Thursday, December 19, 2013

Conceptions of Software Development By Project Managers: A Study of Managing the Outsourced Development of Software Applications for United States Federal Government Agencies

Dan Eisen, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

This study explores how project managers, working for private federal IT contractors, experience and understand managing the development of software applications for U.S. federal government agencies. Very little is known about how they manage their projects in this challenging environment. Software development is a complex task and only grows in complexity when the software is being developed for a federal agency. By using a phenomenographic approach to describe participants’ experiences, this study shows the complexity of the participants’ relationships with their projects. Results show that managing technical projects and staff has to do with what project managers do and the ways they manage. This study paints a picture of the increasingly complex perceptions of managing outsourced federal software development projects and the relationships of the ways of managing as they relate to project managers’ role perceptions. This study also demonstrates that managing in this complex environment is more than just an exercise in command-and-control project management approaches, methods, and tools.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

More Than Music to My Ears: Music Lyrics and Self-objectification

Mary Ellen Volgman, Fielding's School of Psychology

The sexualization of girls and young women in the mass media is an area of increasing concern. The majority of research on sexualization in the media has focused on visual media, such as magazines, television, and music videos. This mixed method study examined the relationship between listening to music containing sexualized/ degrading lyrics and selfobjectification in young women ages 18 through 22. The association between music listening habits and negative consequences of sexualization was also examined. A total of 151 women recruited through Twitter completed an online survey comprised of five standardized measures and one researcher-created questionnaire. Multiple regression analyses revealed no significant relationship between the amount of time spent listening to rap/hip hop music and levels of self-objectification, self-surveillance, depression, and eating disorders. Measures of body shame were shown to significantly correlate with measures of surveillance, depression, and disturbed eating. Thematic analyses of responses to open-ended questions suggested that music influences how young women feel about their appearance, as well as their mood. These findings were somewhat contradictory to those of the regression analyses. It may be that the number of participants in the sample who listened to more than 1-2 hours of rap/hip hop music per day is too small to show any significant associations. This discrepancy between quantitative and qualitative findings points to the benefit of mixed method research designs. While this study did not clearly demonstrate an association between sexualized music lyrics, self-objectification, and the associated negative outcomes, some of the participants’ responses suggest that some such relationship exists. The sexualization of girls and women has far reaching implications for not only girls and women, but boys and men, as
well. Understanding the mechanisms through which objectification occurs is the first step toward creating and implementing preventive interventions and treatment strategies.

Key Words: female adolescent development, sexualization, sexual objectification, selfobjectification, sexualized music lyrics, depression, disturbed eating, body shame, Twitter.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Transformative Education for Long-Term Behavior Change: Preventing Childhood Obesity and Improving Health through In-School Curriculum-based Nutrition and Exercise Programs

Scott Turne, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

Background: Nearly half of obesity cases begin in childhood, with 80% persisting into adulthood. This highlights a compelling need to improve child obesity (CO) prevention programs. In-school programs, which are multicomponent, structured, rigorous, long-lasting, and include parents are particularly effective. Nevertheless, longer term impact is poorly understood.

Methods: This study used a curriculum design theory lens to evaluate the long-term impact among middle school students of elementary school childhood obesity prevention programs, by focusing on Operation Tone-Up®(OTU). OTU has been implemented for over 10 years in lower income elementary schools in many states, and has positive, material, short-term outcomes. A mixed methods, retrospective, quasi-randomized, longitudinal study was conducted, controlling for sex, socioeconomic status (SES),ethnicity, grade level, and other factors. Three hundred seventy (370) predominantly Hispanic, lower income students in grades 6-8 in Maricopa County, Arizona were surveyed in May 2012 about their past participation in OTU and their current nutrition and physical activity (PA) knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors.

Results: The intervention had significant effects on health outcomes, although these effects declined during the years after participation. Students in grades 6-8, who had participated in OTU in elementary school, had significantly healthier nutrition knowledge than control students (β = 0.831, p = .013, odds ratio = 2.295), and had healthier nutrition attitudes and nutrition behavior. Intervention students were significantly more likely to report high PA behavior (β = 0.798, p = .028, odds ratio = 2.221). In addition, girls in the intervention group reported significant, much healthier PA than girls in the control group. Intervention participation helped to increase the healthy behavior of lower income, female, and Hispanic populations.

