Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Kristopher Potrafka, School of Human and Organizational Development

This study examined the relationship between team mental models, interpersonal trust, and team performance in knowledge-based teams. It is widely assumed in the popular literature that the success of today’s businesses in the knowledge economy is dependent upon the performance of teams. A closer look at the underlying assumptions inherent in the ambiguous concept of teams creates a compelling opportunity for better research. Although trust and the mental models team members share have been scrutinized in the academic literature, no studies have examined the possibility of a relationship between these variables and team performance.

This quantitative study surveyed 36 intact field-based teams and affect-based trust.

A significant relationship was found between team performance, interpersonal trust, and the components of team mental models that consist of taskwork accuracy, teamwork accuracy, and teamwork similarity. Trust, particularly affect-based trust, explained a significantly large amount of the variance in team performance. These findings advance our understanding of knowledge-based teams by revealing how trust and team mental models contribute to team performance.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Competency-Based Education (Re)-Defined: Trends and Implications in Scholarly Discourses of Higher Education

Indre Cuckler, School of Educational Leadership for Change

Due to the increased interest in competency-based education (CBE) and a recent surge in CBE-related publications, it was timely to examine how the concepts of CBE and competencies were portrayed in higher education academic journals. I utilized content analysis to examine the frequency of publications and to identify trends and themes associated with CBE in 11 selected higher education journals published from 1999 to 2014. The analysis revealed that CBE discourses are strongly associated with workforce needs, the accountability movement, and quality of education. This study confirmed notions proposed by other scholars that CBE and competencies are not yet uniformly defined in the literature. The study revealed that empirical research on CBE that goes beyond the utilization of case studies and surveys about CBE is not prevalent; therefore, there is a need for a more comprehensive view on CBE that includes the latest evidence-based approaches, as well as research from learning theories. Overall, based on the analyzed articles, it seems that current conceptualizations of CBE were influenced by positivist and humanist perspectives, while the critical and postmodern views on CBE were not prevalent. It would be useful to examine CBE from critical and postmodern perspectives in order to facilitate a more socially just conceptualization and practice of CBE. The analyzed articles in the selected academic journals lacked synthesized theory, historical accounts, and empirical research that utilizes experimental designs to investigate CBE. The current CBE movement could benefit from an examination of research on CBE that is available, as well as research conducted in other countries. Finally, I synthesized a definition of CBE and competencies based on themes that emerged from the literature and made suggestions for future research and practice.

How Women Experience Gender when Working with Men in a Female-Concentrated Occupation

Kerry E. Weinberg, School of Human and Organizational Development

This qualitative dissertation focuses on women’s experience of working with men in a female-concentrated occupation. Occupations tend to be strongly gender-typed (associated mainly with females or males) and this occupational segregation has advantaged men over women in terms of income, authority, and power. Crossing of gendered work boundaries occurs and with increasing frequency. Researchers have examined this boundary crossing, mainly from the perspective of females entering male occupations and to a lesser degree, males entering female occupations. This narrative inquiry investigated the extent and the ways in which women working with men, in a traditionally female occupation experience gender as an element of their workplace. The study context was sonography, an allied health occupation. I interviewed 14 female, diagnostic medical sonographers to explore their experiences working with male diagnostic medical sonographers. Major themes from the interviews indicated that women see gender as important in the workplace in complicated ways. Women see men as: (a) having different work values, (b) preferable as bosses, (c) complaining less than women, (d) less nurturing with patients, (e) not working as hard as women; but (f) creating a more desirable work environment. Overall, the study strengthens the findings of Williams’ (Williams, 1992) article entitled “The Glass Escalator” about the “hidden advantages” that men receive in female occupations. This study’s findings suggest less than positive perceptions about men as colleagues in our neoliberal age.

