Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Students and faculty member present, "Differential Effects of Aging on Executive Functions" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Whillma Quenicka, Student, School of Psychology; Tonya L. Bennett, Student, School of Psychology; Henry Soper, Faculty, School of Psychology

Objectives: Although declines in executive functioning over age are expected, one wonders about the comparative trajectories of those who are particularly strong or weak in these abilities. Therefore, we looked at the age trajectories for those 1 1/3 SD above and below the mean as well as those at the mean.

Methods: Data were drawn from a popular comprehensive set of normative data for the Expanded Halstead-Reitan battery. Norms for 12 years of education were used for average (t=50) and low (t=37) functioning, while those for 16 years of education were used for high functioning (t=63). Normative data for Trails A, Trails B, Category Test, and Letter and Animal Fluency were used and performances were compared to those of the 20-34 year group. Results: Trails A, Trails B, the Category test, and Animal Fluency show uniform linear deterioration for all groups to about age 65 of almost two SD and then little further deterioration to age 80. Letter Fluency performance shows little deterioration by age 80 for the high functioning group, but a bit more for the average and low groups.

Conclusions: This study showed the executive functions in most cases deteriorate about the same across the different levels of functioning. By age 80 those in the average or below average groups are relatively defective in executive functioning compared to the young group. Being in the superior range does not protect the individual from the deterioration, but the deterioration, and therefore level of functioning, will be only to average levels.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Student presents, "The Hole Isn’t Round: Why Pharmacotherapy for PTSD Often Doesn’t Fit" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Ann Trotter, Fielding's School of Psychology

The neurobiology of chronic PTSD is essential to targeting effective pharmacologic treatment and the development of new medications. Individuals who develop chronic PTSD often suffer severe symptoms to the point of incapacitation; exhibit marital, social/relational, and/or vocational impairment; and use a disproportionate amount of community psychiatric and medical services (Foa, et al., 2009). The pathophysiology of chronic PTSD is thought to arise from the inability of neurobiological systems to adapt to severe stressors. Alterations in mechanisms of learning and extinction, increased sensitization to stress, and increased physiological arousal appear to develop as a result (Heim & Nemeroff, 2009). To date, pharmacologic agents utilized in treating PTSD are variably effective in reducing symptom frequency and intensity/severity, and none have been developed to specifically target the neurobiologic systems implicated in chronic PTSD (Stahl, 2008). This poster is a visual guide which outlines the pharmacologic agents used in the treatment of PTSD and highlights the neurobiologic system in which they are thought to exert their primary effects. Classes of drugs such as anticonvulsants, atypical antipsychotics, and ‘novel’ treatments for PTSD, such as mifepristone (RU-486) and MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) are highlighted.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Graduate presents, "Normal Healthy Aging and Right-Hemisphere Functioning in the Elderly" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Katherine D. Tong, Fielding's School of Psychology (2012)

Previous research has determined the presence of age-related decline in left-hemisphere functioning, but little is known regarding the effect of age on purported right-hemisphere abilities over the age trajectory. A series of neuropsychological tests (Trail Making Tests A and B, Trails C, the Street Completion Test, the Letter Naming Test, and the Gestalt Closure Test) was administered to determine the presence of right posterior (gestaltic) functional decline compared to executive/frontal decline in a group of 124 normal healthy participants aged 50 to 79 years. It was anticipated that though executive functioning would deteriorate with age, the gestaltic functioning would not. The overall results show that the gestaltic functioning holds through the 60s and then shows a mild decline. However, executive function shows a continuous decline as assessed though the Trailmaking B and Trails C. Letter Naming, like gestaltic functioning, holds though the 60s and then shows a mild decline, unlike other executive tasks.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Students and faculty member present, "Ongoing Positive Effects of College Level Peer Counselor Training" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

C. Comfort Shields, Student, School of Psychology; Elizabeth E. Wierba, Student, School of Psychology; Juliet L. Hatcher-Ross; Steven J. Hanley; Sherry L. Hatcher, Faculty, School of Psychology

