Graduate Studies Symposium

Each year current and recently graduated students from the seven graduate programs here at Assumption present their research at the Graduate Studies Symposium. Presentations include paper and posters and entries can be nominated and sponsored by all graduate faculty. The common theme is “excellence” and work “above and beyond” the expectations of our graduate students. Research projects, applied activities, and creative presentations on a subject and can involve empirical projects being conducted with a faculty member, independent work done in an internship, an especially well done class presentation, and the like.

The Ninth Annual Graduate Studies Symposium
April 12th, 2018

Teacher Perceptions of School-Wide Positive Behavior Supports
Rachel Fenstermaker and Sharleen Ramos
CAGS in Special Education Program

Positive behavior support (PBS) is a framework used to proactively teach appropriate behavior and prevent challenging behaviors across school contexts. In this implementation project, graduate students surveyed teachers from two elementary schools that use school-wide PBS to evaluate teachers' (a) understanding of PBS concepts, (b) implementation of PBS, and (c) training needs. Action plans with measurable outcomes were identified based on survey results.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Samantha Goldman


Building Resiliency Skills in Stresses Teens
Tara Kelly and Sophia Widmeyer
School Counseling Program

Students participated in a six-session psycho-educational program to learn basic information about stress and stressors. They developed skills in how to rethink stress and make more positive choices and develop stronger coping strategies. At the end of the program, students presented a final project on stress/coping strategies to show their understanding of a specific topic on stress/resiliency. Students were evaluated at the beginning and end of the program to measure their perception of stress and the results were remarkable. The co-presenter is a student who participated in the study. Her experience and an overview of her final presentation will be shared.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Mary Ann Mariani


Disenfranchised Grief in Adolescence
Kaitlin McArdle
School Counseling Program

When grief is unrecognized by the bereaved, social groups or society, that grief can become disenfranchised. For school-aged children, experiencing a significant, unrecognized loss is associated with academic difficulties, lower self-esteem, withdrawal from loved ones, and decreased school attendance. A loss may also interfere with developmental and social tasks. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to unrecognized grief. School counselors can play a crucial role in validating the losses for developing adolescents, which can minimize the occurrence of disenfranchised grief. Through intentional interventions, school counselors can address the range of different death and non-death losses that students experience.

Faculty Advisor: Lorette McWilliams, Ph.D.


Supports, Tips, and Techniques for Servicing Individuals with Severe Disabilities to Prepare for the World of Work
Brianna Norton and Leanna Avery
Transition Specialist Program

Are you tired of students not being adequately prepared for work due to the lack of resources? Do you struggle with creating innovative and engaging lessons related to job skills? Do you want to make sure all students feel included and have an equal opportunity to leave school and become active members in their community? Then we have some answers for you! Our goal is to explore gaps in work opportunities for students with severe disabilities.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Sabrina Singleton


Influences on Cooperation
Anthea Oikonomou and Joshua Jennes
Applied Behavior Analysis

We examined the role of a previous experience (a helpful or unhelpful partner) on altruistic behavior in a cooperative task. Participants played a game with two phases. In Phase 1, the participant could win more points based on another player's behavior. In Phase 2, the participant had the opportunity to let the other player win. We hypothesized that willingness to let the other player win would be influenced by how often the other player let the participant win during Phase 1. The results will contribute to a better understanding of people's willingness to cooperate in situations where doing so incurs a cost to themselves.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Karen Lionello-Denolf


Postpartum Depression and Violations of Parent's Childcare Expectations in Co-parenting across the Transition to Parenthood
Allison Shea
Clinical Counseling Psychology Program

This study explored whether parental Postpartum Depression (PPD) and childcare expectations during pregnancy predict co-parenting dynamics observed at 3 months postpartum. Parents' depression, childcare expectations, and co-parenting behaviors were assessed in 26 nonclinical couples during pregnancy and at 3 months postpartum. Findings indicated that mothers with greater prenatal PPD and greater violations of prenatal childcare expectations experienced less harmonious co-parenting observed at 3 months. Greater prenatal PPD was also associated with mothers' and fathers' perceptions at 3 months. In conclusion, prenatal PPD and violations of parental childcare represent risk factors for postpartum co-parenting.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Regina Kuersten-Hogan


