ItemAssessing and Predicting Social Emotional Learning Competencies in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder(2022-08-02) Hartnett, Hannah Hyatt; Schanding, George T; Elkins, Sara R; Hentges, BethSocial emotional learning skills, or SEL, is a burgeoning area of study which includes areas such as responsible decision making, self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, and relationship skills which are essential in order to successfully navigate the world. These SEL skills are likely delayed for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Some of the hallmarks that individuals with ASD often face are deficits in the acquisition of social and emotional skills and awareness of these skills in others. Given that individuals with ASD struggle within these areas, this project sought to investigate a narrowed focus into the development of SEL skills, specifically, by looking at how factors such as IQ, gender, ethnicity, and SES influence skill development. This paper posed two questions: 1.) What are the typical SEL competencies exhibited by individuals (aged 3-21) with ASD? 2.) To what extent does intellectual functioning (e.g., Full Scale IQ) influence the overall SEL competency of an individual with ASD (when considering individual factors of SES, gender, race/ethnicity)? For the first question, data was collected from a previous study which included SELSI parent ratings of neurotypical children. This data was then used to compare to new data collected from this study where caregivers completed the SELSI for their children with ASD. The two groups were compared on the parent reported SELSI using group means. When comparing the two groups among individuals aged 6-11, it was found that neurotypical individuals were rated higher across all areas. For the second question, hierarchical linear regressions were used to examine whether individual factors impacted SEL competencies. The first step in the models included individual variables of gender, race/ethnicity, and SES. The second step in the models added IQ to determine the additional variance predicted above that of the demographic variables. Results of the models indicated that individual variables were not significant predictors of SEL; however, IQ was a significant predictor of SEL skills in preschool and child samples only. The results of this project suggest SEL skills lag in development for individuals with ASD compared to their neurotypical peers and may be important to consider in educational assessment and intervention planning. ItemFactors Which Influence Success for Female Veteran Students in Higher Education(2023-09-27) Ruiz, Trisha Nicole; Huss-Keeler, Rebecca; Lastrapes, Renee; Brown, Sue; Kimbark, KrisWhen female veterans return to college, they bring a different experience to the institution. Administrators must be aware of the challenges that students encounter as they make the transition from the military to higher education. Identifying reoccurring trends amongst female veterans will allow them to build female veteran student programming and support services that will help them address their unique needs. The purpose of this mixed method study was to gain a better understanding of the female student veteran experience as they transition out of the military and into a four year-university. The findings from this study determined that female veterans underutilize support services and are not satisfied with veteran service offered to them. The following findings are presented within thin this study. ItemStress Effects and Mindfulness-Based Interventions Among Educators in Elementary School Classrooms(2023-05-05) Stallings, Latoya McCaskill; Divoll, Kent; Orange, Amy; Lastrapes, Renee; Ribeiro, AngelicaIn the United States, work-related stress costs companies over $200 billion each year (European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2015). Classroom teachers face a variety of challenges in their scope of work. Due to such challenges, teacher turnover and self-reported job dissatisfaction are at an all-time high, according to new research. Studies from the American Federation of Teachers (2017) show that the majority of American teachers feel over-stressed at work, and the number citing poor mental health has jumped alarmingly in recent years. Absenteeism, low job satisfaction and effectiveness, high attrition, and high burnout are all consequences of high teacher job stress (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2007). In fact, research by Pennsylvania State University (2016) suggests resultant costs in human resources and health care spending for teachers could amount to billions of dollars each year. In a recent study by the American Federation of Teachers 52% of teachers agreed that they do not feel the same enthusiasm as when they started teaching (AFT, 2017), and 46% report high daily stress during the school year (Gallup, 2014). This percentage is tied with nurses for the highest rate among all other occupational groups. Teachers also report instances of experiencing poor physical health aside from their mental health status. In addition, reports of bullying by