Towson University Graduate Theses and Dissertations

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    #Grieving in a digital world
    (2024-03-06) Feldman, Sara; Guha, Pallavi; Towson University. Department of Mass Communication
    Social media has created space for grieving people to share stories, videos, and photos in a centralized area online. Instead of sharing a story or memory with a few people in person, one can share memories with hundreds, if not thousands, of people via social media. As people increasingly turn to social media to share their accomplishments and joys, they’re also turning to social media to feel confirmed and supported during more challenging times. The evolution of social media has transitioned grieving from a private to a public setting where people in mourning can communicate their feelings about loss and get support. This study focuses on social media platforms as spaces for grieving via the uses and gratification theory and social identity theory. This study specifically aims to showcase how widows use social media and whether it has helped them navigate their grief through the use of personal interviews.
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    Sisterhood in communication: assessing feminist ideals in modern-day sororities through interpersonal communication
    (2024-02-26) McHenry, Shannon; Guha, Pallavi; Towson University. Department of Mass Communication; Towson University. Communication Management Program
    Greek life is commonplace on college campuses in America, and many women choose to join sororities each year. Understanding whether or not sororities are instilling feminist ideals into their members will help identify if these organizations have women’s best interests in mind, or if they are perpetuating patriarchal ideals from their beginnings in the 19th century. This study is comprised of data collected through qualitative and quantitative questions in an online survey distributed to members of sororities at an East Coast university to find commonalities among the experiences of participants. This study also included a thematic analysis over the course of ten weeks that analyzed Instagram posts from each sorority at the same university to understand how the ideals members view interpersonally differ from the image the organizations exude on social media. The results identified that there is limited use of feminist ideals and language in interpersonal communication within sororities.
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    How do we respond? The examination of Howard University's response to the 2021 #BlackburnTakeover
    (2024-02-20) Simmons, Melissa M.; Guha, Pallavi; Towson University. Communication Management Program
    Higher education administrators face several challenging tasks during their tenure at an institution—and managing student protests is one of the most daunting. Many student activists select radical approaches to demand change from administrators. Occupying campus buildings, crashing donor lunches, interrupting admissions tours, and contacting media outlets are just a few tactics. Administrators must swiftly and effectively communicate with students and other stakeholders to reinforce their care for students' concerns and restore trust with their community. If not, the institution's reputation, daily business operations, and enrollment and philanthropic efforts are on the line. With all that is at stake, one of the most critical questions administrators ask themselves during a protest is, "How should we respond?" This study focused on higher education administrators’ discourse during the Blackburn Takeover at Howard University. Data included Twitter posts from the beginning up to the announcement of the end of the takeover. Framing devices, situational crisis communication theory (SCCT) strategies, and other themes were examined. Thematic analysis software was used to determine whether responses to discourse were positive, negative, or indifferent.
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    Targeting Christian youth to participate in church services and events: a qualitative analysis of communication practices
    (2013-01-15) Jones, Keith; McMullen, Audra; Towson University. Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies
    This study aims to understand what communication practices can help Christian churches effectively retain and recruit members of the United States youth population to attend church services. The findings of the focus group sessions, personal interviews, and archival retrieval revealed multiple reasons why youth do and do not participate in church services, activities, and events. Secondly, the findings discovered ways for churches to get youth to go to church. Finally, the findings indicate ways for churches and church members to communicate with youth through various forms of communication in order to increase church participation and attendance through the use of a strategic communication plan.
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    Audience engagement changing media's mistrusted view of intimate partner violence
    (2023-08-11) Weller, Keri R.; Guha, Pallavi; Towson University. Department of Mass Communication; Towson University. Communication Management Program
    Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a public health crisis in society. The investigation of Gabby Petito (a missing blogger case) along with her finance Brian Laundrie in September 2021 spotlighted their relationships by the masses online and off in the media. This study provided an analysis of the Gabby Petito case on how the media framed IPV online and what was the role of the intersectionality of class. This study was a descriptive quantitative and qualitative method, particularly a thematic analysis. Online newspaper articles from USA TODAY, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal from September 11, 2021, and January 21, 2022, were examined about the missing subject and the media context along with a review of Gabby Petito’s father Joseph Petito’s posts reviewed with the social media textual analytics tool: Twinonomy. Finding that online newspapers framed Petito’s case in a traditional victim viewpoint with facts about the crime not the causes behind the violent acts. Online posts, hashtags, and video engagement with the online audience built an online community that helped the investigation to solve Petito’s crime. Future research needs to be studied on IPV and social media. Through accountability, this study showed that online audience engagement and prevention education can promote healthier relationships to reduce IPV for society in the digital world.
