Doctoral Dissertations (Winter 2014 to Present)

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New submissions to the University of Delaware Doctoral Dissertations collection are added as they are released by the Office of Graduate & Professional Education. The Office of Graduate & Professional Education deposits all dissertations from a given semester after the official graduation date.

Doctoral dissertations from 1948 to present are also available online through Dissertations & Theses @ University of Delaware. Check DELCAT Discovery to locate print or microform copies of dissertations that are not available online.

More information is available at Dissertations & Theses.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 2272
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    Effects of Explicit and Systematic Phonological and Phonemic Awareness (PPA) Instruction in Kindergarten
    Pizzi, Emily Patricia
    Reading acquisition is a major focus in schools. For students to be literate in the later grades, it is crucial that foundational skills instruction takes place in the primary grades (K-2). In part, foundational skills needed to become a successful reader include phonological and phonemic awareness (PPA). PPA skills are crucial, and researchers agree that if difficulties in these skills are not addressed early, students will have an increasingly challenging time making gains in their reading abilities as the years progress (Al-Bataineh & Sims-King, 2013). Instruction of PPA skills must be a major focus in primary grades due to their importance for later success in reading. As a kindergarten teacher in the Red Clay School District (RCSD), I recognize that providing students with research-based PPA instruction in the primary grades is vital to success in later grades. In recent years, kindergarten students in RCSD have demonstrated limited proficiency in foundational skills, such as phoneme segmentation and first sound fluency, likely due to instructional limits necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the purpose of this ELP was to (a) design a preliminary set of systematic and explicit PPA lessons, (b) conduct a pilot implementation of those lessons, and (c) evaluate the lesson design, fidelity and feasibility of implementation, and student learning during the pilot. Using research literature to support the lesson structure, I designed a set of 18 lessons focusing on PPA skills. Each lesson was designed to be explicit and systematic and lasted approximately 15-20 minutes. Lessons were delivered three times per week for six weeks. Students were assessed using DIBELS Next Phoneme Segmentation Fluency (PSF) subtest prior to and following the conclusion of instruction. Students were given progress monitoring assessments biweekly to evaluate progress towards proficiency with specific skills. Following the delivery of instruction, I evaluated the design and development of the PPA lessons, the feasibility of the PPA lessons, and the preliminary student results from the assessments. Lesson plans were successfully designed to be explicit and systematic. In addition, analysis of implementation revealed that the lessons were feasible for educators to implement. On average, students improved their PPA abilities from pretest to posttest. Given the promise of the pilot PPA instruction, I recommend that the school district adopt a research-based, explicit, and systematic PPA curriculum for use across the RCSD in kindergarten classrooms. Currently, RCSD is piloting UFLI foundations, a program that fits these criteria. Subsequently, the next steps for the RCSD are to adopt this curriculum, or a similar curriculum district wide, for the improvement of PPA skills in kindergarten across the district.
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    Eruslu, Dilek
    Parents play an important role in their children’s education through the transmission of family resources. My dissertation is an investigation of how parents’ capitals – economic, human, and social - and their involvement level interact with each other to influence children’s academic achievement. Specifically, the purpose of my dissertation was to examine (1) the direct effects of different aspects of parents’ capitals on children’s educational achievement, and (2) the mediating effect of parent involvement on these parents’ capitals and children’s academic achievement. The results from this study show that all parents’ capital variables (i.e., economic, human, and social capitals) have statistically significant direct effects on children’s academic achievement. Findings also demonstrate that parents’ social capital had more contribution than parents’ financial and human capitals with regard to explaining children’s achievement. More importantly, this study finds that parents’ financial, human, and social capital shape students’ achievement through parent involvement activities, which means that their involvement levels change the total impact of their capitals. This study extends its discussion with the necessary connection between policy support and the practices schools employ to engage parents.
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    Using guidance and data to inform the instruction of multilingual learners
    (University of Delaware, 2023) Solano, Sugely