superiors, colleagues, parents, and even students are evident at rates far higher than any other profession. To add to these health concerns, the vast majority of teachers indicate that they are sleep-deprived (Gallup, 2014). Policy-based interventions have been implemented in many schools as an attempt to address job-related stress, however, these interventions have been minimally evaluated by research (McIntyre et al., 2017). Additional information is needed regarding occupational stress among teachers. The purpose of this mixed-methods study is to explore existing research regarding the consequential effects of teacher stress in the workplace, identify teacher perceptions of occupational stress, and address the effectiveness of strategies and policy-based interventions, which may contribute to decreased resultant costs of work-related stress, such as turnover rates, negative social conditions, and culture/climate of school campuses. This study is premised on the assumption that enhancing the positive attributes and strengths of educators can have a positive impact not only on their performance and commitment but also on the performance of their students. ItemFrom Their Perspective: A Qualitative Study Examining Black Boys' Relationship with Reading in Grades 3-5(2023-05-05) Harrison, Alexandria; Grace, Jennifer; Peters, Michelle; Pule, Heather; Raymond, RobertaThe purpose of this study was to examine the reading experiences of Black boys in grades three through five, gain insight into what they felt contributed to their reading success, explore the relationships that influenced their reading lives, the challenges they faced, and their perspectives of the relationship they had with their reading teacher. A purposeful sample of 3rd-5th grade students who identified as Black boys from an elementary school located within a large suburban school district in the Southeast region of Texas were chosen to participate in interviews. This study used the grounded theory analysis approach (Saldana, 2016). An analysis of the interviews revealed that the Black boys had mostly positive experiences within their reading classrooms. The participants in this study mostly felt that they had positive relationships with their reading teachers. They found that support from their teachers, parents, and school administrators contributed to their reading achievement, while comprehension and unknown advanced vocabulary hindered them from feeling successful in reading. ItemExamining principal perceptions of self-efficacy and emergent bilingual student’s achievement in K-12 public schools(2023-04-28) Jimenez, Janie; Corrales, Antonio; Peters, Michelle; Farrell, Tina; Giacona, WannaThe purpose of this qualitative inquiry study examined principal perceptions of self-efficacy and EB’s student achievement. This study collected interview data from a purposeful sample of six elementary, six middle school, and six high school principals from the Region 4 Education Service Center, Harris County area, in the state of Texas utilizing an interview protocol. An inductive coding process was implemented to discover emergent themes that arose from semi-structured interviews. The findings are based on principal perceptions regarding the impact of their self-efficacy on EB student achievement, facilitation of EB student learning, shared vision for EB students, and motivating teachers with EB students. The data analysis revealed 10 themes and 13 subthemes, which were deeply rooted within the vast literature on principal leadership constructs. The findings illustrated the expansive skills and competencies necessary for principals to lead teacher teams and focus on student achievement. Considering principal perceptions regarding the impact of their self-efficacy on EB student achievement, 100% (n = 18) agreed principal’s confidence influences EB achievement. The data revealed that the principal’s leadership can either improve or decrease student achievement based on the decisions that are made. When examining the perceptions of principals concerning the impact of their self-efficacy in the facilitation of EB student learning, four emerging themes developed. These themes are: (a) Ensuring Teacher Quality (b) Promoting High-Quality Instruction (c) Understanding the Unique Needs of EB Students (d) Navigating Accountability. Based on the summary of findings, implications are warranted for principals, district leaders, teacher preparation programs, and state leaders. It is recommended principals build collaborative teams with different experts to help set goals and participate in the planning sessions to support students. District leaders could benefit from the findings by ensuring staffing support is available at each campus since EB enrollment numbers are increasing, and districts need to consider varying levels of staffing support for campuses with different English proficiency levels such as new arrivals or long-term EBs. Also, district leaders could benefit from the findings by providing and designing professional development opportunities that target the needs of EL students in instructional leadership and coaching. ItemPerception and practices of parents and teachers