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 2113
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    Adult social-emotional learning in the elementary school setting
    (University of Delaware, 2022) Foskey-Raimer, Donald C.
    Throughout the 2021-2022 school year, I implemented the strategies within this Educational Leadership Portfolio with the support of my SEL leadership team in my effort to improve adult understanding of social-emotional learning (SEL) in the elementary school setting. Research shows that not much attention has been given to SEL in pre-service and in-service training for educators (State et al., 2011; Stipp, 2019). Studies also support the claim that SEL is important to the development of students and their success in the social experience that is learning in the school setting (Durlak et al., 2011). My work addresses the professional learning needs of school staff members in regard to SEL and social-emotional competence (SEC) development. ☐ The improvement goal of this ELP was to increase staff understanding of SEL, its importance, and how to provide effective instruction of SE competencies. To accomplish this goal, I implemented three improvement strategies. My first strategy was to develop an improved understanding of the knowledge and needs of school staff members. This was done through a staff survey that greatly influenced the development of a professional learning plan (Appendix E) and a communication plan (Appendix F). The second strategy was to find, enhance, and implement a research-based professional learning program. I worked collaboratively with my SEL leadership team to provide professional learning about adult SEL and SEC development, how to provide SEL instruction to students, and about the benefits of SEL for students. The third strategy was conducting a review of Second Step Elementary SEL program evaluations to further evaluate the merit of the program that was implemented in the elementary school setting. ☐ To support the improvement strategies and measure their effectiveness to achieve the improvement goal, a family event was facilitated, professional learning took place, and feedback was gathered in the form of a staff survey, staff focus groups, and a student focus group. Staff and students reported finding value in the work and the SEL instruction that took place. They expressed a desire to continue the work, and school staff members requested additional professional learning opportunities that support collaboration and discussion about SEL and SEC development. This project’s research and findings highlight the need for stakeholder collaboration, consistent SEL program implementation with fidelity, and continual necessity for professional learning opportunities that support the needs of school staff members in the area of SEC development and how to best provide SEL instruction for students.
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    Imaging the mechanical properties of the pediatric brain
    (University of Delaware, 2022) McIlvain, Grace
    Brain mechanical properties can be measured in vivo using a phase contrast MRI technology known as magnetic resonance elastography (MRE). Mechanical properties describe underlying neural tissue microstructural composition, and they have been found to sensitively describe changes in aging, neurodegenerative disease, and tumors. Interestingly, mechanical properties have recently been found to relate to cognitive function, highlighting the sensitivity of MRE to individual differences. However, brain mechanical properties have not previously been measured in vivo in any pediatric population, as MRE is an inherently long acquisition technique which was previously ill-suited for scanning challenging populations such as children. Pediatric elastography has tremendous potential to aid in understanding neural tissue differences in neurodevelopmental disorders, and to help expand scientific understanding of how tissue mechanical maturation contributes to maturation of cognitive function. The goal of this dissertation is to develop fast acquisition MRE techniques which are specifically tailored for the pediatric population and for the first time, characterize normal regional brain mechanical maturation from childhood to adulthood.