This study investigated the longitudinal influence of college peer counselor training on the lives of the trainees, with particular focus on communication skills and career choice. Considering that Rogerian-based peer counselor training is particularly well suited for the developmental capacities of college students, identifying the most advantageous training modalities is fundamental to ensuring their helpfulness to others, as well as continuous and positive sequelae for the trainees themselves. Identifying the optimal training modalities, both in context of college-age development and for the field of peer counseling, is fundamental to ensuring that peer programs are constructed in most beneficial ways that assure ongoing, positive development for trainees as well as those they serve. Peer counselor training programs are increasingly viewed as useful components of academic and social university life. However, much of the literature on this topic has focused on what the training has meant to the peer recipients rather than to the peer facilitators. Even less is known about the way those trained in peer helping skills may perceive influences of that training on their personal and professional development in subsequent years or how subsequent experience may be affected when practice paradigms are part of the training model. Altogether, there is scant literature that considers the bidirectional learning process in peer counselor training. In other words, the emphasis has typically been placed on students being trained to “give” a service to the peers in their community, rather than also focusing on what the peer counselors “take away” from the experience.

The primary goal of this mixed design (Morgan, 1998) study was to test for long-term effects of peer helping courses for college graduates, with particular regard to their retrospective accounts of communication skills and career choice. One hundred-nine participants included college graduates from a large Midwestern university who a) had completed a peer training theory course (PT); b) took a psychology peer practicum (PP) that included supervised practice with actual clients; and c) had concentrated in psychology but took neither peer counseling course (comparison group: CG). Results from our analyses supported three hypotheses, which were statistically significant with regard to positive effects on post-graduate communication skills and post-graduate career choices, in the direction of the peer counseling practice course having most positive effect, the peer theory course the next highest effect and the CG reporting least effects for these variables. Thus, the results of the first two hypotheses (and hypothesis four) may be summarized as: PP>PT>CG. A fourth hypothesis, predicting higher performance in this same direction on two scales of the Davis Interpersonal Reactivity test was not confirmed. This could have been due to the possibility that the IRI measures aptitude rather than actualized empathy, or because there may be ceiling effect for empathy after a certain point in terms of an individual’s achieving perspective taking and empathic concern. Results and discussion of findings include narrative data that illuminates the statistical findings.

In addition to adding further support to our hypotheses, two themes emerged from our qualitative data analyses. The first was psychological mindedness, which refers to an individual’s ability to understand motives, attitudes and characteristics of others (Hatcher et al, 1990) and themselves. The second was an engagement with and the memorable nature of the PP course. Psychological mindedness was found most strongly in the PP group narratives. However, to a lesser degree, increased self-awareness, which is a component of psychological mindedness, was also demonstrated in the PT group narratives. The theme of engagement with the PP course was established through descriptions of the special nature of the practicum course in its combination of hands-on experience and academic training. The results of our analyses illustrate a comprehensive pattern of positive peer counselor training effects on post-graduates’ lives, particularly for the training that combined theory and supervised practice with actual clients. This effect was reported by post-graduate participants as related to the unique nature of the peer training courses completed years earlier. Far from being merely an achievement of the sum of skills mastered, our findings suggest that the combination of theory, practice, and intra-course relationships, provided the trainees with a foundation that they could build on, often long after they had graduated from college. In looking at the ways in which post-graduates remembered and were touched by their retrospective remembrances of peer counselor training as undergraduates, we find dynamic examples of the possibilities for interpolation of peer counselor training into one’s life, goals, and career. For each student’s peer counselor training, there is the likelihood of lifelong, positive sequelae for self and other understanding. Although each respondent’s experience differs to some degree, clear patterns emerged from our study that we believe may serve to impact future educational program designs, at the college level and beyond.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Graduate presents, "A Tale of Two Psychopathys: Paradigm Shift for Psychopathy" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Cindy M. Mitchell, Fielding's School of Psychology (2012)

Beginning in ancient times when psychopaths were viewed as evil or demonic, the
conceptualization of psychopathy has endured many transformations. Psychopathy has been
referred to as psychopathic deviance, insanity without delirium, sociopathy, and likened to
antisocial personality disorder. Empirical evidence during the past century has contributed
much to the conceptualization of psychopathy. Cleckley's documented observations marked
a renewed interest in the study of psychopathy. Since Cleckley, Robert Hare developed a
single construct theory of psychopathy based upon a hierarchical model in which two factors
are interrelated in such a way as to form a single superordinate ractor. Research
demonstrating heterogeneity within the construct of psychopathy has led to the development
of a bifactor model of psychopathy, in which two etiological pathways (Factor 1 and Factor
2) lead to a single phenotypical outcome (psychopathy). More recent research evaluating
psychopathic outcomes opens the door for a possible alternative theory of psychopathy, in
which Factor 1 and Factor 2 characteristics are representative of two separate disorders. This
alternative theory proposes that Factor 1 characteristics are representative of Psychopathic
Personality Disorder, and Factor 2 characteristics are representative of Antisocial Personality
Disorder. In addition to outcome studies, research conducted on Antisocial Personality
Disorder, successful psychopathy, and gender and cultural disparities provide support for
conceptualization of the two factors as separate disorders. The purpose of this presentation is
to provide a review of the literature, and evaluate how the literature builds upon itself to construct an alternative model of conceptualizing psychopathy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Graduate, student and faculty member present, "Barriers and Bridges to Empathy: Judgment and Reference Points" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Jennifer Knetig, Alumna, School of Psychology (2012); Chaya Rubin, Student, School of Psychology; Sherry L. Hatcher, Faculty, School of Psychology