Keywords: gender, tokenism, occupational gender segregation, stereotypes

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Influence of Group Socialization on Authoritarianism and Social Dominance Orientation in Law Enforcement Culture

Craig Wetterer, School of Psychology

Over the past several decades, research on authoritarianism in law enforcement officers has focused primarily on measurement of the construct in pre-service academy recruits and incumbent officers; however, little is known at present about how authoritarianism might influence decision making in law enforcement personnel. Although most studies have found that early socialization processes increase authoritarianism levels in this population, many of these earlier studies were encumbered with methodological limitations that affected generalizability. More specifically, they employed poorly validated measures and utilized samples that were not representative of a contemporary law enforcement organization. The present study sought to confirm the influence of group socialization on the constructs of authoritarianism and social dominance orientation by use of a contemporary and representative law enforcement sample. To test the hypothesis that higher authoritarianism and social dominance orientation would lead to more punitive enforcement outcomes for ethnic minorities, ethnicity was experimentally manipulated in a traffic stop vignette in which enforcement outcomes were rated by participants. Findings indicated that early group socialization is associated with increased authoritarianism and social dominance orientation in law enforcement officers; however, higher scores on these constructs did not predict the differential treatment of ethnic minorities in the form of more punitive enforcement outcomes.

Key Words: Authoritarianism, Social Dominance Orientation, Police, Prejudice

Fat Persons Finding Meaning in Their Experiences of Humiliation: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Robert K. Green, School of Human and Organizational Development

This study explored how the study participants make sense of their experiences of humiliation in a society that stigmatizes fat persons. Previous research in Fat Studies has not focused on humiliation. The research project used interpretative phenomenological analysis to explore the experiences of four men and women who self-identified as fat and who had experiences of humiliation related to their body size.

The meanings of the words and events shared by the participants, within a phenomenological framework, illuminated eight themes that structured their experiences: avoidance; place in the world; impediments to well-being and growth; agency and empowerment; recognition, exclusion, and disconnection; blame and fault; and oppression. A second framework used in this study was intersectionality, an analytic tool that helped examine the influence of race and gender in participants’ experiences. The third framework was a multi-level analysis that enabled an examination of the findings from three inter-related levels of context and analysis: micro, meso, and macro.

The study findings demonstrated that participants engaged in a cyclical process of experiences-interpretations-responses (EIR) when they faced a humiliating event. Experiences informed interpretations, which informed responses. New responses informed new experiences.

Key Words: Fat Studies, humiliation, intersectionality, avoidance, impediments, agency, empowerment, recognition, blame, fault, oppression


Trish Oelrich, School of Human and Organizational Development

Research from 20th and 21st century scholars demonstrates from any moral or cognitive perspective, that social determinants play a dominant role, particularly on ethical behavior. This study’s main purpose was to examine how employees’ ethical behaviors differ when using social technology as compared to traditional face-to-face communications. Using a practice lens, narrative inquiry was used to capture the lived experiences of 22 employees, including managers and senior managers, from three large, global companies (two highly regulated) that use social technologies in their everyday work situations.

The results of this study suggest that the use of social technologies in the workplace promotes ethical behavior, if guided by good leadership. While ethical leadership is always important, it is critical in environments where the audience is much broader, and leaders are more accessible. Leaders need to recognize the unique skill set required for optimized use of social technology in the workplace. They must build and invest in the management of their own reputation as an ethical leader.

KEY WORDS: Ethical Behavior, Moral Psychology, Information and Communication Technology, ICT, Ethical Leadership, Ethical Infrastructure, Social Technology, Enterprise Social Technology, Ethics.

