Worcester State University
Nonprofit Management


Students' Research

The following are abstracts of students’ Action Research Projects
(the program’s Capstone Project).  


George, Patricia. Factors that Influence the Use of Occupation-Based Intervention by Occupational Therapists (2008)

            The use of occupation-based, collaborative, client-centered occupational therapy interventions is part of the theoretical foundation of the occupational therapy profession. Despite “occupation” being the core of the profession, there continues to be confusion as to its meaning as it relates to occupational therapy practice. The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify what factors influence the use of occupation-based interventions by occupation therapists. The study found that therapists’ values and habits, as well as clinical practice settings can impact client-centered interventions.


Dalton, Deborah A. Benefits and Challenges of Service learning Partnerships from the Perspective of Nonprofit Organizations (2008)
There are many studies that have focused on the effects of service learning on students and colleges. This qualitative study sought to find out the benefits and challenges of service learning from the perspective of nonprofit organizations. The results indicated that the college-community partnerships should be made more visible to the community at large to allow the needs of the community to be served.


Lozier, Shannon. Student Orientation: A Case Study of Worcester State College (2008)

            An important element of a successful transition to college is a good orientation program. The purpose of this case study, which involved a focus group, key informant interviews and document review, was to find out the views of out-of-state and international students with regard to orientation. The study found that the college was proactive in  student orientation, but the students found it difficult to create social interactions on campus. The fact that most undergraduate students come from around the Worcester area, and some come from the same high schools, make it difficult for “outsiders” to fit in. Lozier suggests that a peer-mentoring program, particularly for international students, might help the students integrate better.


Walsh, John D. Math and Science High School Curriculum and Pre-College Programming: An Examination of Three high Schools. (2008)

            Math and science have become essential subjects in the global economy. This study explored three high schools in the north central region of Worcester County to see how they prepared students for college in math and science. Using pre-existing data that had been obtained through a survey, and through document review including MCAS scores, the study found that the preparation of students in the three high schools was woefully inadequate. Laboratories and lab equipment were old and inadequate, guidance counselors were overwhelmed by the number of advisees, and they were more involved with discipline issues than academic advising.


Dexter, Kimberly R. Motivating Resident Assistants: A Case Study of a Midsized Public College (2008)

            This study utilized a qualitative design to find out the factors that influence the motivation of Resident Assistants (RA). The results indicated that intrinsic gain such a sense of accomplishment, the opportunity to help others, positive staff dynamics, and a supportive supervisor played an important role in motivating RAs to do better in their jobs.


Mooney, Erin. Not Just a Drop in the Ocean: Why do college students volunteer?  (2007)

            In recent years, students have been volunteering more and in greater numbers. The study examined the reasons why students do volunteer work. Mooney surveyed, online, a sample of 91 students from the College of the Holy Cross and 53 from Worcester State College. The results indicated that the main reason why students volunteered was a belief in the cause. Other reasons included school and church requirements, a desire to make friends, and personal growth. It also became apparent that students volunteered if they were given the opportunity to do so. Mooney therefore recommends that universities and colleges provide easy-access volunteer opportunities so that students don’t have to struggle to look for the volunteer opportunities by themselves.


Hickey, Patrick K. Benefits of Being a Volunteer Youth Mentor. (2007)

            The benefits of youth mentees are well documented. But how do the mentors benefit from the experience? Hickey examined this question using the Worcester Polytechnic Institute men’s basketball team. The team is involved with the “Big Brother Big Sister” organization. The study was a mixed method design that included a survey and a focus group with the team as well as an interview with the head coach. The results indicated that mentors, benefit intrinsically by gaining a higher sense of self-confidence and self-esteem.


Dowling, Shawna Erickson. Where Mission, Accountability and Resources Meet: A Snapshot of Urban Education Since 2002 (2007)

            This case study utilized both quantitative and qualitative methods to find out the influence of the availability of resources on the ability of an urban elementary school to implement its mission. Dowling also sought to find out the opinions of school staff on how the available resources should be allocated.  The results indicated that the resources available to urban schools have decreased, and both mathematics and English Language Arts had suffered. The largest percentage of participants indicated that in the allocation of additional resources, priority should be given to decreasing the staff-student ratio.


Frandsen, Mary Katherine. Nonprofit School-Age Childcare in Massachusetts Resource Procurement and Allocation Study (2007)

            The goal of this study was to determine how nonprofit school-age childcare organizations in Massachusetts procure and allocate resources. The results indicated that most organizations rely  exclusively or almost exclusively  (95-99) on program services revenue. The remainder of the revenue comes from savings interest. The organizations spent most of their revenue on program services, professional fees, professional development, special events and administration. Frandsen also found out that most organizations, itemized their expenses in line 43 of Forms 990 (other) instead of using specific standardized categories. She recommends that school-age childcare organizations seek multiple ways of procuring funds including grant writing, investments, fundraising and for-profit initiatives.


