Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Heidi Maston completes dissertation in the School of Educational Leadership and Change

A Delphi Method study on triggering transactional distance to improve students' learning: The Instructor's Rubric -- Heidi Maston

H.L.Maston is an internationally recognized Distance Educator with experience as a presenter, researcher, author, developer and instructor on all areas related to Distance Education with a special passion for communication, social networking and virtual worlds.

Heidi's Doctoral Dissertation is titled, "A Delphi Method Study on Triggering Transactional Distance to Improve Students' Learning: The Instructor's Rubric." The results of this study indicate that there are certain combinations of tools and purposeful interactions that can create an improved learning environment for the student. This data produced the Instructor’s Engagement Rubric 1.0 which is available for use.

Other current areas of authorship and research include: “Digital Fluency”, “Transactional Distance in the Virtual Environment”, “Building Trust in Virtual Environments,” “Systems Theory of Communication: Its influence on the developmental strategies in Distance Education,” and ”How to systematically harness transactional distance for identity development in Second Life in order to measurably increase academic performance. “

Heidi served on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Distance Education in California (CA Chapter of the USDLA) 2004 – 2009 and was President of ADEC from 2008 – 2009.

Heidi is a member of numerous state, national and global organizations dedicated to Distance Education, research and education.

Heidi has successfully merged 15+ years of Social Service work with a variety of demographics into a grounded educational realm. Her intimate understanding, and experience, with a wide variety of populations is an asset in her chosen educational field.

She holds a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Change [11/11] from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara California. Additionally, she hold a Master of Science: Masters of Distance Education and 5 Graduate Certificates in various components of D.E. from University of Maryland University College and a Bachelors of Art degree in Speech Communication from Northwest Nazarene University.

The 21st century ushered in change with the increased use of technology in educational delivery methods and opened doors for a new generation of students. While the debate over pedagogy, content design and overall effectiveness of this delivery format continues, scholars have not attended to the lessons of earlier theorists. This study examined a foundational theory of distance education, transactional distance (TD) and the potential to increase academic learning via sets of parameters instigated by the instructor. These sets of variables are described in the Instructor‟s Engagement Rubric 1.0, which was created through this study following a three-round investigation of current and anticipated behaviors discovered in this study and accomplished in accordance with the research methodologies of the Delphi Method. The responses to this Delphi study produced the following results. Three themes emerged: a) The technological tools in the transactional distance classroom are being used in a variety of manners and with little consistency as to desired outcome, b) There is inconsistency with the identification of the role of the instructor in a TD classroom, c) The data also indicated that there are certain combinations of tools and purposeful interactions that can create an improved learning environment for the student. These data produced the Instructor‟s Engagement Rubric 1.0 (IER 1.0), which is now available for use.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fielding faculty member Rae Newton publishes article in Child Abuse & Neglect

Proctor, Laura J. , Randazzo, Katherine Van Dusen, Litrownik, Alan J. , Newton, Rae R. , Davis,Inger P. , Villodas, Miguel. (2011) Factors associated with caregiver stability in permanent placements: A classification tree approach. Child Abuse & Neglect, Volume 35, Issue 6, June 2011, 425-436.

Identify individual and environmental variables associated with caregiver stability and instability for children in diverse permanent placement types (i.e., reunification, adoption, and long-term foster care/guardianship with relatives or non-relatives), following 5 or more months in out-of-home care prior to age 4 due to substantiated maltreatment. Participants were 285 children from the Southwestern site of Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN). Caregiver instability was defined as a change in primary caregiver between ages 6 and 8 years. Classification and regression tree (CART) analysis was used to identify the strongest predictors of instability from multiple variables assessed at age 6 with caregiver and child reports within the domains of neighborhood/community characteristics, caregiving environment, caregiver characteristics, and child characteristics. One out of 7, or 14% of the 285 children experienced caregiver instability in their permanent placement between ages 6 and 8. The strongest predictor of stability was whether the child had been placed in adoptive care. However, for children who were not adopted, a number of contextual factors (e.g., father involvement, expressiveness within the family) and child characteristics (e.g., intellectual functioning, externalizing problem behaviors) predicted stability and instability of permanent placements. Current findings suggest that a number of factors should be considered, in addition to placement type, if we are to understand what predicts caregiver stability and find stable permanent placements for children who have entered foster care. These factors include involvement of a father figure, family functioning, and child functioning. Adoption was supported as a desired permanent placement in terms of stability, but results suggest that other placement types can also lead to stability. In fact, with attention to providing biological parents, relative, and non-relative caregivers with support and resources (e.g., emotional, financial, and optimizing father involvement or providing a stable adult figure) the likelihood that a child will have a stable caregiver may be increased.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

