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Morris: The Cold Driver: Driving Performance Under Thermal Stress

Title of Thesis: The Cold Driver: Driving Performance Under Thermal Stress

Type: Thesis Proposal

Thesis Advisor: Dr. June J. Pilcher

Thesis Committee Members: Dr. June Pilcher, Dr. Fred Switzer, Dr. Chris Pagano

Time and Location: Tuesday, April 29th at 1:30pm, Brackett 419

Exposure to cold environments can impact complex task performance and increase cognitive and physiological error in response to thermal stress. Critically, the task of driving a vehicle requires the use of calibrated mental and physical actions to be conducted safely without error. Few studies have examined the effects of cold stress on driving performance and none have explored the potential for advanced driver safety systems to detect error. Active vehicle safety systems which monitor dangerous driving behavior due to drowsiness have been research and developed, though technology associated with thermal stressed driving error is unexplored. The current study aims to examine the effects of cold stress by way of skin cooling on driving simulator performance, and evaluate vehicle behavior metrics for possible dangerous driving detection systems. Driving under cold stress is expected to result in systematic vehicle behavior and driving performance error which can be utilized for future safety system development.

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Jennings: The role of social support in seeking treatment and treatment retention in the military: Examining the function and source of support

The role of social support in seeking treatment and treatment retention in the military: Examining the function and source of support
Thesis Defense by Kristen Jennings
Friday, April 18th at 11:00 am
Brackett 414
Committee: Dr. Thomas Britt (chair), Dr. Bob Sinclair, Dr. Heidi Zinzow

Service members of the United States military occupy jobs that are unlike most in the exposure to exceptional stress and the potential for life-threatening and traumatic on-the-job experiences. Because of the nature of the job tasks and duties, many soldiers are vulnerable to developing mental health problems. Even more problematic, many soldiers experiencing mental health symptoms are not getting the treatment they need. The present study examined how social support can influence a soldier’s decision to engage in treatment and stay in treatment. More specifically, the study examined the unique influence of family and friends, fellow unit members, and leaders in the soldier’s decision to seek treatment, as well as different supportive behaviors from leaders that affect treatment seeking and retention. Using data from active duty soldiers surveyed at two time points, results indicated that support for treatment seeking is related to whether or not soldiers seek treatment through positively affecting their attitude toward treatment. Support from family members and friends was found to be most related to attitude and treatment decisions. These relationships were further moderated by functional impairment, where the effect of support on treatment seeking through attitude was strongest for those with problems causing low or moderate impairment. In terms of leader supportive behaviors, instrumental leader support was rated as the most influential to soldiers’ treatment decisions. Lastly, in terms of treatment retention, initial evidence was found that support from family members and spouses may influence whether or not soldiers drop out of treatment. Results from this study are intended to be informative for application in enhancing social support resources that are most effective for getting soldiers into treatment and increasing retention.

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Cook: Correlational Study of the Handoff Communication Process as a Result of Variation in Staffing Levels

Title: Correlational Study of the Handoff Communication Process as a Result of Variation in Staffing Levels

Committee: Dr. Lee Gugerty (Chair), Dr. David Neyens (Co-chair), Dr. June Pilcher

When: April 22, 2014 @ 1:30
Where: Brackett 122

Abstract: The patient handoff is an intricate process that takes on many forms within the healthcare domain. One incredibly common, yet complex handoff is that from the Emergency Department (ED) to the respective floor unit for the extended care of a patient upon hospital admission. While the specifics of the protocol for this process vary between institutions, the importance of a successful handoff for patient safety is universal. This study will examine the effects of the variation in staffing levels on the communication handoff process based on the time of day at which the process occurs.

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Altenhoff: Perceiving Soft Tissue Break Points in the Presence of Friction

Perceiving Soft Tissue Break Points in the Presence of Friction

Tuesday, April 29th at 10:00am
Brackett 419

Committee: Dr. Chris Pagano (chair), Dr. Tim Burg, Dr. Ben Stephens, Dr. Rich Pak

Abstract: In minimally invasive surgery (MIS), surgeons face several perceptual challenges due to the remote interaction with the environment, such as distorted haptic feedback through the instruments due to friction produced from the rubber trocar sealing mechanisms at the incision site. As a result, surgeons sometimes unintentionally damage healthy tissues during MIS due to excessive force. Research has demonstrated that useful information is available in the haptic array of soft tissues, which allows novices to successfully perceive the penetration distance remaining until a material will fail based on displacement and reactionary forces of simulated tissues using a haptic invariant, Distance-to-Break (DTB). Attunement and calibration training will be used in the current study to investigate whether observers are able to identify material break points in nonlinear compliant materials through haptic force application, while ignoring haptic stimulation not lawfully related to the properties specifying DTB, including friction. A pretest, feedback, posttest, and transfer-of-training phase design will be used, allowing participants to probe four virtually simulated materials at varying levels of friction: no friction, low friction, and high friction in the first experiment, and pull the simulated tissues in the second experiment to investigate if perception of DTB generalizes to other tasks used in MIS.