Presentations:

Health Advocacy Concerns Associated with Homeless Young Parents
Meggan Cantlin
Health Advocacy Program

This project addresses health advocacy concerns associated with homeless young parents who are either pregnant or parenting. I developed a comprehensive and educational resource tool-kit in the form of a smartphone application. This application is designed to support and boost the confidence of young parents by enhancing their health care advocacy skills and by providing solutions and resources to help dissolve any fears and or obstacles that stand in the way of accessing health care.

Faculty Advisor: Christine Sawicki, RPh, MBA


The History and the Future of the Euro as a Currency
Jeff Maxwell
Master of Business Administration Program

This presentation will review the long history of the Euro, its prominence as a currency in use in Europe and the world, and its future challenges.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Eric Drouart


The Association of Anxiety, Depression, Anger, and Alcohol Misuse in Young Adults
Jason Prior, William Nall, Matthew Collin, Lisa Mazzola, and Alexander Cerbo
Clinical Counseling Psychology Program

There is no "anger disorder" in the DSM-5. Because there is no diagnosis, anger is rarely addressed in treatment. Anger and related constructs are typically viewed as symptoms or characteristics of other internalizing and externalizing disorders in the DSM-5. In order to better understand how anger relates to other disorders, this study will examine the association of anger with anxiety, depression, and problematic substance use in a non-clinical sample of 250 college students. It is hypothesized that the severity of self-reported anger will be positively correlated with self-reported anxiety, depression, and substance abuse problems among young adults. 

Faculty Advisor: Leonard Doerfler, Ph.D.


Counseling Individuals Living in Poverty
Ann Reynolds
Rehabilitation Counseling Program

The purpose of this presentation is to assist current and future practitioners to gain a deeper understanding of the culture of poverty. There is much stigma and shame associated with living in poverty and individuals with disabilities experience an exponentially greater effect of shame and stigma based on their status of multiple identities. A counselor representing the middle-class may struggle to understand the worldview of individuals who are poor and this creates barriers to developing and solidifying the therapeutic alliance. This interactive presentation will encourage participants to explore their implicit biases and stereotypes related to people who live in poverty.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nicholas Cioe


The Eighth Annual Graduate Studies Symposium
April 2017
 

The Association of Anxiety, Drepession, Anger, and Alcohol Misuse in Young Adults
Jason Prior, Taylor Schiff, Alexander Cerbo, and Salomé Wilfred
Clinical Counseling Pscyhology Program

There is no "anger disorder" in the DSM-5. Because there is no diagnosis, anger is rarely addressed in treatment. Anger and related constructs are typically viewed as symptoms or characteristics of other internalizing and externalizing disorders in the DSM-5. In order to better understand how anger relates to other disorders, this study will examine the association of anger with anxiety, depression, and problematic substance use in a non-clinical sample of 250 college students. It is hypothesized that the severity of self-reported anger will be positively correlated with self-reported anxiety, depression, and substance abuse problems among young adults. 

Faculty Advisor: Leonard Doerfler, Ph.D.


Fictional Transportation: Associations among Reading, Interest in Emotion, and Genre Preferences
Rachel Hickey
Clinical Counseling Pscychology Program