CJ Robinson completes dissertation in the School of Psychology

A Validity Study of Projective Drawings - Claude Jay Robinson, Jr.

The present work attempts to improve the validity and reliability of the Draw-A-Person: Screening Procedure for Emotional Disturbance (DAP:SPED). By examining the theories and practices inherent in the global use of human figure drawings, the DAP:SPED may be improved upon so that drawings can detect three specific classes of mental disorders: depression, anxiety, and psychoses. A novel technological approach, the Psychological Study of Images Captured and Electronically Measured (PSICEM), which provides for empirical, actuarial analysis, is offered. The PSICEM provides quantification and analysis of the most basic structural elements of the drawing. An archival data set was used. Participants contributing to the data set were 100 male and female adolescents (ages 12-18) receiving long-term inpatient treatment in a “wilderness” setting for emotional and behavioral problems. This work attempted to surpass the invalidated method of the signs approach (or equating a particular drawing element with a specific diagnosis) and provide a more theoretically supported, psychometrically sound method of capturing and using human figure drawing data. The significance of this study then, is twofold: a) projective assessment of drawings will be enhanced by the provision of a unifying methodology for the administration, scoring, and interpretation of these tests, and b) clinicians and researchers will be able to use projective assessment in clinical and research inquiry based on reliable and valid empirical data.

Keywords: projective, projective drawings, adolescent, mental health, formal elements of drawings, software analysis, diagnostic drawings, computer-assisted art therapy based instruments, CAABI, art therapy, assessment, psychopathology, mood disorders, psychoses

Friday, November 11, 2011

Victoria L. Joiner Miller completes dissertation in the School of Educational Leadership and Change

Singing in a Strange Land: A Phenomenological Examination of Government-Sponsored Forced Displacement of African Americans in Madison County, Alabama -- Victoria L. Joiner Miller

Victoria L. Joiner Miller has been General Manager of Oakwood University radio station 90.1 FM WJOU for over 22 years. She is an instructor in the department of Communication and Fine Arts at Oakwood University, Alabama A & M University, and Calhoun Community College and has also served as Assistant Vice President for Advancement and Development at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama.

Victoria is the founder of Genesis Week Ministries and is a noted advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. Her seminar entitled: Finding Your Voice: How to Live After the Damage is Done, has been widely received and featured at numerous women’s and youth groups around the country. She is a feature writer for numerous magazines and her poster presentation entitled: Resistance is Futile: Subversive Urban Planning in the Tennessee Valley was featured at the 2010 Fielding Graduate University National Session in Tucson, Arizona.

Victoria has also served on the executive committee of the Adventist Radio Broadcasters Association and has been a member of the National Association of Female Executives, the Society of Adventist Communicators, and the North Alabama Association of Black Journalists. She is a graduate of Oakwood University, holds a masters degree in Rhetorical Communication from Regent University, and now holds a doctor of education in Educational Leadership and Change from Fielding Graduate University. She is also the proud mother of two children, Jennifer, 19, and David, 11


This inquiry explores the question: What is the impact of cyclical government-sponsored dismantling of African American communities in Huntsville and Madison County, Alabama? Three groups of “purposely selected” (Creswell, 2009) African American citizens of Madison County, Alabama illuminated their own lived experiences through phenomenological interviews. I focused on distinct themes, the generation of meaning, and “the analysis of significant statements” in keeping with phenomenological methods devised by Moustakas (1994).Three overarching themes emerged as a framework for the phenomenological methodology – Community, Land Loss and Urban Renewal, and Civil Rights.