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    Effects of source cues and storytelling on attitudes toward Covid-19 vaccination
    (2023-05-09) Kalwa, Taylor; Kim, Hyang-Sook; Towson University. Department of Mass Communication
    Guided by the Parasocial Interactions Framework and the Elaboration Likelihood Model, this study examined how source cues and storytelling occurring on social media could have an impact on someone’s attitude toward the COVID-19 vaccination. Specifically, the proposed study employed a 2 (source cue: non-health expertise vs. health expertise) x 2 (storytelling type: conversational vs. informational) between-subject factorial design experiment to test proposed hypotheses. A post-hoc analysis of an online experiment through Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) with 311 participants revealed that participants with no COVID-19 vaccination relied on either expert or informational message tone to shape their attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccination whereas participants with at least one COVID-19 vaccination valued the quality of information presented in the tweet regardless of cues presented. Implications for attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccination are discussed.
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    The participatory American K-pop fan - a study of culture and 'glocalization'
    (2023-05-08) Hollamon, Rebecca M.; Formentin, Melanie J.; Towson University. Department of Mass Communication
    This critical cultural analysis draws on existing cultural artefacts created by Korean pop (K-pop) fans of group Bangtan Sonyeondan (BTS) in the United States. Specifically, this study examines the unique participatory fandom culture (Jenkins, et al., 2006) of K-pop fans and how this fandom exists in current culture scholarship, including Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, glocalization, cultural amnesia, the current understanding of the transnational K-pop fan and orientalism or cultural appropriation. BTS is examined as a case analysis because of their unprecedented success in the United States, as well as their dedicated and massive transnational fan base. Cultural artefacts examined in this study are juxtaposed mass media articles and Tweets discussing BTS’s hit-single, Dynamite, the group’s first all English song. This study contributes to a more current understanding of K-pop fans, how they interact with glocalization in their participatory culture and how they negotiate culture while consuming a different country’s cultural products.
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    Online social support and self-care on Facebook: a content analysis of the Forever35 private Facebook group
    (2023-05-05) Gamble, Ann; Haller, Beth A.; Towson University. Department of Mass Communication
    The digital infrastructure of online communities enables the facilitation of interpersonal help-giving and help-seeking behaviors while also providing a platform for community members to share information. This study explores the type of content that is available from Forever35, a private Facebook group established for the purpose of bringing members together around the topic of self-care. Using Cutrona and Suhr’s (1992) basic social support dimensions as a guiding framework, this study identifies the various ways in which social support exchanges occur in this members’ only group. Textual analysis is used to examine socially supportive discourse. The findings provide insight on the nature of Forever35 as not only a self-care resource but also as a source for social support. The analyses revealed that the discourse taking place in the Forever35 private Facebook group functions to promote discussion and information sharing by providing a forum where members can solicit and/or provide feedback to one another. In its most dynamic state, these types of community spaces serve as fertile ground for the types of social interactions that can enable social support. Although this study reaffirms that informational support is the most observed form of social support in this group, it also acknowledges the value added benefit of the possibility for the emergence of emotional, esteem, and network support.
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    Swipe right or get left behind: presentation of masculinity in the Tinder dating app
    (2022-03-10) Conderacci, Lee; Formentin, Melanie J.; Towson University. Department of Communication Studies
    The following study sought to better understand the ways in which men perform and present their masculinity within the Tinder dating app, and to what extent this performance is reflective of their personal attitudes towards gender roles within heterosexual dating and courtship rituals. Considering traditional hegemonic constructs of gender and assigned social roles, and within the context of the recent rise of the #MeToo movement, this research examined the ways in which men self-present and behave in the world of contemporary dating. Using the focus group discussion method of collecting data, the study considered the ways in which men in conversation with each other make sense of cultural phenomena related to dating, sex, and heterosexual relationships. The research explored the possible societal and practical implications of the #MeToo movement within the world of heterosexual dating both online and offline through men’s shared personal accounts and lived experiences using the Tinder dating app.
