Dissertation Reviews

Dissertation Reviews



Dissertation Reviews

In overview, it is evident that high school students with physical and mental disabilities are at risk of attaining depression. Various research studies have been carried out to determine the best ways in which students can learn and grow positively within their environs without necessarily undergoing the impact that learning disabilities may pose on their self-worth. For instance, research on the value of self-concept among adolescents has been perceived as an important step in addressing depression among learners with disabilities. For Sternke (2010), there seems to be a correlation between the components of self-concept and esteem and the reality of depression among students, especially high school learners. At a time when the development of self-worth and high esteem takes place, disabilities, irrespective of their inclination, may impose a considerable yet negative effect on these students. Nevertheless, in this case, it may be possible to determine the myriad of facets that can be significantly assistive in identifying students who are on the verge of gaining depression. As such, this research seeks to determine the social and emotional factors that position disabled high school students at risk of depression.  

Summary of the First Dissertation

The dissertation, Long-Term Social and Emotional Outcomes of Subject-Area Acceleration on Gifted Learners, by Dana Cantrell King focuses mainly on the issue of acceleration in schools and the impact it poses on the emotional state of a child. As King (2012) identifies, subject-area acceleration has been utilized as a common way of matching the curriculum with the capabilities of a gifted learner. With extensive focus established on students with learning deficiencies, the acceleration strategy has come up as a positive strategy for ensuring that the educational needs of gifted learners are also met. In spite of the obvious improvement on learning among gifted students, one cannot avert the opposing factors established against the respective strategy. Even though some of these aspects may be fallible, facets such as emotional effects provide a strong argument in relation to the impact of acceleration on gifted learners.

Based on the previously mentioned premise, the main objective of the study involves comprehending the experiences of learners who were subjected to acceleration. By using the students as participants for the research, it is actually possible to explore the emotional and social effect that this service imposes in the long-term. In terms of importance, the study will provide stakeholders within the education sector to consider more options related to the facilitation of gifted students. Without further digress, King’s dissertation ventures into an area that has been set aside as unimportant due to its opposition against subject-area acceleration. By assessing the social and emotional impacts passed down onto students by this service delivery model, the research opens novel possibilities centered on ensuring that acceleration influences the learners and the general education system positively by not only reducing the costs involved, but also in ensuring social and emotional wellness among gifted learners nationally.

Analysis of the Research

Overall, the study by King provides relevant information that changes the manner in which schools address subject-area acceleration. However, it is essential to utilize objectivity while assessing the quality of research. In this case, the dissertation portrays a myriad of strengths and constructive areas that can be formidable in establishing new frontiers in research as far as education is concerned.

Strengths of the Research

One of the main strengths of the research is based on its research question. Accordingly, the dissertation by King provides an accurate yet simplified theme that resonates throughout the rest of the research. By addressing the probability of social and emotional effects of subject-area acceleration on gifted learners, the research question opens up a novel area of study. Even though the subject matter is abstract, it is still evident that such concepts explored within the study certainly assume a significant role in the overall wellness of gifted students. For instance, the focus on the issue of self-worth also provided educational institutions with information regarding the effect of learning disabilities on a learner’s growth. Over the years, the subject of self-concept had been ignored due to its profound level of abstractness. However, based on indicators such as low performance of students with learning disabilities in schools, it became clear that psychological premises such as self-esteem assume a strong position in the overall wellness and performance of a student.

Limitations of the Research

One limitation of the research constitutes the size of its sample. In order to test the validity of her hypothesis, King utilized a number of gifted students as her test subjects. A collective of eight students was used in carrying out the qualitative study, which seemed to be more effective than a quantitative methodology. Despite this, the sample size was limited since the study was based on defining the social and emotional impacts of gifted learners for not only the school under study, but also for national educational institutions. Authenticity of the sample size’s responses is also another weakness of the research. By interviewing the students on abstract concepts such as emotions and sentiments, the dissertation risks the possibility of being limitedly rational in this case. Even though King rules out the utilization of statistical tests in the study, it is still evident that the study does not provide ways on determining whether the views conveyed by the eight participants were authentic or not.

Improvements on the Research

Several components of the study were done well pertaining to the research question. Foremost, the literature review was accurately prepared. It provided considerable information regarding the issues and concerns encompassing the theme of the research. Accordingly, the review explored credible subjects such as the different forms of educational acceleration, the possible impact of this service model on students and the American education system, and the previous research done in relation to the objective of the study. However, the study can improve on the use of a more significant sample size in different schools within different states. This will provide it with a compelling objective bearing.

Personal Differences on the Study

Personally, I would have followed a similar format of research as utilized in the dissertation by King. In a more private opinion, I feel as if her study was objective and considerably informative especially with respect to a limitedly discussed issue such as subject-based acceleration. However, in a different fashion from the dissertation, I would have established a summarized literature review and instead, focus more on the research methodology and design of the research. In addition to this, I would have employed a mixed-methods design in order to obtain both quantitative and qualitative data.

