Monday, May 18, 2015

A Comparison of Blended, Online, and Face-to-Face Modalities in STEM Programs: The Influence on Student Success and Retention

Wael Abdeljabbar, School of Educational Leadership for Change

Previous educational research has focused intensely on comparison between modalities: namely between face-to-face, hybrid/blended, and online course technologies. This study examined the effect of these three major course instruction modalities on student success and retention in STEM disciplines at one community college in the San Francisco Bay Area. The study used a quantitative research design that incorporated historical student data and survey data. Results showed that the hybrid modality had the most positive effect on student success and retention for a majority of STEM disciplines, followed by face-to-face and online modalities, respectively. The CSIT department performed the most effectively in the hybrid modality. The results of a survey distributed to students indicated that online courses were less preferred, but hybrid courses provided the most benefit. These findings confirmed previous research comparing instruction methods. This study served as an addition to previous research because of the focus exclusively on multiple STEM disciplines at an institution that had never been studied. The results of the study may encourage the community college involved in the study to evaluate and review the online and hybrid learning environments to determine the most effective methodology with regard to student enrollment, retention, and student learning outcomes.

Key words: online learning, hybrid learning, blended learning, course success, course retention, instruction methods, STEM

Friday, May 15, 2015

Does Participation in Alcoholics Anonymous Facilitate Use of Self Skills in Executive/Organizational Coaches?

Charles W. Berke, School of Human and Organization Development

This study explores the ways in which, if at all, coaches who work in organizational settings (also referred to as executive/organizational coaches) and are in recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) account for their ability to use themselves as an instrument in their work. This study proposes that for the participants that process is working the program of AA. The AA program is designed to be one of personal growth and enhanced self-awareness, among other things. This study suggests that one outcome of this growth may be an improved ability to demonstrate use of self skills for executive coaches who are also in recovery through AA. This improved ability could be used in a coach’s work in organizational settings and be one of the mechanisms of change that he or she employs to help his/her clients.

The current study employs a narrative analysis research design. Five executive coaches who are in continuous recovery through AA for at least 5 years share their stories and answer a series of questions related to the topic. The data are gathered, reviewed, and presented along with an intact version of the participants’ story, in the interest of understanding how if at all, they account for and describe the changes they have made through their recovery work. The current study then explores the ways in which these changes, have allowed them, if at all, to use themselves as an instrument in coaching others.

The key findings in this study are that the concept of acceptance, deep and reflective listening, and a spiritual approach to life gained through participation in AA have had a significant impact on the participants’ ability to make and internalize change. This study also finds that the participants are able to describe the ways in which their AA experience has translated to an ability to practice use of self in their work as coaches.

Keywords: Use of self, executive coaching/organizational coaching, alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous, The 12 Steps, recovery, mechanisms of change, AA stories

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

An Enriched Structured Living Environment For Older Adult Male Prisoners Helps to Maintain Cognitive Abilities

Mary Harrison, School of Psychology

Studies have suggested that environmental enrichment may have a significant effect on age-related cognitive decline. The present study was conducted to determine if living in an enriched environment within a prison setting had any effect on cognitive function in older adults. Using 14 instruments that tested executive function/dysfunction, general cognitive flexibility, gestaltic closure, attention span, intellectual ability, emotional state, sensorimotor ability, language, mood, and visual-spatial abilities, we compared the cognitive functioning of two groups of male prisoners age 55 and older. One group of men (True Grit) had been living in an enriched environment for a period of time ranging from 8 months to 7.25 years. The control group was composed of a demographically similar cohort of men who had been living in the general prison population, with minimal environmental enrichment, for a similar period.

The results of the study demonstrated that men in the True Grit group performed better, with effect sizes ranging from small to large, on 13 of the test instruments than did Controls. Scores on tests of executive function suggest that living in an enriched environment was associated with better cognitive flexibility, enhanced verbal fluency, and improved problem-solving ability in comparison to living in the general prison population. On the test of physical mobility and balance (TUG), Controls performed less well than True Grit men, even though their average age was 2 years younger.

Effect size for the six measures of executive function ranged from small to medium in favor of the test group, while effect sizes for six of the other seven measures ranged from medium to high. This suggests that the independent variable (enriched environment) did have a significant effect on maintaining cognitive activity, and might be a useful preventive measure in terms of cognitive decline.

