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Center for Social Change:
2019 Social Change Grant Recipients & Social Change Fellows

Walden University's Center for Social Change is a connective hub that promotes, facilitates, and supports collaborative alliances, action research, and projects that lead to purposeful action for sustainable positive social change.

Student Recipient: A Delphi Study Analysis of Best Practices for Data Quality and Management in Healthcare Information Systems

Olivia Pollard, PhD in Management Student

Healthcare patients, management, and staff have been negatively affected by the lack of consistent data-handling processes. In addition, a lack of current scholarly research on best practices in data quality and records management has obscured potential flaws within the relatively new electronic health records (EHR) environment. Mismanagement of health records data has been blamed for at least one death in 2016 alone. These changes affect cost, reimbursements, services, and most importantly, patient safety. The overarching focus of this study will be on best practices for data quality management in a healthcare system from the information technology leader perspective. A review of literature revealed a lack of empirical findings in what might be regarded as best practices relative to data quality and management in healthcare settings over the past 20 years. Qualitative measures will include 3 surveys distributed to a panel of 25 healthcare data quality experts. Participants involved in the study will be selected based upon their experience and roles with data quality within the healthcare setting. Qualitative methods applied in this study will include concepts of the Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF) and information theory. This study has the potential to affect healthcare data practices by returning insightful results on how industry leaders view and assess their data. The significance of this study will be to bring about positive social change through an increased awareness of current data practices, possibly leading to the adoption of standardized data quality measures throughout U.S. healthcare systems. 

Student Recipient: States with Hyper-Aging Populations: The Importance of Understanding Functionality in Home and Community-Based Care and the Impact on Costs as America Ages

Shannon Stanley

Shannon Stanley, PhD in Public Policy Administration Student

The United States is on a population aging trajectory to reach 20% age 65 and over by 2030. The Administration on Aging (2013) reported the top three fastest-aging states, Alaska, Nevada, and Utah averaged a 50% increase in the population aged 65 plus from 2000-2011. Traditional research on costs in Medicaid 1915 (c) home and community-based service waiver programs have excluded this fastest-aging sector of the population, known as hyper-aging. This study will assess activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) and overall average cost per recipient in states with hyper-aging populations. This research will use multivariate regression analysis to identify statistical significance of functional identifiers and overall cost per recipient. Using a sample of 377 recipients, I will approximate the relationships, if any, of ADL and IADL with overall average cost per recipient found specifically in states with hyper-aging populations. To model the relationships found within the sample, if any, the Katz 6-item scale and the Lawton 8-item scale will be used for functional assessment along with a demographic survey. The findings from the research will address functional limitations specific to states with hyper-aging populations, which have been previously excluded from the literature, and their relationship to overall cost. The research implications promote positive social change in public policy and administration by signifying functional identifiers in the fastest aging states that can be used as a model to improve the future cost of services associated with care of the elderly as the U.S. reaches national hyper-aged status in 2030. 

Staff Recipients: Walden Writing Center Internship: Altering Recruitment Strategies to Increase Diversity in the Writing Center Field

Beth NastachowskiSarah Prince

Beth Nastachowski, MA, Writing Center 

Sarah Prince, PhD, Writing Center

The Walden Writing Center hopes to increase diversity within the writing center field and the Walden Writing Center by making changes to our recruitment strategies. One way to adjust our recruitment strategies is this grant’s project: a paid, 9-month internship, the Walden Writing Center Internship (WWC Internship). The student who completes the WWC Internship will be introduced to the writing center field and the Walden Writing Center; will participate in the Writing Center’s paper review appointments, student e-mail responses, an additional Writing Center project, and a student-driven final project; and will engage in professional development and discussion with Writing Center staff. These activities will all help the intern develop skills within the writing center field that they can use to further their career goals, either within the writing center or any other field.  

Applied Project

Faculty Recipient: Early Childhood Chess Intervention for Children from Immigrant Families of African Descent

Linda Marc

Linda Marc, ScD, MPH, MS, Contributing Faculty, College of Health Sciences

This Program Evaluation aims to evaluate the effectiveness of an early-childhood chess intervention in children from immigrant families, to evaluate whether playing chess improves executive functioning in these children. Conducted within an after-school program for children, ages 4 to 16 years of age, at the Immigrant Family Services Institute, Inc. (IFSI) in the Metro Boston area of Massachusetts serving families from Africa and the Caribbean.  