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    Using high-frequency data and concentration-discharge relationships to describe solute mobilization and transport in suburban and urban watersheds
    (2023-03-24) Marsh, Melinda; Moore, Joel; Towson University. Environmental Science and Studies Program
    Event-scale and long-term C-Q patterns of multiple dissolved constituents were examined for three small watersheds—one mostly forested suburban and two urban—in Maryland using discrete sampling and high-frequency specific conductance data. Despite differences in land use and hydrology, the watersheds exhibited remarkably similar behavior for individual solutes across timescales, albeit with higher concentrations and fluxes for the urban watersheds. Geogenic and exogenous solutes exhibited dilution, while biologically associated solutes showed enrichment with increasing discharge. Concentrations showed much less variability than discharge, suggesting near-chemostatic behavior may be characteristic of urbanized watersheds, similar to forested/agricultural watersheds. Regardless of dilution or enrichment in event concentrations, solute fluxes increased during all storm events and were substantially higher at the urban sites. Baseflow was a significant contributor to event flow at the suburban site, while quickflow contributions dominated at the urban sites. Across all sites, most of the solute load was exported during baseflow.
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    Effects of stream restoration by legacy sediment removal and floodplain reconnection on water quality
    (2023-03-23) McMahon, Patrick William; Moore, Joel; Towson University. Environmental Science and Studies Program
    Stream restoration effects on water quality (WQ) are unknown, and approaches to restoration are diverse. In the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, European land-modifications resulted in the deforestation, erosion, and deposition of sediments into stream valleys – legacy sediments. During the 19th and 20th century, streams incised through legacy sediments (1) creating high banks subject to collapse, (2) removing connection to the floodplain, and (3) lowering water tables promoting adjacent upland soils. Legacy sediment removal (LSR) and floodplain reconnection (FR) projects propose WQ benefits by restoring degraded streams closer to their pre-European hydrologic condition. WQ was investigated at six restored LSR-FR projects and three control/regional sites. Baseflow nitrogen concentrations and fluxes at restored sites were elevated compared to forested controls, particularly in agriculture settings, with little apparent impact of restoration. Nutrient and sediment storm loads may be reduced at the restoration scale; however, regional effects of restoration were not observable.
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    Closing gaps in anti-sexual exploitation efforts via multi-sector collaboration
    (2023-03-28) Odom, Stephanie D.; Willis Hepp, Bethany; Towson University. Social Sciences Program
    This qualitative phenomenological study examines the perspectives of stakeholders across sectors of society working with and on behalf of individuals with lived experiences of sexual exploitation. Anti-sexual exploitation efforts can be understood on a Continuum of Care, along which strategic points of intersection offer opportunities for collaboration in prevention, intervention, restoration, and reintegration. Research indicates that multi-sector collaboration can effectively address gaps in services. Participants (n=25) represented key sectors and stakeholders in the Mid-Atlantic region. A subset of participants offered their perspectives as survivors of sexual trauma (assault, abuse, exploitation, or trafficking). Study interviews addressed positive and negative aspects of the collaborative process. Some barriers to effective collaboration were identified and discussed. Both formal and informal criteria were recommended to facilitate the formation and depth of collaborative relationships. Suggestions were made for improving collaboration long-term. Implications for researchers, practitioners, community members, interventionists, and policymakers are included.
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    Towards improved offensive security assessment using counter APT red teams
    (2019-04-25) Oakley, Jacob G.; O'Leary, Michael; Towson University. Department of Computer and Information Sciences
    Defending against cyber criminals, cyber warfare and cyber terrorism all rely on the mitigation of the motivated advanced persistent threats (APTs) that carry out such campaigns. The only proactive solution capable of addressing these threats is ethical hacker conducted emulation during offensive security assessments such as penetration testing and red teaming. Many security industry institutions label their products or services as addressing APTs unfortunately there is no agreed upon standard for the proper processes, tradecraft or techniques involved in doing so. Additionally, academic efforts regarding APTs largely focus on reactive monitoring or automated assessment which simulate known attack sequences and do not necessarily represent realistic future attacks. This dissertation aims to provide a standard for addressing APT attacks by counter-APT red teaming (CAPTR teaming). The CAPTR team concept seeks to build upon traditional red team processes to augment the offensive security assessment process. This will allow security practitioners a level playing field to engage and mitigate the threats and vulnerabilities most likely to be leveraged by APTs. Such an assessment counters the outcome of APT breaches by prioritizing vulnerabilities that enable an actor to compromise the data most important to an organization locally and pivoting outwards to points used for access and exfiltration. When an organization identifies critical items that represent unacceptable losses they should be protected as if an actor, regardless of motivation, were intent on compromising them. Adequate identification and protection of critical items via offensive security assessments originating at such positions represents an approach more efficient and capable of mitigating the impact of an APT breach. In a threat landscape with hyper-focused actors it is the responsibility of the security field to provide an equally focused security assessment solution that goes beyond the attack simulations of traditional penetration tests or red team engagements. This dissertation discerns the need and novelty of the CAPTR teaming concept and ratifies the validity of the assessment paradigm through experimentation as well as case study.
