Dissertation Defense Announcements

Candidate Name: Tchijica Henriques
Title: Moderating effect of political affiliation, kinship ties, environmental munificence and environment uncertainty in the relationship between institutional trust and entrepreneurial orientation.
 February 26, 2021  12:00 PM
Location: Zoom

Micro-entrepreneurship constitutes undeniably an important development strategy in developing countries. Earlier empirical studies have shown it generates 20 to 45% of full-time employment and 30% to 50% of rural household income in Africa. However, when assessing employment growth through the expansion of existing microenterprises, data suggests that most small enterprises in rural Africa do not grow. This research seeks to examine the relationship between institutional trust and entrepreneurial orientation in rural Africa. The study investigates how external factors such as political connections, environmental uncertainty, munificence and kinship ties affect the relationship between institutional trust and entrepreneurial orientation. The research builds on an alternative approach to institutional theory as it relates to the African context. The research questions are addressed through both an exhaustive review and synthesis of the literature and using primary data gathered from surveys from microenterprise owners organized in cooperatives in rural communities of Angola. The data analysis tests the hypothesized relationships through ordinary least squares (OLS) regression with tests for moderation.

Candidate Name: Ophelia Chapman
 March 01, 2021  1:00 PM
Location: Zoom

Over the past several years the connection between entrepreneurship and digital technologies has transformed the way business is conducted. This, coupled with reactions to the coronavirus outbreak that have caused interruptions to significant economic and business activities, has exponentially accelerated the implementation of digital technologies. Yet intentions to pursue digital entrepreneurship remain understudied, while an increasing number of small and medium-sized businesses continue the adoption of digital technologies unabated. Do strategic processes that are the basis for decision making and actions play a role in the intention to pursue digital technologies?
This dissertation examines the relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and intention to pursue digital entrepreneurship, and whether this relationship is moderated by opportunity evaluation. Data was gathered from entrepreneurs (N=240) through a cross-sectional survey approach, and regression analysis was used to analyze the data. A confirmatory factor analysis was also performed. The results indicate that entrepreneurial orientation is positively linked to intention to adopt digital technologies. The study found evidence of interaction effects between two opportunity evaluation constructs: loss estimation and perceived feasibility and entrepreneurial orientation. The results signal the importance of studying moderators of the relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and entrepreneurial intention to adopt digital technology.

Candidate Name: Meghan A. Frazier
Title: A Multiple Case Study of the Lived Experiences of Five Upper Elementary School Teachers Who Transitioned From Traditional Grading Practices to Standards-Based Grading Practices
 March 08, 2021  12:00 PM
Location: Virtual via Zoom-Contact rshore6@uncc.edu for the Zoom link

Through a qualitative multiple case study, the researcher’s goal in conducting this study was to investigate and understand the experiences of five upper elementary teachers in grades three through five who transitioned from traditional grading practices to standards-based grading (SBG) practices at one elementary school. Using Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) as a framework, this study examined how the five teachers experienced the initial training and subsequent implementation in their transition from traditional grading practices to standards-based grading practices. The researcher also aimed to understand teacher self-efficacy toward the new grading practice based on the training received at the onset of the implementation. A recruitment survey was sent to 79 certified teachers at the study site, chosen based on its convenience and recent implementation of SBG, and yielded the minimum of five participants meeting the criteria to participate in the study. Two of the total five study participants were part of a pilot study conducted in the fall of 2019. The researcher conducted semi-structured face-to-face interviews using an interview protocol established in the pilot study. In order to identify underlying themes present in the five interviews, the researcher used a constant comparison method of analysis (Leech & Onwuegbuzie, 2007). Common themes present in the five case studies include grades as communication, frustration with SBG transition, support from colleagues as useful or not useful, and lack of preparation at the pre-service level. Findings from this study align with the current body of knowledge on the inequities present in the use of traditional grading, the lack of specific grading instruction in teacher preparation programs as well as continued support at the district or school level, and the positives of SBG moving teachers toward best practices. Findings from this study also support teachers’ self-efficacy being tied to the quality of training they receive when making a change in practice.

