Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Calming Chaos in the Classroom
Physical activity and classroom design changes are beneficial means to reduce stress, and enhance well-being. Results across some studies however, are mixed. Shanker Self-Reg™ supports the use of physical equipment and design as a means of managing arousal and tension levels. Previous research lacks rich description of educators’ understanding of equipment and design, Self-Reg, and how this understanding affects the way it is implemented. In the current study, educators’ understanding of Self-Reg, how this understanding influenced educators’ approach to the school environment, and if one workshop was enough to inspire individuals to adopt a Self-Reg approach were explored using thematic analysis. Participants included educators from schools with beginner and intermediate-level experience in Self-Reg. The analysis produced eight themes and 8 sub-themes. Participants’ knowledge of Self-Reg influenced their approach to their environments. Although one workshop may have inspired interest in the framework, it was not enough to shift educators’ current practice. Author Keywords: Arousal, Classroom, Self-Reg, Self-regulation, Stress, Teachers
Peers, Props & Play
This study examined the relation between complexity of pretend play during preschool and early academic skills two years later. Preschool children (n =19), aged 3 years, were observed during self-directed free play, which was then coded for complexity of symbolic thought with respect to symbolic agent (ability to direct self or other’s play) and symbolic substitution (abstractness of props). Children’s literacy and numeracy skills were assessed concurrently and two years later when children were 5 years old. We found that children who directed others' play compared to children who focused on their own play had higher mathematics achievement at 5 years. In addition, children who engaged in more complex object substitutions (abstract props) had better counting at 3 years and better early reading skills at 5 years than their peers, who showed few complex substitutions. Our findings suggest that encouraging specific aspects of pretend play in preschool could be a relatively simple way to promote early academic achievement. Author Keywords: Math , Play complexity, Preschool , Pretend Play, Reading
Evidence of an Interaction Between Memory Stores for Long-Term Context Fear Memory in the Rat
Memories which typically require the hippocampus (HPC) can become represented in structures outside of the HPC, and therefore resistant to HPC damage, but, the properties of these memories are poorly understood. Some research has suggested that the HPC continually contributes to memories that are resistant to hippocampal damage, and without this support, they are weaker and more susceptible to loss. However, this hypothesis has yet to be tested experimentally. We examined this possibility in rats by assessing decay and extinction of a context fear memory that had become independent of the HPC via repeated learning episodes. We found that HPC-independent context fear memories decay and extinguish faster without continued HPC support, suggesting that the HPC plays a continued role in long-term memory. We also provide new evidence of a persistent interaction between the HPC and other memory systems, which strengthens non-HPC representations so that they withstand HPC damage at longer intervals. Author Keywords: consolidation, context fear, hippocampus, memory, retrograde amnesia
Individual Differences in Human Tolerance for Wildlife and The Role of Nature Relatedness
Human-wildlife interactions are inevitable and lead to decisions about wildlife. The current research investigated what demographic and psychological factors influence decisions in wildlife management. Also, a new measure, the Tolerance for Wildlife Scale, was developed. A student sample (n = 329) and a community sample (n = 213) completed measures on their nature relatedness, environmental concern, and emotions towards wildlife. They completed the Tolerance for Wildlife Scale and rated decisions to use lethal or non-lethal action in nine human-wildlife scenarios. Correlation analyses revealed people who are more tolerant towards wildlife are more connected with nature, concerned for the environment, feel positive emotions towards wildlife, and are more likely to choose non-lethal management actions. ANOVAs revealed that location and occupation have an impact on tolerance for wildlife. By identifying factors that influence tolerance for wildlife, humans can hope to share space with wildlife and foster coexistence. Author Keywords: emotion, environmental concern, nature relatedness, tolerance, wildlife, wolves
Developing Social-Emotional Competencies in Youth