Beloved Fantasy author Terry Pratchett named human beings Pan narrans, the storytelling ape. We crave fiction, but motivation for fiction exposure is relatively unexplored. Narrataives are often emotional, which raises two compelling posibilities: people may seek fiction to expose themeslves to emotion (exposure) or to distract from the emotions of their daily lives (escapism). We investigated the associations between reading fiction and interest in emotional stimuli. Fifty participants from Amazon MTurk viewed 60 negative, neutral, and positive and rated how interesting they found each. How long they viewed each image and self-reported fiction experiences were also recorded. Regression analyses revealed that controlling for how long participants viewed neutral images was predicted by how transported one feels while reading fiction (p=.027), perhaps consistent with the escapism hypothesis. Genre preferences were related to task performance: frequently choosing popular or literary fiction was associated with lower levels of interest in all pictures (highest p=.011), whereas frequently choosing speculative fiction was only associated with lower ratings of interest for positive pictures (p=.04). Future research should explore motivations for reading and longitudinal effects of fiction response.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Sarah Cavanagh


How Have Rehabilitation Counseling Programs Been Preparing Students to Work with Veterans
Catherine Trapani
Rehabilitation Counseling Program

This presentation will compare survey data from 3 separate time points (2009, 2011, 2017) to determine how Rehabilitation Counseling programs have responded to individuals returning from the wars in Iraq and Afganistan. A link to a simple 10-question survey was emailed to Rehabilitation Counseling program Directors or Coordinators listed on the Council on Rehabilitation Education's 2016-2017 list of Accredited Master Programs. The data collected from the survey will examine how well students and rehabilitation professionals are prepared to work with OEF/OIF veterans. We will also be using the data collected from the previous studies to compare the Rehabilitation Counseling program's student's readiness from 2009 to now.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nicholas Cioe


Disenfranchised Grief Adolescence
Kaitlin McArdle
School Counseling Program

When grief is unrecognised by the bereaved, social groups or society, that grief can become disenfranchised. Experiencing a significant unrecognized loss is associated with academic difficulties, lower self-esteem, withdrawal from loved ones, and decreased school attendeance. A loss may also interfere with developmental and social tasks. Adolescents are particularly vulerable to abnormal grief. School counselors can play a crucial role in validating the losses of developing adolescents, which can minimize the occurrence disenfranchised grief. Through intentinal interventions, school counselors can be cognizant of the range of different death and non-death losses that students experience. 

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Susan Scully-Hill


Use of Remote Monitoring Technology to Improve Case Managment Outcomes for a Frail, Elderly Population
Ellen Briggs RN, CCM
Health Advocacy Program

Passive remote monitoring improved case management outcomes for our Fallon Community Health Plan members as demonstrated through a yearlong pilor project between FCHP and Healthsense that began in 2013. The remote monitoring system was provided to 74 frail, elderly members living alone. Data was compared with 2 control groups, one historical and the other concurrent with the pilot. Results showed a decreased in overall medical expense of $687 per member per month. Specific health cost savings were noted in acute impatient admissions and ER utilization. Probably most significant was decrease in transition to long term care placement.

Faculty Advisor: Professor Lea Christo, MSW


Presentations:

Using Posititve Behavior Supports in Worcester Public Schools
Kelly McNamera, Stephanie Montecalvo, Jessica Michalowski, and Jennifer Rudeman
Special Educations CAGS Program

Positive behavior supports (PBS) is a school-wide intervention used to proactively teach appropriate behaviors and prevent challenging behaviors across school contexts. In this implementation project, graduate students evaluated the use of PBS at a public elementary school in Worcester. Using surveys, information was collected on the perception of students, teachers, adminsitrators, and parents on the use of PBS at school and home. Results were used to identify areas of need and implement action plans for each group with corresponding measurable outcomes. 

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Samantha Goldman


The Association of Anxiety Sensistivity, Substance Use, Problems, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Depression and Anger in Latino Males
Salomé Wilfred
Clinical Counseling Psychology Program

The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between anxiety sensitvity, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and substance use as a coping style in a residential clinic population of Latino men in Worcester, MA. These disorders have been studied by themselves and the relationship between them also has been examined. To date, research has not examined all these disorders together to understand the relationship between them. Specifically, one or more of these may predict severity of substance use as a way of coping with unpleasant somatic sensations. Additionally, the data gathered for this study are intended to contribute to a local residential substance abuse treatment program. 