Candidate Name: Scott C Dennstaedt
 March 26, 2021  9:00 AM
Location: Zoom invitation only - email sdennsta@uncc.edu

Over the last two decades, general aviation pilots in the US, especially those who fly light fixed-wing aircraft, have portrayed high rates of vulnerability to weather-related accidents. This high vulnerability rate is in stark contrast to the increased availability of weather forecasts, which has vastly improved given the wide variety of weather guidance now available online and in the cockpit. VFR into IMC flights is the leading cause of fatal weather-related accidents. A common contributor to these fatal accidents is the pilot’s inability to definitively assess the hazard prior to departure from the relevant weather guidance. Therefore, it is hypothesized in this research that the lack of sufficient weather reports and forecasts are not a core problem, but instead the primary contributing factor is an inaccurate or incomplete weather assessment by pilots before a flight. In this light, it has become apparent that pilots need a well-integrated route-based application that simplifies and organizes weather guidance in a way that requires less technical interpretation and gives time-based options to minimize a pilot’s exposure to adverse weather. Consequently, this presents the opportunity for a targeted software application that will eliminate or significantly reduce weather-related accident risk especially for pilots planning VFR flights.

Candidate Name: Rosalba Esparragoza
Title: Students’ Perceptions of Motivation and Use of Metacognitive Self-Regulated Learning Strategies In Remote Asynchronous Elementary Spanish Classes
 February 17, 2021  3:00 PM
Location: Virtual: Contact chowel22@uncc.edu for the Zoom link

The purpose of the study was to investigate whether intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, task value, metacognitive self-regulation, self-efficacy for learning, and cumulative GPA predicts academic success among college students enrolled in remote, asynchronous Elementary Spanish I and II courses. The study was conducted during the Summer 2020 term at a large urban research university in the Southeastern United States. Data for this study were collected from students enrolled in Elementary Spanish I or II courses. One hundred and sixty-eight participants provided answers for five of the scales included in Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, and McKeachie’s (1991) Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ). Multiple regression was used to test the relationship between the predictor variables and the outcome variable. The results indicated that 41% of the variance in Spanish course grades was accounted for by the predictor variables. Three of the predictor variables were statistically significant, self-efficacy, metacognitive self-regulation, and cumulative GPA. Self-efficacy and cumulative GPA showed a positive relationship to course grade when examining correlation coefficients. Metacognitive self-regulation indicated a negative relationship to course grade when predictor variables were included in the model. When the predictor variables were not included in the model, there was a positive bivariate correlation between metacognitive self-regulation and class grade.
This research contributes to our understanding of the students’ perception of motivational constructs and metacognitive self-regulation during the COVID-19 crisis. As it pertains to Elementary Spanish classes, this study should be replicated once the pandemic abates to examine if there is a difference in perceptions of self-efficacy and metacognitive self-regulation in face-to-face, blended, and online classes. Academic coaching at the institutional level should be considered to support students whose self-efficacy and use of metacognitive self-regulation strategies may be underwhelming.

Candidate Name: Aniket Mohan Joshi
 February 16, 2021  11:00 AM
Location: Webex

The emergence of the concept of DC grids comes from the fact that there is an increasing number of power grid components that naturally operate with DC power. The combined trend of DC sources and loads in power grids is an important player in the sudden growth of research interest in DC micro-grids and their interplay with the main power grid. Even though DC grids are easy to implement on a small scale and their own, the connection of DC micro-grid with the AC power grid takes research problems to another level. Innovative approaches, methods, distribution system architectures and control strategies are required to manage and mitigate the problems of involving DC micro-grid in conjunction with conventional power grids. Through this research work, novel, innovative and comprehensive system architectures and control strategies are proposed to mitigate some of the problems of DC micro-grid like DC-AC micro-grid interplay during steady-state and dynamic conditions, tandem operation of DC and AC micro-grids for frequency regulation. The thesis also proposes the concept of a DC ring architecture to emulate a small residential community using a common DC-bus-centric structure. The research work aims to provide a comprehensive DC-AC micro-grid design and control architecture that can provide a platform for testing and validation of steady-state and fault time system performance. The proposed methods in each chapter have been incorporated and validated on standard distribution test systems provided by IEEE like the 13 bus and 123 bus systems and hence their analysis is crucial and could serve as a reference for future design and control of DC micro-grids.