Trait Emotional Intelligence (TEI) plays an important role in the health and wellness of children and adolescents. Not surprisingly, the literature on TEI and youth has expanded dramatically. Although the quality of this work continues to be uneven due to the continued proliferation of TEI-related measures with questionable psychometric features. One over-looked TEI measure in the field is the short form developed for the Emotional Quotient Inventory Youth Version (EQ-i:YV-S). The core goal of Study 1 was to examine the overall reliability and validity of the EQ-i:YV-S. The aim of Study 2 was to evaluate the utility of the EQ-i:YV-S as a measure of the effectiveness of a new school-based social and emotional learning program for elementary school students. Results from Study 1 demonstrated that the EQ-i:YV-S had good internal reliability, 6-month test-retest reliability, and convergent validity. Study 2 found that Total EI and most key EI-related dimensions had significant improvement from pretest to post test on the EQ-i:YV-S. These findings have important implications for TEI measurement in youth and the effectiveness of school-based psychoeducational programming for TEI, with the EQ-i:YV-S as a viable option for research in this area. Author Keywords: emotional intelligence, psychoeducational programming, social-emotional competencies
Retrograde Amnesia of Fear Memories Following Pentylenetetrazol Kindling
Memories pertaining to fearful events are some of the most salient and long-lasting memories, as they are critical to the survival of an organism. Seizures induce aberrant changes within temporal lobe and limbic brain structures that are critical for supporting fear memories. Seizures can occur at any time; therefore, it is imperative that research address how seizures impact previously learned information. The present series of experiments demonstrate that pentylenetetrazol-kindling induces retention deficits of previously acquired context fear memories in male rats. Kindling induced subsequent fear learning deficits but did not impact spatial learning. Additionally, following kindling, volumetric increase was observed within the hippocampal subfield CA3, as well as increased neural activation within the hippocampal subfield CA1. The results of this work suggests that chronic seizures can alter the function of neural networks important for supporting and retrieving previously acquired memories. Author Keywords: amygdala, anterograde amnesia, context fear conditioning, hippocampus, retrograde amnesia, seizures
Determinants of Deviance
Background: Researchers have provided evidence that attachment may be independently linked to early adversity and criminal behaviour. In this study, I examined the combined associations among these variables in a student and community sample. Method: The first study consisted of undergraduate students (n = 590) who completed surveys to assess early adversity (Felitti, et al., 1988), attachment (Scharfe, 2016), and criminal behaviours. Participants were grouped based on their reports of adverse experiences and engagement in criminal behaviour. The second study was a replication of the first using a community sample (n = 294). Results: My hypotheses were partially supported, and my findings were consistent across Study 1 and Study 2. As I expected, there was a significant main effect for adversity when examining the mean scores of the attachment representations for attachment to mothers (Study 1 F (16, 1763.402) = 3.61, p < .001; Study 2 (F (16, 849.942) = 2.377, p = .002) and attachment to fathers (Study 1 F (16, 1763.402) = 4. 349, p < .001; Study 2 (F (16, 840.776) = 3.067 p < .001)). From examining the means, I concluded that participants who reported greater adversity reported higher insecure-avoidant and lower secure attachment to mothers and fathers. There were no significant main effects for criminal behaviour or significant interaction effects. Impact: To date, no study has explored all three variables explicitly. My findings are able to highlight the critical importance of secure attachment relationships and add further comprehension to exploring factors associated to criminal behaviour. Author Keywords: Attachment, Criminal Behaviour, Early Adversity
The Relations Between Identity Developmental Processes, Study Habits, and Academic Performance
Adolescence is a time when young people focus their attention on setting and pursuing long-term goals. Contemporary approaches of identity development focus on three pivotal processes underlying the identity formation process and the maintenance of one’s identity (e.g., core values, etc.). These processes are commitment (commitments to a goal), in-depth exploration (exploration of choices and options), and reconsideration of commitment (feelings of uncertainty about current commitments). The primary purpose of the current study was to examine the relations between identity processes, study habits, and academic performance in 45 female undergraduate students (M age = 21.00). Utilizing a self-report measure, findings suggested a significant positive relation between educational and relational commitment, as well as reconsideration of commitments in the educational domain and reconsideration of commitments in the relational domain. In terms of identity processes and grades, a regression analysis revealed that educational reconsideration of commitments predicted academic performance. Further, for those employing poor study habit skills, educational reconsideration of commitment predicted academic performance. The present study offers insight on the importance of assessing adolescent’s uncertainty of educational and relational commitments, while also highlighting the protective factor of maintaining good study habit strategies. Author Keywords: academic performance, adolescence, educational, identity, relational, study habits
What Happens in Childhood, Does Not Stay in Childhood
