (e.g., program session titles, presenters, presenter affiliations) for two prominent associations related to residential colleges—The Collegiate Way International and the Residential College Society. Data were collected from 2014 to 2020, examined, analyzed by thematic content analysis, and then organized by association, year, and location. Findings revealed professional development topics relevant to residential college stakeholders: specifically, what constitutes a residential college model, the resident experience, and leadership experiences. Findings are compared between the associations, and recommendations are made for practice, including consistency in presentation count and insights into professional development topics that can advance the field. Finally, we identified key institutions within the residential college movement and discuss how to diversify the field.

Hannah Webb
Majors: Marketing and Public Policy; Minors: Law & Legal Reasoning and Economics
Faculty mentor: Dustin Grabsch

Ann Marie Wernick: Coaching in the time of coronavirus 2019: how simulations spark reflection

Co-authors: Jillian Conry & Paige Ware

This study investigates how debrief conversations unfold during virtual coaching sessions that provide embedded opportunities to practice teaching within a mixed reality simulation (MRS). We examine how teacher and coach topical episodes function (agreeing, explaining, clarifying, probing, recapping, reflecting and suggesting) to activate reflection as part of virtual coaching. Grounded in Vygotsky's sociocultural theory and the belief that learning is collaborative and impacts how pre- and in-service teachers construct knowledge, this exploratory case study draws on insights from 15 graduate students (5 pre-service teachers (PSTs) and 10 in-service teachers (ISTs)) who participated in virtual coaching with embedded practice opportunities. Data sources were video recordings and transcripts of 15 virtual coaching sessions, and one-on-one post coaching interviews. Coding categories were determined through the constant comparative analysis method. Findings indicate that MRS provides an immediate context for reflection, which guided the debrief conversations. Additionally, functions occurred with varying frequency among PSTs and ISTs, and across both groups, probing questions often led directly to reflecting and recapping the shared simulation context. In times of remote teaching, like during coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), opportunities to simulate clinical experiences become vital.

Ann Marie Wernick
Program: PhD in Education
Faculty mentor: Annie Wilhelm

Mai Zaru: Storybook Reading Practices for Children from Low Income Families

This literature review describes effective features of storybook reading practices captured across three decades. The selected studies consist of (a) randomized control trials and quasi-experimental studies, (b) participants from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and (c) an age range of 2 to 7 years old. The selection of studies began with an exploration of two education databases and later cross-referenced with a manual search of storybook reading interventions approved by the Institute of Educational Science (IES). In the seven well-cited studies was a collection of classics published as early as the 1990s, with a total of 735 students, researchers reported the use of similar video-training techniques across. While read aloud interventions were found to have profound impacts on students' achievement across different types of implementers (teacher, parents, and researchers), many students remained unresponsive to storybook reading interventions. Finally, the differences detected across this small scope of studies made it challenging to compare their methodological rigor; however, implications and directions for future research are described in greater depth.

Mai Zaru
Program: PhD in Education
Faculty mentor: Stephanie Al Otaiba