Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Creating Governance in the Workplace: A Critique of Human Resource Management"

Myrna E. Thompson, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

The Human Resource Management (HRM) discipline first emerged in the 1980s, coincident with the labor market sea change that is globalization. Normative and consensus-based scholarship dominates the field of HRM, substantially serving managerial interests. This critical research study furthers our understanding of how HRM is constituted as a discourse and how its text and talk shapes employment relationships and creates governance in globalized firms. Critical discourse analysis is used to analyze three texts that chartered the discipline, linking them to broader social structures, practices and relations of power. The findings reveal the use of HRM discourse as a managerial strategy aimed at the control of labor in a world economy that is primarily regulated by market forces. This critical examination points to the need for social change, both in human resource theory and practice and in the power relations evident in the employee—employer relationship.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

"An Exploration of Mitigating Vicarious Traumatization by Use of Reference Points: Psychotherapists Working With Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse"

Shanna Dawn Jackson, Fielding's School of Psychology

Therapists providing psychotherapy to adult survivors of childhood abuse may be at risk for vicarious traumatization (VT) because of the empathic attunement needed to support therapeutic effectiveness. Therapists with a personal trauma history must be able to make use of their experience to facilitate positive empathic attunement in service of helping their clients. If they are mired in negative countertransference and/or VT, their therapeutic effectiveness may decrease. This study investigated the relationships among reference points, empathic attunement, and VT with psychotherapists who have a history of trauma and work with adult abuse survivors. Seventy therapists with a personal trauma history completed a vignette questionnaire assessing empathic attunement and reference points, the Trauma and Attachment Belief Scale (Pearlman, 2003), and a combined demographic, professional, and personal history questionnaire. Results indicated no statistically significant relationships among the variables (reference points, empathic attunement, and VT) and no mediating effect of empathic attunement on the relationship between reference points and VT. Thus, hypotheses were not supported. However, post-hoc analyses found a statistically significant relationship between the use of reference points and empathic attunement for therapists without a trauma history and for the total sample. Further, it was shown that as reference points increased, VT increased in the total sample. Results are discussed in terms of the implications for therapeutic practice as well as future research investigating the relationships among these variables. Further, it appears there might be a difference in usefulness of reference points as connected with empathy between the sample of therapists not reporting a trauma history versus those reporting a trauma history. The conscious utilization of reference points in a sample of therapists with a trauma history could be potentially re-traumatizing. Therefore, examining therapists who experience adequate resolution, or a lack thereof, of their personal trauma histories and the potential influence of this on their use of reference points and re-traumatization is important information in better knowing how to encourage protection of therapists of this sample.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"The Effects of Media Multitasking While Studying: Students’ Performance and Perceptions"

Torey L. Van Norman, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

This study sought to determine the effects of media multitasking on students while they are doing school work, while also investigating student perceptions of how media multitasking affects their academic performance. I designed a quasi-experimental study, conducted with students ages 15-18 in a high school English classroom, in which students studied while media multitasking. I measured recall of reading material without and with media distraction and used qualitative and quantitative analysis to examine the data. A study habits survey, a student attitudinal survey, and interviews added additional data about the study. Media use while studying had a negative effect on student performance (i.e., test scores) and length of time needed to take the tests, but not on reading time with media. On test scores both without and with media, males generally scored better than females; however, mean testing time with media was longer for both males and females. The performance of “heavy multitaskers” versus “light multitaskers” was also examined. The qualitative data revealed several effects of media-multitasking including: distraction, aversion to silence, preference for types of media used, and general enjoyment of media use while studying.

Key Words: media multitasking, studying with media, task switching, distraction, attention

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"An exploratory study of therapist perceptions of the differences in therapeutic alliance between videoconference therapy and face-to-face therapy"

