Friday, August 31, 2012

Perdeda Billingslea Dwight completes dissertation in the School of Educational Leadership and Change

Navigating Closed Doors: A Grounded Theory Study, Perdeda Billingslea Dwight

This study, conducted using classical grounded theory methodology (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Glaser, 1978; 1996; 1998; 2001), led to the discovery of the basic social process of Navigating Closed Doors. Initial participants were students who had dropped out of school and who at some point made a decision to return. Data were collected as well from individuals who, while they never dropped out, had to overcome tremendous obstacles to reach their goals. Data from literature, observations, informal conversations, and professional experiences, also contributed to the theory’s development.

Navigating Closed Doors has five stages: experiencing rejection, encountering the slippery slope, reaching a tipping point, facing up, and opening the closed door. The operation of the theory is readily observable in a number of school, job, and life situations. While Navigating Closed Doors furnishes guidance for counseling students to help them better understand their options and their choices, it may be useful as well for professionals who work with people who are in crisis or who are otherwise experiencing challenging conditions in their lives.

Key Words: grounded theory, navigating, closed doors, slippery slope, tipping point, facing up

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Marjorie J.Woo completes dissertation in the School of Human and Organizational Development

Beyond the Chinese Dream: How Women Executives Working in Multinational Corporations in the People's Republic of China describe and Make Meaning of Midlife Transition, Marjorie J.Woo

The purpose of this study is to gain understanding of Chinese women executives going beyond the Chinese dream, to learn how they describe and make meaning of their midlife transition experience. A narrative inquiry and holistic content and form approach was used to explore two-stage life stories: narratives of self-actualization of women executives and their midlife transition experience. A total of 12 women executives from the People’s Republic of China participated in the study. All participants had worked for multinational companies in China for 15 to 20 years and were at midcareer stages of development in their leadership positions. Based on my observations over the past decade as a leadership development executive coach, this generation of women executives is under-researched.

The study’s findings suggest several themes including early independence and accelerated assignment to leadership positions that characterize the process of midlife transition of these women executives. The study revealed that these individuals have a heightened self-awareness and capacity for self-reflection with a strong desire for continuous learning and commitment to reach their full potential. The results differ from the primarily Western midlife transition literature including the findings in this study of the younger age of midlife transition, emotional rather than physical symptoms, almost exclusively career anchored pre-transition focus, and consistently positive post-transition outcomes. In addition, this study provides new insights about the experience of Chinese women executives and how the China context influenced their life narratives. Kegan’s (1982, 1994) constructive developmental theory and the overlay between Kegan and Confucianism contributed to the understanding of the results. The conceptual and empirical results of this study will facilitate the description and understanding of the development of this generation of Chinese women executives working in multinational firms in China. The results will be of value to the participants, other professional women executives, and to those involved in the development of management talent in organizations and in China.

Key words: adult development, coaching, cultural context, globalization, midlife transition, One Child Policy, People’s Republic of China, talent retention, world systems, women executives, Kegan, Confucianism

Monday, August 27, 2012

Alfonso Mercado completes dissertation in the School of Psychology

Individual Differences in Personality and Substance Abuse and the Impact of Functioning and Acculturation in a Mexican American and Mexican Population, Alfonso Mercado

This study investigated the association of substance abuse and dependence with the five-factor personality traits, academic outcomes, and relationship satisfaction, in Mexican American (N= 1,143) and Mexican samples (N= 323). A quantitative data analysis was performed using the anonymous data. Results supported the universal application of the five-factor model of personality, with high Neuroticism and Extraversion and lower Agreeableness and Conscientiousness associated with higher likelihood of substance use, with differences across cultural groups and drug types. In the Mexican American group, alcohol dependence and nicotine use was associated with lower Grade Point Average and relationship dissatisfaction. In addition, higher levels of acculturation did not predict drug use or alcohol dependence in the Mexican American group. However, less use of cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine was associated with acculturation. The Mexican group had higher levels of alcohol dependence and nicotine use and Mexican Americans had more cocaine and marijuana use. In conclusion, this study points to the communality and differences across cultural groups on drug use and dependence, and further clarifies the reciprocal relations of health-risk behaviors with psychological traits, academic achievement, and relationship satisfaction.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sara Garcia completes dissertation in the School of Educational Leadership and Change

The Influence of American Indian Story-telling on the Character and Ecological Awareness of Participating Non-Indian Children and their Parents, Sara Garcia

