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Don E. Ackerman Research Grant in Educational Leadership Recipients

Riedel Research Grant for the Advancement of the Walden Learning Model  Recipients

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Research Grant in Distance Education Recipients

Social Determinants of Health in Distance Education Research Grant Recipients

The Journey from Grandparent to Parent: Perceptions of Adoptive Grandparents Post Adoption 

Jill Bryant, PhD, PI (CSBH/Counseling) 

The 5-year estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS) suggest nearly one million children are living with grandparents as their sole support and caregiving (US Census).  Data for this population are limited and statistics on the the number of grandfamilies where grandparents have formally adopted their grandchild are even more difficult to obtain. Pas literature has focused primarily on grandparents as guardians, but little is known about those families where grandparents make the permanent decision to adopt and raise their grandchildren. making a  permanent decision to raise a second family later in life affects nearly every facet of life and yet there are no current studies specific only to those grandparents who have formally adopted their grandchild. Using the Family Adjustment and Adaption Response (FAAR) Model (Patterson, 1988) this study will explore the adjustment and adaptation of grandparents raising grandchildren who formally adopt their grandchild.  This qualitative study examines the unique challenges, role shifts and life changes for this adoptive family unit.  Grandparents who have transcribed, and analysis will follow a traditional constant comparative analysis protocol with coding software. The results of this study will directly impact the knowledge base for mental health counselors who may work with these clients. This study will also give one of the first or possibly the first research study specific to adoptive grandparents to better understand the similarities and differences between the kinship care family unit and adoptive family units, thus informing policy, interventions and possibly legislation for both types of families.


Mass Workplace Shootings: A Phenomenological Exploration of Survivor and Co-Victim Experiences 

Rebecca Cowan, PhD, PI (CSBH/Counseling) 

The goal of this research is to explore the experiences and psychosocial needs of survivors and co-victims during each of the psychological phases of disaster after experiencing a public mass shooting in their workplace. The objectives of this study include identifying barriers that survivors and co-victims (e.g., family members, friends, and loved ones of victims) of workplace mass shootings encounter when seeking support. Additionally, this study will identify specific supports that are needed throughout the acute, intermediate, and long-term phases of disaster recovery. A transcendental phenomenological framework will be used when conducting this study. Phenomenology focuses on the "descriptions of what people experience and how it is that they experience what they experience” (Patton, 2002, p.107), making the use of this approach ideal in our exploration of this phenomenon. Purposive and snowball sampling will be utilized to recruit 10-20 participants (until data saturation is reached). All participants must be either a survivor or co-victim of a public mass shooting in the workplace. Individual interviews will be conducted with participants using the above semi-structured interview protocol. Individual interviews will last approximately 60 minutes. Interviews will be conducted in a private, confidential setting or virtually using Zoom. All interviews will be audio recorded, and participants will be compensated for their time. Prolonged engagement with participants will be used by inviting participants to meet with the PI and consultant in one or two focus groups (60-90 min each). Follow-up interview questions will be asked at that time by the PI and consultant. Focus groups will be conducted in a private, confidential setting. All individual and focus group interviews will be transcribed using a paid, professional transcription service. Data will be analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis steps.



Factors Related to Direct and Indirect Student Bystander Responses to Coercive Sexual Harassment in Higher Education 

Donna Heretick, PhD, PI (CPCS/Psychology) 