Keywords: “Use it or lose it”; cognitive ability; aging; prisoner; executive function; environmental enrichment; cognitive intervention

How Executive Coaches' Meaning Making Informs Their Choices in Coaching Sessions

Amanda Buschi, School of Human and Organizational Development

Executive coaching as an industry has realized significant growth in the past 30 years (A. Grant, 2009). Increasingly, executives turn to coaches for support and consultation regarding a variety of issues. Although research has focused on several areas related to coaching, none has addressed how executive coaches’ meaning making informs their choices in coaching sessions. Coaches can, for example, choose to hold the space in silence for the client, ask a question, or reflect back what the client has said. The purpose of this study is to explore how executive coaches’ understanding and interpretation informs the choices they make as to the next step in coaching sessions. The theoretical foundation for this research was constructivism, social constructionism, and meaning making. The methodology employed was a qualitative research study using semi-structured telephone interviews with 12 experienced coaches; transcribed interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. Meaning making informing coaches’ choices was found to be time driven--past, present, and future--and coach, client, and context driven. The model derived from these findings presents meaning making including past-oriented client-driven perspectives where the history of the coach/client relationship was informing coach choices, present-oriented coach-driven perspectives where coach self-reflection was informing coach choices, and future oriented client-driven perspectives where client goals were informing coach choices.

Key Words: coaching, executive coaching, meaning making, constructivism

Monday, May 11, 2015


Joanne Smikle, School of Human and Organizational Development

The question of why employees stay and commit to long-term care organizations is explored through a qualitative study. A full range of employees, representing the many positions found within a long-term care facility, are included in the study. The narratives, gathered through one-hour interviews, are analyzed through the theories of organizational commitment and motivation-hygiene. As a result of the analysis, transformational leadership emerged as an important theory in this organizational environment.

The findings are grouped into primary themes indicating that the organization inspires positive feelings that impact commitment and retention. Other primary themes include the impact of the behavior of leadership, the sense of connectedness between employees and with customers, and the prevalent opportunities for growth and recognition.

Keywords: organizational commitment, retention, turnover

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Complex Bereavement: An Existential Psychodynamic Study of Temporality and Attachment

Comfort Shields, School of Psychology

This dissertation study examined how patterns of insecure attachment and restrictive temporality (restricting thoughts and emotional affect related to the past and future) relate to adult complex bereavement. While the DSM-V (2013) has for the first time in history included a severe form of grief, called persistent complex bereavement (PCBD) as a subtype of other specified trauma and stressor-related disorders, the scientific literature is lacking a philosophical and theoretical foundation that contextualizes the etiology of PCBD. The literature is increasingly utilizing a framework of attachment theory to understand reactions to loss. However, little is known about how attachment relates to the traumatizing effect related to human finitude. This study draws on Stolorow’s (Stolorow, 2007, 2011, & 2013) existential-psychodynamic theory of traumatic temporality, which holds that individuals who grow up with patterns of caregivers unresponsive to their emotional affect defensively and narrowly reorganize their experience of time when faced with trauma. In this mixed-methods study a sample of adults (N=77) aged 19 to 74 years (M=47) completed a survey measuring: (a) extent of complicated grief through The Inventory of Complicated Grief (ICG); (b) temporality (restrictive or non-restrictive) through The Balanced Time Perspective Scale (BTPS); and (c) extent of insecure attachment through The Experiences in Close Relationships-Short Form (ECR-S). A qualitative analysis of narrative data regarding participants’ experiences of grief was also conducted. Six themes were identified, which supported and further enriched the quantitative analyses. Reflections on the researcher’s values and experiences of grief were included as part of the qualitative methodology. Multiple linear regression analysis demonstrated that restrictive temporality and insecure attachment-anxious style together accounted for 14% of the variance for complicated grief, confirming that participants with a restrictive sense of time and greater extent of insecure attachment experience more complicated grief than those with a non-restrictive sense of time or a greater extent of secure attachment. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for clinical interventions of PCBD, primary prevention efforts, increasing the dialectic of a social and cultural conscience surrounding death and grief, as well as identifying areas for further study.