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Kyle Stanyar

When: Wednesday April 16th, 2014; 10:15am
Where: 419 Brackett Hall
Committee: Dr. Sinclair (Chair), Dr. Rosopa, Dr. McCubbin, and Dr. Merritt

Obesity, mental health problems, and absenteeism are both economic and health burdens for employers and employees. Research suggests that physical and psychosocial hazards in the workplace contribute to health risks and health problems among employees. There is a need for researchers to examine how exercise, diet, and age interact with the negative effects of workplace hazards upon health. Hypotheses 1a through 3b predicted that physical and psychosocial workplace hazards would negatively impact body mass index (BMI), general mental health, and sickness absences. Further, hypotheses 4a through 9b predicted that exercise and diet would buffer stress from occupational hazards upon BMI, mental health, and sickness absences. Finally, hypotheses 10a through 11b predicted that age would act as a moderator between occupational hazards and employee health outcomes. A sample of 16,651 civil servant workers from the Northern Ireland Civil Service Workforce were examined. The data was split into two groups based on salary; senior level pay grade and lower level pay grade. The results confirmed hypotheses 1a, 1b, 3a, 3b, 11a, and 11b for the lower level pay grade, but failed to support hypotheses 2 and 4a through 10b. Additionally, the results confirmed hypotheses 1b for the senior level pay grade; however the results failed to confirm hypotheses 1a and hypotheses 2 through 11b. Theoretical and organizational implications are discussed.

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Robertson: The Agreeableness of Conscientiousness: A Facet Level Examination of Personality, Interaction, and Curvilinearity on the Citizenship Behavior and Task Performance Relationship

Where: Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 at 11:00am, Brackett 419

Committee: Dr. Patrick J. Rosopa (chair), Dr. Fred Switzer, Dr. Peg Tyler

Title: “The Agreeableness of Conscientiousness: A Facet Level Examination of Personality, Interaction, and Curvilinearity on the Citizenship Behavior and Task Performance Relationship”

Abstract: Recent research has highlighted that the relationship between organizational citizenship behavior and task performance is nonlinear such that the occurrence of task performance behaviors will decrease as more time and resources are devoted to organizational citizenship behaviors. This occurs because of the restrictions of resource allocation theory which posit that employee resources are finite and limited, so there will be some trade-off between engaging in various performance behaviors. The current study seeks to examine the potential moderating effect of certain facets of agreeableness, conscientiousness, and their interaction. Agreeableness is thought to moderate the relation between individually focused citizenship (OCB-I) and task performance by accelerating the decrease in performance; conscientiousness is thought to moderate the relation between organizationally focused citizenship (OCB-O) decelerating the decrease in performance. Three way interactions of personality and citizenship will also be examined. Additionally, the mediating effect of job satisfaction will be analyzed because it has been shown to be important in forming the relationship between dispositional characteristics and performance behaviors.

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ASSESSING THE BITE COUNTER AS A WEIGHT LOSS TOOL on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, in Brackett Hall, Room 419, at 1030 am.

Obesity is a growing health concern throughout the world. Health risks associated with obesity such as diabetes and heart disease result in obesity costing us over $170 million annually. Self-monitoring of Energy Intake (EI) is a critical element of a successful weight loss plan; however current methods to monitor EI are cumbersome and prone to under reporting. The primary purpose of the study was to develop and test an experimental diet protocol based on user feedback from the Bite Counter. A secondary purpose was to examine if this protocol would affect meaningful weight loss by device users. Data were collected from 30 participants (15 control) in a study where Bite Counter feedback was used to titrate daily bite count goals in order to meet a 1 to 2 pound per week weight loss goal measured against the control group which was only given weight loss literature. 77% of our participants were able to use the device to self-monitor a majority of the eating activities. Although weight loss was higher in the Bite Counter group, we determined that a diet protocol based solely on using the Bite Counter did not produce statistically significant weight loss over the ten-week study period. The Bite Counter was able to help the control group sustain their weight loss throughout the entire study period. The study determined that aggressive screening measures during study uptake is needed in order to ensure the recruitment of participants who are likely to complete future studies. User profile personas were developed to assist future researcher identify and classify users as successful or unsuccessful candidates for losing weight using the Bite Counter.

Committee Chair: Dr. Eric Muth
Committee Members: Dr. Adam Hoover and Dr. Patrick Rosopa

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Nathan Klein dissertation defense

Nathan Klein
Dissertation Defense
Understanding and Improving Pedagogical Aspects of a General Education Eportfolio
Chair: Benjamin Stephens
Committee: Lee Gugerty, Fred Switzer, and Joel Greenstein
Monday, March 24, 2014 at 12:30pm Brackett 214

The goal of this research was to examine general education eportfolio components that may help improve student learning outcomes. A general education eportfolio is essentially a website created by a student, who selects, links, and reflects upon artifacts they have created in order to demonstrate their competency in the various domains of higher education, e.g. social science, mathematics, and natural science. This dissertation research combined and extended previous research by Klein et al. (2011) into two studies. The first study employed a factorial design manipulating the type of reflective activity required for an eportfolio and the type of eportfolio support provided. The second study manipulated the number of artifacts used during reflection. The main outcome variables were student competency, metacognitive accuracy, and subjective experiences. Support, reflective activity, and an additional artifact were each expected to improve the outcome measures. Support and activity were also expected to produce a synergistic interactive effect. Reflective activity only had a marginal impact on competency, whereas eportfolio support was found to cause significant improvements in all of the outcome measures. There was a trend for a stronger effect of mentoring in eportfolios with rationale activities for social science competency. The second experiment did not detect any differences in outcomes resulting from using two artifacts compared to using one. This research informs educators of best practices in eportfolio program design at the general education level for improving learning outcomes in college students.

