Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sustainable Professional Learning Communities

Margaret Leininger, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

There is a sense of urgency in the world of education to find the optimum route to take in order to assure successful learning experiences for our students. Professional Learning Communities are such a process. This study concerns a group of collaborative and dedicated educators who found success by establishing a Professional Learning Community focusing on student achievement, and how it can be maintained and sustained even in the most difficult of experiences such as changes in leadership, curriculum, vision, teachers, culture, and policies.

Data were collected from 11 interviews with teachers, a teacher’s assistant, and principals from three elementary schools in a successful Professional Learning Community district, which has managed to flourish for more than 12 years. Questions were focused on five areas: (a) trust, interdependency and collaboration; (b) leadership and vision; (c) continuous inquiry and student achievement; (d) resources; and (e) sustainability. The results revealed a positive, interdependent, synergistic culture where everyone believed in and lived the vision of doing what’s best for students, not what’s best for teachers.

While other researchers suggest shared leadership, celebrations, action oriented, building capacity, curriculum, risk taking, experimentation, results oriented, shared vision, mission and values were essential, this study found that these factors may be secondary or outgrowths needed to develop, but not necessarily sustain, a Professional Learning Community.

The three factors that were key to sustaining the Professional Learning Community were interdependence, which sanctioned teachers the freedom and trust to make decisions and take on leadership opportunities; a positive, open social capital; and insistence to continually focus on student learning. With these factors in place, the Professional Learning Community was resilient to changes in administration, curriculum, teachers, staff, and policies.

The results of this study contribute knowledge about sustaining Professional Learning Communities to assist policymakers, teacher preparation programs, administrators, and teachers who genuinely desire to enhance the profession. Once educators see the results of their hard work, it strengthens their support for the community and towards their profession. When a school district values and invests in Professional Learning Communities, the result is a higher level of success for all learners.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Making Sense of Sense of Community

Brian Bishop, Peta Dzidic, K. Boekamp, E. Stevens, Paul Speer, and Jenny Fremlin, Fielding's School of Psychology

Sarason argued that Sense of Community (SOC) should be the central concept of Community Psychology. His conception of SOC is complex and deals with the social dynamics of living in a gemeinscaft. Subsequent operationalization of this concept has proved to be very fruitful, but questions arise about the conceptual contributions that this work has provided. Paradoxically the quantitative approaches to SOC have operationalized it as an individualist concept. A fundamental conundrum exists in that SOC is about peoples connections to community and as such is a collective experience. In this roundtable discussion, we ask presenters to describe their research in a bid to foster discussion on where sense of community as a concept has come from, where it is now, and where the discipline of community psychology is headed. In this session, we ask the fundamental question, has sense of community necessarily realised its promise? And from this, why do some people feel a part of a community and other alienated?

Location: Society for Community Research and Action 2013 Biennial Conference, Coral Gables, FL

Event Date: Jun 28, 2013

Keywords: Sense of community, Online communities, Media psychology

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

African American Parent: Choice or Charter

Patricia Kimathi, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

This mixed method research investigated the question: What elements do African American charter school parents in a Southern California community identify as important in their children’s charter schools? Twenty-three African American families who had enrolled their children in charter schools in a Southern California community responded to a survey. Five respondents were randomly selected for semi-structured interviews.

The history of African American parents and children in this country has been one of limited access and choice. Early African American educators proposed education as the means by which African Americans could improve their lives and pursue the American dream (Dubois, 1989; Washington, 1901; Woodson, 1933). After centuries of being in traditional public schools the majority of African American children are not being successfully educated (Johnson, 2002; Haycock, 2009). As a result of widespread dissatisfaction with public schools, an increasing number of African American parents are choosing charter schools as an alternative to traditional public schools (Zimmer et al., 2003).