Research-based Project

Faculty Recipient: Racial Discrimination and Education Inequalities: The Role of Daily Stressors from Social Media

Bettina J. Casad, PhD, Contributing Faculty, Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership

The education achievement gap between Black and White Americans is a pervasive issue that needs more research attention. The primary aim of this study is to examine exposure to racism via social media as a chronic race-related stressor that affects biological systems, which affects educational achievement, and contributes to race disparities in education. This study examines whether exposure to racism in social media affects young adults’ stress and immune system biomarkers related to stress and academic achievement, including cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). It is hypothesized that frequent exposure to racism in social media will predict chronic stress responses such that cortisol and DHEA will increase from baseline. However, chronic racism in social media will predict cortisol dysregulation and discoordination with DHEA. This pattern should be enhanced or attenuated by individual differences including affective and cognitive appraisals, racial identity, and activist orientation. Sixty healthy young (aged 18-25) Black female college students will provide baseline questionnaire responses, baseline saliva samples in the lab, then collect 3 daily saliva samples at home (waking, 30 minutes post-waking, and bedtime) over the course of 3 days. Additionally, participants will complete a nightly questionnaire assessing social media use, exposure to racist content, stress and coping, and psychological well-being. The proposed study aims to advance understanding of daily exposure to racism on social media and its effect on stress reactivity that directly impacts educational achievement. Social media is a pervasive, but understudied, source of racial bias that contributes to chronic experiences of racism. If daily race-related stressors trigger cognitive decline and poorer test performance, this has significant implications for racial minorities’ academic achievement. Overexposure to racially biased social media may perpetuate race disparities in academic achievement and undermine education equality efforts. The results may inform media literature interventions to reduce exposure to negative race-based social media. 

Research-based Project

Alumni/External Recipient: 3D Connections Empowering Fathers of Children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing

Holly Pedersen, EdD, Doctor of Education Alumna

In mainstream American society, men are not usually considered a disadvantaged or underrepresented group. However, when it comes to parenting research, the scales remain tipped in favor of mothers. The vital role fathers play in the lives of their children is receiving attention both nationally and globally. While fathers (biological, step, foster, and others assuming a male influential role) are taking on active parenting roles once reserved for mothers, educational and social support networking opportunities geared toward fathers are less common. This is especially true for fathers of children with disabilities, and nearly non-existent for fathers of children who are deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH). Additionally, there is a paucity of research available to guide professionals on how to provide family centered intervention services for children with hearing loss that appropriately include fathers. This is a significant problem as research identifies father involvement as a key factor in healthy child and family functioning, including language and literacy development. This proposed project, 30 Connections, addresses the three “Ds” of Dakota, Dads, and D/HH, and aims to: 1) provide a framework of support, education, and empowerment for fathers of D/HH children, 2) evaluate the impact of said framework, and 3) disseminate the findings. This framework will consist of both face-to-face interactions and a social media platform, combining to offer peer to peer support through educational topics, Q & A, sharing of experiences and advice, and networking. The project would employ two experienced fathers who would serve as consultants to project activities and facilitate participant interactions. Following ethical research practices, the impact of 30 Connections will be assessed through a pre-post instrument to measure change in fathers' perceived empowerment as well as satisfaction with the project in relation to confidently parenting a child who is D/HH. 

Alumni/External Recipient: Older Adults and Caregivers: Food Policy and Healthcare in Rural America

Dr. Bessie DiDomenicaCynthia HickmanJulie Smith Hinders

Bessie DiDomenica, PhD, MBA, PhD in Public Policy and Administration Alumna

Cynthia J. Hickman, PhD, RN, MSN/Ed, MSN and PhD in Health Services Alumna 

Julie A. Smith Hinders, MHA, PhD in Health Services Student

In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated around 50% of American adults experience one preventable chronic disease. Such diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cancer) evolve from poor eating habits over the adult lifespan. America’s 3,142 rural counties struggle to care for over 40 million older adults. Many are home bound and rely on informal caregivers (spouses, adult children) for their healthcare. This study explores conditions that reflect the contextual and environmental relationships between older adults and their informal caregivers in rural America. Our mixed methods approach (qualitative and quantitative) presents a snapshot of complex social conditions between two subgroups. The home-bound element sets limits on the quality of life for older adults. Informal caregivers have a direct impact on the quality of care for the older adult. Caregivers themselves may experience chronic diseases, an additional burden on the healthcare of older adults. Our study offers an extensive literature review of food policy, food education, nutritional health in older adults and their caregivers in rural America. The umbrella of rural food policy includes fewer grocery stores selling fresh food. The food education element occurs when caregivers prepare home-cooked meals. Basic nutritional health programs are missing in many rural communities. The quantitative element will further examine factors unique to rural areas and the unmet needs (counseling, training) of informal caregivers. The data set is the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. This national public health resource includes a caregiver module and data from over 18,000 informal caregivers.  Our cutting-edge study aligns with the Eldercare Workforce Alliance’s forecast for an impending care gap in chronic care for older adults. Our research may find key data to address two social concerns: 1) the growing need to serve more home-bound older adults and 2) help informal caregivers become better healthcare providers.