    This Educational Leadership Portfolio (ELP) focused on improving the literacy instruction of multilingual learners (MLLs) in Brandywine School District. Improving the literacy instruction of MLLs has the potential to influence their English language proficiency performance and, ultimately their Smarter Balance Assessment (SBAC) performance in ELA and mathematics. To reach this goal, I researched evidence-based practices for teaching MLLs, I administered and analyzed a teacher survey, reviewed existing data and resources used to serve MLLs, created new guidance documents, and provided professional learning (PL). ☐ A review of the MLL teacher survey and existing resources in the district revealed that educators could benefit from improved guidance and PL. Each guidance document addresses evidence-based practices for co-teaching, how to scaffold grade-level English language arts instruction, and how to discuss and celebrate English language proficiency progress with MLLs. PL sessions focused on increasing teachers’ understanding of MLLs’ assets, research about second language acquisition and native language characteristics, and the use of assessment data to improve the instruction of MLLs. ☐ The implementation of specific guidance, ongoing school visit feedback, and PL showed that ESOL teachers/tutors gained confidence discussing MLLs’ assets and scaffolding grade level instruction to promote language and content learning and revealed areas for continued leadership.
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    Manzer, Jamie
    Family planning has been a cornerstone of American public health policy for decades because of its potential to reduce unintended pregnancies, decrease related public spending, and improve family stability. Despite this prioritization, nearly fifty percent of pregnancies in the United States (U.S.) remain unplanned, suggesting there may be an unexplored disconnect between family planning as a public health goal and women’s own family formation needs and experiences. However, given the purported benefits of family planning, few policymakers, scholars, and healthcare professionals critically examine the paradigm of family planning, instead focusing policy efforts and resources on simply encouraging women to better time and space their pregnancies in line with public health recommendations. Through the stories of 86 diverse self-identified women, whose lives I follow for five years, I set out to understand how women conceive of family planning and enact its tenets (or not) in their lives. In doing so, I demonstrate that family planning is not simply a set of objective, health-related decisions about when and under what circumstances to become pregnant. Rather, it is a deeply intimate social process of family formation, influenced by gender, race, and class-based ideologies around family, motherhood, and health. Through these findings, I cast a critical light on the paradigm of family planning by challenging the underlying assumptions about its relevance, neutrality, universality, and benefits. Further, by using a Reproductive Justice lens, I emphasize the unequal burdens of family planning as currently conceived on women and families as well as its failure to support and stabilize families. I conclude by offering a new definition of family planning and use it to propose clear directions for future research as well as recommendations for social and public health policies that are both family and woman centered.
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    Essays on the effects of the development of transportation on differences in labor market outcomes by ethnicity and on the youth labor market in China
    (University of Delaware, 2023) Yang, Zixin
    This research focuses on the effects of the development of transportation on different groups of people in China. Chapter 2 estimates the effects of transportation development on differences in labor market outcomes by ethnicity. The primary methodology I applied for this study is the difference-in-difference method. The common types of transportation in China are highway and high-speed rail. Therefore, this study investigates the combined effects of highway and high-speed rail. The estimates of the development of transportation may be biased because the Chinese government conducted many policies to benefit the western and central regions and young people. Thus, this research also employs the triple-difference strategy to estimate whether these policies have additional effects on different outcomes via the channel of highway and high-speed rail. Chapter 2 finds that highway and high-speed rail can reduce gaps in earnings, migration, and weekly working hours between minorities and Han. In addition, this chapter analyzes different types of jobs, such as tenured jobs, industrial jobs, agricultural jobs, self-employment jobs, and service jobs. The results reveal that highway plays a more significant role in decreasing disparities between minorities and Han than high-speed rail. Chapter 3 investigates the effects on the youth labor market. The International Labor Organization (ILO) and Chinese national census define youth as aged 15 to 24. I find that high-speed rail and highway connections increase education and the employment rate of youth. However, highway and high-speed rail have no impact on annual earnings and the probability of having a job with an employment contract for youth.