Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fostering Critical Reflection in a Computer-Based, Asynchronously Delivered Diversity Training Course

Shawn T. Givhan, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

This dissertation study chronicles the creation of a computer-based, asynchronously delivered diversity training course for a state agency. The course format enabled efficient delivery of a mandatory curriculum to the Massachusetts Department of State Police workforce. However, the asynchronous format posed a challenge to achieving the learning goal of fostering critical reflection in employees because it did not allow participants to interact. One construct found in diversity training and training design literature is that interpersonal interaction stimulates critical reflection in adult learners (Billett, 2002; Paluck, 2006). Further, diversity training researchers have associated valuing of diversity, and enactment of support for diversity practices, with capacities developed through critical reflection such as openness to multiple perspectives (Avery, 2011; Roberson, Kulik, & Pepper, 2009). Thus, the purpose of the study was to evaluate the validity of a proposition that critical reflection can be fostered for participants in a computer-based, asynchronously delivered diversity training course if the framework for course development and delivery is (a) a model of proven design principles for computer-based instruction, (b) derived from a constructivist methodology for workplace learning, and (c) supported by a clear organizational commitment to diversity that begins at the highest levels of management.

Several impediments derailed implementation of the course and the study as initially planned. Consequently, four employees participated in interviews about their experience with the course. The interview transcripts were evaluated via textual analysis to determine if any participant accounts satisfied criteria for experiencing a measure of critical reflection. The sample was too small to generate definitive conclusions although some participant accounts supported the proposition for how to foster critical reflection. The study’s results offer insight into how factors such as gender schemas (Bem, 1981; Cundiff, Nadler, & Swan, 2009), organizational culture (Weick, 1995), and motivation to learn (Wiethoff, 2004) influence employee potential to experience critical reflection through training. The findings illuminate similarities in how diversity and organizational culture impact information processing and meaning making in workgroups, and how role identity issues constrain efforts by human resources managers to conduct organizational research (Choi & Rainey, 2010; Sommers, Warp, & Mahoney, 2008).

Key Words: diversity, critical reflection, computer-based training, asynchronous, workplace learning, human resources

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

In-Service Teachers’ Understanding and Teaching of Humane Education Before and After a Standards-Based Intervention

Stephanie Itle-Clark, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

The purpose of this study was to examine the ways in which credentialed educators conceptualized, understood, and perceived humane education, as well as their intent to include humane education in personal practice and their knowledge of strategies for integrating humane education concepts into their classroom work. The group of 25 educators participated in an online eight-week professional development course and completed pre- and post-surveys. The participants consisted of educators from the United States, British Columbia, and Vietnam. Participants were 11 secondary educators, 10 primary educators, 2 substitute teachers, 1 administrator, and 1 librarian. Results indicate that after an eight-week professional development intervention, participants had a greater understanding of humane education and an increased intent to include humane concepts in their practice, as well as increased knowledge of strategies for integrating humane concepts into their personal work. Results show that while the educators did not have an understanding of humane education at the beginning of the study, the humane themes resonated with their desire to engage students and to teach prosocial behaviors. A recommendation is for educators to receive humane education professional development that aligns with reform models and standards-based education in order to increase their knowledge of strategies and to infuse humane education into traditional pedagogy. (Contains 15 tables.)

Keywords: humane education, prosocial education, professional development, moral development, character development

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ways of Knowing, Doing, Being, and Making Inquiry in Loss: Alternative Rhetorics of Autism and Making the Unimaginable More Imagine-able

Sharone Lee, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

This study explored the dimensional qualities and uncommon rhetorical possibilities of information about profound loss realities, and in particular, the mutual impacts of Autism. Innovative documentary methods were initially developed in relation to factual, ideational, contextual, and individual sources of disaster information. These methods were then applied to present and absent knowledge, competencies, values, and perspectives of being in atypical able loss. Through that process, epistemic locations, hermeneutic questions, rhetorical themes and patterns, and phenomenological insights were gathered from and constructed into other ways of knowing, doing, being, and making inquiry in loss. Regulative rigors of transparent uncovery and constitutive challenges of ethical aesthetics guided this long informational journey into the actual conditions, interactional dynamics, relational spans, and particular experiences of our falls into mutual unknowing in profound able loss. Evocative artifacts, implicative discourses, compelling legacies, and sophisticated matters came to represent needed complements to the evidentiary materials, inferential logics, convincing arguments, and statistical traces that surround catastrophe. Eventually alternative rhetorics of a public intellectual working along marginal spaces of liminal being, in profound loss, emerged, were voiced and read, and served to make The Unimaginable more imagine-able.