Statement of the Problem: Viewed by many as the foundation of the therapeutic process, empathy is a key tool by which the therapeutic alliance is formed. This foundation is necessary to the therapist’s work regardless of theoretical orientation. Derived from the dataset of Hatcher, et al., (2005), the present study further explored questionnaire items that were outside of the analogue study asking experienced therapists for examples in their actual practice as to when they believe they were empathic with a client, and examples of times the therapist believes he or she failed to be empathic to a client. In identifying the importance of reference points as predictors of an empathic response, Hatcher et al, found that when psychotherapists could access a cognitive or affective reference point from their own lives which was relevant in some way to a client’s experience, they were more likely to actualize an empathic response in the analogue situation. The present study explored this question with regard to the therapists’ real life cases and proposes some mechanisms that underlie a therapist’s capacity to be empathic with clients.

Procedure: Two questions previously unanalyzed from the original study (Hatcher et al., 2005) were used in the present study. Each therapist was asked to respond to all parts of the following 2 questions: 1) Please describe an instance from your actual therapy practice in which you felt considerable empathy for a client with an experience very different from your own. a) Describe this experience, b) how you dealt with it, c) what came to mind about the interaction, perhaps something from your own life? d) How did you feel about this experience? And 2) Please describe an instance from your actual therapy practice in which you had difficulty feeling empathy for a client with an experience very different from your own (a, b, c, d, as above for 1.)

Using content analysis to explore this archival data, researchers identified four particularly relevant variables. These included how the therapist conceptualizes the patient in each situation (empathic/not empathic), whether or not a reference point was identified from the therapist’s own life, the therapist’s identified theoretical orientation, and the reported therapeutic outcome.

Results: A number of statistically significant findings emerged in analysis of the data. In particular, we found that the therapist-participants conceptualized each client as either vulnerable, culpable, or expressed no judgment. Further, we noted instances where the therapist reported using a reference point in an effort to empathize with the client, and instances where the therapist reportedly did not make use of a reference point. Participant therapists self-identified as either process oriented, behaviorally oriented, or integrative. Finally, the therapists in our sample reported either a positive, negative, or mixed therapeutic outcome.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Graduate and faculty member present, "Learning from Clients: North American and Brazilian Psychologists" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Adriana Kipper-Smith, Alumna, School of Psychology (2012); Sherry L. Hatcher, Faculty, School of Psychology

This qualitative, cross-cultural design study investigated what psychologists from North America (United States and Canada) and Brazil reported learning from their psychotherapy clients. North American countries are well-known representatives of individualistic cultures, whereas Brazil has predominately been defined as a collectivistic culture. Individualistic cultures tend to promote independent construals of self, support the achievement of personal goals rather than in-group goals, and promote rationality and interpersonal exchange. Collectivistic cultures promote interdependent selves and favor in-group goals. The analysis of participants’ narratives indicated that nearly all the categories that emerged from Brazilian participants contained references to the social role of psychotherapy, or to the context of private practice and contemporary subjectivity. In contrast, only very few categories of this nature emerged from North American participants. The findings from this research have confirmed the importance of highlighting Brazilian and North American cultural contexts in psychology, as mediums for a better comprehension of the immense complexity present in the territory of cross-cultural psychology.