Coercive sexual harassment (CSH) of female students by male faculty remains a risk for female students in higher education. CSH may range from off-color remarks to actual sexual assault. There are formal policies, per Title IX, against CSH. While there are programs for training college students in some types of bystander support, student bystander interventions remain an underutilized asset to prevent and address CSH. There is very limited research in this area. The proposed studies will extend this previous work by examining factors that may affect both direct and indirect student bystander responses to CSH. Participants (minimum of 200 per study) will be 18 or older, who currently are undergraduate or graduate students at primarily on-campus programs in the United States, and who are fluent in English. They will be compensated for their participation. Study 1: The first study will evaluate the emotional, cognitive, and helping behavior responses of participants in various conditions. Participants will read a scenario where they are described as direct witnesses of either moderate or severe CSH. The victim’s response will be varied, as will friendship status between the participant witness and victim. Study 2: Participants will be indirect witnesses who learn about the CSH from another student who was a direct witness of moderate or severe CSH. Information will be varied as to the direct witness’s behavioral response. Further, friendship status between the participant and the direct witness will be varied. Factorial ANOVAs will be the primary method for evaluating the relationships between the independent variables and the emotional, cognitive, and helping responses of the respondents. Results will extend our understanding of student bystanders, as well as the possible role of social/relational factors, across various situations of CSH. Results can inform those who are developing training programs for students in various situations related to CSH.      


How Effective are Community Healthcare Workers? A Qualitative Meta-analysis of Peer Reviewed Evaluation Studies 

Richard Jimenez, DrPH, PI (CHSPP/Public Health) 

Community Health Workers (CHWs) are a growing and important sector of the Public Health workforce.  A large cadre of formally and informally trained CHWs is providing health education and promotion and health services to various communities, especially hard to reach populations, in a variety of fields including HIV prevention and services, cancer prevention and Covid-19 vaccination campaigns.   Both quantitative and qualitative evaluations of CHWs effectiveness and impact are important for the continued development of the CHWs workforce as well as for services delivery for communities in need.  While both quantitative and qualitative CHWs evaluation studies and systematic reviews have been reported in the peer reviewed literature, there is no evidence that a qualitative meta-analysis has been completed.  The purpose of this qualitative meta-analysis study is to summarize and synthesize findings from peer reviewed evidence based qualitative CHWs evaluation studies.   A systematic protocol for conducting qualitative meta-analyses as outlined by Timulack and Creaner will guide this study.    The principal investigator will recruit and train two Walden Public Health graduate students as research assistants.  The primary research questions for the study are: How effective are CHWs as evidenced by peer reviewed qualitative evaluation studies? What are the most cited characteristics of evidence based successful CHWs and programs? and Does synthesis of findings across studies yield new insights on CHWs effectiveness?  Zotero and NVivo12 software programs will be used to help organize data for analysis and synthesis.   A manuscript outlining the meta-analysis process and synthesis of study findings will be developed and submitted for publication in peer reviewed health sciences journals and a presentation at the 2023 Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association. The potential social change impact of this study is a better understanding of CHWs effectiveness which can impact future CHWs training and Public Health interventions. 


When Justice Goes Wrong: Women’s Narratives of Arrest to Sentencing 

Susan Marcus, PhD, co-PI (CPCS/Psychology) 

Miki Ross-Elster, PhD, co-PI (The Ripple Effect; Walden Alumnus) 

The purpose of the proposed research is to explore the common and unique narratives of arrest to sentencing in women sentenced to felony crimes. The intent here is not to affirm guilt or innocence, but rather to inquire into how context, evidence, and judicial procedure are experienced from the womens’ point of view.

It is well-documented that women are three times more likely to go to prison today than in 1986. Between 1980 and 2020, the number of incarcerated women rose 475%, from 26,326 in 1980 to 152,854 in 2020. Recent estimates have been published indicating that women also are incarcerated for longer than men, and that the increased incarceration varies by ethnicity and race. For example, White women’s incarceration is 12% longer than men; Black women’s incarceration is 68%; and Latinex women is 20% longer. Researchers have also found that there are variations in how and to what extent the courts consider contextual factors (e.g, motherhood, addiction, domestic violence, gang affiliation) when determining the length of the sentence.

It is hoped that the results of this research effort will illuminate the “what” and “how” of participants’ experience from arrest to sentencing will reveal for whom and how justice is not served equally across race and gender. Further, it is hoped that the stories of these women will provide the impetus for equal sentencing regarding length of sentence related to the crime.