Story telling has been a part of inter-generational teaching and learning in all cultures. This is especially true as relates to Indigenous Peoples whose stories reflect on the unique relationships between place, human and non-human entities, and virtues that emphasize respect, courage, generosity, humility and integrity. For thousands of years, their intergenerational use of stories has contributed to societies who continue to realize that everything is connected and that forgetting this truth is always a risk. This dissertation is a preliminary exploration about how American Indian stories and the sharing of them between non-Indian parents and their children might contribute to sustaining this realization. Specifically, it seeks to determine what improvements in character and ecological awareness for both parent and child might happen after six sessions of reading and engaging in meaningful dialogue. Using a total of 48 in-depth interviews for four parent-child couples that follow after each of the six different reading events, results indicate that positive changes in both parents and children occurred as relate to both the expression of virtuous attitudes and behaviors as well as to an increase in ecological awareness. In spite of the limitations and multiple variables that make it only an introductory work for inspiring future research and applications, this study nonetheless reveals the potential for a partnership between character education and ecological awareness education. It also demonstrates that when parents, children and teachers engage in studying the values of morals buried in traditional Indigenous stories there may be an increased opportunity for both educational goals to be achieved. The author hopes that this study might help contribute to educational strategies for bringing forth a more peaceful and sustainable environment for all.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fielding graduate Zieva Konvisser publishes article in the DePaul Journal for Social Justice

Psychological Consequences of Wrongful Conviction in Women and the Possibility of Positive Change, Zieva Konvisser

This paper presents: (1) an analysis of female wrongful convictions; (2) an overview of the existing literature on the psychological consequences of wrongful conviction and the unique qualities and needs faced by women; (3) evidence from research and real life experiences about potential responses to trauma, ranging from posttraumatic stress to resilience and posttraumatic growth, how these may coexist and how growth may be enabled; (4) meaningful strategies proposed in the literature and creative and resourceful strategies that have helped other survivors cope with and even grow from an untenable reality; and (5) the need for compassionate and holistic support to the exonerated.

Valuable insights and empirical evidence are provided for the innocent women themselves; for clinicians, counselors, families, friends, employers and communities working to help innocent women during their arrest, trial, conviction, imprisonment, release and post-release; and for lawyers, policy-makers and advocates working to promote social justice and criminal justice reform.

Konvisser, Z. D. (Spring 2012). Psychological consequences of wrongful conviction in women and the possibility of positive change. DePaul Journal for Social Justice, 5(2), 221-94.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fielding graduate Jenny Fremlin gives presentation at the IVth International Conference of Community Psychology

Online communities: Spaces for learning, connection, expression and collective power

Communities can be places for learning, supporting emotional connections, expressing individuality or even questioning hegemonic interests. Looking at a diversity of online communities, this symposium highlights some of the ways online communities influence members within the group as well as support the emergence of subcultures and enact social change outside the group. Drawing on studies of eLearning, virtual worlds, and mageboard websites, these four papers highlight the power and constraints of online spaces for community, action, and learning.

Beyond Virtual: Sense of Community Across Places & Spaces, Jenny Fremlin, PhD

This presentation will discuss how sense of community exists beyond the common online/offline dichotomy. A study of World of Warcraft guild (formal team of players) members across four communities to which they belong will be discussed. Analysis of survey responses, including the Brief Sense of Community Scale and open-ended questions, showed that sense of community varies by community type not only in traditional community settings but also in online communities. Additionally, traditional factors of sense of community were present in open-ended responses describing aspects of sense of community across online and traditional community types. Traditional theories and scales can help us to understand online communities and the potential for sense of community that exists within them. If we accept new forms of social connection, understand that they are not going away but growing, and aren’t afraid to look at them as “real” we should be able to begin predicting which types of online communities offer better opportunities for sense of community and how to improve sense of community in others that need it.

Friday, August 17, 2012

James Leonard Marlatt completes dissertation in the School of Human and Organizational Development

When Executive Coaching Connects: A Phenomenological Study of Relationship and Transformative Learning, James Leonard Marlatt

The purpose of this study was to understand the nature of human relationships and how they can contribute to transformative learning. A hermeneutic-phenomenological methodology was utilized to explore the subjective experience of three executive coaching relationships situated in large, western-based, for-profit organizational settings. I researched my own executive coaching relationship to three female business managers. The data for analysis included transcripts of the coaching conversations, and my own prior phenomenological protocol statements as a coachee who had experienced transformative learning.