BE-ing @Work: Wearables and Presence of Mind in the Workplace

Heidi Forbes Ă–ste, School of Human and Organizational Development

Expectations and demands in the changing contemporary workplace are driven by emergent technologies.  Ubiquitous in nature, they are designed to enhance human and organization potential.  These technologies provide access to information and connection at all times. They are increasingly reliant on human relationships and connection.  BE-ing one’s best self in each interaction amidst distraction and health-related issues challenge presence. Wellness and mindfulness in the contemporary workplace relate to individual health as well as productivity and engagement.  The study examines the affordances of wearable technologies (wearables) in correlation to presence of mind in the workplace.  Wellness wearables with functions related to potential causes of presenteeism (lost productivity from hindered presence) were used in this study.  The findings are applicable for design, human resources and organization development professionals, and scholars. This study provides insight into potential interventions to meet the demands of the contemporary workplace through emerging technologies.  

Key words: wearables, presence, presenteeism, productivity, sociomateriality, human computer interaction (HCI), social strategy, wearable technology, engagement, social technology, cognitive enhancement, workplace wellness, well-being, UX design

Ecotones, Boundaries, and Culture: Intersections of Korean American and Other Communities in Howard County, Maryland

Pearl Seidman, School of Human and Organizational Development

This research is positioned at the interface between ecological and social systems. In both, how and where we draw boundaries is consequential, as are the relationships in the space between. Do findings from ecology about the nature of ecotones and boundaries apply to social systems at a community level, in particular to individuals who play a bridging role between Korean Americans and their counterparts from Other cultural communities in Howard County, Maryland? The term “Other” is capitalized to denote the plurality of heritages other than Korean that comprise the diverse cultural landscape of Howard County.

In ecology, an ecotone is an intermediary, or transition zone, between two adjacent ecosystems where species from both communities co-mingle. The nexus between distinct communities is typically characterized by greater diversity, tension, adaptive capacity, and resilience. Interstitial spaces cannot be defined without understanding the boundaries that create and maintain them. An ecological boundary classification system (Strayer, Power, Fagan, Pickett, & Belnap, 2003) is contrasted with frameworks in the social sciences, acting as a discursive bridge to increase translatability between disciplines.

Group and individual interviews involved sixteen cultural connectors and leaders of note in the community. Relational research methods acknowledged the interdependent and intersubjective construction of meaning. Thematic analysis was used to organize data.

The cultural ecotone was brought to life through voices that evoked the sources of boundaries and the nuances of diversity and tension. Necessity fueled adaptive capacity, not only for the Korean American community, but for the larger community. Community adaptive capacity was enacted in many examples by the corridor creation functions of cultural connectors. Change is more likely to occur at the intersection of differences. The processes of change dynamics created the environment in which differences unfolded. Findings failed to confirm evidence of community resilience given the definition used.

As migration is an ever increasing area of importance, this additional lens may be of value to researchers and practitioners. This study also creates a more permeable boundary for increased flow across ecological and social disciplines. Ecological and cultural humility or ecohumility is an appropriate stance in this space between.

Key Words: ecotones, cultural ecotones, Korean Americans, boundaries, diversity, tension, adaptive capacity, group interviews, ecological and cultural humility, ecohumility.

Adolescents’ Meta-Perspectives of Media Immersion

Yashica Holmes-Smith, School of Psychology

This manuscript discusses an exploratory study of the views of teens immersed in media. To recruit participants, media tracking sheets were distributed to 100 adolescents between the ages of 13 -19 years. Twelve of the heaviest media users were selected to participate in a qualitative study of their views about their heavy media use. Participants were asked to maintain a media journal for 2 weeks and to participate in a semi-structured interview about media use and impacts. Eight participants submitted journals and completed interviews. I conducted categorical content analyses of data collected from selection sheets, journal entries, and interview transcripts. I then identified themes that may offer insight about adolescents’ experiences with media and the influence of heavy media use on adolescents’ academic, social, and personal well-being. The nine themes that emerged included Using Media for Good, Media as a Double-Edged Sword, Mediated Relationships: Connecting and Disconnecting, A Matter of Time: Time Saved and Time Displaced, My Media, My Self: Self and Individuality, Entertainment and Distraction, Above the Influence, Media Literacy on the Rise, and Gaining Awareness through Monitoring and Reflection.