Personal Analysis and Practical Application

Evidently, the study by King has been informative to the education system and me in general. Indeed, the focus on the effects that acceleration may impose on gifted learners socially and emotionally adds more insight into the issues affecting learners in schools nationwide. In relation to my proposed research question, King’s study provides me with an idea of some of the factors that may actually lead to depression among students. While social and emotional factors may be evident among gifted learners, the situation may be slightly different when compared to students with physical, mental and behavioral disorders. Nevertheless, the social and emotional factors identified in the respective study can also be assessed in terms of my research. Simply, recognized factors in King’s study can be utilized in determining high school impaired students who are most susceptible to conditions such as depression.

In relation to my study, a lesson that I have learnt involves the importance of communication between schools, instructors and students. As identified by King, strategies have consistently been put into place in order to accelerate gifted students since the inception of industrial education in America. Shockingly, not much thought has been put into understanding the personal impact that such delivery models are imposing on the mental and physical wellness of the involved learners. While focusing overly on exploiting the intellectual capabilities of gifted students, schools have failed to implement strategies that address the social and sentimental demands of learners. Because of this, students, regardless of their intellectual capacities, have attained emotional and mental deficiencies, which are not appropriate given the status of their ages. Thus, there is need to apply an effective communication system between the educational institution, the instructor and the learner.

Generally, King’s study poses significance within the field of education. As the study asserts, teachers are consistently trying to discover new ways through which students can perform exceptionally in all aspects of their studies. As such, it is imperative to consider the premise that strategies such as acceleration can actually have condescending effects on the social and emotional wellness of gifted learners. In light of this, the dissertation informs the education field of the difficulties faced by gifted students as they attempt to exploit their intellectual capacities. Similarly, the research by King influences instructors to consider other mechanisms through which acceleration can be wholly positive on the student. The advantage of this is based on the reality of a campaign aimed at changing the techniques used by educational institutions in managing gifted students. As such, the field of education can gain considerably in terms of the mass modification that may be employed in educational institutions in an effort to institute mechanisms that cater to the academic as well as psychological state of gifted learners in the country.

Lastly, with its correspondence to psychological aspects such as self-concept and self-esteem, the dissertation is relevant in understanding the different ways through which students behave and perform in schools. Similar to the evidence of social and emotional factors, the idea of self-worth was also perceived minimally in relation to its impact on academic performance. Notably, educational institutions focused significantly on ensuring commendable academic performance without delving into the inner issues that may affect such factors. As such, self-concept has become imperative especially in the attempt to understand the underlying issues that may cause students to perform sporadically. Similarly, the fact that subject-based acceleration may affect a learner’s social and emotional state further provides the field of education to find novel resolutions aimed at addressing the needs of learners better.

Summary of the Second Dissertation

In summary, the dissertation, School Achievement for Students with Behavioral Disorders, by Steven Wayne Burnett concentrates mainly on the evaluation of strategies and measures adopted for students with emotional behavior disorders (EBD) in order to ensure that they achieve academically. According to the research carried out by Payne, Marks and Bogan, students experiencing EBD tend to go through difficulty in learning and additionally, perform poorly in their academics (Burnett, 2010). As such, it is imperative to find novel ways through which all students, regardless of the disabilities, perform well academically. Hence, the main objective of this research involves understanding the various interventions and strategies applied to students with EBD in order to enable them gain positive academic performance. In this respect, Burnett attempts to find out the differences between an alternative educational institution for EBD students and a conservative comprehensive school for other students.

Aside from understanding the different form of strategies and interventions employed in educating learners with EBD, Burnett’s study also addresses the possible impacts that such measures may impose on aspects of their performance. Similar to King’s dissertation, this particular study also assesses the impact that learning measures for EBD students may have on the students. In difference, however, the research concentrates on physical facets of academic accomplishment such as GPA, rankings of courses and mandatory state evaluations, rates of attendance, disciplinary violations, and learner satisfaction. These factors guide the research into finding out the impact that the utilized strategies and interventions have on the academic performance of the learners. In addition to this, the dissertation, via its assessment of these measures, tries to delve information that may be useful in comprehending the benefits and demerits of techniques used in alternative schools for educating EBD students.

Analysis of the Research

Strengths of the Research

A main strength of the research involves its utilization of physical material used to illustrate academic performance among students with EBD. Going forward with a more physical approach provides the research with authenticity despite utilizing a qualitative research methodology. Additionally, the research question also acts as a benefit for the study based on the newly found focus that researchers within the field of education are establishing in relation to the impact of EBD among students. Traditionally, it was difficult to detect students with EBD due to the fixated stand that educational institutions had. Disregarding factors such as emotions made it difficult for institutions to address the needs of all students. However, the research on EBD provides institutions with an idea of how to manage this type of students academically and emotionally. As such, Burnett’s clear research question identifies this and establishes a clear direction for the study.