on educating African American students during a global pandemic or times of school closures(2023-05-05) Taylor, Alicia; Divoll, Kent; Huss-Keeler, Rebecca; Graves, Shanna; Brown, AmberABSTRACT PERCEPTION AND PRACTICES OF PARENTS AND TEACHERS ON EDUCATING AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENTS DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC OR TIMES OF SCHOOL CLOSURES Alicia Renee Taylor University of Houston-Clear Lake, 2023 Dissertation Chair: Dr. Kent Divoll The purpose of this qualitative study is to analyze the perspectives of parents and teachers regarding the barriers and successors of educating African American students through a global pandemic, or unexpected school closure. The study researched successful practices and impediments African American students experience and suggested future practices school districts may implement to bridge the achievement gap of African American students during a global pandemic, natural disaster, or other times of school closures. The theoretical framework in this study is centered on the educational philosophy of the Social Learning Theory developed in 1963 and later detailed in 1977 by Albert Bandura (Nabavi, 2012). The research questions that guided the study were, a) What are parents' perceptions about how their child performed academically during virtual instruction compared to face-to-face instruction? b) What are parents' perceptions about how their child has been impacted socially- emotionally during virtual instruction compared to face-to-face instruction? c) What are teachers' perceptions about how African American students performed academically pre-pandemic compared to post-pandemic? d) What are teachers’ perceptions of the successful practices school districts may implement to bridge the achievement gap of African American students? A purposeful sample of the groups of participants parents and teachers were interviewed to build an empirical understanding of the significant impact of school closures and virtual learning on African American students' achievement. The study found when analyzing the experiences of the parents and teachers who worked with AA students pre, during, and post pandemic students were impacted more socially- emotionally during virtual learning than they were academically. Parents reported noticing of more temperamentally changes impacting AA students because of the isolation from peers’ which research from the Social Learning Theory suggest is critical to development of children. According to the teacher’s perspectives pre-pandemic AA student’s academic performance in general was aligned to current literature that suggest on average academic students perform subordinate to other races. However, what the study found was that post-pandemic AA students were behind academically but not substantially more than any other race. All races showed deficits in learning loss when returning to school post-pandemic. ItemExamining the relationship between principal leadership styles and the impact on teacher burnout(2023-05-05) De La Rosa, Diana Marie; Divoll, Kent; Peters, Michelle; Grace, Jennifer; Castro, EvelynThe purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between principal leadership styles and teacher burnout. The study included a review of data collected using the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ-5X) and the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI-ES) from a purposeful sample of teachers from one large urban Title I high school in a southeast Texas school district. A purposeful sample of nine teachers were interviewed for the purpose of providing a more in-depth understanding of their perceptions of the principal's leadership style and their experiences with burnout. Quantitative data were analyzed using frequencies, percentages, and Pearson's product moment correlations (r), while qualitative data were analyzed using an inductive coding process. Quantitative data analyzed the five transformational leadership attributes and the three factors of burnout. Quantitative analysis revealed that there were no statistically significant correlations to the principal's transformational qualities and teacher burnout factors of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment. The qualitative analysis revealed that teachers perceived the principal as highly transformational, supporting the quantitative data, while the burnout experiences were significant for emotional exhaustion among the participants indicating that teachers are overextended in their job responsibilities. The qualitative responses of the participants further revealed that school leaders and districts need formal professional development plans to help teachers build capacity as well as to manage stress and burnout. ItemA qualitative case study examining the factors that contribute to the retention of experienced special education teachers in Texas public schools(2023-05-05) Newsom, Jeanne Lynn; Beavers, Elizabeth; Seevers, Randy; Peters, Michelle; Cooper, JaneThe special education teacher shortage in the U.S. continues to grow and the implication of this shortage is multifaceted. First and foremost, students that are eligible for special education may not be receiving the educational supports and services that they deserve and legally require. Additionally, this shortage may cause great financial burdens on school districts that are continually having to hire and train new special education teachers. There also may be negative financial obligations when districts are sued because there are inadequate or uncertified teachers supporting these students. There are many studies that have inquired why teachers leave the field of education, however, there are minimal that have explored special education teachers specifically, and according to Billingsley and Bettini (2019) current studies of special education teachers that leave or remain are largely quantitative. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the perceptions and experiences of special education teachers that have remained in the field. The research questions revolved around intrinsic and extrinsic motivation factors regarding why they have remained. Using both in person and a video conference platform, five participants were interviewed with an open-ended interview protocol. The researcher then analyzed the interview transcripts which revealed two intrinsic (work itself and achievement) and three extrinsic (supervisor/leadership quality, working conditions, and coworker relations) emergent themes. Overall, the findings of this qualitative study revealed interventions for education leaders and authors/instructors of educator preparation programming to assist in reducing the special education teacher shortage. ItemSelf-Efficacy and Resilience: Latinas in STEM Majors(2023-04-21) Ramos, Maria Lourdes; Richardson, Timothy; Lastrapes, Renee; Raymond, Roberta; Matthew, KathrynDespite various initiatives to enhance diversity in STEM disciplines, women and minorities remain underrepresented (Gonzalez et al., 2021, Chapter 5). Higher education institutions can help enhance gender and racial equity in STEM disciplines in the U.S. (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, & Medicine, 2011). This study’s purpose was to investigate self-efficacy and resilience based on traditional (25 and less) and non-traditional (26 and higher) age ranges and ancestral regions. In this mixed-methods study, 36 STEM major Latinas from a mid-sized comprehensive university in South Texas answered a survey, and ten Latina STEM-major students participated in semi-structured individual interviews. The Generalized Self-Efficacy and Connor-Davidson Resilience Scales were administered to participants. According to the findings of this study, there is a statistically significant relationship between self-efficacy and resilience based on age range. However, there was no statistically significant relationship between self-efficacy and resilience and ancestral region. ItemThe effects of positive behavior interventions and supports on middle school student achievement and middle school student outcomes(2023-04-25) Brooks, Torrance A; Beavers, Elizabeth; Peters, Michelle; Grace, Jennifer; Seevers, RandyThe purpose of this mixed method study was to examine whether or not Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) influence middle school academic student achievement and middle school disruptive behaviors. The population of this study was a participating school district located in eastern Harris County outside of Houston, Texas. The sample consisted of seventh and eighth grade teachers from four different middle schools that used PBIS or did not use PBIS that had STAAR scores assigned to their name. A total of 103 middle school teachers met the criteria. Individual teacher STAAR scores and individual student PEIMS data for office referrals were collected by the researcher for the middle school teachers within the participating school district. Independent t-tests and a Mann-Whitney U test were used to analyze the quantitative data, while an inductive and deductive coding process was used to analyze and transcribe the collected qualitative data for ten participating teachers. The quantitative findings indicated that there was a statistically significant mean difference in student achievement between classroom teachers that implemented a PBIS model compared to classroom teacher that did not, but there was not a statistically significant mean difference in disruptive behaviors for classroom teachers who used PBIS compared to classroom teachers who did not. The qualitative data revealed five emerging themes: building positive relationships, improved student achievement, changing negative behaviors associated with the benefits of PBIS that address challenging behaviors, increased instructional time, and decreased office referrals. Based on the qualitative findings, middle school teachers trust that PBIS is effective in increasing student achievement and decreases challenging behaviors of middle school students. The research concludes with implications and recommendations for future research based on the findings. ItemExamining the relationship between principal cultural proficiency and leadership behaviors(2023-03-29) Cardona, Rogelio A; Miller, Queinnise; Corrales, Antonio; Peters, Michelle; Verow, ShawnThe