Personality, Binge Eating, and the Experience of Self-Monitoring of Eating Behaviors

Noel C. Gonzalez, School of Psychology

Although self-monitoring is a key intervention for eating disorders treatment, its success has been limited. Personality factors strongly linked to eating disorders (e.g., impulsivity) may also hinder the ability to self-monitor.  To explore this link, 588 undergraduate students were assessed for eating disorders (e.g., binge eating), personality factors (e.g., conscientiousness/preference for perception over judging), and carried a food diary for four consecutive days.  Multiple regression using personality and level of binge eating was used to predict diary outcomes (e.g., completion, ease of use).  Results showed no significant contribution of personality factors or eating disorder severity on the success of diary completion, in contrast to previous research on this topic.  Methodological factors (e.g., population characteristics, potential measurement error) likely contributed.

Physical Health, Attitudes Toward Menopause and Aging, Meaning in Life, and Their Relationship to Psychological Distress in Midlife Women

Alicia Marie Abell, School of Psychology

Research has demonstrated that poor physical health is associated with psychological distress (Meeks, Murrell, & Mehl, 2000) and that problems with physical health and psychological distress increase with age (Chachamovich, Fleck, Laidlaw, & Power, 2008; Centers for Disease Control, 2010). Yet despite considerable research on risk factors for psychological distress in midlife women, little is known about protective factors against distress in this population. This study explored factors related to psychological distress in midlife women by examining the relationships between physical health and psychological distress, between attitudes toward menopause and aging and psychological distress, and between meaning in life and psychological distress. It also explored whether either attitudes or meaning moderated the relationship between physical health and psychological distress and whether attitudes and meaning interacted to affect levels of distress. The 11,058 participants in this study were females between the ages of 40 and 55 who completed the first stage of the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), a cross-sectional telephone or in-home survey done between November 1995 and October 1997. Results demonstrated a significant negative relationship between physical health and psychological distress as well as a significant negative relationship between attitudes toward menopause and aging and psychological distress. Meaning in life did not have a significant relationship with psychological distress, nor were there any interactional effects between the independent variables. This study contributes to the literature by confirming the relationship between physical health and psychological distress and by highlighting positive attitudes toward menopause and aging as protective factor against distress in midlife women. 

How Might The Ayahuasca Experience Be a Potential Antidote to Western Hegemony: A Mixed Methods Study

Roan Kaufman, School of Educational Leadership for Change

This mixed-methods study researched people who have participated in traditional Indigenous Ayahuasca ceremonies to determine if the experience served as an antidote to dominant cultural hegemony. Fourty-four participants completed the quantitative scaled questionnaire and 11 qualitative interviews were conducted for the study. Findings reveal five antidotal movements toward countering the uninvestigated assumptions dictated by hierarchical systems common to Western culture. These include self-determination; increased relationality; reduced anthropocentrism; reduced consumerism/materialism; movement toward more critical awareness of status-quo assumptions. The most profound transformations toward counter-hegemonic dispositions occurred in concert with certain dynamics I describe relating to several variables. I conclude that working with ayahuasca moves people toward Indigenous ways of understanding the world.

Keywords: Hegemony, Western hegemony, ayahuasca, Indigenous worldview

A Latent Growth Analysis of Hierarchical Complexity and Perspectival Skills in Adulthood

Clinton J. Fuhs, School of Human and Organizational Development

Problem: A range of developmental models have been applied in research on leader development. Such applications often advocate “whole” person approaches to leader growth. They seek to expand social, cognitive, and behavioral capacities, and often reference perspective taking. Many of these approaches define developmental levels in terms of specific content, ideas, and domain-specific capacities. In some models, people are said to be at a given level because they demonstrate a certain
kind of perspective taking, and they are also expected to demonstrate that kind of perspective taking because they are at a given level. This circularity largely prevents the investigation of how different capacities change together (or not) over time.