Candidate Name: Johanna Okerlund
Title: A Critical and Reflexive Investigation of HCI's Promise of Democratization in the Making Phenomenon
 February 22, 2021  12:45 PM
Location: https://uncc.zoom.us/j/94338950638

Many endeavors in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) align themselves with the promise of the democratization of technology production, a promise that has yet to be fulfilled due to gaps in access and underlying power dynamics. HCI has recently seen new glimmers of the promise of democratized technology production in the making phenomenon. In this dissertation, I present a theory project grounded in my experience of starting and running a university makerspace that engages with the concept of democratization directly. I first derive a definition of democratization, develop a normative theory that suggests a shift in values to better meet that definition, and present a series of empirical studies to develop the theory. I then use feminist utopianism as a definition of democratization to evaluate the theory and reflect on the merits and challenges of this theory project in light of HCI's promise of democratization. Contributions include insights about the merits of the NTHCM as a reflective lens for maker leaders and HCI researchers, insights about the merits of feminist utopianism to guide maker leaders and HCI researchers towards the promise of democratization, and insights about underlying assumptions of HCI that may be in the way fulfilling the promise of democratization.

Candidate Name: Brooks T. Durham
Title: The Impact of Subordinate Characteristics on Perceptions of Abusive Supervision: A Relative Importance Analysis
 February 24, 2021  1:00 PM
Location: Zoom

Abusive supervision is defined as the sustained display of hostile verbal and nonverbal behaviors, excluding physical contact by a supervisor or leader. Research to date suggests that perceptions of abusive supervision may be driven as much as, if not more than, by subordinate characteristics than by supervisor behavior. The fundamental issue is that while abusive supervision is defined in terms of supervisor behavior, it is assessed via subordinate perceptions of supervisor behavior. While many studies have been conducted concentrating on the impact of specific subordinate characteristics on perceptions of abusive supervision, the literature has tended to focus on specific characteristics in isolation. Thus, the literature would benefit from a more comprehensive treatment that examines the collective effect of multiple subordinate characteristics and the relative importance with respect to ratings of abusive supervision. This survey-based study focused on several established subordinate characteristics. The results of these surveys were analyzed using regression analysis and supplemented by dominance weights analysis. This study found that collectively, subordinate characteristics accounted for 47% of the variance in subordinate perceptions of abusive supervision and that the "WUSI" scale dominated with 59% of this effect size.

Candidate Name: Stephanie Jones-Fosu
Title: Putting Equity to Work: A Qualitative Case Study Exploring Equity and Social Justice in a Teacher Preparation Program and its Outcomes with Teacher Candidates
 February 05, 2021  9:00 AM
Location: Virtual via Zoom

This study seeks to explore equity and social justice in a teacher preparation program through the lived experiences of teacher candidates who are attempting to enact equity and social justice in their teaching. This study suggests that for a university-based teacher education program to support teacher-candidates enactment, while addressing the tension between focusing on equity and social justice or pedagogy, they must: a) identify how the curriculum addresses equity and social justice, b) identify how teacher candidates are attempting to enact equity and social justice in the classroom, and c) identify what the teacher candidates gained from the curriculum that helped them incorporate equity and social justice in the classroom. This study applied a case study approach to reveal the lived experiences of teacher candidates, who are student teaching in diverse urban schools during their last year in a teacher preparation program. Findings suggest when incorporating social justice and equity, teacher preparation programs need to thread equity and social justice in the curriculum in a way that is fluid and integral. When supporting teachers’ enactment of equity and social justice, bold and courageous decisions must be made to dismantle the racist systems in education.

Candidate Name: Carolyn V. Salanger
 January 21, 2021  10:00 AM
Location: Online through Zoom

The purpose of this mixed-methods research study was to understand student perceptions of online interactions with instructors in online courses in the spring, 2020 and determine if any differences exist in perceptions presented when taking into account Pell-eligibility. This study took place at a medium-sized community college within the North Carolina Community College System. Data was obtained through an online survey. The t-test and chi square test were used to analyze the quantitative data. Open-ended questions provided responses reflected in the themes identified in the qualitative analysis. This study revealed that students in this particular term were favorable when it came to online interactions and contrary to my hypothesis, I found that a student's perceptions were not significantly influenced by their Pell status; which can be interpreted that the experiences are not vastly different for lower-income students. Qualitative analysis found three significant themes with regard to their perceptions of the differences they experienced in online versus face-to-face interactions; response time, “seeing” and “hearing” the instructor and instructor attributes . Implications for practice and recommendations are conferred.