Summit Institutional Repository @ PSU

Summit Institutional Repository @ Plymouth State University is a digital repository for gathering, indexing, preserving, and making available a treasury of research and scholarly work generated by PSU faculty, students and staff. Based on the principle of Open Access, one of Summit's key missions is to ensure that these scholarly and creative endeavors are accessible to the widest possible audience.

These collections are freely available, organized, made accessible by PSU's Lamson Library. They demonstrate the summit of academic production at the University and its commitment to encourage transformational teaching and connected learning, to advance the Plymouth State University motto - Ut prosim (That I may serve). The content is available to be used responsibly under fair use US copyright law for personal and educational purposes or with the permission of the authors and/or copyright holders. For more information about submitting your work to Summit, please contact us at

Recent Submissions

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    Identifying Effective Professional Development to Meet Teachers’ Needs When Instructing English Learner Students
    (2024-05) Brazee, Erika
    AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF Erika Brazee for the degree of Doctor of Education Presented on February 19, 2024 Title: Identifying Effective Professional Development to Meet Teachers’ Needs When Instructing English Learner Students. Abstract approved: _______________________________________________________________ Scott Mantie, Ph.D., Dissertation Committee Chair This phenomenological study explored elementary educators' identified needs for effective professional development, focused on the instruction and assessment of English Learners (EL) in schools with low EL incidence. Addressing teacher preparation through effective professional development was guided by Bruner’s (1960) constructivist theory and Knowles andragogy theory, specifically adult learning theory. The purposeful sampling for the individual semi-structured interviews included eight elementary Kindergarten through fifth-grade educators who had previously had an EL student. The teachers participated in a 45-minute Zoom interview. The responses were coded using descriptive focused analysis and In Vivo coding while anchoring. Three common themes were identified from an in-depth analysis of the transcribed interviews after multiple readings from anchor one and five from anchor two. Anchor one addresses the design and delivery of an effective PD, and anchor two reports on teachers’ identified needs for instructing and assessing EL students. Anchor one included the presentation of material: workshop, in-person, visuals, is of sustained duration, two half days, two times a year; Role of the learner: active learner; Role of the facilitator: supports collaboration, offers feedback and coaching, and use of models of effective practice and identified resources. Anchor two included math instruction, reading comprehension instruction, assessments, using technology, and understanding EL proficiency levels to provide evidence-based instruction. The researcher then developed a PD template using the data from this study and research on effective PD and best practices for instructing and assessing EL students in low-EL incidence areas.
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    Educator Perception: The Use of Student Voice to Increase Engagement in Social Emotional Learning
    (2024-05) Brault, Paula
    AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERATION OF Paula H. Brault for the degree of Doctor of Education in Learning, Leadership, and Community presented on March 25, 2024 Title: Educator Perception: The use of Student Voice to Increase Engagement in Social Emotional Learning Abstract Approved: Scott J. Mantie, PhD Dissertation Committee Chair There are decades of examples of the use of student voice to engage a student in curriculum. A sizeable gap in this research is the use of student voice in social emotional learning (SEL) to increase engagement. The purpose of this pragmatic study was to determine if incorporating student voice into the SEL curriculum is effective in changing adolescent student engagement. Online surveys were used to collect data. High school principals provided demographic information and SEL educators answered Likert Scale and open-ended questions regarding their impressions of student engagement with and without student voice. Data was also acquired from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website. Principals and educators at Massachusetts high schools with a population of less than 1,000, took part in the study. Qualitative and statistical analyses were used to make comparisons between programs that used student voice and those who did not. Of the 22 schools that participated, 15 school principals allowed SEL educators to participate and 23 educators completed the survey. Findings showed positive outcomes in attendance and discipline. The researcher also explored potential changes in SEL curriculum and the needs of educators to be comfortable teaching SEL.
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    Special Education Teacher Retention and Attrition in Rural Schools: What Special Educators Report as Impacting Persistence
    (2024-05) Brown, Sabrina
    AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF Sabrina L. Brown for the degree of Doctor of Education in Learning, Leadership, and Community presented on February 22, 2024 Title: Special Education Teacher Retention and Attrition in Rural Schools: What Special Educators Report as Impacting Persistence Abstract approved: Scott J. Mantie, Dissertation Committee Chair This qualitative phenomenological study explored the factors Vermont rural special educators reported as impacting their persistence and what institutional barriers and supports they identified as needing. The complexities and challenges experienced by all teachers, special educators, rural teachers, and rural special educators informed the conceptual framework that guided this study. A purposeful sampling of Vermont’s rural special educators included an open-ended confidential survey and one-to-one semi-structured interviews conducted between October 2023 and December 2023. Through coding, sorting, and constant comparative analysis, the interview transcriptions and survey data were analyzed to identify themes. The study uncovered insights on what rural special educators identified as enjoyable in their role, the barriers/challenges they faced, and the institutional factors they need from their supervisory unions to persist. Participants identified that work environment, noninstructional tasks, job design, and resources affected their well-being as rural special educators. Strategies for increasing special educator retention in rural communities are discussed.
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    Sustained Change in Practice: Meeting the Needs of Teachers
    (2024-05-10) Riley, Kathleen
    AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF Kathleen M. Riley for the degree of Doctor of Education in Leadership, Learning and Community presented on February 29, 2023. Title: Sustained Change in Practice: Meeting the Needs of Teachers Abstract approved: Scott J. Mantie, Ph.D. Dissertation Committee Chair It is estimated that K-12 public school districts spend approximately nine percent of their annual operating budgets on professional development to enhance the practice of teachers, yet research has found that this significant resource for training does not always yield sustained changes in instructional practices. This phenomenological qualitative study examined the factors that influence teachers from two to New Hampshire public school districts to achieve a sustained change in their instructional practice. An open-ended teacher survey and semi-structured interviews provided insight into the lived experiences of the 34 participants. The study captured the rich descriptions of times when the teachers were able to achieve a sustained change in their instructional practice and times when they did not. The principals and assistant principals detailed how they influence teachers to make practice change and the resources they use to motivate those changes. The data analysis revealed eight factors that influence teachers to make and sustain instructional practice change. The implications of this study extend to educators, administrators, and policy makers by offering insights on how curriculum implementation can be re-designed to address the identified factors and meet the needs of teachers.
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    To knit the knot: embodied mind in John Donne’s “The Ecstasy”
    (Taylor & Francis, 2018) Helms, Nicholas
    For John Donne’s “The Ecstasy”, cognitive ecology offers a new approach to the divide between Platonism and Aristotelianism in the poem, presenting a continuum between body and soul rather than an opposition or equivalence. In this essay, I argue that Donne charts a continuum of body and soul through a chain of metaphors, knitting together an ecstasy that is both outside and beside the self. One can neither conceive of nor experience such an ecstasy without employing embodied metaphors, metaphors that enable the conceptual movement within the poem. Strictly speaking, souls cannot move, speak, mix, or descend: all these actions are embodied concepts that use human motor-schema to map out abstract notions. The soul’s movement occurs in a conceptual space carved out through this chaotic change and exchange of embodied metaphors. This movement of the soul through the body, via the body, knits the “knot, which makes us man”.

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