Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Authentic Mothering: A Grounded Theory Study of Women who Adopt Children Internationally and Interracially"

Donica C. Dohrenwend, Fielding's School of Psychology

This researcher used classic grounded theory analysis (Glaser, 1978, 1998) to explore the experiences of women who adopted children internationally and interracially. Classic grounded theory is an inductive, rigorous, empirical, and systematic research method which generates theory from data to explain the main concern of people in a substantive area (Glaser, 1978, 1998, 2001, 2004a, 2004b, 2005, 2011, 2012; Glaser & Strauss, 1967). In this study, rigorous and systematic adherence to classic grounded theory (Glaser, 1978, 1998; Glaser & Strauss, 1965) led to the emergence of the basic social process (Glaser, 1978; Simmons, Hadden, & Glaser, 1994) of authentic mothering. Authentic mothering refers to the process that explains how women who have adopted internationally and interracially attend to their main concern of becoming authentic mothers to their adopted children. White women who internationally adopted a Black child served as the initial unit of study for this research. During data analysis, 3 stages emerged to conceptualize authentic mothering: (a) aspirational mothering, (b) intentional parenting, and (c) accomplished mothering. All participants in this study were either engaged in or had a history of being engaged in various elements of this 3-stage basic social psychological process of authentic mothering.

KEY WORDS: grounded theory, authentic mother, authentic mothering, motherhood, adoption, interracial adoption, international adoption, adoptive mothers

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Tikkun Olam: U.S. Jewish Women in Their 20s Working to Repair the World"

Cheri Lynn Gurse, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

Significant changes have taken place in both public and private Jewish life since the end of the 20th century, particularly in the realm of how Jews identify themselves. While the lengthy history of Jewish involvement in progressive social movements is uncontested, Jewish Studies scholars are currently engaged in robust discussion about how strongly and in what ways young adult Jews are connected to their ethnicity and to the traditional Jewish value of social justice–tikkun olam.

This is a mixed-methods study from a feminist standpoint about Jewish identity, social justice activism, and the intersection of the two for U.S. Jewish women ages 20-29. Through in-depth interviews, each of the 17 women shared insights about being Jewish, the relationship of Jewishness and social justice, and their own justice activism. Additionally, questions asked for their perspectives on Jewish ethnoracial diversity, privilege and marginalization experiences, and their relationship to Israel. Participants also responded to the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Membership (MEIM) instrument, providing a snapshot of what they think about their ethnicity or ethnicities, and how they feel about belonging to the ethnicity/ies they chose. Data analysis included a comparison of MEIM responses to the interview narrative responses.

This study reinvigorates questions about Jewish identity in a new way. The contributions include bringing forth new voices that comment on the meanings of social justice, activism, and identity for young Jewish adults; the existence of a set of ideas about Jewish adults in their 20s that offers an alternative perspective to those who note the diminution of Jewish identity for current Jewish youth; folding issues of gender, Israel, and intersectionality into questions of identity and the Jewishness of social justice; and delineating different aspects and meanings to the ideas of social justice held by these young women. The findings suggest the possibility of new and different relationships among Jews about diversity, activism, and identity, and between Jewish social justice activists and others who work for justice.

Keywords: Jewish identity; racial identity development; social justice; ethnicity; Jewish activism; millennials

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"Examining the Career Engagement of Canadian Career Development Practitioners"

Deirdre A. Pickerell, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

The purpose of this research was to explore the emerging construct of career engagement, which is defined as the emotional and cognitive connection to one’s career; it is a state in which one is focused, energized, and able to derive pleasure from activities linked to work and other life roles. The conceptual model proposes that career engagement is realized through the dynamic interaction between the challenges one is experiencing and one’s level of capacity to face those challenges. Insufficient challenge results in movement out of the zone of engagement towards feeling underutilized whereas too much challenge results in feeling overwhelmed. The study focused on examining the career engagement of Canadian Career Development Practitioners (CDPs), a group of professionals tasked with helping Canadians with career and employment-related concerns.

There have been no previous studies exploring career engagement. Previous studies with this participant sample have not focused on engagement resulting in this study establishing an important foundation for ongoing work. The study took a mixed-method approach, using the newly developed quantitative measure of career engagement supported by some qualitative questions.

Findings from this study indicate that, overall, Canadian CDPs are engaged with their careers; however, the sector’s youngest and newest as well as oldest and most senior workers are least likely to be engaged. In exploring the career engagement model, nine factors emerged of which work-life boundaries, work-life balance, resources, and values alignment were found to be significant predictors of career engagement.

Career engagement is an emerging construct, at the initial stages of development. Although this study produced meaningful results, both for the career engagement of Canadian CDPs and for the model itself, more research is needed. To extend studies on the viability of the model, it is important to ensure broader representation, across sectors and work roles, as well as more equal distribution of such factors as gender, age, and geographical region.

Key words: career, engagement, career development practitioner

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Ontological Reset: Towards A New Synthesis: Critical Theory & Phenomenology Transcending The Problematique: An Auto-Ethnographic Philosophical Study On Praxis, Subjective Reflection, and Inter-Subjective Communication"

William Francis Klein, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

We now exist in an era where for the first time, symbolic representation may precede the natural world in human experience. Aristotle’s a priori terrain has been upstaged. We are changing the nature of our own evolution in profound ways. The question becomes, “How do we transcend the chaos of meaning in this post-modern condition or problematique?” This research identifies an integrative synthesis or pathway towards transcending epistemic barriers to subjective communication and meaning while identifying what might be done in the way of subjective praxis.

