Dissertations by CIU Faculty

Mark D. McCann, Ed.D.

Abstract: GRADE INFLATION: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MATH REPORT
CARD GRADES AND STANDARDIZED TEST RESULTS AT THE ELEMENTARY LEVEL (2003)

The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential presence of grade inflation in private religious-based elementary schools.  Using a Pearson product-moment correlation, third quarter math report card grades and Stanford Achievement Test (SAT9) Total Math scaled scores were analyzed for statistical significance and strength of relationship as denoted by effect size.  Sample data were drawn from the 1999-2000, 2000-2001, and 2001-2002 school year.

Analysis of the data indicated that there was a statistically significant relationship between report card grades and SAT9 scores.  Correlation coefficients indicated low to moderate effect sizes, indicating that a low to moderated percentage of the changes in standardized achievement test scores could be attributed to the grades on the report card.  However, schools using Saxon or Scott Foresman Math textbooks demonstrated moderate to strong correlational coefficients.  Therefore, a moderate to strong percentage of the changes in standardized achievement test scores could be attributed to the grades on the report cards for those schools using these textbooks.

Frequency distributions for students scoring above the first standard deviation on the SAT9 indicated that while a high percentage of students received A’s, a large percentage of the students also received B’s, C’s, and even D’s on their report card.  Conversely, students who scored below the first standard deviation still demonstrated a large percentage of A’s on the report card.  The data indicated that while a student may receive a high grade on their report card, it did not mean that they would get an “above average” score on the SAT9.  On the other hand, students who received an “above average” score on the SAT9 did not necessarily receive an “A” on their report card.

Conclusions suggest that the disparity in the relationship between report card grades and SAT9 scores may be attributed to grade inflation/deflation.  The strength of the magnitude of effect for certain textbook users indicated that curriculum alignment played an important role in the relationship between report card grades and SAT9 scores.  The data indicated that grades were not consistent predictors of how students would perform on the SAT9.

Recommendations included having principals and teachers evaluate grading procedures and practices.  It was also recommended that principals check the continuity between achievement test objectives and school curriculum or selected textbooks.  Schools should incorporate a module in their school improvement plan to monitor grades and achievement test scores.  Inferences should not be drawn from one set of scores, but should be drawn from trends in data.

For Dr. McCann's complete dissertation, click here to order (UMI Publication Number 3117815).

Connie Z. Mitchell, Ed.D.

Abstract: A STUDY OF PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION COURSES FOR ELEMENTARY CHRISTIAN SCHOOL TEACHERS AT BIBLE COLLEGES (1982)

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to gather and compile descriptive information concerning professional education courses for elementary Christian school teachers at Bible colleges. The researcher completed the following tasks:

  1. Compared and contrasted elementary teacher certification standards and teacher education accreditation standards.
  2. Summarized elementary professional education courses offered.
  3. Designed and administered a questionnaire that would aid in developing courses.
  4. Analyzed questionnaire data from Christian school educators.
  5. Synthesized distinctive topics to be included in ten courses.

Procedures

The researcher developed and mailed a six-page questionnaire to 31 chairmen of teacher education programs in Bible colleges accredited by the American Association of Bible Colleges, and to 200 administrators and 200 teachers randomly sampled from the American Association of Christian Schools and the Association of Christian Schools International. Of those surveyed, 243 (56%) responded to the 41-item questionnaire, including 31 (100%) of the Bible college professors.

The data from the questionnaires were analyzed in four areas: (a) background information; (b) similarities and differences in the content and approach of secular and Christian education courses; (c) topics to be included in a course “Teaching in a Christian School”; and (d) distinctive topics to be included in ten professional education courses for elementary Christian school teachers in Bible colleges.

Findings

Elementary teachers are generally unprepared to teacher specifically in Christian schools, and a college curriculum is needed that is “specifically designed” to prepare elementary Christian school teachers. Bible colleges should offer education courses that (a) provide the required distinctive content and approach; (b) allow for student teaching experiences at Christian schools; and (c) furnish information on topics deemed essential, such as Biblical integration procedures, personal commitment, classroom discipline, and purposes of Christian schools.

For Dr. Mitchell's complete dissertation, click here to order (UMI Publication Number 8229207).

Deborah L. Moore, Ed.D.

Abstract: Most Common Teacher Characteristics that Relate to Intentionality in
Student Spiritual Formation (2011)

A Christian school teacher has the influential task of guiding students in their spiritual formation from a biblical worldview so that students’ lifestyles exhibit character, leadership, and service to others. Given this task, Christian teachers are able to be intentional in the areas of classroom management, instruction, and individual modeling. Little research has been completed in this arena, therefore these areas were developed by using Stronge’s (2007) book, The Effective Teacher.  Stronge (2007) uses four areas to discuss an effective teacher which include: the teacher as an individual, teacher preparation, classroom management, and instruction. Concepts from developmental theories, spiritual formation, and Christian schooling were incorporated with Stronge‘s effective teacher characteristics to provide a foundation in determining the common characteristics that are related to intentionality in student spiritual formation.

To gather data for this research, fifty administrators from the Southeast Region of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) were asked to forward a survey to their teachers. Teachers within these schools were then asked to complete this survey regarding intentional practices for student spiritual formation. The survey made use of a Likert scale based on the continuum of very important to not important for the first 20 questions. Teachers were then asked to rate these characteristics and in a later question, teachers were asked to explain spiritual formation. By using the Likert scale, a rating system, and an open ended question, a triangulation method was used to find the most common characteristics related to spiritual formation intentionality.