Keywords: knowledge organization, information society, transformational change, imagination

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Understanding the Influence of the Board of Directors on Corporate Social Responsibility in U.S. Public Companies that are Recognized as CSR Leaders

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

Scholars have recognized board responsibilities in strategy, resource provision, fiduciary accountability, governance, stakeholder engagement, and social responsibility (Columbia Business School, 2011; Tricker, 2009). They have also recognized its role in ensuring the firm’s long-term success (Lorsch & Clark, 2008). Practitioners have similarly described board contributions to strategy, oversight, succession planning, sustainability, ethical practices, and culture (Deloitte LLP, 2011).

This study explores whether the Board of Directors influences corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts in U.S. public companies that are recognized as CSR leaders. It aims to surface their understanding of corporate social responsibility and its fit to business objectives. It endeavors to discern the consequences for their role, responsibility, and actions. Accordingly, it considers the emerging union of corporate governance and corporate social responsibility (Gill, 2008).

This research is situated in the nexus of organizational theory, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, and leadership influence. It utilizes stakeholder theory and the broader literature to explore the company’s relationship with its constituents and society. It also frames expectations for organizational value creation that concurrently provides benefit to the firm and society. This qualitative study uses semi-structured interviews of 14 independent board directors of 7 U.S. Fortune 1000 public corporations recognized as CSR leaders in the MSCI KLD 400 Social Index (MSCI, 2011). The study is augmented through evaluation of text including public information from company commitments, reports, investor and marketing communications, social media, and third-party assessments.

The findings identify four primary contributors to board influence in CSR: (a) board understanding of and support for CSR initiatives are built through active involvement in strategy, (b) board influence of CSR is advanced through stakeholder engagement which surfaces alignment opportunities and risks for constituent and company interests, (c) respectful board-management relationships promote the alignment of corporate commitments, CSR investment, and practice to yield company, societal, and stakeholder value, and (d) board influence of CSR increases through use of integrated reporting and assessment of financial, operational, and sustainability metrics and performance data.

In addition, 2 propositions are asserted that flow from the literature review and the inquiry to address the research question: (a) the Board of Directors can substantively influence corporate social responsibility efforts in U.S. public companies that are recognized as CSR leaders, and (b) there is a growing convergence of corporate governance and corporate social responsibility. It is driven by business pressures and stakeholder theory-based expectations of the firm and board. This advances the latter’s role and influence in CSR.

I hope that this research will challenge scholars to further explore the intersections of CSR and governance to advance our understanding of corporate agency in sustainability. This emerging junction poses opportunity for critically assessing how CSR may be used to align and share value. This study may also encourage practitioners to exercise new approaches in governance and corporate social responsibility to realize company and stakeholder value.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Is Charisma Enough for Women? The Impact of Gender on Charismatic Influence

Dug Lee, Fielding's School of Psychology

The historical small body of gender-specific charisma studies indicates that women may be perceived as more charismatic than men (e.g., Groves, 2005), yet other study outcomes suggest that men have more influence than women (e.g., Haines & Kray, 2005). This study investigates the power disparity that may exist between the genders with the hypothesis that gender moderates the relationship between charisma and influence such that charismatic men demonstrate more influence than charismatic women. Participants were composed of 42 women and 46 men who each watched a video of a confederate (n = 10) whose goal was to influence the participants’ opinions about a topic. Confederates’ charisma and attractiveness levels were measured by raters. The hypothesis was not supported; however, this may have been due to design and sampling flaws. These findings indicate that the relationship between charisma, influence, and gender should be further explored to contribute to the body of knowledge regarding how women can attain more influential ability.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Effects of Learning About the Five States of Mind on Elementary Children in Grades 3, 4, and 5

Lyn Rinaldi, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

The purpose of the study was to investigate whether children in Grades 3, 4, and 5 who learned about the Five States of Mind (Costa & Garmston, 1994) would improve their mindset, their knowledge of the Five States of Mind, and their performance on the Mathematics Constructed Response and Rubrics assessment. Student participant growth was assessed using pretests and posttests of the Five States of Mind Inventory, the Implicit Theories of Intelligence Children’s Self-Form, and the Mathematics Constructed Response and Rubrics. These participant groups included mostly Hispanic, Title I, English language learners. The teacher participants were former coaches who had returned to the classroom. A total of 108 students participated. Over a 10-week course, the teachers instructed the student participants in the Five States of Mind. Students created Question Banks for each State of Mind and used their Question Banks to solve mathematics problems. In a one-way repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA), significant effects were found on the Five States of Mind Inventory for time, p < .001; scale by teacher, p = .010; and teacher, p = .037. Third-grade students grew significantly on the Implicit Theories of Intelligence Children’s Self-Form from Time 1 to Time 2, p = .013. Students in Grades 4 and 5 did not grow significantly from Time 1 to Time 2. Students grew significantly overall on paired-samples t tests on the Mathematics Constructed Response and Rubrics in Grade 3, p < .001; Grade 4, p < .001; and Grade 5, p < .001. This study suggests that applying mindset theory with Cognitive Coaching has a positive outcome on elementary school students’ intellectual development.