Conclusions: The study showed that effective anti-obesity interventions can have significant positive short-term impacts on children, but their effects decline over the long-term. Ideally, maintenance should occur over many years by continuous “spiral learning” reinforcement and increasing school time spent on effective health and physical education (HE; PE). At the same time, HE and PE should be made more effective at improving behavior outcomes. HE and PE should also be integrated into the core preK-12 school curriculum, standards, and tests in order to maximize long-term follow-through and impact. The CO prevention movement should also use curriculum theory and HE and PE associations with increased academic performance to help bridge the gap between health educators and school leaders.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Analysis of Engagement of Federal Non-Custody Correctional Employees: An Assessment of Factors Related to the Longevity of the Correctional Employee

Thomas O. DuVall, Fielding's School of Psychology

This study investigates the relationship between work engagement, burnout, and correctional employment, specifically targeting correctional psychologists and other non-custody professionals employed to work with post-conviction inmates via the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. The construct of work engagement represents the relationship between an employee and is or her work; for the purpose of this study that relationship will be focused on the federal correctional environment. Burnout is a three-dimensional model hallmarked by individual stress as manifested by emotional and physical exhaustion, depersonalization, and a failure to experience the rewards of accomplishment (Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001). The presence of burnout-related beliefs helps to identify factors linked to the erosion of a productive relationship with one’s job (Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001). Engagement of non-custody correctional professionals emerged as a four-factor structure: job satisfaction, camaraderie among coworkers, composure, and job efficacy. The findings were examined in the context of length of employment, institutional security level, inmate interaction, and the strength of the supervisory relationship. The health of the supervisory relationship and one’s own perception of safety emerged as influential across all four factors. Differences between professional disciplines (e.g., psychology, education, and medical services) were indicated.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Transformational Coaching in Education: A Collaborative Look at the Bridges and Barriers to Learning

Kathryn J. Norwood and Mary Ann Burke, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore possibilities for transformational coaching in education through the collaboration and cooperative argumentation of two researchers, one using appreciative inquiry to look at its transformative potential and the other using critical inquiry to investigate possible hegemonic and non-hegemonic barriers to this potential. Each researcher conducted separate research studies. The first researcher performed phenomenological interviews of 7 prominent coaches representing 5 different philosophical approaches to coaching that could enhance the potential for transformation in K-12 educational settings. Data analysis focused primarily on how the individual responses related to each other in terms of commonalities and distinguishing features regarding the phenomenon of the potential for transformation. The second researcher conducted phenomenological interviews of 10 coaches, 9 administrators, and 2 teachers in a single school district that has had an educational coaching program for 7 years. Interview transcripts underwent 3 levels of analysis, from topical organization of the raw data, to a more interpretive categorization of the data, to a final level where the categories of data generated theory about barriers to this district’s coaching program.

Results of the first research study indicate that holistic coaching approaches can enhance the transformative potential of educational coaching. These approaches require coaches who have achieved advanced levels of emotional maturity, mastery of their craft, and the ability to access different ways of knowing to help guide the coaching process. Results of the second study show that two aspects of school and district culture influence the viability of educational coaching: administrators’ ability and willingness to understand and facilitate coaches’ work, and varying degrees of openness to equitable practice among educators. Some of the barriers are hegemonic and others are not.

We conclude that holistic approaches to coaching can offer transformative possibilities for educators. Educational coaches can develop themselves and achieve mastery and effectiveness by drawing from a more holistic and eclectic base of coaching theory and practice. Coaches can and must learn the art of detecting hegemony in others and in themselves to help assure optimal applications of this knowledge toward positive transformation in their schools.

Recommendations for further research include research on transformative coaching practices in education, research on the developmental and maturation levels of coaches and their impact on school coaching, and research on hegemony that includes other school districts that represent a wide variety of demographic configurations.
Key Words: transformational coaching, educational coaching, hegemony, barriers, school culture, equity)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Integrating Success: Merging Individual Goals with Organizational Purpose to Enhance Perceived Levels of Happiness and Performance

Maryann Baumgarten, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

While humans seek happiness, organizations seek high performing employees, so the purpose and goals of individuals and organizations are often viewed as separate and distinct. In today’s work world, Generation Y is less engaged than any previous generation (BlessingWhite, 2011). Motivating them to contribute their best work is increasingly challenging, and it is becoming increasingly important to understand and change.

This study examines how the ideal win/win of integrated success for both individuals and their organizations works. Based on various lines of research from multiple scientific disciplines and an empirical investigation of how Gen Y employees (n=50) experience the process and effects of integration at work, this dissertation explores and explains how when purpose in life and work are clear, and individual needs are supported at work, authentic contribution is prompted and integration occurs. 

A model explaining how the components of integrated motivation interact is presented. The findings are discussed and recommendations are made on how this study and future research can contribute to work becoming a platform for our greatest potential.

Keywords: integration, motivation, contribution, purpose, work, Generation Y, happiness, performance, self-transcendence, engagement, goal, meaning