Michelle S. Abel Horowitz's School of Psychology

This phenomenological-qualitative, exploratory study examined therapist perceptions of the differences in therapeutic alliance between videoconference and face-to-face (FTF) therapy, and serves to reconcile findings between psychology and related academic disciplines. The psychological literature asserts that the alliance is comparable in the FTF and videoconference environments (Antonacci, Bloch, Saeed, Yildirim, & Talley, 2008; Bee et al., 2008; Day & Schneider, 2002; Richardson, Frueh, Grubaugh, Egede, & Elhai, 2009; Simpson, 2009). Other disciplines, such as social psychology, management, human resources, and communication assert that videoconferencing has a discriminate effect on relational behavior, with greater attention to tasks, and a reduction in affective behaviors (Johnson, Bettenhausen, & Gibbons, 2009; Meijas, 2007; Rosetti & Surynt, 1985). Twelve licensed, doctoral-level psychologists who conduct therapy in FTF and with videoconference technology were interviewed. The therapists’ experiences with videoconference therapy were primarily limited to videoconference as an adjunct to FTF therapy. Therapeutic alliance was found to be adequate in the videoconference environment. The alliance was reported to be qualitatively inferior to FTF, but good enough to conduct an adequate therapy. Consistent with other studies, therapists reported that the collaboration and negotiation aspects of the alliance, which were characterized as content-laden aspects of therapy were not compromised, but the perceived affective experiences of intimacy and empathy were qualitatively inferior in videoconference; they reported feeling less present, less real, less connected in the videoconference condition. Other arising issues with regard to video therapy included diagnostic limitations, lack of non-verbal cues, anticipatory avoidance due to technology, a perceived diminished importance of the therapy hour, and difficulty with focus and attention on the part of the therapists. Those in this sample were disinclined to engage in 100% videoconference therapeutic formats, and were ill-prepared for technologically induced variances, such as setting practical and ethical guidelines, securing privacy, and managing the visual environment. Results are limited by the modest experience of therapists in this sample with videoconference therapy. It is recommended that further research is necessary to explore the effect of videoconference on therapy, and to examine the effect of physical versus remote presence on the therapeutic relationship.

KEYWORDS: Therapeutic Alliance, Teletherapy, Skype Therapy, Videoconference Therapy, Face-to-Face Therapy, Physical Presence, Two-Dimensional, Relational Behavior, Mediated Communications

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Managing culture shock and conflict: Creative strategies of African immigrants in the city of Philadelphia"

Kalu Oji, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

The study investigated the impact of culture shock and conflict on immigrant families of African descent in the United States. The participants in the project consisted of 10 members of the target population and the researcher. The racial composition of the target population was 100 % people of African descent. The gender breakdown of the target population was 90 % males and 10 % females. The methods utilized consisted of depth interviewing and auto-ethnography. The in-depth interview consisted of 10 interviews administered to members of the target population. The auto-ethnography was administered using the personal experience of the researcher. The results indicated that culture shock and conflict was a problem encountered by immigrant families of African descent when they come into the United States. The conclusions drawn verified the problem statement: There has been an increase in culture shock and conflict encountered by immigrant families of African descent when they come into the United States. The research inferred that a change project (setting up an organization) is warranted to address the problem of culture shock and conflict encountered by immigrant families of African descent in the city of Philadelphia.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Keta Rae Paulson's dissertation on, "The Impact of the Visual Display of Information on Real-Time Food Choice: Will Simpler Make it Better?"

Keta Rae Paulson, Fielding's School of Psychology

This study explored the impact of the visual display of information on consumer choice. Participants (N =126, age > 24) completed a 31-question survey that included six choices of food items in pairs: one healthy and one less healthy item of the same type. Participants were randomly assigned to either a simple Traffic Light Label (TLL) or a complex Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP) condition.

Healthy Food Scores were calculated from food choices by giving 2 points for a healthy choice and 1 point for a less healthy choice. Results showed that participants who used nutrition labels more frequently when grocery shopping had higher Healthy Food Scores than those who used nutrition labels less frequently. Also, a mediation analysis showed that Exercise Days indirectly impacted Healthy Food Scores through Label Use Frequency.

This data suggest that familiarity with a particular display of information impacts choice more than complexity of design. Further research on the visual display of information should focus on novel displays or include equal samples of participants who use a particular display with varied frequency.