Seven of the nine subjects described their own personal accounts of losses. Although two of Civil Rights leaders did not experience direct losses, they provided insight into the historic political processes and current issues facing the black community. The oldest members of the study in each group still held very strong negative emotions regarding the loss of lands and businesses. Despite the most demoralizing of circumstances in the African American communities of the Tennessee Valley, there is a strength and resolve that has sustained the people. All of the respondents have positive feelings about their hometown and see some, if not, most of the changes made through urban renewal as positive.

This project also revealed the political connection of Huntsville’s urban renewal projects to the national thrust of Urban Renewal and Fair Housing of the 1940s – 1970s through the work of Alabama Senator John J. Sparkman. A historical-critical examination of public and private documents reveal Sparkman’s role in procuring Redstone Arsenal and Marshall Space Flight Center, as well as, his role the organized battle for state’s rights, and the maintenance of Southern “culture and traditions"(The Sparkman Papers, 1944;1964).

This study offers evidence supporting concepts of Critical Race Theory (CRT) as espoused by Bell (1987), Ladson-Billings and Tate (1995) Ladson-Billings (1998), Harris, (1993), Delgado (1995), and Guinier (2003) and provides evidence of the long-term implications of the cyclical nature of oppressive practices in American culture. Continued study on the history of federal housing policies, historic and current African American land loss, and the displacement of African Americans is called for.

Key Words: Phenomenology; Urban Renewal; Critical Race Theory; Black Land Loss; African American displacement; Civil Rights Movement; Brown v. Board of Education; Military Industrial Complex; Redstone Arsenal; Tennessee Valley Authority; Housing and Urban Development History; Housing Act of 1941; Housing Act of 1961; Senator John J. Sparkman; Madison County, Alabama; Huntsville, Alabama; Tennessee Valley; white resistance movement; Model Cities Program

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Elizabeth Speck completes dissertation in the School of Human and Organizational Development

Formerly Incarcerated Human Services Professionals and Aspirants: Experiences of Workforce Entry and Career Development -- Elizabeth Speck

This dissertation describes the experiences of individuals who have been formerly incarcerated, who have or are pursuing post-prison professional experience in the field of human services. Applying a theoretical lens of structural inequality, a qualitative study was designed to address the research question, What barriers and supports do formerly incarcerated people experience in entering the human services workforce? The researcher interviewed 25 participants using a semi-structured depth methodology, and thematically analyzed interview transcripts. Participants had in common that they had served at least one year in prison, and had been living in the community for at least 3 months; differences across the sample included length of sentence, length of time post-release, education level, type of work, employment status, race and ethnicity, gender, and age. Results yielded 9 themes upon which participants consistently reflected: getting a foot in the door: first jobs, self-disclosure, professional boundaries, strengths that may stem from prison, deficits that may stem from prison, what works in the workplace, frustrated expectations, the money, and parole. Notable findings include that participants’ paths to career entry were heterogeneous; that incarceration history produces both barriers and strengths to career development in the human services workforce; and self-identification of professional strengths in stress management, nonjudgmental counseling stance, and trauma sensibility. The findings have implications for effective practice in reentry employment programs and human service hiring and staff development. As both professionals working in and recipients of human services, human services professionals with incarceration histories can offer impactful leadership and informed insight into social problems and human services organizations’ responses and processes. Recommendations center around incorporating criminal justice history into the concept of a diverse workforce in the human services, and capacity building for hiring and fostering career advancement for human service professionals with incarceration histories. This qualitative study is a starting point for understanding the experiences of formerly incarcerated human service professionals, and is limited by a lack of triangulation. Directions for future research are proposed, including applying an audit methodology to garner quantitative insight into implicit or explicit discriminatory hiring practices among human service organizations for applicants with criminal records.

