2008 Outstanding Graduate Student Research Awards

Dr. Megan Edwards-Gass

Department of Educationaland School Psychology

A Study of School Psychologists' Knowledge of and Experience with Bullying and Relational Aggression in Students from Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade

Dr. Victoria B. Damiani, Advisor

Megan Edwards-Gass's study examined school psychologists' knowledge of andexperience with bullying and relational aggression. While most people are familiar with bullying as a physical act, relational aggression involves bullying through verbal threats, exclusion from groups, rumor spreading, name calling, and gesturing. Surveyingfive hundredschool psychologists throughout the United States, Edwards-Gass found that most school psychologists had received training on bullying, but few had training specific to relational aggression forms of bullying. While those surveyed found relational aggression an important form of bullying that needs to be addressed, most lack the knowledge of how to intervene in such situations. Edwards-Gass's study also supports previous findings that show that girls are more likely to bully through relational aggression. Furthermore, this study shows that while schools may be implementing anti-bullying programs, these programs do not often follow recommendations made in research.

Dr. Paul M. Klenowski

Department of Criminology

Other People's Money: An Empirical Examination of the Motivational Differences Between Male and Female White Collar Offenders

Dr. Kate Hanrahan, Advisor

Paul Klenowski's research aims at discovering the motivations of individuals who commit white collar crimes such as embezzlement and fraud.More specifically, Klenowski analyzes the motivational differences between male and female trust violators.Interviewingtwenty male andtwenty female white collar offenders throughout seven United States Federal Bureau of Prison facilities over a six month period, Klenowski finds evidence supporting the notion that an event or problem often serves as a catalyst for the commission of such crimes. Klenowski's findings provide further evidence suggesting that, to carry out such behavior, those who commit these crimes often use verbalization to pacify their conscience. Klenowski's research also points to clear differences in the motivational thought processes of these crimes between males and females.While male respondents offer motivational themes rooted in power, greed, and lifestyle preservation, women offer themes centered on helping or assisting others.

Pictured below, from left, are Dr. John Eck, Dr. Michele Schwietz, Dr. Paul Klenowski, Dr. Tony Atwater, and Dr. David Werner.

Paul Klenowski accepting award

Dr. Krystia Nora

Department of English

A New Lease on Life: Three Narrative Case Studies from a Subsidized Senior High Rise,Participant Design Writing Group

Dr. Claude Mark Hurlbert, Advisor

Krystia Nora's qualitative study analyzes a writing group that Nora established in a living-assisted, senior citizen high-rise apartment building in Pittsburgh. Nora's study fills a need for the examination of senior writing groups and provides a way to understand a population that has been underrepresented in language research. Using a narrative case study approach, Nora's "participant-designed" study (a term of Nora's coinage), empowered group members to define the structure of the writing group and to serve the needs and desires of the population she wanted to study.Nora's writing group gave participants the opportunity to share their own life stories and experiences with others, to receive positive reinforcement, create manuscripts, and self-publish on line.The writing group's experiences provide important insights into composition studies, literacy studies, educational gerontology, developmental psychology, and disability studies.

Pictured below, from left, are Dr. John Eck, Dr. Michele Schwietz, Dr. Krystia Nora, Dr. Tony Atwater, and Dr. David Werner.

Krystia Nora accepting award

Dr. Edel M. Reilly

Department of Professional Studies in Education

Writing to Learn Mathematics: A Mixed Method Study

Dr. George R. Bieger, Advisor

Dr. Edel Reilly's research studies students who have been taught mathematics through writing in order to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of this pedagogical approach. Data was collected from 293 middle-school students throughout Western Pennsylvania, and the data shows that students generally had a positive attitude toward the learning of mathematics through writing. Dr. Reilly's data further shows that students who are struggling in math classes strongly prefer math teaching strategies that involve the use of writing. Dr. Reilly finds three main benefits of using writing to learn mathematics, noting an improvement in communication skills, improved learning and understanding in mathematics, and opportunities for active learning and critical reflection. Interestingly, Dr. Reilly also found clear evidence that females respond more favorably to writing in mathematics classes than male students do.

Pictured below, from left, are Dr. John Eck, Dr. Michele Schwietz, Dr. Edel Reilly, Dr. Tony Atwater, and Dr. David Werner.

Edel Reilly accepting award