Keywords: Information display, Nutrition Labeling, Cognitive Psychology, Choice Behavior, Exercise Days, Nutrition

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mary Ellen Pantazis' dissertation on, "Special Education and Related Services in the 21st Century"

Mary Ellen Pantazis, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

This exploratory study addresses special education related services and the requirements when a school aged student with a disability attends school using synchronous distance education tools to access the least restrictive environment. The researcher examines these placements to explore the implications virtual schooling has on students receiving special education and related services. This study involved interviews of the related service providers of two home bound students with disabilities, the student’s parents, classroom teachers, and para educators. The students were accessing their public middle school through the window of technology. These students, when placed in typical classroom least restrictive environments required special education and related services to access a free and appropriate public education. The study reveals the importance of a well defined infrastructure, and the need for thorough examination of the least restrictive environment by the individual education planning teams for special education. Common issues that require further exploration when designing home based programming for students with disabilities accessing their education virtually included developing a communication system, defining attendance, recognizing fear, redefining the least restrictive environment, and identifying equipment ownership. The findings in this study indicate areas of important discussion that should be considered by the IEP team prior to the implementation of a program using video conferencing and home based education for students with disabilities.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Barbara A. Mather's dissertation on, "Early Career Experiences of Young Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder"

Barbara A. Mather, Fielding's  School of Human & Organizational Development

The first generation of children growing up in the 1980s and 1990s with the official diagnosis of ADHD is now completing college and entering the workforce, yet few qualitative research studies examine the experiences of these young adults as they leave the safety of family homes or educational institutions. This study addresses the research question: What are some of the challenging work experiences as described by young adults with ADHD in a structured work environment? Young adults, ages 22- to 28-years-old, from across the USA were interviewed to examine, qualitatively, the types of challenges they experience in the workplace. All told, the 13 participants present over 50 examples of challenging work experiences which are synthesized into four categories or types of challenging experiences:

1. Attention related – four subtypes:
      a) Selective attention
      b) Divided attention
      c) Shifting attention
      d) Sustained attention
2. Related to organization, structure, job content job design
3. Related to self-management, impulsivity, social skills
4. Related to managing tasks or others outside of one’s control

Additionally, in determining how these young adults have adapted to their workplace environments, a major finding is in the area of self-awareness which influences, moderates, or mitigates one’s behavior towards these challenging work experiences. Noteworthy is the fact that the five individuals with the highest number of self-awareness comments have either participated in the past or are currently engaged in counseling or therapy of some form. A nine-square matrix is presented to show positioning of “degree of job fit” across the vertical axis and “self-awareness” across the horizontal axis. This matrix is used to demonstrate the relative comparisons and placement of the 13 young adults with ADHD who participated in this study. Many topics of research for young adults with ADHD deserve further study. Areas include comparative studies between those without ADHD (control group) and with ADHD diagnosis to determine the extent to which good career choices are made, how careers are managed, the degree of job satisfaction, self-awareness levels and the impact on how work challenges are resolved, and many more. Additionally, topics include decision to disclose ADHD diagnosis in the workplace, management understanding, or awareness of ADHD in the workplace, and areas of improving workplace performance for attention-challenged individuals.

Keywords: ADHD, ADD, self-awareness, job fit, workplace challenges, workplace experience, workplace difficulty, attention, inattention, boredom, procrastination, structure, organization, young adults with ADHD, counseling, therapy, treatment

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

James Douglas Smith's dissertation on, "A Synthesis of the Prevailing Conflict Management Paradigms: Toward a Unity of Conflict"

James Douglas Smith, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

This synthesis of 5 prominent conflict management paradigms uses power differential as the single most contributing variable to their process and outcome of conflict. Efforts of scholars to integrate or synthesize conflict paradigms have been unsuccessful or clumsy by the scholars’ own assessments. The 5 selected paradigms represent an interdisciplinary set of normative and descriptive paradigms from different social contexts and intellectual frameworks. The 5 share the common traits of rival goals, three levels of socially constructed power differential, and outcomes relative to the total value of the rival goal. An inverse relationship between power differential and the total value of conflict outcomes is supported by all 5 paradigms and empirical data. Explanatory metatheory is the methodology used for synthesis.

An increase in power differential results in a decrease in total value of the rival goal. Power differential is constructed using Max Weber’s ideal-type method. The power differentials are abstracted from the paradigms themselves. Empirical work form secondary sources and case studies complete the analysis.

Keywords: social conflict, communicative action, organizational conflict, game theory, leadership grid, dual concerns, strategic choice, managerial grid, interest-based bargaining, integration, power differential, Rummel, Northern Ireland, interdisciplinary, typology of conflict, authoritarian, synthesis, ideal type, social change, absolute value, transformation, change management.