Scholarly Work - Education

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    Integrating Civic Engagement Into a Lifestyle Intervention for Rural Women – A Mixed Methods Process Evaluation
    (SAGE Publications, 2023-04) Sriram, Urshila; Graham, Meredith L.; Folta, Sara; Paul, Lynn; Sequin-Fowler, Rebecca A.
    Purpose. The present study aimed to evaluate the implementation of a civic engagement curriculum (HEART Club) designed to catalyze positive environmental change in rural communities. Design. The HEART Club curriculum was integrated into a six-month community-based health behavior intervention to reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Setting. Participants were recruited from eight rural towns in Montana and New York. Subjects. 101 midlife and older women. Intervention. Participants worked to address an issue related to their local food or physical activity environment and establish progress monitoring benchmarks. Method. Evaluation components included after-class surveys, program leader interviews (n = 15), participant focus groups (n = 8), and post-intervention surveys. Results. Intervention sites reported high fidelity (78%) to the curriculum. Average attendance was 69% and program classes were rated as highly effective (4.1 out of 5). Despite positive participant feedback, low readiness for civic engagement and insufficient time were implementation challenges. The majority of HEART Club groups had accomplished two or more benchmarks post-intervention. Facilitators of progress included community support, effective leadership, and collective effort. Participants also indicated that trying to affect community change while simultaneously making personal health improvements likely stalled initial progress. Conclusion. These findings highlight the potential and challenges associated with civic engagement within the context of rural lifestyle interventions. Future implementation efforts should focus on reframing civic engagement as an approach to support and maintain behavior change.
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    Culturally Responsive Energy Engineering Education: Campus-Based Research Experience for Reservation and Rural Elementary Educators
    (Vanderbilt University Library, 2024-02) Lux, Nicholas; Hammack, Rebekah; Gannon, Paul; Windchief, Sweeney; Taylor, Suzi; Richards, Abigail; Hacker, Douglas J.
    This multi-methods investigation was conducted to examine the experiences of preservice and in-service elementary teachers (n=11) from rural and American Indian Reservation communities who participated in an NSF-funded Research Experience for Teachers (RET), a summer residential research-focused professional development experience. The primary intent of the professional development was to build elementary teachers’ self-efficacy in the design and implementation of community-centered and culturally responsive engineering education curricula. Over six weeks, teachers participated in energy-related research experiences in campus engineering laboratories while simultaneously developing engineering curricula for their elementary classrooms that focused on energy, a cross-cutting elementary topic. Results indicate that teachers showed significant gains in personal teaching efficacy beliefs in science and engineering. Findings also suggest that participating teachers felt significantly more comfortable teaching engineering post-program compared to preprogram. Quantitative results from this study align with the qualitative findings and indicate that the experience positively impacted teachers’ capacities to teach engineering and integrate culturally responsive practices. Results also help identify specific attributes of the experience that contributed to their professional learning. Findings from this study contribute to the refinement of theories on teacher self-efficacy in engineering education and help guide future professional development efforts that foster inclusive student engineering identity formation within their classrooms.
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    Culturally Responsive Energy Engineering Education: Campus-Based Research Experience for Reservation and Rural Elementary Educators
    (Vanderbilt University, 2024-02) Lux, Nicholas; Hammack, Rebekah; Gannon, Paul; Windchief, Sweeney; Tyalor, Suzi; Richards, Abigail; Hacker, Douglas J.
    This multi-methods investigation was conducted to examine the experiences of preservice and in-service elementary teachers (n=11) from rural and American Indian Reservation communities who participated in an NSF-funded Research Experience for Teachers (RET), a summer residential research-focused professional development experience. The primary intent of the professional development was to build elementary teachers’ self-efficacy in the design and implementation of community-centered and culturally responsive engineering education curricula. Over six weeks, teachers participated in energy-related research experiences in campus engineering laboratories while simultaneously developing engineering curricula for their elementary classrooms that focused on energy, a cross-cutting elementary topic. Results indicate that teachers showed significant gains in personal teaching efficacy beliefs in science and engineering. Findings also suggest that participating teachers felt significantly more comfortable teaching engineering post-program compared to pre-program. Quantitative results from this study align with the qualitative findings and indicate that the experience positively impacted teachers’ capacities to teach engineering and integrate culturally responsive practices. Results also help identify specific attributes of the experience that contributed to their professional learning. Findings from this study contribute to the refinement of theories on teacher self-efficacy in engineering education and help guide future professional development efforts that foster inclusive student engineering identity formation within their classrooms.