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    Understanding the nature of urban food insecurity in Nepal and the prospective role of US foreign aid
    (University of Delaware, 2022) Sharma, Saloni
    Today, more than half of the world’s population resides in urban areas. This has profound implications on all aspects of life, including food security. Food security issues are especially concerning in Asia, where at least half of all food is consumed in cities, and urbanization is shifting poverty from rural to urban areas. This dissertation investigates the nature of urban food insecurity in one of the fastest urbanizing nations in South Asia- Nepal. Current food security research and policies of Nepal are completely rural-centric, leaving a significant gap in the literature and existing policies. This gap exists not only at the domestic level but also in foreign assistance from donor agencies and foreign governments. This includes the United States and the United Nations, which have primarily focused on rural regions, leaving urban areas an unexplored territory for food assistance intervention, albeit increasing urban food insecurity. Therefore, this study addresses two significant gaps in the literature and policy. First, it investigates urban food insecurity in Nepal in its most densely populated region- Kathmandu Valley. Second, it explores the potential role of US foreign assistance in mitigating urban food insecurity in Nepal. Several global food security programs have attempted to tackle hunger through international aid and domestic policies for decades. This research explores US foreign aid as a potential resource for addressing hunger and food insecurity in urban areas of the global South. Using the Rights-Based theory, it frames food as a fundamental human rights issue and expands the theoretical framework of the Right to Adequate Food by including the role of governance. The findings of the dissertation project reflect the unique and urgent nature of urban food insecurity and outline key actors in the governance of urban food systems that have the potential to serve as development partners in US food assistance to Nepal. Ultimately, the dissertation sets the foundation for donors, academics, and the Nepal government to expand their food security research and intervention programs in urban areas of the global South.
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    Effects of immersion instruction design: a case study of two Chinese immersion programs on biliteracy development
    (University of Delaware, 2022) Lin, Li Li
    China’s rising economy has increased the popularity of learning the Chinese language. Chinese immersion programs have gained popularity in K-12 education, particularly for younger learners. However, research on the optimal instruction design for Chinese and English biliteracy development in one-way Chinese immersion programs is scarce. This Educational Leadership Portfolio (ELP) adopted the method of a case study. Two sample programs were recruited to explore the ratio of the two-program language used in the instruction design in order to understand how two-language allocation decisions affect Chinese biliteracy development. ☐ The study collected students’ data on the state accountability assessment of English Language Arts (ELA) and summative assessment data of Chinese Language Arts (CLA) for three consecutive years from 2017 to 2019. Both programs’ immersion teachers participated in an online survey to obtain contextual information on (a) the ratio of the two program languages used in daily instruction, (b) the instruction time schedule for CLA and ELA, respectively, (c) professional development (PD) on literacy instruction, and (d) literacy instruction strategies. By drawing on the teacher survey results and students' assessment data of the two programs, the study suggests that instruction design played a crucial role in Chinese literacy development. The effects of instruction design are reflected in early literacy development, adequate instruction time for CLA, and two languages transfer in teaching academic subjects. In light of the study’s findings, recommendations are provided for crafting an instructional design that integrates early oral language development, protected CLA instruction time, as well as academic subjects taught in both languages.
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    A recipe for success: designing flexible professional learning for foundational skills
    (University of Delaware, 2022) Wheedleton, Kimberly S.
    This Executive Leadership Portfolio (ELP) seeks to address the problem of how to design a flexible baseline professional learning architecture which both fits in the Professional Development Center for Educator’s (PDCE) 1:1 preparation model and allows for specialist customization that maintains quality and meets the unique professional learning needs of PDCE’s partners. To determine a potential solution to this problem, a professional learning design project was developed and built, along with accompanying implementation tools, to support teacher implementation of the differentiated instruction model as presented in How to Plan Differentiated Reading Instruction: Resources for Grades K-3 (Walpole & McKenna, 2017). The professional learning design was informed through an iterative try/fail/redesign process within five successive professional learning partnerships. The final professional learning design and implementation tools were then tested to determine their feasibility for addressing the problem by implementing them in a sixth partnership. ☐ Results from the sixth professional learning partnership suggest that, if implemented as designed, the flexible baseline professional learning architecture can feasibly allow PDCE’s Literacy Instructional Specialists to provide synchronous, customized, differentiated professional learning sessions which fit the Center’s 1:1 preparation model, maintain quality, and meet the unique professional learning needs of each partnership. An unforeseen outcome of the partnership was that with additional revisions, the professional learning architecture was also able to provide asynchronous professional learning support. While those initial revisions to the professional learning architecture and accompanying implementation tools extended the preparation time beyond the 1:1 ratio, once completed, feasibility for 1:1 preparation can likely be realized for asynchronous applications as well.