The African American families in this study shared the following six elements that influenced their decision to enroll their children in charter schools: academic achievement/curriculum, parental engagement, quality of teaching, class/school size, safety/ security, and extra activities. Implications from this research and future research are included. Key Words: African American parent, charter schools, parent engagement, traditional public schools.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cocreating a Shared Reality: Exploring Intersubjectivity in Intercultural Interaction Through Executive Coaching Relationships

Alex Eunkyeong Yu, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

Bringing attention to the intersection of two subjectivities, the inquiry of intersubjectivity explores how two individuals with their differences can cocreate a meaningful, shared reality in the moment of interaction. This study investigated the opportunity for intersubjectivity in intercultural applications with 6 seasoned executive coaches, by asking how they experience and create intersubjectivity when they work across cultures. The study integrated phenomenology and action inquiry as conceptual foundations, and designed multifaceted research consisting of interview, peer coaching in dyads, joint reflection after the coaching conversation, reflection journal including two-column notes, and follow-up interviews. In this way, the current study integrated a more comprehensive perspective on the second person practice of intersubjectivity.

Findings revealed that when the interactants were connected, their feelings and thoughts were in concert not only with each other but also with the topic of the conversation. The sense of alignment brought in reframing moments which expanded their shared reality. Self, other, and universe coexist in that space of intersubjectivity and culture moves off to the edges. Coaches create intersubjectivity by committing a total investment of intentional attention set on the coachee’s development. Intersubjectivity is a choice with the decisions of how much and on what our attention is going to be assigned and how to make meaning out of the experience. The major underpinnings of intersubjectivity include flexibility in the face of uncertainty, a balance of power with sense of cocreation, and deep interest and care for the other, all of which are needed for intercultural management in this culturally complex world with the layers of unexpected differences.

Key Words: intersubjectivity; interculturality; interactional competence in intercultural management; executive coaching relationship; coaching as improvisation.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Relevance of the Sex Offender Label to Stress and Alcohol Abuse Among Adult Male Mexican American Sex Offenders

Marta Kang, Fielding's School of Psychology

This study investigated the association of stigma and alcohol use after taking into account the mediating effect of stress in Mexican American sex offenders (n = 84). A quantitative method was employed, with mediation analyses performed using anonymous survey data. Data were gathered on alcohol use via the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT), stigma using the Stigmatization Scale (SS), and stress using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Results indicated that there was no significant relationship between stigma and alcohol use as mediated by stress. However, an exploratory analysis indicated that the use of alcohol significantly increased after the sex offense conviction in comparison with the use of alcohol before the sex offense conviction. In conclusion, this study demonstrated the collateral consequences of the sex offender label and the effect it has on alcohol use among Mexican American sex offenders. Additionally, recommendations were made for further research to be conducted in order to enhance awareness and understanding of alcohol use patterns among this and related groups.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

An Examination of the Relationship Between Cosmetic Surgery and Cosmetic Surgery Related-Reality Television Show Viewing and American Women’s Desire for Cosmetic Surgery

Blondie Wilson, Alumna, School of Psychology (2013)

This study sought to examine the relationship between Cosmetic Surgery Related–Reality Television (CS– RRTV) show viewing and American women’s desire for Cosmetic Surgery (CS) in the United States and its territories. In addition, the study also examined individuals’ attitudes about CS and personality traits to determine the existence of any mediating factors affecting an individual’s desire for CS. Based on research literature reviewed, this is probably the first study to investigate the relationship between CSR–RTV program viewing and American women’s desire for CS, in a sample population of students and non–students. In this study, online and on– paper structured questionnaires were administered to 350 adult American student and non– student participants between the ages of 20 and 70 years old; 300 questionnaires were returned. Descriptive statistics and Pearson Product Moment Correlations were used to determine any relationship between CSR–RTV and desire for CS.

Of the total participants 34% were students and 66% were non–students. Eighty– four percent of the participants watched Reality Television (RTV) shows while 16% never watched RTV. Sixty–three percent of the CS and CSR– RTV show viewers agreed that such shows influenced their desire for CS. Results indicated a statistically significant correlation between CS–RTV and CSR–RTV viewership/attitude and the desire of adult American women for CS. Self–esteem mediated the effect of CS–RTV show viewing influencing women to have the desire for CS. Personality traits and body image were negatively but significantly correlated with desire for CS. These findings establish a significant relationship between CS and CSR–RTV show viewing and American women’s desire for CS.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Empowering the People with Systemic Analysis of Policy Proposals