Doing the Right Thing to Protect Children In Tanzania

Kate McAlpine, School of Human and Organizational Development

In Tanzania many children suffer from violence, neglect, and discrimination. The political economy is such that the masses are left out and unable to mobilize to solve collective action problems. The dilemma for many people is how to be a responsible citizen in a changing country. This study seeks out the narratives of Tanzanian adults who protect children and thus who are confronting the dilemma. A classic grounded theory method is used to analyze their stories and to find out what motivates protectors to take action. An explanatory theory of the basic psychological process of doing the right thing is developed from these narratives. A secondary practical theory is elucidated which draws on the literature of positive psychology, inter-personal neuroscience, community building, social capital, and human development. The practical theory intends to inform the design of programs that encourage more and better protection of children.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Integrative Entrepreneur: A Lifeworld Study of Women Sustainability Entrepreneurs

Jo-Anne Clarke, School of Human and Organizational Development

In response to social and environmental concerns, a new type of entrepreneur has recently entered the research literature on sustainable development in business (Hall, Daneke, & Lenox, 2010). Sustainability entrepreneurs are guided by a strong set of values that place environmental and social well-being before materialistic growth (Abrahamsson, 2007; Choi & Gray, 2008; Parrish & Foxon, 2009; Schaltegger & Wagner, 2011; Young & Tilley, 2006). For them, business success is about maintaining financial stability, while enhancing community and improving the health of our planet. This is reflected in their business design, processes, and work culture. Sustainability entrepreneurs are committed to making business decisions that reduce their carbon footprint, promote local or fair trade, support employee wellness, and give back to the community.

This social phenomenological study explores the lifeworld structures of six women in Calgary who are running small businesses based on sustainability principles. Drawing on the work of Alfred Schütz (1967, 1970a, 1970b; Schütz & Luckmann, 1974), it examines their typifications, stocks of knowledge, and motives, as well as notions of intersubjectivity and spatiality or lived space. From the findings, three Schützian puppets or personal ideal types are constructed to personify values of community, quality, connection, and environmental preservation. Ms. A.L.L. Green, Ms. Carin Relationships, and Ms. I.N. Tentional characterize aspects of the female sustainability entrepreneur that were identified by participants as central to their motives and actions. Together, they form a new general ideal type called the integrative entrepreneur. The integrative entrepreneur personifies the unique contributions of the women interviewed, and extends our understanding of sustainability entrepreneurship in meaningful ways.

Key words: sustainability, entrepreneurship, sustainability entrepreneurs, integrative paradigm, integrative entrepreneur, social phenomenology, Schützian puppets.

Lived Outcomes of Amputees Who Practice Yoga: A Qualitative Study Informed by Phenomenology

Elizabeth (Deedee) Myers, School of Human and Organizational Development

In the United States, there are 507 amputations each day, a number expected to grow with the increases in obesity and diabetes. This study investigated the lived experience of yoga for amputees. The researcher studied the phenomena of amputees doing yoga—ampyogis—for the first time, what the amputees learned about their soma through yoga on the mat, and the significance of transference of their learning from the yoga mat to their lives off the mat. Existing literature defines rehabilitative practices for amputees to take care of daily life necessities, such as learning to walk with a prosthetic, as well as the impact of yoga on multiple populations, such as cancer survivors, those with multiple sclerosis, trauma victims, and children with attention deficit disorders. There is a current body of literature on somatic practices, moving the body with intention to produce a certain outcome in the soma. This was a qualitative study informed by phenomenology. The researcher designed semistructured interviews to follow the participants’ narratives about events that led to amputation, their postamputation felt sense of self, and the impact of yoga on shifts in their felt sense of self. Findings indicate themes of organizing principles for the ampyogis that reflect the embodied motivation to enact change on, through, and with their bodies. Themes observed included demonstrated increased capacity among ampyogis to self-accept, to appreciate their bodies and minds, and to self-generate their choices and decision-making. Findings suggest that participants shifted their somas; and increased capacity for self-accountability regarding somatic choices from, for example, feeling depressed and frustrated, to feeling more alive, balanced, and graceful. Participants reported increased capacity for self-confidence, self-appreciation, and self-accountability. This research adds to literature on yoga as a rehabilitative practice for amputees. It also adds to the body of literature on somatics and shifting the soma through intention and practice. Additionally, this study demonstrates that somatics in action creates change in the soma.

Key Words: amputee, amputee rehabilitation, ampyogi, organizing principle, somatics, transformative learning, yoga