This research was supported by a research grant from Fielding Graduate University.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Student presents, "Creating Ripples: An Exploration of Sansei Women's Experiences of Expressive Practices in a Holistic Approach to Learning about Oppression and Privilege"

Katherine Kaya, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

Although much has been written recently about holistic orientations to transformative learning, including its theoretical foundations and frameworks for designing learning experiences that engage multiple epistemologies, little is known about learners’ experiences and about how engaging multiple epistemologies can foster learning that is transformative. This qualitative study explored roles that expressive practices, which have been shown to engage various ways of knowing, can play in a holistic group learning process. The exploration was conducted with twelve Sansei women participants who examined their experiences of oppression and privilege. Heron’s extended epistemological framework was used to construct the learning process to engage multiple epistemologies and a feminist research paradigm informed the research methodology.

The findings resulted in a taxonomy that comprises nineteen roles of expressive practices organized into four learning functions: foster presencing, nurture empathic understanding, catalyze deeper inquiry into experiences, and engage in expressive ways of knowing. The findings contribute to the transformative learning literature by identifying learning functions not characterized previously and by illuminating the ways expressive practices help bridge experiential knowing and propositional knowing. They also advance existing theories by demonstrating that multiple ways of knowing are equal partners in the process of meaning making and transformation.

The study contributes in two other ways. It illustrates the potentially transformational power of a holistic approach to social justice education and suggests possible application to other learning contexts. Because the study was conducted with Sansei women, whose cultural perspectives, values, and practices influenced their experiences with the various expressive practices, findings suggest the need for educators to consider the cultural backgrounds of learners in designing and facilitating learning processes.

This research was supported by a research grant from Fielding Graduate University.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Graduate presents, "The Relationship between Psychopathology and Substance of Choice among Substance Abusers" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Cristina L. Isaacs, Fielding's School of Psychology (2012)

Substance abuse and addiction are complex phenomena, in part due to the complexity of drug abuse and the co-occurrence of mental illness. Opiates, stimulants, sedatives, and hallucinogens produce a unique series of pharmacological effects on the brain.

This study examined the relationship between psychiatric disorder and the chosen substances of use. It was expected that substances of use would not be evenly distributed across psychiatric illness categories. This was based on the premise that psychiatric disorders and specific substances of use are not randomly associated, but that people with specific disorders may prefer certain types of substances, assumedly, but not necessarily, because it reduces the perception of the negative consequences of their disorder. It was anticipated that, for the mentally ill, the substance of abuse chosen will be related to their mental health problems.

However, it was found that there was no differentiation of substance rates based on psychiatric disorder. The results found absolutely no relationship between the symptoms of psychiatric disorder (depression, anxiety, thought disorder, or executive disorder) and substances of use. In fact, the observed values were almost identical to the expected values, indicating that the type of substance of choice is orthogonally related to the symptoms of psychiatric disorder. No group of substances was preferred over the others for any disorder. Therefore, the results of this study did not support a conclusion that the substance used by a mentally ill person would be specific to the psychological illness of the person. In addition, the increased likelihood that the substance user who also presents with a mental illness will use more than one substance, as this research has determined, makes the ability to detect differences in drug effects on the illness that much more difficult.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Students and faculty present, "Development of a Human Organ Donation Data Base and Student Research Practicum" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Michele Harway, Faculty, School of Psychology; Maureen Lassen, Faculty, School of Psychology; Sommer Bergdale, Student, School of Psychology; Brittany Bilbrey, Student, School of Psychology; Leslie Carrion, Student, School of Psychology; Leah Kenyon George, Student, School of Psychology; Jackie Fulcher, Student, School of Psychology; Marie Helene Gosselin, Student, School of Psychology; Gloria Krause, Student, School of Psychology; Stacie Papineau, Student, School of Psychology

This project consists of the development of a large multi-faceted data base to allow researchers to study the various aspects of organ donation. Multiple perspectives will eventually include the recipients, donor and family members. Unfortunately large numbers of people in need of organs die every year waiting for a donation. Although an estimated 12,000 people die every that could be donors, less than half make the decision to donate. Wolfe et al. (2009) reported that voluntary donation has been decreasing over time especially for certain kinds of donations. Research suggests that a better understanding of the attitudes underlying the decision to donate or not as well as the characteristics of donors and family members is crucial to enhancing the organ donation process. What was explored in this study was the process of organ donation and the barriers to donation.

In this preliminary study, 124 members of the general public who were dubbed “prospective organ donors” were surveyed regarding attitudes toward donation and a number of psychological factors (including altruism) which were hypothesized as being related to the willingness to donate an organ. The study in question is part of a larger study of organ donors, recipients and members of the general public and data collection is still ongoing. For this preliminary study, participants were contacted through the Fielding Graduate University’s network of students, faculty and staff and represent a convenience sample.