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    Montana STEM Summit 2023 Report: Growing STEM Learning Across the Big Sky
    (Montana State University, 2023-11) Taylor, Suzanne; Jameson, Heather
    On April 13, 2023, representatives from education, industry, non-profits and other institutions gathered in Helena, Montana to discuss how to better collaborate to advance STEM learning in the state (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics). This report outlines the resources, barriers and ideas that were discussed at the Summit, and includes suggested next steps for growing STEM learning across the Big Sky State. The report can be used as a snapshot of the current state of STEM learning in Montana as well as a road map for prioritizing future STEM initiatives. Previous Montana STEM Summits were held in 2022, 2019 and 2017.
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    Sensing for Science: Exploring the World of Arduino and Sensors In the Classroom
    (Montana State University, 2023-07) Williams, Kayce
    This guide is for 5-12 science teachers. It introduces the use of Arduino and sensors in the classrooms. There are six levels containing steps, a list of materials, graphics, and code. The guide concludes with a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) sensor. This sensor is for testing water quality at a local pond or stream. The final project reflects the work that the NSS EPSCoR CREWS is doing in Montana.
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    Mitigating Rural Adolescent Trauma: Remote Delivery of a Trauma-Informed Yoga Intervention During COVID-19
    (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2022-12) Davis, Lauren; Aylward, Alexandra
    Given the prevalence of childhood trauma in rural Montana, this project is intended to help mitigate stressors that may contribute to poor behavioral and mental health in high school-aged children, which may be exacerbated by the collective trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic. The immediate goal was to measure physical and mental health outcomes in adolescents resulting from a remotely delivered trauma-informed yoga intervention designed to foster positive youth development. Our study builds on the successes from an initial feasibility pilot study one year prior in order to evaluate a more robust intervention comparing experimental and control group outcomes. Students at a small, rural high school in Montana volunteered to participate in a 6-week, twice-weekly trauma-informed yoga intervention in their physical education class. Validated survey measures, including the PHQ-A, GAD-7, and ACE-Q instruments, were utilized to measure mental health outcomes pre- vs. post-intervention. Salivary cortisol levels were also measured pre-, mid-, and post-intervention. Statistically significant declines in cortisol levels and improvements in sleep duration were noted when comparing experimental vs. control groups. Noteworthy declines in depression and anxiety levels were also seen when comparing the treatment to control groups. Descriptive differences between the control and experimental groups illustrate the mental health benefits of reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms in rural adolescents resulting from a remotely delivered trauma-informed yoga intervention. Our study holds the potential for a long-term public health impact in reducing adolescent rates of anxiety and depression while mitigating trauma in geographically isolated settings.
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    “Following the Breath”: A Trauma-Informed Intervention for Educator Wellness in Rural Montana
    (MDPI AG, 2022-12) Davis, Lauren; Aylward, Alexandra; Scott, Brandon G.; Jacobs, Jonathan
    Given the prevalence of mental health issues for both educators and adolescents in rural Montana, this project is designed to help mitigate the impact of stressors by providing coping strategies linked to improvements in overall mental health outcomes for teachers, which may ultimately lead to improved co-regulation of students and classroom climate. The immediate goal of this pilot study was to measure physical and mental health outcomes of educators resulting from a remotely-delivered trauma-informed yoga intervention. Findings suggest improvements in participants’ depression and anxiety levels, trauma symptoms, sleep quality, and non-significant changes in heart rate variability and cortisol levels.
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    Building Primary Preservice Teachers’ Identity as Engineering Educators
    (MDPI AG, 2022-09) Lux, Nicholas; Hammack, Rebekah; Wiehe, Blake; Gannon, Paul
    The purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate how two primary preservice teachers built their engineering education identities during a clinical field experience that emphasized engineering education. More specifically, we explored the development of their engineering education identities while facing unforeseen circumstances and unfamiliar engineering content. We used a nested qualitative case study approach that was bounded by a university practicum field experience that took place at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data sources included preservice teacher interviews and reflective field notes. We found that the preservice teachers faced a series of contextual factors in the clinical experience that both afforded and constrained professional learning opportunities that influenced their identity development. The affordances made professional learning opportunities possible, while the constraints limited professional growth. We also found that it was the negotiation of the factors, where the preservice teachers worked to mitigate the effect of the constraints while maximizing the advantages of the affordances, that had the greatest influence on their engineering pedagogical knowledge and engineering teaching self-efficacy. Findings from this study could provide teacher educators with insight into preparing primary teachers for unexpected challenges when teaching engineering, as well as how to best prepare engineering-efficacious teachers.