Researchers have found associations between attachment, childhood adversity, and posttraumatic stress symptoms; however, the underlying mechanisms between these variables remains unknown. The present study explored the moderating effects of childhood adversity on the relationship between adult attachment and posttraumatic stress symptoms in two samples. In total, 533 undergraduate students and 357 individuals recruited from online communities completed measures of childhood adversity, adult attachment, and posttraumatic stress symptoms. Hierarchical regression analyses were used to test the moderating effect on childhood adversity. One-way ANOVA post hoc analyses were run to assess mean differences of attachment and posttraumatic stress across five childhood adversity groups. The results suggested that attachment and childhood adversity do predict posttraumatic stress symptoms; however, there was no significant moderating effect of adversity found. The post hoc analyses revealed significant mean differences for secure attachment, avoidant attachment, and posttraumatic stress symptoms. The findings suggest that attachment and childhood adversity are significantly associated with posttraumatic stress symptoms. Author Keywords: adult attachment, childhood adversity, posttraumatic stress symptoms, trauma
Does boredom lead to ego-depletion? Examining the association between boredom and ego-depletion
Ego-depletion refers to the observation that using self-control at Time 1 (T1) in the sequential-task paradigm leads to worse self-control at Time 2 (T2; Baumeister et al., 1998). Self-control is often manipulated by varying the difficulty of the task used at T1. Recently, Wolff and colleagues (2020) suggested that failures to replicate the ego-depletion phenomenon may arise because simple tasks may be boring, therefore requiring self-control to maintain attention on the task. Three experiments (Experiment 1, N=60; Experiment 2, N=61; Experiment 3, N=59) are reported that examined whether boredom at T1 predicted self-control at T2. A simple Go/No-Go task was used at T1. The ratio of Go to No-Go trials was changed across experiments to explore how the properties of the boring task impacted the association between boredom and self-control. When responding was frequent, increased boredom at T1 was associated with fewer anagrams correctly solved (Experiment 1 and 3), and more self-reported fatigue at T2 (Experiment 1), consistent with boredom leading to ego-depletion. However, when responding was infrequent (Experiment 2), increased boredom at T1 was associated with more correctly solved anagrams at T2, suggesting that the properties of a boring task change the psychological outcome that task has on self-control. Author Keywords: attention, boredom, ego-depletion, executive function, self-control
Green Leadership in the Classroom
Concerns about climate change means that there is an urgent need to understand teachers’ role in educating students about environmental issues and sustainability. However, little is known about teachers’ environmental leadership and how that affects their competencies in the classroom, their general well-being and connections with nature, or what kinds of personality characteristics shape these teachers. A sample of current, future, and past Canadian teachers (N = 260) completed an online survey which included quantitative and qualitative questionnaires. Correlational and regression analyses determined teachers who possess environmental leadership qualities have a greater connection with nature, more positive well-being, and are more confident in their abilities to teach students outdoors. Furthermore, positive personality traits predict teachers’ environmental leadership. Qualitative data revealed both structural and psychological barriers reduced the likelihood of teachers taking students outdoors and that greater support, resources and training are needed to enable teachers to implement more nature-based learning. Author Keywords: competence, environmental leadership, nature relatedness, personality, teachers, well-being
Vulnerability and resilience
The Minority Stress Model proposes that LGBTQ+ people experience stressors unique to their identity that negatively impact their mental well-being. The model also outlines that, in the case of the LGBTQ+ community, two minority coping resources - social support and connection to the LGBTQ+ community – may act as potential minority stress buffers; however, research has been unable to determine if these are effective buffers. The current study used multiple regression and multilevel modelling to test the processes of the Minority Stress Model among 451 LGBTQ+ people over 25 timepoints during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although minority stressors and coping resources were associated with psychological distress in the expected directions, an interesting interaction between the two measures of minority stress was revealed and neither minority coping resource was found to buffer the association between minority stress and distress. In conclusion, the present study found partial support for the Minority Stress Model using longitudinal data but highlights the complex nature of these processes and how they are conceptualised in research. Author Keywords: identity concealment, LGBTQ+ community, mental health, minority coping, minority stress model, social support


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