This research was supported by a research grant from Fielding Graduate University.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Students and faculty member present, "Research Evaluation of the Reading Plus® Program" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Edward Gutierrez, Student, School of Psychology; Cinamon Romers, Student, School of Psychology; Kristine Jacquin, Faculty, School of Psychology

Objectives: To objectively determine whether students participating in the Reading Plus® program showed statistically significant improvements in reading abilities over the course of the intervention. In addition, the research examined factors impacting changes in students’ reading abilities over time.

Method: A sample of 2,126 students, grades 2-12, from 17 schools in Santa Barbara County participated in the Reading Plus® program via computers (this program is sponsored by United Way of Santa Barbara County). This program consists of six reading programs: Perceptual Accuracy and Visual Efficiency (PAVE), Guided Reading (GR), CLOZE Plus™, Reading Around Words (RAW), Word Memory, and D-Code. Students completed lessons within each program; performance was continuously evaluated. Variables used in the analyses included initial performance and final performance for each program. The total amount of training (lessons completed) and other factors were compared to the improvement shown on various tasks.

Results: Overall, students showed a statistically significant improvement in reading skills after participating in the Reading Plus® program. Specifically, students showed significant improvements in visual scanning and visual memory, reading rate, vocabulary (word meaning and word usage), and reading comprehension. Certain factors influenced the degree of reading improvement. Students with more PAVE lessons made greater improvements in visual skills and visual memory and were more likely to show improvements in all other reading skills. Students made improvements in reading rate and reading comprehension, and these were greatest in students who spent more total minutes in GR activities, completed more GR lessons and completed a higher average number of GR lessons per week. Students made improvements in vocabulary use and comprehension, greatest with more total minutes in CLOZE Plus™ activities and with completing more CLOZE Plus™ lessons. Students made improvements in RAW vocabulary skills. Improvements were greatest with more total time in activities and with completing more RAW lessons. Collectively these results show that reading performance improvements were greatest among students who were more involved in the Reading Plus® program.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Student and faculty member present, "Using Dramatic Narrative to Reduce Myths about Relationship Abuse" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Karen E. Dill-Shackleford, Faculty, School of Psychology; Lee E. Shackleford; Melanie C. Green; Erica Scharrer; Craig Wetterer, Student, School of Psychology

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 25% of American women will experience Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in their lifetimes. Though relationship abuse (ex. IPV/dating abuse) is common, myths about relationship abuse are also common (, 2010; Peters, 2008; Stark, 2007). Fiction, literature and narrative are powerful sources of persuasion, (Appel, 2008; Appel & Richter, 2007; Dill, 2009; Glasser, 1988; Green & Brock, 2005; Green, Brock, & Kaufman, 2004; Green, Garst, Brock, & Chung,2006; Green, Garst, Brock, & Shrum, 2004; Holland, 2004, 2009)

In this interdisciplinary study, a playwright worked with two social psychologists and a communications scholar to create a play dramatizing the realities of relationship abuse. In a between-subjects experimental design, audience members watched either the relationship abuse play (n=75) or a control play (n=93) and then completed measures of Transportation, Character Identification, and Relationship Abuse Myth Acceptance (RAMA).

A between-subjects ANOVA was conducted with the independent variables of Play Type (Experimental vs. Control) and Transportation (Continuous), a covariate of sex of participant and the dependent measure of Relationship Abuse Myth Acceptance (RAMA). Results indicated a significant Play Type by Transportation interaction (f(1,162=1.792,p<.05, η2=.418). As predicted, Transportation was associated with lower RAMA scores in the Experimental but not the Control conditions. Results suggest that dramatic narrative, especially a believable and engaging narrative, can persuade audiences to believe less in common myths about abusive relationships.