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    Sense of Accomplishment: A Global Experience in Student Affairs and Services
    (Taylor & Francis, 2022-06) Seifert, Tricia A.; Perozzi, Brett; Li, Wincy
    This empirical article presents student affairs and services practitioners’ perceptions regarding the sense of accomplishment they feel in their job. Results show helping students, collaborating among colleagues, contributing positively to a broader community, and the autonomous and engaging nature of the work itself provided SAS staff across countries and regions with a sense of accomplishment. Authors discuss findings in terms of supporting SAS practitioners in light of changes globally in higher education’s expectations and culture.
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    The Long‑Term Role of Undergraduate Experiences: Predicting Intellectual and Civic Outcomes
    (Springer Nature, 2022-07) Bowman, Nicholas A.; Wolniak, Gregory C.; Seifert, Tricia A.; Wise, Kathleen; Blaich, Charles
    Scholars and the public alike have questioned the benefits of obtaining an undergraduate education. Although research has extensively examined short-term outcomes associated with college experiences, relatively few studies have investigated non-economic outcomes beyond graduation. This paper explored the link between college experiences and post-college outcomes among 21,716 bachelor’s degree recipients from 68 private institutions. Although some variation across demographics was observed, good teaching, academic challenge, and diversity experiences were consistently—and often strongly—related to alumni’s perceptions of intellectual and civic growth.
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    “Step Outside”: A portrait of an exemplary rural K‐8 science educator
    (Wiley, 2022-08) Hammack, Rebekah; Stanton, Christine Rogers; Boyle, Judith
    This study uses portraiture methodology to co-construct and share the story of a nationally recognized rural K-8 science teacher with more than 30 years of teaching experience. Our analysis and synthesis revealed one central theme “Step Outside” and three subthemes: (1) Step Outside of the rural classroom, (2) Step Outside of the K-8 teacher's comfort zone, and (3) Step Outside of science silos, that have been central to the teacher's personal and professional journey. Examining the ways, these subthemes have intersected across the career of an exceptional rural teacher offers valuable insight to the development of teacher identity and how it shapes practice and research, especially within marginalized contexts such as K-8 science education and rural settings.
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    Continuing the Debate: A Response to the Literacy Research Association’s Dyslexia Research Report
    (Australian International Academic Centre, 2022-08) Green, Elizabeth A.
    The Literacy Research Association (LRA) is known for releasing research reports on essential topics in the field of literacy. An Examination of Dyslexia Research and Instruction, with Policy Implications is a recent LRA report with far-reaching impact in education and policy. The report claimed to be a summary of dyslexia research and instruction, however, much recent research on dyslexia definitions, diagnosis, interventions, neuroscience, and law was left out. This paper is a response to the LRA report with the intent to examine elements of the report that are particularly important and well explained, as well as those that are problematic.
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    Trauma-Informed Yoga: Investigating an Intervention for Mitigating Adverse Childhood Experiences in Rural Contexts
    (Informa UK Limited, 2022-07) Davis, Lauren; Aylward, Alexandra; Buchanan, Rebecca
    In a state ravaged by suicide and a mental health crisis, this study sought to mitigate impacts of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and depressive and anxiety symptomology in high school students in a rural Montana community. Through a seven-week, twice weekly intervention of trauma-informed yoga, participants experienced statistically significant reductions in anxiety (GAD-7) and increases in Strengths and Difficulties (SDQ-11) overall scores and some subscales; noteworthy improvements were also present in depressive symptomatology (PHQ-A), salivary cortisol levels, and sleep duration. Importantly, participant qualitative feedback indicated significant benefits in focus, relaxation, and overall well-being. Further research is needed to imply generalizability and should include a larger, more diverse sample as well as utilization of control groups and an examination of academic and behavioral impacts at the school level.
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    Strength in Numbers: The Promise of Community-Based Participatory Research in Rural Education
    (East Carolina University, 2022-06) Davis, Lauren; Buchanan, Rebecca
    Montana is a state that is ravaged by a suicide epidemic and mental health crisis, particularly among its youth. In an area in which harsh climates, geographic challenges, and distance to rural healthcare providers are significant barriers to mental healthcare accessibility, educators are faced with the acute social and emotional challenges of their students on a daily basis. This article documents the process and promise of utilizing novel and innovative community-based participatory research to support rural schools. By integrating a trauma-informed intervention in the school setting, while mobilizing local community resources, this interdisciplinary approach shows the ability to address the needs of adolescents while supporting rural educators.