Key Words: Student achievement, Mindset Theory, The Five States of Mind, Efficacy, Flexibility, Craftsmanship, Resourcefulness, Interdependence, Cognitive Coaching, Mathematics Constructed Response and Rubrics, Implicit Theories of Intelligence Children’s Self-Form, Five States of Mind Survey.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Self-Action Leadership: An Autoethnographic Study of Self-Leadership Through Action Research

Jordan Rex Jensen, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

This dissertation is an analytic Autoethnography that investigates Self-Leadership through the lens of Action Research for the purpose of introducing a new approach, Self-Action Leadership (SAL) through Self-Action Research (SAR). Self-Action Research is a form of Action Research focused on building one’s own personal and professional effectiveness and wellbeing, and Self-Action Leadership refers to an original, comprehensive theory and model of Self-Leadership that utilizes Self-Action Research, and that could potentially be utilized by any self-leader. In this study, personal stories and artifacts are presented as an autoethnographic case study of my journey in developing Self-Leadership, and connections are made to the primary, extant model of Self-Leadership (A Comprehensive Self-Leadership Framework) developed by leading Self-Leadership scholars Neck and Manz (2010). The SAL Theory and Model are presented as nomological constructs derived from an analysis of presented, qualitative data synthesized with relevant literature in multiple fields of inquiry including Self-Leadership and Action Research, and are intended to be applicable to other individuals seeking greater control of their personal development. The accompanying Pedagogy of Personal Leadership represents a basic curriculum template and toolbox that may benefit leaders and educators seeking to practice and teach Self-Leadership theory in nations, states, communities, schools, organizations, neighborhoods, homes, and individual lives.

Key Words: Self-Leadership (S-L), Autoethnography, Action Research (AR), Self-Leadership Efficacy (SLE), Self-Action Research (SAR), Self-Action Leadership (SAL), SAL Theory, SAL Model, Natural Laws of Acquisition (NLA), Self-Leadership Gravity (SLG), Self-Oneness, and Pedagogy of Personal Leadership. For the sake of clarity, key words and phrases will be capitalized throughout this dissertation—an APA style deviation.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Role of Viewer Orientation and Consumption Level in Smoking Cue Reactivity

Cherisse Yungblut Flanagan, Fielding's School of Psychology

The fact that individuals with substance addiction are highly reactive to drug cues that they have paired with drug use is well established. Vulnerability to continued drug use or relapse is thought to occur when addicted individuals are exposed to those contextual cues. Exposure to those cues evokes a reactivity that forms a paradigm, cue reactivity, which has been widely used in scientific research to explore affective responses involved in addictive processes. However, an overview of recent work indicates that the reactivity evoked by drug stimuli may not be fixed, but rather appears to be modulated by a variety of contextual cues. The impact of contextual cues on craving in research and cue-exposure treatment remains without careful examination. The present work advanced a thesis that the systematic study of cue factors would permit a more thorough standardization of test stimuli and thereby increase consistency across laboratories examining cue reactivity in the substance abuse literature. Specifically, subjective affective and arousal responses to smoking cues were investigated in 54 nicotine dependent individuals. Data were gathered on reactivity evoked by 24 pictures depicting smoking stimuli modulated by two types of contextual information (consumption level and orientation) using the computerized Self-Assessment Manikin (SAM).

Results suggested that first-person cues evoke more affective reactivity than third-person cues and provided new information on the pattern of reactivity based on orientation. Previous findings that beginning and end levels of cigarette consumption evoke a different pattern of reactivity in smokers were replicated. Further, results revealed an interaction between viewer orientation and consumption level such that smokers rated the first-person images of individuals beginning to smoke more pleasantly, and images of first-person terminal stimuli more aversively. These results underscore the importance of developing a universally available repository of addiction cues and suggest that addiction scientists need to be aware of these possible influences when choosing images in cue reactivity studies.

Key Words: Cue Reactivity, Addiction, Craving, Smoking, Nicotine, Orientation, Perspective, Consumption, Terminal, Stimuli, Drug Cues, Cue Exposure Treatment, Motivation, Emotion