Limitations of the Research

Despite its considerable strengths, the research limits itself based on its use of a single alternative school as a reference point for comparison. Consequently, the utilization of an alternative school was a strong platform in understanding the different ways through EBD students experience learning. However, it is still important to notice that not all alternative educational institutions possess a similar structure. Depending on the form of EBD characterizing the student, the environment through which the students learn can vary from school to school. Therefore, by using a single school as a point for comparison, the research by Burnett fails to provide considerable information regarding areas such as the influence of a particular setting on the academics of an EBD learner, and the types of strategies employed in ensuring that academic performance is positive among learners with behavioral disorders.

Improvements on Research

Certain parts of the study were done well throughout the dissertation. For instance, the review of the literature provides comprehensive and simple information regarding the topic at hand. In this respect, the review reiterates the focus of the dissertation and from that point focuses on information mainly dealing with the strategies used to educate students with EBD, the impact that such measures impose on academic achievement and the environmental disparities between an alternative and a conservative school. Additionally, the review also reveals the problems that have since affected the research on EBD learners and the manner in which they are instructed. However, an area that the study can improve on comprises the area of data analysis. Normally, data analysis tends to be complex even for the reader to understand due to the use of statistical analysis methods. In this case, it is still more difficult to understand the evaluation of the data. Nonetheless, the dissertation can improve on this by simplifying the findings.

Personal Differences of the Study

Similar to the dissertation by King, I would have utilized a similar format as the one used in this research. Indeed, the respective scheme that Burnett’s dissertation provides comprehensive information relating to the theme of the study. In addition to this, the study was also objective based on its use of an alternative school as a platform for identifying the differences between the institution and traditional customary schools in America. However, I would have included a qualitative touch to the research by using more than one alternative school in assessing the different forms of strategies and settings that such institutions apply in educating students with LBD.

Personal Analysis and Practical Application

Burnett’s study on the education of learners with EBD contributes significant information on a personal and education-based basis. Usually, students with learning disabilities tend to encounter a myriad of problems, which restrict them from recognizing their full potential. Conservatively, educational institutions largely failed to separate these types of students and as such, became incapable of addressing their needs as they went through a rigid education system. However, Burnett’s dissertation provides a comprehensive look into the strides taken by the education structure to ensure academic achievement for students with EBD and other learners facing different forms of challenges within their schools. By understanding the plight of the EBD learner, I have learnt that students experience different settings, which strongly impose a certain impact on their behavior. Hence, as an instructor, it is imperative to ensure that the environment of instruction encourages the student to be comfortable and to learn.

Aside from learning about the impact of the environment, I have also learnt that it is possible to integrate the settings of alternative schools within homes as well as traditional educational institutions. Accordingly, some of the aspects that are usually implemented in schools for EBD learners can also be applicable in generic schools. This is because such features tend to focus on exploiting the strengths of the student while simultaneously encouraging them to adopt positive behavior. This concept is also similar in other schools. Normally, the instructor tries as much as possible to apply teaching techniques that make use of a learner’s strength: a factor that is widely attributed to the social learning theory. In this respect, Burnett (2010) asserts that structural accommodations tend to have an effect on limiting various disruptive behaviors among all types of students.

On a general perspective, the issue of structural accommodation is also a factor that can be applied within the field of education. I believe that the whole purpose of education is to enlighten the mind of a person regardless of their age or any other prevailing factor. Based on this, educational institutions can try as much as possible to invest in the establishment of structures best suited for addressing the academic, social, physical and emotional needs of students. As such, the idea of implementing proper structural accommodations, as Burnett states, may be a factor that needs to be considered in the education field.

Interestingly, the focus on EBD students also assumes a significant role in challenging educational institutions to consider psychological aspects. In this case, institutions can focus on the aspects of nature and nurture and the effect they have on the development of children.  As evidenced throughout the reviewed work, the nature of the environment assumes a considerable role in determining the occurrence of certain behaviors among students. As such, the premise of nature and nurture, with respect to education, encourages instructors to take note of the background of their students and employ strategies that actually establish a good learning environment for their students. Through the respective conjecture, instructors can have an idea of the origination of disruptive behaviors among students with EBD. The reason for this is based on the presumption that the genetic predisposition (nature) and the manner in which a child is raised (nurture) assume a considerable role in a child’s overall development. Therefore, the reviewed work can actually pass on the importance of such a premise and its effect on learning among children.


To this end, the dissertations by King and Burnett focus on two different aspects of the field of education. On one hand, King’s research evaluates the social and emotional effects that subject-based acceleration may impose on gifted learners. On the other hand, the study by Burnett concentrates wholly on the interventions used for EBD learners, the effect that such strategies pose on academic achievement and the disparities between alternative and traditional schools. Despite this difference, it is evident that both studies focus on aspects that are imperative to consider for American educational institutions. By providing such information, the situation of education in America stands to improve considerably if the findings resulting from these studies and other ones are applied in the long-term.


Burnett, S. W. (2010). School achievement for students with behavioral disorders (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Liberty University, Lynchburg.

King, D. C. (2012). Long-term social and emotional outcomes of subject-area acceleration on gifted learners (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Liberty University, Lynchburg.

Sternke, J. C. (2010). Self-concept and self-esteem in adolescents with learning disabilities (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie.

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