Steven E. Wallis, Alumnus, School of Human & Organizational Development (2006)

Complexity and systems approaches can be applied for the creation and evaluation of policy proposals. However, those approaches are difficult to learn and use. Therefore, those conceptual tools are not available to the general public. If citizens were able to analyze policies for themselves with relative ease, they would gain a powerful tool for choosing and improving policy. In this paper, I present a relatively simple method that can be used to measure the structure (complexity and co-causal relationships) of competing policies. I demonstrate this method by conducting a detailed comparison of two economic policies that have been put forth by competing political parties. The results show clear differences between the policies that are not visible through other forms of analysis. Thus, this method serves as a “David’s sling” – a simple tool that can empower individuals and organization to have a greater influence on the policy process. Further, this process is also shown to be useful for integrating disparate views – thus opening the door for more civic collaboration instead of political competition and social fragmentation.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Exploring Phenomenon of Pentagon Survivors’ September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack Experience

Jeraline C. Shields, Student, School of Human & Organizational Development

Commercial American Airlines Flight 77 left Washington Dulles International 8:21 A. M. with 58 passengers and 6 crew, members, with a destination: Los Angeles. The airline was hijacked in route by terrorists. At 9:41 A. M., Flight 77 flew into the Northwest wall of the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia. Everyone onboard was killed. Workers of the Pentagon were going about their daily morning rituals just as everyone in the United States. We soon discovered this was not a routine day. 140 unsuspecting individuals died in the Pentagon and countless others sustained mental and physical injury. The Pentagon was the third building hit that morning. In New York City, Tower one and tower two at the World Trade Center experienced one plane crash each into each tower prior to the third plane flying into the Pentagon. The fourth hijacked plane was forced to the ground by passengers over Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The purpose of my research was to investigate the lived experiences of the Pentagon survivors of September 11, 2001 attack. Learn more about victim trauma skills they may have developed; understand the psychological and social logical impact on their lives; and document meanings associated with unexpected traumatic experiences through the survivor’s stories. Result of this research will add to the literature currently on terrorist’s devastation in the work environment available on this particular phenomenon. Learn about the support systems and coping techniques. I expect to become more aware of survivor skills inherent from trauma experiences; be more cognizant of differences and similarities of similar experiences; and allow the voices of the Pentagon survivors’ voices to be heard by sharing their stories. The qualitative research study is important to me and is needed for several reasons. First, a gap exists in the literature about September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon. Stories about ordinary military and civilian workers who picked up the pieces and were left to put things back together had not told their stories. This research will bring to light identification of some of those people who contributed to the quick Pentagon recovery.

To explore this phenomenon and answer the research questions, a qualitative method was used with phenomenological strategy of inquiry. With qualitative research method, questions are not limited nor are the answers limited to one thought or event. Qualitative method of inquiry was selected because it allowed me to capture not only the first thought level of data from participants, emerging thoughts participants may get in touch with as the discussion stimulates his or her memory of events beyond the open ended questions are informative and appreciated. With application of phenomenology culture of inquiry, I can identify the essence of the human experiences provided by participants’ answers, environment, and offline discussions.

When I step back and look at my findings, I consider what came out of the interviews to be very useful additions to the literature, serve as basic guidelines for planning organizational terrorist attack preparedness procedures, and recognition of behavioral patterns to be expected after employees experience various levels of trauma.

Findings: (1) After the American Airline, Commercial Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, survivors were shocked, fearful of danger, and unsure of what to do or where to go. (2) Survivors compassionately took care of each other’s needs. They provided food, transportation, and comfort. (3) In the days, weeks, months and years afterwards, survivors were involved with funerals, memorials, anniversaries and ceremonies. (4) Family was the first to be notified by survivors. Family and friends responded to the attack with concern for survivors. (5) Survivors made many personal life changes from the time of the attack until the present. (6) Hate toward Americans and America’s prior friendly relationships with terrorists was confusing. My claims are as a result of rigorously following qualitative methodological and phenomenological procedures, including coding data, clustering themes, participants sharing and making meaning of their statements of lived experiences.