Karimi, Margaret. Kenyans Assimilating in the United States (2007)

            Traditionally, Kenyan immigrants in the United States have been young people who come to the country as college students. In the last decade however, with the popularity of the Diversity Visa program, older Kenyans (40+) have become an increasing phenomenon. For this age group, it becomes harder to assimilate because unlike the younger students, they do not get the chance to ease into the American culture through school. Many already have good education from Kenya and have worked in Kenya in white-collar jobs. Once in the U.S. their Kenyan-obtained degrees and their work experience do not get recognized by employers, and they have to start from scratch by either getting a U.S. education or working in jobs that are beneath their qualifications. Culturally too, it is more difficult for older people who are already set in their ways to learn and accept a new culture. This qualitative study explored the assimilation of older Kenyans into the U.S. through the use of interviews. The study found that older Kenyans had discomfort with becoming “Americanized,” had difficulty with weather, diet, finding suitable communities for worship, and cultural issues such as the redefinition of gender roles. Participants also reported experiencing what they perceived to be racial discrimination. Their biggest challenge was utilizing their education and previous work experience suitably. Karimi suggests that it would be greatly beneficial to have potential immigrants, particularly those from developing countries educated on what to expect upon immigration to the U.S.


Woodward, Margaret M. The Future Needs of Age Center of Worcester Area, Inc.’s Elder Nutrition Program (2006)

            The goal of this study was to explore the changing needs of the Age Center of Worcester Area Inc., with regard to its Elder Nutrition Program.  Participation in the program had been waning at the time of the study. Woodward found that the waning participation was due to the fact that seniors had been “aging out” (becoming too old to physically go to the center). There was lack of transportation and other support services to assist the older seniors. At the same time new seniors (those attaining the age of 65) no longer felt old enough to participate in the program. New perceptions about age seemed to play a big role in the decline of participation. Recommendations coming out of this study include more aggressive marketing to seniors, provision of support services to encourage participation, a better menu, and more programs of interest to the seniors designed around mealtimes.


Lebeaux, Cindy E. Hear Here 2006: A Survey of Central Massachusetts Human Service Employees (2006)

            This study used a mixed-method design to compare two human service agencies in central Massachusetts, which provide support to people with mental retardation, with regard to the relationship between employee benefits and employee turnover. An employee survey with a sample of 142 and a focus group were conducted. Lebeaux found that insurance coverage, particularly health insurance, financial incentives including raises, bonuses, retirement savings with employer contributions, overtime pay and direct deposit options were the most valued benefits. The strongest incentive to stay on the job however came from a “friendly culture” in the workplace, including supportive management and cooperative co-workers.


Blanchette, Noreen. The Effects of States’ Excise Tax on Anti-Smoking Campaigns (2006)

            In this study, Blanchette explored state regulations with regard to anti-smoking, including the use of cigarette tax revenue, the implementation of age restriction in the sale of cigarettes, and banning of cigarette smoking in public places. The study found that only a small proportion of cigarette taxes is used on anti-smoking campaigns, and only four states had anti-smoking funding levels as recommended by the CDC. Smoke free air laws were in place in some form in all 50 states. Forty-eight states restricted smoking in government buildings while thirty-one also had restrictions for private work places. There were age restrictions on the sale of cigarettes in all states, but only seventeen states and the District of Columbia required retailers to check identification. Blanchette concluded that even if progress has been made, there was still more work to be done particularly in some states, and with regard to increased funding for anti-smoking programs.

Kline, David C. Mainstreaming of Disabled Students in Public Schools. (2006)

            In this study, Kline examined the inclusionary practice of mainstreaming disabled individuals in public schools. With increased costs of education and cuts in funding, it is important that programs implemented in the public school system are cost effective. At the same time, disabled students have a right to obtain the best education they can. It is not clear whether mainstreaming is beneficial to disabled students or whether it is disadvantageous to normally developing children. What is clear is that it is a politically correct practice. A quantitative design that involved the examination of statistical data including graduation rates and test scores of disabled students as well as school budgets was done. A random sample of Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Wyoming was done. It was found that all the states had some form of mainstreaming ranging from full inclusion and partial inclusion, to a separate resource room for disabled students. There were also separate schools for the disabled. The results suggested that greater cost per (disabled) pupil resulted in higher graduation rates. Mainstreaming decisions also tended to revolve around the needs of the disabled student and not the school or other students.