This research was supported by a research grant from Fielding Graduate University.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Students and faculty member present, "Effects of Age on Crystalline, Fluid, and Other Forms of Intelligence" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Leslie Carrion, Student, School of Psychology; Cinamon Romers, Student, School of Psychology; Henry Soper, Faculty, School of Psychology

The Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory of intelligence is best assessed through the Stanford-Binet. In the fourth edition three intellectual abilities, or second level factors, were evaluated: crystallized abilities (verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning), fluid/analytic abilities (abstract and visual reasoning), and short-term memory, and all of these were subsumed under general ability, or g. With the newest, 5th, edition the crystalline abilities are now called knowledge, and the four other areas include fluid reasoning, quantitative reasoning, visual-spatial reasoning, and working memory. We decided to see how these five areas change over time, expecting little change in crystalline ability (knowledge), substantial in fluid reasoning and working memory, and little in visual-spatial reasoning. Average performance on each of these areas was computed for each age group for verbal and nonverbal tasks from 20:0-24:11 to 85:0-89:11 and the resultant performances compared to those who are 19 years old. Verbal crystalline held through all the ages observed, whereas verbal fluid abilities dropped in the eighth and ninth decades to the 9th percentile. Nonverbal crystalline also held well through the eighth decade, but nonverbal fluid dropped after the sixth decade to the 5th percentile by the end of the ninth decade. Quantitative and spatial processing and working memory also showed declines. Overall cognitive abilities held pretty well through the 60s, but by retirement age there were slippages in most areas. Several explanations are possible, from a use-it-or-lose-it phenomenon to an organic deterioration. Clinical evidence strongly suggests a non-organic basis for the observed trajectories.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Students and faculty member present, "Differential Anterior and Posterior Neurocognitive Components for Processing the Complex Figure" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Leslie Carrion, Student, School of Psychology; Cinamon Romers, Student, School of Psychology; Henry Soper, Faculty, School of Psychology

Neuropsychological tests can be very complex in that to be successful the information must be processed in several areas of the brain, several functional units. The Rey-Osterreith Complex Figure test is one such test. Trauma to several areas of the brain can cause someone to do poorly on the test, but the current popular scoring system simply counts the number of items which were reproduced. The qualitative differences between the reproductions of people with posterior traumata have been well documented, but it is clear that frontal, executive difficulties also cause problems through poor planning and organization. Clinically it appears that those with anterior problems often can copy the stimulus relatively well, due to the structure provided by the stimulus, but when asked to recall the image the structure is no longer provided and the reproduction tends to be very poor. However, there is no research base for this observation. Therefore, archival data were culled for those who had been administered the Rey Osterreith copy and immediate recall and either the Trailmaking Test B (N = 62), an assessment of frontal functioning, or the Street Completion Test (N = 67), an assessment of posterior functioning, or both. The complex figure immediate recall score was subtracted from the copy score, and then these scores were correlated with frontal and posterior function. As hypothesized the difference score was significantly correlated with the frontal task, but in addition it was also significantly correlated with the posterior task, even though the correlation between the two localization scores was effectively nil (p = -.028). These results show that the task involves major processing contributions from at least two areas of the brain, and the inputs are effectively orthogonal.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Student presents, "Contextual Mentoring of Student Veterans" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Barton Buechner, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

This presentation will be a summary of the findings of a dissertation pilot study to address the question of how mentoring relationships may contribute to the development and personal growth of a military combat veteran as part of their transition process in continuing education, and where those mentoring influences can best be found or positioned.

This pilot study report will be based upon three or four phenomenologically-based narrative interviews of student veterans, age 24-35, who are enrolled as students for at least one year. I will diagram emergent themes, archetypes, and “mental models” that may help to reveal (1) how these student veterans “make sense” of their lives and experiences; (2) how mentor figures may have influenced them in this process, and (3) what role context may play in this process.

These summaries will then be diagrammed using appropriate hermeneutic tools, including those of the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) theory. Specifically, I will use the “LUUUUTT” method to identify stories Lived, Untold, Unheard, Untellable, Told, and Storytelling; and the “Daisy” model to illustrate relationships with potential influencers or Mentors identified in the narratives.

This research was supported by a research grant from Fielding Graduate University.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Graduate presents, "Leading Complex Change with Post-Conventional Consciousness" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Barrett C. Brown, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development (2012)