purpose of this quantitative correlational study was to examine the relationship between principal cultural proficiency and leadership behaviors through a culturally responsive leadership framework. A total of 166 school principals from a service region of Southeastern Texas were solicited and completed the Educator Cultural Proficiency Insight Tool (ECPIT) and the Successful School Leadership Survey (SSLS). The research questions focused on four factors of cultural proficiency: (a) cultural awareness and diversity, (b) attitudes, beliefs, and expectations of student learning, (c) ownership and responsibility, and (d) recognition of racism predicting each of the four domains of leadership behaviors: (a) setting directions, (b) developing people, (c) redesigning the organization, and (d) improving the instructional program. The researcher used multiple linear regression, frequencies, and percentages to analyze the data collected and the findings revealed that there is a significant relationship between cultural proficiency and the four leadership behaviors examined. The study's results align with previous research that has demonstrated the importance of principals having a clear vision for a school, being child-focused, and having high expectations for students. Additionally, the research found a connection between empathy for diverse students and listening to all voices. The study also revealed that principals who recognized the presence of racism in their schools were more likely to engage in organizational redesign efforts. Finally, the research suggested that principals who took ownership and responsibility for student learning outcomes were more effective at improving the instructional program. The study highlights the importance of cultural proficiency as a predictor of effective leadership behaviors and needed support for schools to foster a culture that celebrates a student-centered focus in learning. The findings provide insights into the importance of principals' attitudes, beliefs, and expectations of student learning, their ownership and responsibility, and their recognition of racism in fostering a school culture that supports reaching a common goal, and building capacity in staff, managing changes in the organization, and improving instruction. The study provides implications and recommendations for future research in the field of culturally responsive leadership. ItemTeacher’s perception of humor as a facilitator of student engagement(2023-03-20) Geumei, Dina; Brown, Amber; Peters, Michelle; Williams-Duncan, Omah; Preeti, JainClassroom engagement is an excellent indicator of students' learning, grades, achievement, test scores, retention, and graduation. However, classroom engagement is heavily dependent on teacher-student interactions. Teachers' role in engaging students in the lesson learned is critical. Using a free and convenient tool, such as teachers' humor, can ensure student engagement in the learning process (Nienaber et al., 2019). The purpose of this study is to determine how schoolteachers perceive humor as a facilitator for student engagement at the classroom level. This study used a sequential mixed methods design to gain insights regarding the teachers' perceptions of the role of humor as a catalyst for student engagement. Survey and interview data were collected from a purposeful sample of K-12 grade teachers in seven private schools in Greater Houston, Texas. The study used an electronic questionnaire from 102 teachers working in grades K-12 and 14 follow-up semi-structured interviews to gather data on teachers' perceptions of positive humor as a facilitator for student engagement. The quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Pearson's product-moment correlations, one-way ANOVA test, and independent samples t-test. The qualitative data were analyzed using thematic inductive coding. Results from the quantitative analysis showed no significance. In contrast, the results of the qualitative analysis strongly supported the use of positive humor as a powerful tool for student engagement if utilized appropriately. ItemTeacher perceptions of preparedness to establish the learning environment(2023-03-06) Parks, Precious Willis; Beavers, Elizabeth; Peters, Michelle; Grace, Jennifer; Miller, QueinniseNovice teachers are leaving the classroom within five years. Educator preparation programs are preparing teachers, but improvement is needed to meet the culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms of today. Transitioning from pre-service to in-service teacher can feel insurmountable while establishing the classroom environment, managing student behavior, and preserving well-being. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to examine novice teachers’ perceptions of their educator preparation program’s effectiveness to prepare them to establish the learning environment. Overall, traditional certified teachers exhibit a higher sense of preparedness than alternative certified teachers due to instructional design incorporating deliberate practice in the field. Certification route influences the pre-service teacher’s preparedness to establish the learning environment. Race and ethnicity does influence preparedness to manage student behavior for both certification routes. In addition, there is a relationship between race and ethnicity and meeting behavioral needs of students with disabilities for the traditional and alternative certified teacher. Qualitive results indicated that the first-year is challenging and filled with harsh realities despite preparation route. Respondents also identified their misunderstanding with establishing a safe and accessible classroom. The most valuable experiences to aid in establishing the learning environment was student teaching, internships, and any time observing and practicing in the field. Teachers of color expressed inequitable practices but were motivated to teach because of special connections with students. Based on the results of this study, policy makers should uniform the student teaching schedule requiring high impact experiences across all four domains in traditional programs and increase the field-based hours for alternative programs. EPPs must alter instructional design to close the gap in understanding of a safe and accessible classroom. District administrators must enact new teacher academies and mentoring across a three-year span. Campus administrators should implement a scaffolded approach to support novice teacher efficacy, practice, and well-being. ItemExploring Novice Principal Perception of Whether Alignment exist Between Their Principal Development Program and Their Evaluation Rubric(2023-02-10) Alex, Rachel; Corrales, Antonio; Peters, Michelle; Grace, Jennifer; Young, AtinaThis qualitative study explored whether novice principals believed their principal development program had adequately prepared them for high-performance ratings on the principal evaluation rubric. Over the past two decades, legislation has stressed that student achievement is an essential component of leadership effectiveness (Pannell & McBrayer, 2022). However, defining and clarifying the principal’s impact on campus performance continues to remain challenging (Hutton, 2019). Fifteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of novice principals from 10 school districts in a Southeast Region of Texas. Typically, principal supervisors are responsible for the novice principals' evaluation and growth. Interview responses indicated that most principal supervisors performed these tasks in isolation. Participants agreed that their principal development program did not adequately prepare them for the principal role. The findings of this study and the parallels to the literature review indicate the significance of developing Principal Development Programs (PDPs) aligned with the evaluation criteria in their rubrics. When developing high-performing principals, the educational community might benefit from exploring the curriculum design for PDPs in school districts and educator preparation programs. Novice principals did not perceive that their PDPs prepared them for a high-performance rating based on their principal evaluation rubrics. Participants’ responses indicated their PDPs had limited overall value due to lack of comprehensive content to adequately prepare them for the principal role. The results from interview responses concluded that the role of the principal supervisor on the novice principal was more impactful on their development. A consensus surfaced in the interview responses when participants attributed their success to the support they received from their principal supervisor. Participants believed that mentoring and coaching had the most significant influence on their development. In addition, principal supervisors who understood how to perform their roles were equipped to align support and training opportunities geared to enhance principal performance. Therefore, school districts must develop principal supervisors who are knowledgeable about the principal role and capable of creating and modifying PDPs in ways that will produce high-performing principals. ItemTechnology Leadership and Teachers' Perceptions of the Principal Technology Leadership Role(2023-01-02) Garza, Veronica Jean; Corrales, Antonio; Peters, Michelle; Martinez, Norma; Mcintosh Cooper, JaneThe purpose of this mixed methods study was to examine principal’s technology leadership and teachers’ perceptions of the principal’s technology leadership role in a school setting. A purposeful sample of 123 principals and 126 teachers located throughout Region IV were solicited to completed modified versions of the Principal Technology Leadership Assessment (PTLA), and semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten principals and teachers to learn more about the perceptions of both groups regarding the principal’s technology leadership role. Descriptive statistics and t-tests were used to analyze the quantitative data, while an inductive coding process was used to analyze the transcribed interviews. The quantitative findings revealed that there are significant differences between what principals are doing and what teachers believe they should be doing as technology leaders, with the greatest differences among the Leadership & Vision and Support, Management, and Operations sub-scale activities. The interview data revealed four emerging themes: resources, support, technology self-efficacy, and challenges. Based on the qualitative findings, principals need to ensure they provide resources and evaluate their effectiveness, and teachers need to feel supported by principals and provided with opportunities to collaborate. Additionally, technology self-efficacy improves with regular use of technology, and challenges that must be addressed include a lack of/an overabundance of resources, buy-in, and communication. The researcher concludes the study with implications and recommendations for future research based on these findings. ItemExamining the Relationship Between Teachers' Perceptions of School Climate and Student Achievement of Middle School Students(2023-05-03) Edwards, Tanya Wiser; Corrales, Antonio; Peters, Michelle; Grace-Samuel, Jennifer; O'Brien, RandalABSTRACT EXAMINING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TEACHER’S PERCEPTIONS OF SCHOOL CLIMATE AND STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT OF MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS Tanya Wiser Edwards University of Houston-Clear Lake, 2023 Dissertation Chair: Antonio Corrales, EdD The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to examine the relationship between teacher’s perceptions of school climate and student achievement of middle school students. Two hundred twenty middle school teachers, from a large urban school district located in the Southwestern region of the US, participated in the New Jersey School Climate Survey. Student achievement was measured using the Reading and Mathematics STAAR test. Data collected from the survey and interviews revealed that administrative support, building relationships, teaching and learning, and school safety are crucial factors that contribute to having a positive school climate. Because states are holding schools accountable for student achievement, and improving school climate, this study could provide significant contributions to school districts, administrators, and to the global discussion on the relationship between school climate and student achievement. ItemEvaluating Sentiment Analysis Mechanism for Labelled Amazon Reviews(2023-05-09) Trada, Parth Sureshbhai; Sha, Kewei; Wu, Yalong; Wei, WeiSentiment analysis has become increasingly important in understanding customer opinions, feedback, and preferences towards products and services, particularly on marketplaces like Amazon. Researchers have proposed various techniques and algorithms for sentiment analysis. However, there still lacks a good guidance that can systematically direct data scientists to select appropriate algorithms and models, although a few efforts have been made. This thesis aims to fill the gap by presenting a comprehensive evaluation on different sentiment analysis mechanisms for labeled Amazon reviews. To achieve the above goal, we first prepare an accurately labelled Amazon review dataset through manually labeling. This builds a solid foundation for our evaluation. Then, we evaluate the effectiveness of popular mechanisms used in sentiment analysis, including both data preprocessing techniques such as Bag of Words (BOW), Term Frequency- Inverse Document Frequency (TF-IDF) weighting, spell correction, stemming, and lemmatization, and various sentiment analysis models such as K-Nearest Neighbors (KNN), Logistic Regression (LR), Support Vector Machine (SVM), Artificial Neural Network (ANN), Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM), and Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT). These mechanisms were selected based on their prominence in the field of sentiment analysis, their potential to yield high-accuracy results, and their representation of different designs. We conducted five experiments using a combination of above data preprocessing techniques and analysis models. Through these experiments, we aim to identify a set of optimal combinations of preprocessing techniques and classification models that demonstrate superior performance in sentiment analysis of labeled Amazon reviews. The experiment results show that the use of BERT with BOW, TF-IDF, Spell Correction, and Lemmatization achieved the highest accuracy of 98.99%, outperforming other combinations. The addition of TF-IDF weighting, spell correction, stemming, and lemmatization improves the accuracy of four analysis models by about 6%, i.e., from 87.34% to 93.4% for KNN, from 86.6% to 94.22% for SVM, from 90.68% to 96.87% for ANN, and from 92.87% to 97.95% for LSTM. However, LR shows a comparatively lower accuracy ranging from 74.32% to 81.09% regardless different preprocessing techniques due to its limitations as a linear model, which may struggle to capture complex patterns and non-linear relationships in the sentiment data. This work provides insights into the effectiveness of different data processing and analysis mechanisms for sentiment analysis of labeled Amazon reviews. The findings can be applied to improve the effectiveness of customer review analysis to help achieve higher level of customer satisfaction, which