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    Middleware solutions for network interface cards in bare machine computing
    (2019-04-04) Al Mansour, Faris Abdullah; Karne, Ramesh K.; Towson University. Department of Computer and Information Sciences
    Bare machine computing (BMC) applications, which run without the support of an operating system (OS) or kernel, are based on the BMC paradigm and programming methodology. The necessary hardware interfaces and network interface card drivers are integrated with the BMC application. This dissertation deals with the design of novel OS-independent device drivers for Ethernet network interface controllers/cards (NICs) used with BMC applications. We first develop OS-independent middleware that allows different Ethernet NIC drivers to be used with BMC applications. Although network interface cards evolve over time with new models and enhanced functionality, it is observed that one could homogenize the design of network interface cards and develop a generic architecture for NICs. We then implement Ethernet bonding on a BMC Web server using device drivers for dual NICs, where both NICs can send packets but only one NIC can receive them. We finally implement Ethernet device drivers for a BMC Web server that can migrate with minimal changes for evolving IBM compatible PCs with Intel NICs. The BMC NIC driver is compared with OS-based drivers to identify design differences and tradeoffs in NIC driver complexity versus their functionality. Currently, device drivers vary depending on platform, vendor and CPU architecture. Our work shows how to implement Ethernet device drivers that are independent of any platform, and a simple API for applications, where applications directly communicate to its underlying hardware. It provides an in-depth understanding of BMC Ethernet device drivers and serves as a foundation to construct BMC and OS-based device drivers that can be made upward compatible with minimal changes.
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    Integration of a storage system for bare machine computing
    (2019-03-28) Alabsi, Hamdan Ziyad; Karne, Ramesh K.; Towson University. Department of Computer and Information Sciences
    This research investigates and develops strategies for integrating a storage system with bare machine computing (BMC) applications, which run without the support of any operating system (OS) or kernel. Any storage system requires reliability, availability, survivability and high performance. We first explored reliability and performance of storage data using a redundant array of independent disk (RAID) technique and applied this to BMC file systems. The RAID design and implementation was done using 2, 4, and 8 detachable mass storage devices (USB flash drives). We resolved many design issues that arose when integrating a file system with multiple flash drives, and conducted experiments on a variety of storage data split configurations. We then integrated the file system and RAID application with a bare PC Web server that allows users to access storage online. We also integrated the SQLite database with the bare PC file system and the bare PC Web server. We showed that the BMC architecture allows us to integrate other components. We used the integrated database system to demonstrate two popular applications that run on a bare PC. The database provides services for clients via a Web interface and associated queries. It is further used to provide an email service for a select group of clients, where the database serves as storage media for messages. As the email service is limited to a small group of users, it is a closed and secure communication system. In this research, we integrated many components including the Web server, database and email applications, file system, RAID, and SQLite enabling them to run as a single monolithic executable on a bare machine. The integrated BMC system has inherent security and performance benefits due to not running an OS or kernel. Our work provides a foundation to build future BMC systems that integrate additional components with bare PC applications.
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    Environmental change and farmers' adaptation in Punjab, Pakistan
    (2021-10-11) Mason, Nicholas; Tasch, Jeremy; Towson University. Department of Geography and Environmental Planning
    "Extreme temperatures and unpredictable precipitation patterns are causing both drought and flooding to the agricultural sector of Punjab, Pakistan and negatively impacting farmers’ lives. The latest provincial agricultural policy framework seeks to provide advisory services, access to credit, subsidies, new agricultural technology, and information on adaptation, but not all farmers are able to access or afford these, extension services are spread thin, and most farmers in Punjab are small landholders and while policies acknowledge them, they do not favor the poorest. This thesis begins with a discussion on the geography and climate of Pakistan and then the Pakistani Prime Minister’s favorable views on environmental adaptation and mitigation. I then critique Punjab, Pakistan’s latest provincial agricultural policy, followed by a literature review which describes how farmers are perceiving and adapting to environmental change. I conclude that the poorest farmers in Punjab do not benefit from most agricultural policies."