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Leonard Doerfler


State of the Union
Klotilda Habilaj
Master of Business Administration

The "State of the Union" presentation will discuss the Economic and Political unity of European countries, the reason for the unity, the history of the union, as well as the expansion throughout the years. European countires make up one of the oldest continents in the world. Before the creation of The European Coal and Steel Community in 1950, these countries had been at war with one another for many years. Special attention will be given to the rise of nationalism demonstrated by Brexit, election of President Trump, and the referendums taking place around the EU countries.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Stephen Willand


Rehabilitation Counseling and LGBTQ+ Clients with Disabilities: Best Methods for Effective Practice
Patricia Malone and Katherine Bakhuizen
Rehabilitation Counseling Program

Vocational rehabilitation for those who identify as LGBTQ+ and have a disability can be challenging. Disability can create barriers to employment, and this can also be compounded by identifying as LGBTQ+. Utilizing current research, this presentation aims to inform students and educators on best practices for working with clients who identify as LGBTQ+ and have a disability. Topics include information regarding a variety of LGBTQ+ identities, disclosure, comorbid disorders, ethical obligations of the counselor, and how to advocate for clients who do not identify with the name or gender that is listed on their government-issued identification.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nicholas Cioe


The Seventh Annual Graduate Studies Symposium
April 2016

Successful Transition through IEP Awareness
Janel Peterson, (2015), Jaime LaFlash
Special Education

Successful transition, as well as college and career rediness, is mandated by IDEA (2004) and by NCLB. Promoting Individual Educational Programs (IEPs) and disability awareness in students with special needs through active engagement in the development and implementation of their IEPs through repeated exposure increases understanding of individualized learning styles and improves self-concept. This, along with prior experience advocating for accomodations in high school, creates a successful transition to college.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nanho Vander Hart


Positive Mental Health in Schools
Brittany Hanna
School Counseling Program

Mental health is part of overall health and therefore has a tremendous impact on our students and their learning. The main focus of this poster presentation will be to provide information and resources on creating and sustaining an enviroment of positive mental health at all levels of a school system. Topics include self-care, stress-management, mindfulness, healthy coping strategies for effectively communicating with school staff to support them in promoting this evironment.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Evans Tsoules


Presentations:

Doing Business in the European Union
Adelaijda Tego
Master of Business Administration

This presentation will provide a detailed analysis of the many risks and benefits of doing business in the European Union. The presentation will provide a comprehensive history of the EU and the original intent for its formation, and then trace the develooment and foreign business investment. Critical components of this analysis will include the immigration crisis, the threatened British exit from the EU, and a host of challenges and opportunities in the present day European Union. 

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Stephen Willand and Eric Druart, MBA Director


The Effects of a Mindfulness Intervention on Urban Adolescents in Alternative Education
Matthew Silva
School Counseling Program CAGS in Resiliency

This study investigated the effects of a mindfulness intervention on adolescants attending an alternative high school in Fall River, MA. This intervention was comprised of P. Broderick's Learning to Breathe and K. Reivich and A. Shatte's The Resilience Factor. The intervention was divided into a 6-week format facilitated by a clinical social worker. The study looks at two groups who completed the intervention as well as a comparison group who attended the same school, but did not take part in the group. Results revealed that particiaption in this intervention reduced stress levels and increased coping skills and resiliency. 


A Study Examining the Efficacy of a Community-based DBT Program
Salomé Wilfred, Mary Johnson, Jason Prior, Alexander Cerbo
Counseling Psychology Program

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was developed to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD). DBT has shown to be efficacious and has been adopted in community agencies. The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of DBT in a particular non-profit community social service agency in western Massachusetts. Clients completed a set of validated measures as part of routine assessment upon entry to the program, which included Beck scale for Suicide Ideation, Patient Health Questionaire-9, PTSD Check List, and Brief Addiction Monitor. This study examined 59 adults, who were predominantly Caucasian (92%), receiving treatment by the agency.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Leonard Doerfler