Three characteristics were found to be significantly related to teachers who were intentional in student spiritual formation.  The first characteristic was “creating a classroom climate”. This variable was listed as the second most important characteristic in the ranking portion of the study and was also in the top five responses in the open-ended question of the research study.  This characteristic is also supported within the related literature, Johnson (1989) suggests that teachers arrange the immediate environment and select the specific content and experiences that are intended to influence learning.  Miller (2008) also contends that the teacher can encourage and nurture the students to engage in learning by putting in place a simple structure and well-thought out routines.  With a nurturing environment, teachers can encourage students to learn (Dettoni, 1994).  This characteristic was found in all three methods indicating that classroom climate is related to teachers who were intentional in student spiritual formation. 

The second characteristic that was found to be significant was “to be intentional in the spiritual disciplines”.  This characteristic was found significant in the regression analysis and in the top five responses when ranking the characteristics.  Within the related literature, Pazmino (1998) suggested that with the privilege of teaching comes a corresponding responsibility to prepare one’s own heart because it is from the heart that transformational teaching occurs.  Lockerbie (2005) asserted that teachers should lead by example.  In I Corinthians, the Apostle Paul desired that the Corinthians follow his example as he followed the example of Christ. The results of the survey indicated that teachers relate being intentional in their spiritual disciplines to intentional student spiritual formation. 

The variable,“exhibiting a Christlike attitude”, was found not to be significant in the regression analysis but was the first choice in both ranking the characteristics and in the open-ended question.  In the related literature, Christians are to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  Clark (1994) encourages the process of spiritual formation by nurturing and discipling a student through the work of the Spirit.  This variable rated highly in the two methods to reflect its importance as a characteristic that is related to teachers who were intentional in student spiritual formation.

The characteristics found to be most common included exhibiting a Christlike attitude, creating a classroom climate that promotes spiritual growth, and being intentional in their spiritual disciplines. The results were also divided into three levels which included Pre-K to 5th grades, 6th through 8th grades, and 9th through 12th grades. A characteristic unique to Pre-K to 5th and 6th through 8th grades was: “respectful of all students as they progress on their spiritual journey.”

Three of these variables (Christlike attitude, classroom climate, and respect for students) were located in the classroom management category.  Stronge (2007) writes, “Many studies show that classroom management is an influential variable in teacher effectiveness” (p. 41).  For teachers to be effective in student spiritual formation, intentionality in classroom management is a factor.  Stronge (2007) also suggests that an effective teacher will create an overall environment that is conducive to learning.  A classroom climate allows for a student to know Christ and to grow more like Him.  For students to learn and understand spiritual formation the environment must foster this growth.  This should be accomplished at all grade levels. 

The three variables, Christlike attitude, classroom climate, and spiritual disciplines, were found to be the most common teacher characteristics that relate to intentionality in spiritual formation.  However, these characteristics seem to be interrelated with each other.  A teacher must practice spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and worship to grow in his or her own relationship with Christ.  Without being intentional to develop one’s spiritual formation, a Christlike attitude would be difficult to cultivate and maintain.  A classroom climate that encourages and fosters students to grow spiritually would be led and modeled by a teacher who places significance on spiritual growth. A teacher who is involved in personal growth which enhances a Christlike attitude fosters a classroom climate that encourages student spiritual formation.  A teacher then is able to model love, patience, kindness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) when managing the classroom and instructing students. This attitude also encompasses respect for students which was also found significant at the Pre-K to 5th and 6th to 8th grade levels.  By demonstrating love, kindness, self-control, and respect when students are reflecting opposite behaviors, a Christlike attitude is demonstrated within a classroom climate that fosters spiritual growth.  This can be accomplished when a teacher desires to grow personally (spiritual disciplines) to become like Christ (spiritual formation) to model His characteristics (Christlike attitude) in an atmosphere that fosters growth (classroom climate). 

For Dr. Moore's complete dissertation, click here to order (UMI Publication Number 3465633).

Milton V. Uecker, Ed.D.

Abstract: Traditional vs. Activity-Centered Kindergarten and First Grade Mathematics Instruction: The Effect on Arithmetic and Problem-Solving Abilities of First Graders (1987)

The purpose of this research study was to determine the differences in overall arithmetic skill and verbal problem-solving ability between first grade children who had been taught for two years by either a rote drill and practice (traditional) or an activity-centered (manipulative) approach. The A-Beka mathematics curriculum was used as the traditional model, and Mathematics Their Way (MTW) was the activity-centered model.

The sample group for this study was 106 students on the achievement measure, Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and 52 students on the individual problem-solving interview. First grade students who had been taught for two years by the chosen model were drawn out of eight first grade classrooms (four representing each teaching approach). The classrooms were matched according to demographic characteristics.

The t-test analysis of the scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills showed a significant difference (p<.05) favoring the traditional approach on the computation subtest and the total math (composite) test. There was no difference on the measures of concepts and problems (verbal story problems).

The t-test analysis of scores on the individual problem-solving interviews showed a significant difference (p<.05) favoring the activity-centered approach. The MTW students scored significantly higher on the overall interview (20 story problems), level one questions (facts from three to ten), level two questions (facts from 11 to 18), and on questions where irrelevant numbers were present. Even thought the activity-centered students scored higher on all subparts of the interview, the differences were not significant on two-part problems, multiplication, and division.

The MTW group used concrete models along with counting strategies more often than the A-Beka group. The A-Beka group used memorized facts more often than the MTW group. A t-test analysis showed only the difference in use of concrete models to be significant (p<.05).

The A-Beka students made errors related to a lack of understanding more than twice as often as the MTW students. This difference was significant (p<.05) using the t-test. Using the wrong operation and stating a number in the problem as the answer were categories of error that were dependent on teaching method. The A-Beka group made significantly more errors of this type than the MTW group.

 For Dr. Uecker's complete dissertation, click here to order (UMI Publication Number 8902447).

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