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    Montana STEM Summit 2022 Report: Accessing STEM Learning Across the Big Sky
    (2022-10) Taylor, Suzanne; Olson, Savanah
    On April 28, 2022, representatives from education, industry, non-profits and other institutions gathered virtually to discuss how to better collaborate to advance STEM learning in the state (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics). This report outlines the resources, barriers and ideas that were discussed at the Summit, and includes suggested next steps for expanding STEM learning across the Big Sky State. The report can be used as a snapshot of the current state of STEM learning in Montana as well as a road map for prioritizing future STEM initiatives. Previous Montana STEM Summits were held in 2019 and 2017.
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    Poverty and Middle Level Achievement in a Common Core State: What are we Missing?
    (College of Education and Social Services at UVM ScholarWorks, 2021-12) Davis, Lauren
    The purpose of this study was to determine whether a significant difference exists in academic achievement between all students and economically disadvantaged students when compared by socioeconomic levels in the North Carolina middle grades learner (as measured by reading and mathematics standardized tests). It also sought to determine whether significant differences exist between economically disadvantaged students in the various middle level grades (6-8). This article analyzes proficiency data in state-level standardized assessments from a most recent testing year (2017) with North Carolina middle level students. While student socioeconomic status and its impact on student achievement are the focus of this article, this study also analyzes proficiency trends while delving into inequity implications. A review of the literature establishes a long-term pattern of an achievement gap with disadvantaged students. Recognizing the impact of poverty on student achievement as measured by standardized tests, the author questions the explicit practices of the middle level educator to better support economically disadvantaged middle level students. This study illuminates some evidence-based best practices while also exploring the asset-based learning model and growth mindset as strategies to support adolescent learners experiencing high poverty.
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    Putting Research Into “Action”: The Impact of Brain Energizers on Off-task Behaviors and Academic Achievement
    (New Prairie Press, 2021-04) Buchanan, Rebecca; Davis, Lauren; Cury, Trisha
    There are many factors influencing the learning environment in public school settings. As such, the recognition of developing a multidimensional approach incorporating a variety of “tools” for a teacher’s toolbox can prove to be very effective. Research indicates that movement is one such tool that can increase the capacity for students to learn (Ratey, 2008). The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of brain energizers in a 1st grade classroom in rural Appalachia. Results of the study indicated that brain energizers had a positive effect on off-task behaviors as well as academic achievement. The incorporation of movement is also recommended as one strategy to mitigate the impact of childhood trauma.
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    Don’t Be Too Political: Depoliticization, Sexual Orientation, and Undergraduate STEM Major Persistence
    (Informa UK Limited, 2021-11) Hughes, Bryce Edward; Kothari, Shriyansh
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) students persist in STEM majors at a lower rate than their heterosexual peers. This study posits that heteronormativity, as an instance of depoliticization in STEM affecting LGBQ students, could be a primary contributing factor. Using national, longitudinal data from the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA, this study tested LGBQ-related college experiences to determine if they help explain the retention gap between LGBQ STEM students and their heterosexual peers. Through multilevel regression modeling, we found that LGBQ status is not a significant predictor of retention in STEM after controlling for LGBQ-related experiences. The results suggest that LGBQ-related and other politicized experiences predict lower retention in STEM for heterosexual students, meaning a culture of depoliticization in STEM may be detrimental to more students than those in minoritized social identity groups.
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    Helping new teachers stay and thrive in rural schools
    (SAGE Publications, 2021-12) Brenner, Devon; Azano, Amy Price; Downey, Jayne
    Among the many challenges facing rural administrators, recruiting and retaining teachers is often at the top of the list. Given the time and energy invested to successfully attract, recruit, and hire a new teacher, there is a significant need to adopt strategies that will help to retain new rural teachers. Rural administrators can support new teachers so that they stay—and thrive—in rural districts by connecting teachers with the community, supporting place-based practices in the classroom, and helping new teachers build relationships both in and out of school.
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    From Producing to Reducing Trauma: A Call for “Trauma-Informed” Research(ers) to Interrogate How Schools Harm Students
    (American Educational Research Association, 2021-11) Petrone, Robert; Stanton, Christine Rogers
    Although “trauma-informed education” has gained momentum across the United States in recent years, a question remains neglected by the research community: How can education research inform understandings of “trauma-informed” approaches when education itself is trauma-producing for many students? This article (1) explores limitations of traumainformed educational scholarship, particularly its reliance on individualized, biomedical understandings of trauma; (2) articulates theoretical reconceptualizations for subsequent research to account for historical trauma and ways schools and research inflict harm on students; and (3) calls for expansion of relational, participatory, and humanizing methodologies. Overall, we argue for a shift from research that focuses on “trauma-informed education” to scholarship that enacts a sociohistorical trauma-reducing framework to more effectively interrogate the intersections of trauma, schooling, and research.
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