Keywords: eportfolio, learning, metacognition, reflection, support, general education

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Wiedemann: “Employee Engagement Simplified by Self-Determination Theory”

“Employee Engagement Simplified by Self-Determination Theory”

Thesis Proposal, Crystal Wiedemann

Committee: Dr. Fred Switzer (chair), Dr. Robert Sinclair, Dr. Patrick Raymark

Tuesday, Feb 25th at 2:00 pm, Brackett Rm. 121

Due to increasing economic pressures over the last decade, organizations have been forced to “do more with less.” In an effort to maintain performance, and in some cases gain strategic advantage, more and more companies are looking to derive all they can from their employees. A fully “engaged” workforce has steadily moved from a dream to a necessity in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace. Unfortunately, actually creating an engaged workforce has proven to be a difficult endeavor. Organizations that have been able to figure out the mystery of employee engagement tout increased employee loyalty, happier customers, and bigger profits (Harter, Schmidt, & Keyes, 2002). Despite the demand for scientific research on employee engagement from the business community, a large amount of ambiguity still surrounds the conceptualization of the construct in academic research. This paper will investigate Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985) as a theoretical framework in which to root employee engagement as proposed by Meyer & Gagne (2008). We will examine whether satisfying the needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness through the work environment will result in increased autonomous work motivation, employee engagement, and well-being. If employee engagement turns out to be as directly related to Self-Determination Theory as hypothesized, it could simplify the course of action required to increase engagement in organizations.

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Brawley: Unifying specific climate research with a molar climate measure: A Situational Affordances approach

“Unifying specific climate research with a molar climate measure: A Situational Affordances approach”

Thesis defense, Alice M. Brawley

Committee: Dr. Cynthia L. S. Pury (chair), Dr. D. DeWayne Moore, & Dr. Fred S. Switzer, III

Thursday, February 27th at 8:30 AM in Brackett 419

Abstract: Organizational climate – briefly, the shared perceptions of a workplace – was originally studied as a molar concept, but this approach generally lacked focus and thus resulted in unmanageable measures. Organizational climate research has been subdivided into many areas of specific climate research focusing on particular organizational factors or outcomes, such as safety or customer service (Schneider, Ehrhart, & Macey, 2013). While the study of specific climates has been and remains worthwhile, recent literature in the area has called for a return to the molar or global conceptualization of organizational climate (Kuenzi & Schminke, 2009; Schneider et al., 2013). In an answer this call, the present study develops and validates a self-report measure of molar organizational climate, the Situational Affordances at Work Scale (SAWS). This measure is based on a taxonomy of Situational Affordances (Pury et al., 2014) that conceptualizes the broad influences on behavior in a given situation as affordances, allowing or preventing particular behaviors. These seven Affordances – Change (Dynamic and Static), Ownership (Self and Other), Valence (Approach and Avoid), Timing (Wait and Act), Target (Object and Person), Privacy (Keep and Share), and Consideration (Self and Other) – are proposed as a holistic view of high-level situational characteristics that influence behavior.
In Study 1, undergraduate students with work experience (N = 217) responded to an initial version of SAWS. Results of this study were used to develop a preliminary version of SAWS. In Study 2, residents of the United States (N = 465) responded to the preliminary version of SAWS and to measures of safety climate, service climate, job characteristics, and social desirability. Results of this study show that the relationship between safety climate and service climate in a cross-section of jobs and industries is strongly positive, r = .652. Therefore, the two climates, in terms of molar climate dimensions, are largely similar. Both safety and service climates are positively related to molar climate Affordances for Change, Self-Ownership, Positive Valence, Acting, Focusing on both Persons and Objects, Sharing information, and Considering both one’s Self and Others. Both climates are negatively related to molar climate Affordances for not Changing, Other-Ownership, Negative Valence, Waiting, and Keeping information private. A few of these relationships with molar climate differ in magnitude across the two specific climates: service climate is more strongly positively related to Affordances for Self-Ownership and Positive Valence and more strongly negatively related to Affordances for not Changing, Other-Ownership, and Negative Valence than is safety climate. These results suggest molar climate dimensions where safety climate and service climate may differ in a cross-section of workplaces, but overall indicate that these two specific climates are more similar that previously hypothesized in the literature (cf. Paul, 2012). Results of this study also show statistical discrimination between SAWS and job characteristics, indicating that SAWS measures a construct distinct from job characteristics. Results of these studies support SAWS as potentially useful tool in understanding the broad portrait of an organization’s climate.

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