A phenomenological and hermeneutic analysis revealed 21 meaning structures that characterize transformative learning in the context of an executive coaching relationship. These structures are enduring disorientation; disorienting encounters; the executive coaching lifeline; coming to terms with disorientation; affinity; evolving trust is foundational; trust eroded; performance anxiety; dialogic openings; the free-flowing dialogue; anticipation; authentic disclosure; limits of self-disclosure; moving beyond the emotional angst; unexpected impacts; reflective leaps; epiphany emerges; a pragmatic shift; learning perspective; inverted relationships; future possibility (work-life balance). These structures were organized into six thematic patterns: the catalyst for transformative learning; the foundation of the executive coaching relationship; the nature of the executive coaching relationship; the nature of the executive coaching dialogue; the ineffable influence of the executive coaching relationship; and transformative learning and the executive coaching relationship.

This study affirms the veracity of the transformative learning theories of the individual and supports Mezirow’s alternative view that a catalyzing disorienting dilemma may be the result of a more evolutionary personal history in the learning process. Significant ineffable elements, rooted in a natural connection that can exist between the executive coach and coachee, were identified. These elements are based in trust and authenticity and can play a critical role in the process of transformative learning that is supported through the coaching relationship.

The study also affirms the efficacy of the practice of executive coaching from a humanistic perspective, as opposed to an evidence-based perspective, in assisting coachees who are facing enduring disorientation in their work world. The coach can take on a supportive role as the coachee copes with the psychological impacts that are associated with enduring disorientation that has a source in dysfunctional relationships with authoritarian individuals in the work place. The sociology of this relational setting can be modeled by an adaptation of Alfred Sch├╝tz and Georg Simmel’s conception of “the stranger” as a way to depict the dynamic and influential nature of social distance that exists between the coachee, coach, and other people situated in an organizational context. Furthermore, a humanistic coaching methodology that is based on Kurt Wolff’s pre-phenomenological concept of “surrender-and-catch” offers an ontological foundation from which to understand and follow an unorthodox phenomenological approach to coaching that embraces a free-flowing critical dialogue in support of transformative learning, as opposed to a more directive and goal-focused agenda.

Key Words: lived experience; relationship; executive coaching; transformative learning; sociology of small groups; humanism; trust; authenticity; ineffability; the stranger; social distance; surrender-and-catch

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sheryl A. Wendzik completes dissertation in the School of Educational Leadership and Change

Pursuing Passions: A Grounded Theory Study, Sheryl A. Wendzik

This grounded theory study examined the behaviors of people as they find and investigate an activity that interests them. Pursuing passions, the core variable that emerged from the data, is an active process of finding an activity that attracts a person’s attention, stimulates interest through emotion and value, and grows into a compelling focus in that person’s life.

The process of pursuing a passion consists of the four stages of discovering, investigating, executing and living, and mastering. Discovering is finding an activity, either by stumbling upon it, shopping around, or re-exposure and involves two steps—exposure to an activity and grabbing interest. Investigating is finding out more about an activity that interests. Investigating involves researching the activity via several means, such as spoken communication, media searching, observing, training, and dabbling. Executing and living is engaging in the pursuit of a passion to reach a satisfactory level of accomplishment, respect, and/or recognition. Executing and living involves devising and implementing a plan. Mastering is living a passion as a highly skilled and expert performer of the passion. Mastering the passion may involve maintaining the passion by continued training, seeking more opportunities, and diversifying into related areas.

During each stage, people come to points when they have to decide whether or not to continue pursuing the activity. Deciding is a sub-process in the process of pursuing a passion. The steps of the sub-process are weighing factors and/or prioritizing, then deciding.

There are various factors that people encounter when pursuing a passion. The presence or absence of or access to these factors may propel or hinder the pursuit. The manner in which a person responds to the factors often determines whether a factor propels or hinders. The stronger and more abundant the propelling factors, the more likely the success of the pursuit of a passion. Similarly, the bigger and more numerous the hindrances, the more likely the pursuit of a passion will be postponed or ceased. Four factors affecting all stages of pursuing a passion are emotions, character traits, one’s life situation, and resource availability.

Key Words: passion, grounded theory, interest, value, feeling, emotion, character trait, life situation, deciding, discover, investigate, living, mastering

Monday, August 13, 2012

Joyce N. Vitalo completes dissertation in the School of Educational Leadership and Change

Gender Related Factors and Female Morale in a Telecommunications Organization, Joyce N. Vitalo

This study was about gender related experiences in connection with the morale of female managers in a large cable multi-system operator where the majority of leaders are male. Organizational culture in traditional male dominated organizations embraces male leadership styles and behaviors. Gender inequality is a very serious issue in today’s very competitive business environment.