Morgan, Lisa. The Effects of Federal Policy & Civil Action Lawsuits on the Delivery of Services to Adults with Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities (2006)

            This study explored the effects of civil action on the delivery of services to the disabled in Massachusetts. Societal attitudes towards the disabled, going back to the 1600s, have had an effect on policies affecting that population. The recognition of the right of the disabled to live a full live like everyone else has spurred lawsuits to ensure the protection and implementation of those rights. The study found: 1) that there was a coordinated effort on the part of federal policy and civil action lawsuits in MA to bring community services to the disabled; 2) that advocates of the disabled have successfully represented the disabled with regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Olmstead Act; 3) that legal actions that result in cash settlement and other mandates leave no wriggle  room and tend to affect other social programs; and, 4) that the state administration’s downsizing of state institutions was short sighted.


Cormier, Pete. Community-Based Music Organizations and Youth Development (2006)

            In this quantitative study conducted through the use of a mail survey, Cormier sought to determine whether there is a relationship between participation in a youth music organizations and the building of personal development skills, development of social capital and greater civic responsibility. The sample consisted of youth that were involved in two community-based music organizations. The attributes associated with personal development for this study included self-confidence, self-esteem, enhanced communication skills and development of musical talent (vocals and instrument playing). Behaviors that were considered to contribute to social capital included making contact with more people, increasing one’s social network, and forming relationships with community members and non-family adults. Civic engagement was used to refer to activities or behaviors such as knowledge and interest in local issues, reading of local newspapers, and involvement in community volunteering activities. The data on effects on personal development was inconclusive. However, involvement in the community music groups tended to foster more involvement in the community, thus increasing both social capital and civic engagement.


Stiso, Joseph N. Faculty Roles and Relationships with Resource Development Offices at Two-Year Colleges (2006)

            What makes some colleges more successful than others in procuring grants? The aim of this study was to find out whether faculty involvement with resource development offices at two-year colleges influences the success of procurement of grants. An online survey of 224 two-year college executives and resource development officers was conducted. Stiso found that the majority of colleges did not include faculty in the procurement of grants and that faculty were not given incentives or rewards for participation. For those colleges that were highly successful in grant procurement, neither faculty incentives nor rewards or recognition played a major part in their success.


O’Leary, Audrey. What Makes People Choose the Field of Human Services as a Career? (2006)

            Human services as a field is plagued with high turnover rates. The aim of this study was to focus, not on those who leave, but those who stay. A mixed design utilizing a survey, interviews and a focus group was implemented in this case study. Data were sought from long-term employees of a human services organization. O’Leary found out that most such employees had had some exposure with disability before joining the organization, and they also had a friend/family member working in the field. Another finding was that the employees did not seem to be affected by the level of difficulty in the job (that is, dealing with more medically involved or behaviorally challenging clients).  It appeared like employees who chose human resources as a career were motivated by intrinsic factors rather than external motivational factors.


Carrier, Denise. Meeting the Needs of a Community: A Case Study of Southern Worcester County  (2006)

            This was a quantitative study involving two surveys, one to parents and the other to providers of Headstart. The goals of the study were: 1) to define the demographic make-up of the Headstart eligible families, 2) to explore the availability of needed services, 3) to find out the barriers to accessing services, and, 4) to uncover unmet family needs. The study found out that the availability of affordable childcare services was a major need among Headstart families. Literacy, education and language skills among parents were major barriers to accessing services, as well as the ability to support their children’s learning.


Hancock, Tara. Engaging Young Alumni: A Case study. (2006)

            This study examines “young alumni” (those who have graduated within the last ten years), and what factors influence their future involvement with their alma mater. Hancock surveyed a sample of 55 young alumni from various colleges. She found that contrary to previous research that suggested that extra-curricular activity during college years was the major factor in predicting alumni involvement, young alumni were likely to be involved in alumni affairs if they had obtained a scholarship or some other form of school-based financial aid, or if they had been resident at the college.


Desilets, Pierre M. L. The Feelings, Issues, and Coping Strategies of the Post-abortive Male. (2006)

            Many studies have concentrated on the feelings of women who undergo an abortion. In this study, Desilets set out to find out about the feelings, issues and coping strategies of partners of women who undergo an abortion. Desilets used an internet forum that was specifically meant for such men, but in which women could also post entries about their abortions and the resulting relationship consequences. He examined entries by 123 different users, 87 female and 36 male, all of whom had registered with the forum between May 2000 and February 2006. Desilets found that post-abortive males experience the feelings of guilt, regret, anger, low self-esteem, pain, fear and shame. The predominant feeling was guilt. Coping strategies included “shutting down” (refusing to talk about it), avoiding relationships with women or children, self-punishment including deliberate self-injury, seeking support groups, and grieving. Desilets recommends education for adolescents and young men on the psychological effects of abortions, and more support services for all men affected by an abortion.


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