2014 Outstanding Dissertation and Clinical Project Awards

Outstanding Dissertation Award

James Clayton Weller III

Title: Abrasive Teachers and Principal Response: A Mixed-Methods Exploration of Administrative Decisions Regarding Teachers Who Bully Students

Program: School of Education

James Clayton Weller is a school principal with 25 years of experience. During his principalship he developed a passion for creating safe learning environments where students excel. While there has been much attention paid to student-to-student bullying, the sensitive question of how school principals deal with abrasive teachers has not been adequately studied. This makes James' research on abrasive teachers and how principals respond to them a landmark study. Weller's study shows that abrasive teachers are present in several schools. The number of abrasive teachers was disproportionately higher in Grades 5-6 and Grades 3-4 and was twice as prevalent in business education (including computer education classes). James found that anxious principals were less likely to use interventions that required action with tangible outcomes. He concluded that schools need a systemic approach to dealing with aggression on all levels within the school community and ended with a number of recommendations for principals, including 12 pieces of advice that veteran principals gave to rookie principals. His study has already generated interest among specialists on the topic.

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Kelvin Onongha

Title: Towards a Missiological Model for Worldview Transformation Among Adherents to African Traditional Religion in Yorubaland

Program: Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Department of Missions

Kelvin Onongha completed his PhD in religion in three years. He has given scholarly presentations at international venues. His dissertation presents a method for individuals living in traditional cultures to move from fear of spiritual forces to trust in the God who in the Great Controversy has defeated Satan. The practical implications of this study are far-reaching since many church members find their allegiance divided between Christ and the spiritual forces they fear. This study brings the Adventist theology of the Great Controversy to bear on a pressing problem in many locations. Kelvin has been invited to teach at the Adventist International Institute for Advanced Studies in the Philippines. 

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Outstanding Clinical Project

Erdem Huner

Title: The Effect of Dry Needling (Intramuscular Manual Therapy) on Hip Abductor Maximum Voluntary Contractions

Program: Physical Therapy

Erdem Huner conducted a study on "The Effect of Dry Needling (Intramuscular Manual Therapy) on Hip Abductor Maximum Voluntary Contractions." No research has previously been conducted examining this topic. In this study, 30 asymptomatic individuals' gluteus medius muscles were tested for a maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) prior to either a true DN/IMT application or a sham DN/IMT application to their opposite leg. Sides and techniques were randomized to minimize a treatment or learning effect. Results showed no differences between the treatment and the placebo when a latent twitch response was not produced by the application. However, with true DN/IMT applications producing the latent twitch response, there was a statistically significant improvement in MVIC. The results suggest that DN/IMT improves hip abductor MVIC in asymptomatic individuals, but only when an LTR is elicited. Clinically, this suggests that physical therapists treating trigger points with DN/IMT may obtain better results in neuromuscular coordination and firing patterns in the affected muscle if a latent twitch response was obtained during the DN/IMT treatment. 

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