The purpose of this study was to determine gender related factors impacting the morale of female leaders in the company. These results might also suggest ways to strengthen morale among women within organizations. Participants also shared their perceptions of their workplace culture, the experiences of female managers, their morale and how it aligned with the company’s inclusion policy.

The Delphi method was used in this study. Participants were female managers who responded to an online survey to indicate gender related factors that impacted their morale. These individuals were in the age categories from their 40s to their 50s and had varying work experiences and levels of responsibility within the organization

The culture and communication norms in the company were reported as core factors that impacted morale. The lack of respect and positive communication from leadership and direct supervisors were identified as decreasing morale among female managers. A recommendation from the study is to align communication styles and leadership styles with the organization’s diversity statement.

Female managers and employees at all levels need to feel valued and respected and to have a voice. Morale is negatively impacted when there is a disconnection in communication between leaders and managers. Retraining of all leadership and managers in the organization may realign the organization and have a positive impact on morale. The discussion outlines steps for this process

Friday, August 10, 2012

Andrea Yates completes dissertation in the school of Educational Leadership and Change

Supporting Parents of Children with Severe Disabilities: An Action Research Project, Andrea Yates

Parents of children with severe disabilities face many challenges. They must adjust to the changes in family dynamics, educational decisions, and the long-term implications of the severity of the disability. This action research project provides a detailed look into the lives of four families of children with severe disabilities. The parent participants shared the challenges they faced in the home, school, and community. Each family told a different story, unique to their family and defined by their child’s individual needs. Yet, among the four families, three themes developed, linking the case studies to one another. First, parents expressed the need for help, whether in the home, school, or community. Second, parents expressed the need for comprehensive and correct information. Third, the parents expressed the need for supports and services that met their child’s and family’s needs. Parents shared ideas for improving in their current struggles, strategies for overcoming the challenges, and their hopes for the future. The implications of this project include the possibility of creating a foundation for further research that will lead to increased support of parents who have children with severe disabilities.

Keywords: severe disability, parents, support, children with disabilities, services, action research, case study.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fielding graduate Jenny Fremlin presents research at the IVth International Conference of Community Psychology in Barcelona, Spain

Community Connections in a Mediated World, Jenny Fremlin, PhD

This individual communication explores the potential for media-supported community building both locally and globally based on results from original research on sense of community. Analysis of survey responses, including the Brief Sense of Community Scale and open-ended questions, shows that sense of community varies by community type not only in traditional community settings but also in online communities. Participants (n=77) were World of Warcraft guild (team of players) members and answered questions about sense of community in four different communities to which they belong. As in traditional communities, there are differences in strength of sense of community between different types of online communities. The implication is that we are able to experience a range of feelings within communities that is dependent upon unique properties of individual communities, even when communities are connected digitally. This opens up understanding of modern communities by linking past community research to emerging connections. Rather than concentrating solely on the media used to make a connection, we should look within communities to understand the impact they will have on members. We also can consider using emerging technology to connect new or existing communities in ways that are effective, emotional, and influential in our lives and society.

IVth International Conference of Community Psychology
Barcelona, Spain
June 21, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fielding graduate Fotini Zachariades presents research poster at Fielding's Summer National Session 2012

A CBT Self-Management Approach for Insomnia Among People with Chronic Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Fotini Zachariades, Ph.D., Alumna, School of Psychology (2012)

Although primary insomnia has received much research attention, much less has been directed toward comorbid insomnia in the context of medical or psychiatric conditions such as chronic pain. Given the overlap between insomnia and other conditions including chronic pain, and that improvement of sleep difficulties may also have a beneficial effect on the management of chronic pain, the treatment of insomnia appears to be of much salience in terms of public health benefits. Cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) for insomnia has been applied to some samples with medical conditions such as cancer. Self-management approaches may be a more cost-effective and easily accessible format for the treatment of insomnia. Within the context of chronic pain, a previous study investigated a group-based CBT treatment approach. The present thesis involves a randomized controlled trial testing the efficacy of a CBT-oriented, self-management approach toward insomnia among a chronic pain population. Primary outcome measures included sleep-related variables, while mood, fatigue, and pain severity served as the secondary outcomes. Additionally, the potential mediating role of pre-sleep arousal and pain-related disability in the context of insomnia and chronic pain were investigated. Participants were adult outpatients with chronic pain recruited from a hospital rehabilitation centre and pain clinic. Findings indicated improvements amongst intervention group participants in terms of insomnia severity, time to fall asleep, and fatigue severity, relative to control group participants at post-treatment. Furthermore, findings supported the mediating role of pain-related disability and pre-sleep arousal. Theoretical, methodological, and clinical implications are discussed.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fielding graduate Steven E. Wallis presents research poster at Fielding's Summer National Session 2012

Theories of Psychology: Evolving Towards Greater Effectiveness or Wandering, Lost in the Jungle, Without a Guide?