Key words: formerly incarcerated, structural inequality, racism, intercultural competence, prison reentry, human services, social service, workforce development, employment

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fielding faculty member Kathy Tiner publishes article in the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

Schulz, L.L., Tiner, K.A., Sewell, D., Hirata, L. (2011). Towards a Pedagogy of Tenderness: Reflections on Cuban Education. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science. Vol.1 No.10; August

This reflective essay shares the experiences of U.S. educators through a research trip to explore educational practices in Cuba. The authors observed four components of the Cuban educational system and reflect through example and research the progression of the Cuban educational system from a “caring state” to a Pedagogy of Tenderness. As observed by the authors, the Cuban educational system offers pedagogy and practice that lends itself to U.S. aspirations to create meaningful and effective school, family, and community partnerships. Education in Cuba is seen as the responsibility of all of society and is defined through the partnering of school, family, and community. Keywords: pedagogy, education, Cuba


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fielding faculty member Jared Dempsey presents at the 45th Annual Convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Toronto, Canada

Examining the Relationship Between Social Anxiety and Cigarette Smoking: Smoking to Cope -- N. L. Watson; J. P. Dempsey; J. VanderVeen; J. C. Gottlieb; L. M. Cohen


Smoking rates are higher among individuals diagnosed with social anxiety disorder when compared to the general population (NIDA, 2009; Lasser et al., 2000). In fact, previous research suggests that social anxiety disorder and sub-threshold social anxiety may be risk factors for nicotine dependence later in life (Sonntag, Wittchen, Hofler, Kessler, & Stein, 2000). It has been suggested that such individuals may initiate smoking to cope with their anxiety and that smoking behaviors may be maintained as a result of such smoking expectancies (Morissette, Tull, Gulliver, Kamholz, & Zimering, 2007). However, only one study to date has been conducted examining this relationship. Further, results from this study indicate that individuals with social anxiety report smoking to cope (STC) with their symptoms (Junghans, Lovett, Eldridge, Grant, & Dempsey, 2009). Therefore, the primary aim of the present study was to further elucidate the relationship between symptoms of social anxiety and smoking to cope. METHODS: 1800 undergraduates enrolled in Introduction to Psychology courses completed surveys that included an assessment of self-reported levels of social anxiety (LSAS; Heimberg et al., 1999) and a questionnaire on smoking to cope with social anxiety (STC) based upon the Drinking to Cope Questionnaire (Thomas, Randall, Book, & Randall, 2008). Additionally, they were asked to rate the degree to which they engage in 12 STC behaviors designed to alleviate symptoms of social anxiety. Participants were excluded if they were not tobacco users (n = 1546) or had illogical response patterns (n = 39). Thus, 215 participants were included in the present analyses, with a classification of being socially anxious (SA; n = 34) or not (NSA; n = 181). RESULTS: 57.2% of the sample reported STC behaviors. Analyses indicated a significant between-groups difference in the proportion of situations in which participants engaged in STC behaviors [F (1, 121) = 21.18, p < .001]. Further, SA participants reporting engaging in STC behaviors in 62.41% (SD = 33.67) of social situations and NSA participants reporting these behaviors 37% of the time (SD = 23.19). Additionally, SA participants reported avoiding social situations significantly more often than NSA participants [F (1, 120) = 6.190, p < .05]. Groups were then tested for differences on average goal endorsement, with 9 of the 12 STC-related goals being significantly different between groups. These goals included “to avoid making eye contact” [F (1, 119) = 19.296, p < .001] and “to have an excuse to temporarily leave the social situation” [F (1, 119) = 14.990, p < .001], with SA individuals reporting using STC behaviors to achieve these goals to a higher degree. These results provide evidence for the notion that a large proportion of socially anxious individuals who smoke do, in fact, smoke to cope with their symptoms of social anxiety. This study also highlights the specific smoking expectations that these individuals may have. Further, these findings suggest that more research is needed to better understand the underlying mechanisms of smoking acquisition, maintenance, cessation, and relapse in order to improve upon prevention and intervention efforts targeting this population of smokers.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Judith F. Legault completes dissertation in the School of Psychology