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    Investigating Pigtown neighborhood residents' experiences of the urban heat island effect and green infrastructure implementation
    (2022-03-16) Trionfo, Sydnie; Kedzior, Sya B.; Towson University. Department of Geography and Environmental Planning
    In urban areas with limited greenspace, temperatures are higher than in surrounding suburban areas, forming an urban heat island (UHI). Extreme heat and a lack of greenery act as a serious threat to public health as they stress the body physically by exacerbating pre-existing health conditions and emotionally by negatively impacting social cohesion. Baltimore City, Maryland, is one of many historically disenfranchised spaces plagued with environmental disamenities such as the UHI. In recent years, Baltimore has incorporated more sustainable development initiatives, such as implementing green infrastructure (GI) in an attempt to rectify these disamenities. Within the current sustainability planning literature, there is a gap in qualitative accounts of residents’ lived experiences of the GI planning process, community outreach strategies, and implementation efforts utilized. This research project is focused on the Pigtown neighborhood of Baltimore City and aims to investigate socially vulnerable resident’s experiences of the UHI and GI implementation.
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    Comparative analysis of student performance outcomes of developmental reading students in an active-learning classroom versus a traditional classroom
    (2021-03-11) Martin, Amy Chase; Sadera, William A.; Towson University. Department of Educational Technology and Literacy
    Active-learning classrooms (ALCs) are being implemented in higher education, as alternatives to traditional classrooms, in order to support a growing movement towards student-centered, active-learning pedagogies. Researchers have credited ALCs with contributing to positive student performance outcomes for students who are ranked as lower performing academically, but those studies have been limited to four-year institutions. The majority of undergraduate students in the United States attend community colleges and the majority of community college students require some type of developmental coursework in math or English. Given that students requiring developmental instruction are the most underprepared academically in a community college setting, this study will examine the implications for developmental reading students receiving instruction in an ALC. Using a quasi-experimental design, this quantitative study measured the impact of one type of ALC, the learning studio, on the student outcomes of performance, attendance, retention and persistence of developmental reading students receiving instruction in the learning studio ALC as compared to those receiving instruction in a traditional classroom. Additionally, the study examined student perceptions of their own learning and faculty performance, as well as detected differences in perceived social interactions between students and faculty in each of the learning spaces.
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    Examining improvement of parental management of children’s educational information using technology-based information management solution
    (2020-11-05) Matthews, Theresa; Feng, Jinjuan Heidi; Towson University. Department of Computer and Information Sciences
    Parents and caregivers need to process large volumes of information regarding their children's education. Effective parental management of this information is critical for parents to actively participate in their child's educational development. However, existing educational information management tools are designed from the perspective of the educator or student, not the parent. This dissertation identifies how parents currently manage their children's educational information and areas where challenges are perceived and/or realized for parents managing information regarding their children's education through expert interviews and a survey. In order to address challenges that have been identified through the interviews and the survey, a MyStudentScope (MSS) Web Portal was designed with the integration of proposed solutions and recommendations from subject matter experts in education. In order to ensure that the system can fullymeet users’ needs, a user study was conducted investigating participants’ perceptions of MyStudentScope. Because parents tend to use paper-based methods to archive and retrieve information regarding theirchildren’s education, the task performance through the use of the MyStudentScope web portal was compared to the paper-based method. Situations parents/caregivers may encounter related to their children's education and extracurricular activities were simulated during the study. We present findings based on analysis of user responses and provide recommendations for improvement of the MyStudentScope design. We proposed a framework that depicts a model of interaction between informed parents and proactive educators to provide improved outcomes in student educational development. A web portal, MyStudentScope, was designed with the integration of proposed solutions and recommendations from subject matter experts in education, needs and challenges expressed by parents and the Enhanced Parental Information Management Model. Study results indicate that MyStudentScope offered significant improvement in parents’ use of education information for their student in many areas. User responses show that further improvements in effectiveness and efficiency are anticipated as the user becomes more familiar with MyStudentScope.
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    The formation of the Proto-Germanic language
    (2020-10-20) Rifkin, Matthew J.; DiLisio, James E.; Towson University. Department of Geography and Environmental Planning
    Over the years linguistics and archaeology have been synthesized in order to explain how various language families formed. However, studies examining the problem from a uniquely geographic perspective are lacking. This study examined how the Proto-Germanic language formed. Archaeological, geogenetic, and temporal data was gathered and put into a GIS for analysis using statistics and intersects. The conclusion was that the language formed somewhere in southern Scandinavia through a process of intermingling after an initial clash between an indigenous agricultural group and an invading tribe from the North Pontic Steppes.