This is an empirical study of rare leaders from business, government, and civil society with a developmentally mature meaning-making system, or late-stage action logic (Cook-Greuter, 1999; Loevinger, 1966, 1976; Torbert, 1987). It explores how they design and engage in complex change initiatives related to social and/or environmental sustainability. Participants were assessed for their action logic using a variation of the Washington University Sentence Completion Test (Loevinger & Wessler, 1970). This study has significant implications for the fields of leadership, sustainability leadership, and constructive-developmentalism. The sample has more leaders with documented, advanced meaning-making capacity than any other leadership study (6 Strategists, 5 Alchemists, and 2 Ironists). The results provide the most granular view to date of how such individuals may think and behave with respect to complex organizational and system change. The leaders in this study appear to: (a) design from a deep inner foundation, including grounding their work in transpersonal meaning; (b) access non-rational ways of knowing and use systems, complexity, and integral theories; and (c) adaptively manage through “dialogue” with the system, 3 distinct roles, and developmental practices. Additional results include 15 leadership competencies; developmental stage distinctions for 6 dimensions of leadership reflection and action; and 12 practices that differentiate leaders with a unitive perspective (Alchemists, Ironists) from those with a general systems perspective (Strategists). A constructive-developmental lens is shown to provide important insight for sustainability leadership theory. It is recommended that all leadership programs work to develop the meaning-making capacity of leaders because of the enhanced abilities that emerge with each new stage of development.

This research was supported by a research grant from Fielding Graduate University.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Student presents, "Do Board of Directors Influence Corporate Social Responsibility Efforts in US Public Companies that are recognized as CSR Leaders?" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Karen Smith Bogart, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

Scholars have recognized Board responsibilities in strategy, business performance guidance, resource provision, fiduciary duty, governance, stakeholder engagement, and social responsibility (Columbia Business School, 2011; Hillman & Dalzeil, 2003; Landefeld et al., 2006; OECD, 1999; Tricker, 2009). This study explores whether the Board of Directors influences corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts in US public companies that are recognized as CSR leaders. It aims to surface their understanding of corporate social responsibility, its fit to business objectives, and the consequences for their role, responsibility, and actions. Accordingly, it considers the emerging union of corporate governance and corporate social responsibility (Gill, 2008).

This work is situated in core scholarly literature regarding organizational theory offering diverse views of the firm, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, and leadership influence. It utilizes Stakeholder Theory as the scholarly basis to consider the role, responsibility, and influence of the Board of Directors in CSR initiatives. The broader literature provides the theoretical and contextual foundation for questioning and analysis. The research is a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews of one to three independent Board Directors at seven US Fortune 1000 public firms. The research population is defined as US public firms that are favorably assessed in the MSCI KLD 400 Social Index, a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that lists U.S. companies that have positive Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) characteristics (MSCI, 2011). The study is augmented through evaluation of text including public information from company reports, communications, website information, and third-party assessments.

The results include varying Board interpretation of corporate social responsibility, assessment of the strategic materiality to the firm’s long-term value maximization, and description of their involvement. This reflects differences in Board assessment of their shared purpose, structure, processes, understanding of CSR, and related capability. These learnings may challenge scholars to further explore the junction of corporate social responsibility and governance as well as CSR’s impact on the achievement of strategic business advantage. They may encourage practitioners to seek alignment of objectives and steps to build company value through corporate social responsibility that benefits society and the firm.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Students and faculty member present, "Level of Functioning Trajectory of Neuropsychological Performance over the Lifespan: Impairment Rating and Verbal Skills" at Fielding's Winter Session 2013

Tonya Bennett, Student, School of Psychology; Whillma Quenicka, Student, School of Psychology; Keith McGoldrick, Student, School of Psychology; Henry Soper, Faculty, School of Psychology

Objectives. Do age trajectories of neuropsychological functioning differ for those at, above, and below the average level of functioning? The Average Impairment Rating (AIR) was evaluated to see overall neuropsychological impairment, and then tests of Verbal Skills tests were similarly evaluated.

Methods. To track the trajectory of neuropsychological functioning, data were drawn from a popular comprehensive set of normative data for the Expanded Halstead-Reitan battery. Norms for 12 years of education were used for average (t=50) and low (t=37) functioning groups, while those for 16 years of education were used for high functioning (t=63). Normative data for the AIR, the Aphasia Screening Test, the Boston Naming Test, and the Boston Diagnostic Ideation Material (BDAE) were used and compared to those of the 20-34 year group.

Results. The AIR declined linearly so that by age 65 the performance had dropped two SD and three by age 80 regardless of functioning group. The performance on the Aphasia Screening Test and the BDAE showed no decline through age 80. Performance on the Boston Naming Test shows a decline of approximately 1 SD by age 65, but then a continued decline for average and low functioning groups, but not for the high functioning one.

Conclusions. Parallel trajectories for all levels of functioning were found for all tests to age 65. A uniform decline in the AIR was found across all functioning levels. However, not all verbal tasks showed such decline, which may have to do with crystalline abilities needed, which hold better than others.