Key Words: Apoesis, classical liberalism, critical theory, discourse, ethnography, existentialism, holistic, hyper-modern, libertarian, materialism, metaphysics, moral relativity, neoconservatism, neo-liberalism, materialism, new media, objectivism, ontology, non-ideological phenomenology, phronesis, positivism, post-modern, praxis, problematique, public relations, reflexive, relativity, scientific realism, semiotics, social ecology, social Darwinism, social libertarian, stratification, structuralism, subjectivism, transactional, transcendence, transcendental, transformational, utilitarianism

Friday, June 14, 2013

"The Experience of Vocational Alignment in Midlife: A Phenomenological Study"

Craig Nathanson, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

The experience of midlife adults who went through a major change in their work is examined in this dissertation. This research was conducted to investigate the experiences of those adults who in their midlife identified and followed a new vocational path which better aligned their work with their passions, interests, and abilities. The data collection process followed the Interpretative Phenomenological Approach in-depth personal interviews. Eight adults between the ages of 40 and 55 (four men and four women) participated.

The phenomenological analysis is based on building a series of sub-themes and master themes from the analysis of each of the eight interviews. Five major themes were identified. The themes were: 1) the experience of “treadmill” of life and work; 2) internal and external triggers pushed the need for change; 3) time for reflection, self-awareness, and self-care; 4) change was difficult; and 5) new beginning. The analysis suggests that midlife work change is difficult but necessary when the current work situation is not satisfying or meaningful for a person anymore.

Key Words: Midlife and work; work transition; career switch; finding vocation; meaning and work; mid-life change; self-reflection in midlife; joy, fulfillment, and happiness at work.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Puzzle Video Gameplay and Verbal Reasoning: Leveling Up in the Real World"

Lauren White, Fielding's School of Psychology

The psychological literature on video games has historically focused on negative effects. Recently, there has been greater interest in studying the positive effects, such as learning and skill acquisition through gameplay. Previous literature has indicated action video games can enhance visual and attention skills. Other research suggests that the skills taught and practiced in video games may transfer into real life improvements. Verbal reasoning is one such cognitive skill that may be influenced by playing a video game, especially one containing verbal content. The current investigation combined gameplay mechanics and priming effects on problem-solving and mental network activation. It was hypothesized that a verbal puzzle video game would improve verbal reasoning skills, however results indicated that these skills do not improve from immediate and acute puzzle video gameplay. Even though the majority of participants were frequent gamers, their verbal reasoning skills did not improve from short-term video gameplay. These results challenge and refute the assumption that video games can make the player smarter without any explicit and persistent training.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Employee Well-being through Generative Growth: A Human Development Perspective"

Ana M. Barrio, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

An increased interest in corporate social responsibility has raised questions about the impact organizations have on employee well-being. The study focused on generative employee well-being, a concept grounded in three areas of literature: a eudaimonic philosophical perspective that views well-being in terms of personal growth, Erikson’s (1959) psychosocial life-span development theory that associates growth with caring for others, and research that associates well-being and social-oriented goals. The purpose of the study was to increase understanding of what managers do to inspire, facilitate, or support employee caring activities, defined as actions taken within or outside the workplace to improve the lives of others.

The unique contextualized experiences and perspectives of 25 managers and non-managers were collected using a questionnaire, one-on-one interviews, and a group conference call. Given that employee growth is a central tenet of servant-leadership, the study was conducted in three organizations that practice a philosophy of servant-leadership.

The study identified interrelated manager behaviors that fell into four themes: Build Relationship, Cultivate, Provide Resources, and Follow Up. The study drew attention to the significance of building a manager/employee relationship as a foundation for the other behaviors whereby managers inspire and develop employees to engage in caring activities, provide tangible and intangible resources, and provide reinforcement. Behaviors that build a relationship enable managers to get to know the activities employees are engaged in, and open the door for managers to offer support and employees to seek support. The concept of a manager caring for an employee as a person permeated each theme.

The study findings were captured in a model of Inspiration and Support of Caring Activities which includes structural influences such as values, policies, and practices. The study findings suggested managers need to know themselves, their employees, and the organization to determine what behaviors best fit a particular employee, at a particular point in time, and in a particular context. Practical implications for managers, employees, and organizations were presented along with recommendations for future research.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"Teachers’ Use and Perceptions of Authentic Assessments in Literacy Instruction"

Maria Barceló-Martinez, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

This action research study was conducted in an elementary school with a team of seven fourth- grade teachers. Transcripts of the fourth-grade teachers’ discussions during their common planning sessions were recorded and analyzed. The data revealed that during collaborative planning sessions the teachers repeatedly referred to authentic assessments and their use in literacy instructional planning. The teachers interviewed each other on the use of authentic assessments in literacy. The interviews showed that the teachers found many benefits for instructional planning when using authentic assessments. They also had significant concerns about the time management needed in order to carry out an assessment -driven balanced literacy program.

The analysis of the data indicates that teachers use authentic assessments to plan instruction in a collaborative manner:

· With the use of authentic assessments such as individual student conferences, running records, and student work, the teachers identified specific strategies, skills, and goals centered on their students’ strengths and needs. Their instructional planning for the differentiation in instruction emphasized the success of all students.

· Conversations with colleagues allowed the teachers to gain new ideas and insights as they shared strategies for instruction and information about materials and unit plans.

· The teachers highly valued listening to students’ conversations and problem-solving strategies.

· The teachers were able to provide helpful feedback to their students.

· The cycle of teaching, learning, and assessing is rooted in the specific experiences, ideas, strengths, and needs of each student.

· The implementation of the teaching, learning, and assessing cycle requires professional development and time for reflection and planning.