can be essential in areas such as product and business strategy development. ItemFederated Learning to Build Sentiment Analysis Models for Amazon Review Datasets without Labels(2023-05-09) Kadve, Ritu; Sha, Kewei; Wu, Yalong; Wei, WeiIn Natural Language Processing, one of the most popular tasks is sentiment analysis which aims to predict the sentiment of a text. It has many practical applications in industries such as marketing and customer service. Performance of sentiment analysis models play a significant role to the success of these applications. To achieve a high accuracy, sentiment analysis usually trains analytical models based on labeled datasets, preferably to large-scale labeled dataset. However, large-size labeled dataset may not be available because of the high-cost in labeling. Therefore, researchers study alternative approaches aiming to learn high accurate and reliable models based on small-scale labeled datasets or using other existing labeled datasets from different categories. A centralized model is a machine learning model that utilizes a large dataset stored on a central server to perform sentiment analysis. Training a centralized model on a small, labeled dataset can result in inaccurate or incomplete predictions. While processing labeled datasets of different categories on a centralized platform, it also comes with many challenges such as data heterogeneity, bias towards the categories that are overrepresented, requirement of large amount of computational power and resources, and the availability of good amount of labeled data for training. In addition, it is difficult to select appropriate data categories to train a reliable model for the new category. In this thesis, we propose a federated learning approach to overcome these challenges. Federated Learning (FL) is a type of decentralized Machine Learning (ML) that lets us train data analytical models on local data without transferring data to a central server. When Federated Learning is applied to sentiment analysis, one server and multiple clients collaborate to train a reliable and accurate sentiment analysis model. In our scenario, each client trains a local sentiment analysis model based on a labeled review dataset of a specific category, and the server makes use of the FedAvg algorithm to aggregate the parameters from the trained client models to build a global model for the new category that has no available labeled dataset. We evaluate the performance of our design based on a prototype implementation using Amazon review datasets. Compared with the centralized sentiment analysis, the proposed FL-based sentiment analysis performance is 10% better. This validates the potential of federated learning in training better data analytical models for categories with no large-scale labeled datasets. ItemEffectiveness of Drones for Freshwater Turtle Surveys Aimed Toward Detecting the Cryptic Western Chicken Turtle. (Deirochelys Reticularia Miaria).(2023-04-28) Nagro, Jason; Guillen, George; Mokrech, Marc; Howard, Cynthia; Gordon, MandiThe rise in the use of drones in wildlife research has shown promising results for conservation practices. Few studies have focused on drone surveys for aquatic freshwater turtles. This study evaluated the effectiveness of drones for detecting freshwater turtles with the primary target species being the Western Chicken Turtle (WCT; Deirochelys reticularia miaria). Two drones were employed to investigate their effectiveness for detecting freshwater turtles. 1) Videos and thermal imagery were utilized using a DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise (M2) and 2) static multispectral imagery using a DJI Phantom 4 (P4MS). Binocular aided visual surveys (BAVS) were conducted simultaneously with M2 surveys to compare and contrast methodologies. A total of 20.7 hours of video footage yielded 1916 freshwater turtle detections and 57090 photos with 1915 detections. BAVS had a cumulative time of 58.1 hours with 1096 turtle detections. Six turtle groups were detected with the M2, five with the P4MS and four with BAVS. Groups that were identified by all methods were Slider Turtles (Trachemys sp.), North American Softshell Turtles (Apalone sp.), and Common Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina). A majority of all detected freshwater turtles displayed no reaction to the drones presence. The M2 had a statistically significant (p = 0.015) higher monthly catch per unit effort (CPUE) for freshwater turtles when compared to BAVS. Six WCT were detected using drone surveys (M2 = 5 and P4MS =1) while BAVS failed to detect WCT. Drone surveys were successful at detecting and identifying freshwater turtles such as the WCT when compared to BAVS, but quality data collection relies upon many internal and external factors such as camera resolution and essential habitat features. Drones are powerful tools when surveying freshwater turtles and other wildlife collecting vast amounts of data. Their implementation in future research studies concerning wildlife conservation with freshwater turtles have evident benefits in overall site accessibility, field team safety, and non-invasive rapid data collection.