Purpose: Using an approach that avoids this kind of circularity it was possible to examine perspectival skills and developmental level independently. I tested three hypotheses about the relationship between change in developmental level and change in perspective taking, seeking, and coordination. It was predicted that these constructs would exhibit patterns of synchronous and asynchronous change, with the former being most prominent."

Method: The sample consisted of 598 civil leaders who completed a developmental assessment called the Lectical™ Decision Making Assessment (LMDA) up to 4 times over a 9-month leadership development program. The LDMAs yielded separate scores for Lectical level—a domain-general index of hierarchical complexity—and perspective taking, seeking, and coordination. Perspective taking and seeking scores were disaggregated into component scores for salience, accessibility, and sophistication. Ten scores were analyzed with Latent growth modeling techniques. Four types of models were fit to these data: (a) Univariate latent growth curve models, (b) multivariate parallel process models, (c) univariate latent difference scores models, and (d) bivariate latent difference scores models.

Results: All hypotheses were partially confirmed. Change trajectories for most scores were non linear, characterized by dips and spurts. The rate of change in perspective scores was not related to rate of change for Lectical score or initial Lectical score. Initial Lectical score was positively related to initial perspective scores. Lectical score was a leading indicator of subsequent change in seeking and seeking salience. Lectical change positively impacted seeking change, whereas Lectical score positively impacted seeking salience change.

Conclusions: The relationship between change in these constructs is more complex than typically portrayed. Evidence suggests that these variables change more independently of each other than claimed in earlier research. Patterns of asynchronous change were three times more common than synchronous change, and Lectical score predicted change in only some aspects of perspectival capacity. Implications for theory, method, and pedagogy, along with study limitations and
avenues for future research are discussed.

Key Words: Adult development, leader development, cognitive development, structural development, skill theory, Lectical Assessment System, Lectical level, hierarchical complexity, perspective taking, perspective seeking, perspective coordination, latent growth modeling, latent growth curve modeling, latent difference score models.

Spirituality as a Transformative Experience in the Lives of Black Catholic Women

Claudine Pannell-Goodlett, School of Human and Organizational Development

Black Catholic women's spiritual experiences are potent resources for empowerment, and social and personal transformation. This study explores several bodies of literature in order to appreciate and understand the political, social, cultural, psychological, moral, and historical context of the spirituality of Black Catholic women. The purpose of this dissertation is to encourage further research and expand the base of scholarly literature and practice by highlighting transformative experiences in the daily lives, beliefs, and spiritual practices of a group of Black Catholic women. A mixed methods research design consisting of specific questions, a Standardized Assessment Instrument (DSES©), and semi-structured individual interviews was used to capture and examine the lived experiences of 24 participants self-identified as Black, Catholic, and a woman at least 18 years old.

Study results reveal Prayer, Eucharist, and Scripture form the cornerstone of the spirituality of these women. Connections with other Black Catholic women and feelings of gratitude cement their relationship with God. Responses to specific questions revealed explicit activities that deflate and nourish their spiritual energy. Results of the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale (DSES©) indicate that participants feel "very close to God" and "ask for God's help in the midst of daily activities, many times a day." The individual interviews produced compelling descriptions of their spirituality and the spiritual impact of discrimination, Church controversies, and transformative experiences. Participants individually voice their wisdom and hopes for the future.

Study results clearly show that transformative experiences lead to deeper levels of spirituality. Participants also pinpoint healing the effects of discrimination, obtaining relevant spiritual direction and support as necessary to deal with life-altering events. Race, gender equity, sexuality, and the future of Black people within the American Catholic Church, appear as dynamic forces in participants' spiritual lives. This synergy is a sentinel call for further academic and practical study that connects culture, transformative learning, and the spirituality of Black Catholic women.

KEY WORDS: Black Catholic women, Spirituality, Feminism, Womanism, Transformative Learning theory, Women and religion, Spiritual assessments, DSES©.