Steven E. Wallis, Ph.D., Alumnus, School of Human & Organizational Development (2006)

Is the field of psychology truly advancing toward significant improvements in theory and practice? The present (preliminary) study uses Propositional Analysis in a cliometric metatheoretical analysis to analyze a set of highly cited theories of motivation over a span of about 90 years. Comparing those results with theories which have progressed through a paradigmatic revolution, it seems that the study of motivation is not advancing. Instead, there appears to be a trend toward simpler theories - perhaps due to the "false prophet" of parsimony. The call is made for theories of greater complexity that will lead to deeper understanding, more collaboration, and more rapid advancement of the field.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fielding graduate Roderick Spaulding presents research poster at Fielding's Summer National Session 2012

An Alternative Expert Knowledge Transfer Model: A Case Study of an Indigenous Storytelling Approach

Roderick Spaulding, Ed.D., Alumnus, School of Educational Leadership & Change (2010)

The increasing complexity of technical work, the demand for highly skilled workers, and the vital challenges facing the world at large have combined to create a need for better ways to transfer knowledge, especially expert knowledge. In this dissertation, I attempted to see if an approach to this process that is more holistic than is typical in business and industry might be more successful. Specifically, I applied traditional indigenous methods for transferring knowledge from those who have mastery in a given field. The purpose of this study was to use indigenous approaches to oral storytelling as a teaching technique for solving specific problems in technical learning for semiconductor engineers and then to compare and contrast outcomes. The goal was to see what benefit, if any, to technical knowledge transfer might emerge from this approach via phenomenological interviewing of participants. There were two data measurements: (a) focus group interviews and (b) root-cause analysis. The focus group interviews resulted in 59 verbatim statements recorded and six significant statements. The root-cause analysis resulted in 12 explanations, four assessment items (morals), and a final score of 4.0 (based on a 5.0 scale), with an increase perceived mean score of 43.75% in technical capability. Indigenous storytelling appears to have significant advantages over standard industry protocols that seem to allow experts and learners to see how things really are without reality being overly filtered through individual egos.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fielding graduate Betsy Piatt presents research poster at Fielding's Summer National Session 2012

An Action Oriented Research Study: Evaluating an Ergonomics Training Program

Betsy Piatt, Ed.D., Alumna, School of Educational Leadership & Change (2012)

The focus of this research was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Ergonomics Training Program and to seek ways to improve the program so that office workers at the High-Tech Manufacturing Company (HTMC), a pseudonym, were and will be able to perform their jobs safely. The amount of office-related musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) injuries doubled from 2007 to 2009, raising concerns about the safety of employees, which prompted this action-oriented study of the Ergonomics Training Program at HTMC. Hence, the goal of the dissertation was to determine the strengths and challenges of the program and develop strategies to improve it. The Ergonomics Training Program included three features: (a) Office Safety and Ergonomics; (b) Office Assessor Training; and (c) Manager Safety Forums. Over the last few years, two components were added: (a) a mandatory Ergonomics Training Class for all HTMC employees and (b) the Keyboard and Mouse Usage Software (KMS), a pseudonym. It was assumed that these elements would influence employee behaviors resulting in a reduction of injuries. Data were collected from questionnaires with 820 training session participants and interviews with nine Safety Leadership Committee members. The quantitative injury data from 2007 through 2009 were compared against the frequency of injuries from 2010 and 2011. The strongest aspect of the Ergonomics Program echoed by the Safety Leadership Committee (SLC) members was the professionalism and expertise of the ergonomists and the training that they provide. The biggest challenge to the program per feedback from the SLC is keeping training materials updated. The conclusions of the study indicate that the office-related MSD injury trend decreased and that the components of the Ergonomics Training Program at HTMC successfully influenced positive safety behavior changes. Recommendations made by the participants will be implemented, adding to the ongoing action oriented approach to the program.