PTSD and Neurobehavioral Symptoms in Combat Veterans Diagnosed with mTBI in Relation to Type of Blast Trauma and location of Blast -- Judith F. Legault

Judith Legault is currently finishing her clinical psychology internship at the William Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Administration Medical Center.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether type of blast injury effects PTSD/neurobehavioral symptomatology. Nearly 20% of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) are estimated to experience symptoms of PTSD and/or depression, while more than 320,000 OIF/OEF service members have sustained a TBI (Van Boven et al., 2009).

Current research employed a correlational design to examine associations between type of blast trauma, localization of blast trauma, and PTSD symptoms. In order to reveal these associations, a crosssectional descriptive, design was used. 582 U.S. military service members who had received mTBIs from explosive/blast munitions or other mechanisms while deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan were separated into groups by type of blast injury: primary (P), secondary (S), tertiary (T), or quaternary (Q), alone and in combinations, and by location of injury relative to the person’s head. Groups were compared with respect to symptom clusters and overall scores on the PCL-C and the NSI.

Results indicate that veterans with Q injuries had the lowest PCL-C mean scores, while those who had PST, PQ, and SQ injuries had the highest. The NBSI mean scores using a 4-factor model was highest for P, PQ, and SQ, while Q and QT injuries were among the lowest scores. Using a 3-factor model, it was found that Q and QT injuries had the lowest scores, while PST and SQ injuries had the highest mean scores. Results indicate that blast injury to the back of the head resulted in significantly higher PCL-C and NBSI total scores along with lower PCL-C Avoidance and higher NBSI-Sensory factor in the 4-factor model of the NBSI. Chi-square analyses indicate statistically significant relationships between type of blast injury and PTSD, but not between localization of blast injury and PTSD.

Key Words: PTSD, mTBI, Neurobehavioral Symptoms, PCL, NBSI, Blast Injury, OIF/IEF.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hillary Jean Hodges completes dissertation in the School of Educational Leadership and Change

An Integrated Business and Technology Curriculum: Oil and Water? -- Hillary Jean Hodges

Hillary Jean Hodges is an adjunct instructor at both Career Academy and Wayland Baptist University in Anchorage, AK. 

Technology in every form has become an important part of everyday life. In business, it is a necessity for success and survival. Many authors (Kotrlik & Redman, 2009; Ma & Runyon, among others) in the arena of higher education have pointed out the need for truly integrated business and technology programs at the graduate level, but generally lacked solutions or means of implementation. Using as a basis a study by Durlabhji and Fusilier (2002), who examined this type of integration, this study was undertaken to determine if integrated programs still exist, and if not, whether one could be developed and accepted by the faculty who may teach it.

For this dissertation, a survey was conducted on-line, including faculty from both the business and technology disciplines (n = 44) at the schools used in Durlabhji and Fusilier’s (2002) study. This survey was crafted to ascertain what the content of this curriculum might be, and whether or not this type of integration is possible at this time. Questions were included about the respondents’ current program, and the future employability of graduates of an integrated program.

Initially, the aim of this study was to create this curriculum; however, it became clear that before this can occur, a major paradigm shift must happen at all levels within higher education institutions. The respondents to the survey agreed that integration of this type is needed, but did not appear to believe that it could be accepted. They expressed a general sense of disdain for their academic world, including the ability of their students to perform in such programs, or to attain employment after graduation.

Ultimately, this study provides a look into the attitudes of some faculty toward the integration of business and technology curricula. It also uncovers a growing daily frustration on the part of faculty who are simply trying to do their jobs. The results definitely explain the lack of solutions in the existing literature to the problem of how to make integration happen and succeed.