SALT Scholar Capstone Project Descriptions


Public School Zero Tolerance Discipline Policies

The original concept for this research project was to explore the ways in which education, the justice system, and the prison industrial complex interact, with a focus on reducing recidivism rates. However, the research gradually narrowed with the focus shifting towards prevention, highlighting the ineffective nature of zero tolerance policies, especially with drug use and specifically in Metro Nashville Schools. Therefore, the thesis for this research project is to demonstrate the failings of zero tolerance policies nationwide, statewide, and locally, highlighting drug discipline policies, and recommending restorative justice reforms nationally and locally as the solution to zero tolerance’s inadequacies. The project concludes with a three-tiered proposal (1) passing Restorative Justice in Schools Act in Congress, (2) Amending Tennessee's state laws on zero tolerance, and (3) Expanding Metro's First Time Offenders Program, Youth Court program, and investing more funds in training teachers on restorative practices.

Spencer Bailey                                                  

Law, Justice, and Society

May 2015

MNPS Department of Family and Community Partnerships:
An exploratory study of the poverty simulation

This research project sought to explore the growth and knowledge participants gained about culture and poverty from before the simulation to after. The Poverty Simulation was designed to help teachers better understand what a day looks like to someone who lives in poverty. Ideally, this would give teachers better awareness to what many of their students experience on a day-to-day basis. Research was conducted with a 512 person sample, a six question pre-test, an identical six question post-test, and a nine question evaluation. It was found that 95% of the participants believed that they could take what they learned during the simulation and apply it to their work with students and families. Ninety percent of the simulation participants thought that the Poverty Simulation gave them a better understanding of the culture of poverty. Ninety-six of the participants stated that they thought the simulation was a beneficial training. This research suggests that participants in the Metro Nashville area have positive opinions of the MNPS Poverty Simulation despite any limitations. The social work core values of competence, dignity and worth of a person, and social justice, were extremely relevant to this study. The simulation is designed to increase participant’s competence pertaining to the culture of poverty, it shows that all students should be counted equal no matter where they are on the poverty spectrum, and it addresses the prejudices and discriminations those who live in poverty face every single day.

Haley McDougal

Social Work

May 2014

Private School Admission Processes: An Exploratory Study

This semester, I have interned at Ezell Harding Christian School with the Guidance Counselor in Antioch, Tennessee. I have done guidance classes and one on one counseling. My project researched the difference between public and private schools, the history of schools, and the correlation between poverty and how well a school runs. I also interviewed Middle Tennessee private schools about their admission processes to determine what the best process could be for Ezell Harding.

Meagan Ferrell

Social Work

May 2014

The Pursuit of Higher Education for Undocumented Students
Research on the lack of higher education opportunities for undocumented citizens

My senior research project focus was on the lack of higher education opportunities for undocumented students. I conducted in-person and over the phone interviews with a local high school and higher education institutions in the Nashville-Metropolitan area, and also researched two of the fifteen states that currently have a state version of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act). Glencliff High School is located in Southeastern Davidson County and has a diverse immigrant student population with over 42 different nationalities and 26 languages represented in the school. I learned during my interviews with the high school and higher education institutions that the primary reason undocumented students are unable to purse higher education is due to tuition costs, and the inability to qualify for state or federal financial aid assistance. Undocumented students in most cases pay out-of-state or international student tuition rates to attend community college or universities, and with tuition rates continuously rising, the dream of becoming a college graduate increasingly fades into the red tape of state and federal government guidelines.

Alena Lopez

Law, Justice & Society

May 2014

Troubles of Policing
A look at the positives and negatives in the life of a police officer

My senior research project focused on policing. The project was titled “Troubles of Policing” Being a Metropolitan Nashville Police Officer for five years, I wanted to investigate further into my chosen profession. I wanted to look at the positive and negatives of the career and what impact it would have on the Officer and their family. During my research project, I conducted multiple interviews with current Nashville Police Officer. The Officers came from multiple areas of the police department. The positives that I focused on were friendship, comradely, and service. Some of the negatives were divorce, suicide, and career changes. In the end, I found both positives and negatives with a career in law enforcement. Some of the negatives however seem to overpower the positives. Overall, I believe the research had an impact on my career. A couple of months later, I left the police department for a career related to politics. In the end, the project was relatable to my career and the area of Law, Justice, and Society.

J.P. Homik

Law, Justice, & Society

May 2014

Connecting Lipscomb Athletes to Career Coaches

I began a program called LinkedLipscomb that connects athletes to "career coaches" who are mentors to them. They are successful adults who are doing something that the student-athlete hopes to do. Once paired they are asked to work on a service project together that somehow relates to the career path the athlete hopes to embark on.

Caitlin Dotson


May 2014

Students on the Autism Spectrum at NSCC
A survey of community college students on the Autism spectrum

Students on the Autism Spectrum who were enrolled at Nashville State Community College in the summer of 2013 were given the opportunity to complete a survey. The purpose of the survey was to determine current student needs, as well as interest in a club for those on the Spectrum and a for-credit class. The survey had questions in a number of categories related to demographics, accommodations, and student areas of struggle. Information from the surveys was analyzed to help the Student Disabilities Office better serve students on the Autism Spectrum.

Claire Pennington

Social Work

December 2013

Education for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
A look at K-12 students in Nashville

For my final project I chose to focus on the deaf and hard of hearing community within Nashville, particularly the students affected by this in Kindergarten through 12th grade. I had been volunteering with these children in an after school program, helping to tutor them, work on their sign language comprehension skills, as well as other enrichment activities and field trips. But, as I continued to volunteer with them more and more, I began to realize just how secluded their daily lives were while at school, as they had few other people they could speak with. Thus, for my senior project I drafted a proposal, that if implemented, would have required all public high schools within the state of Tennessee to offer American Sign Language as a foreign language option for students, and one which would count towards the foreign language component required to graduate. Overall, I found that through an in depth study into the ways in which others communicate, both deaf and hearing students could benefit from the learning experience that might result, if they could both communicate with one another, and be able to carry on a conversation. Similarly, I hoped that devising such a plan would help to ensure more of a sense of freedom for the deaf and hard of hearing students in the school system, as they would be able to assimilate into normal classrooms with ease, and be able to communicate with at least some in the room, instead of being sequestered in one room for the entire school day, with little chance for conversation and friendship.

Sierra Faith

Law, Justice, and Society and Political Science

May 2013

Student Athletes
Supporting academic achievement of minority athletes

My capstone project explored the areas of college academia, social environment, and economic background that contributes to the underachievement of minority college athletes in the classroom. Also, the stereotypes and biases that plague the minority community to focus more on sports than education. Our collegiate athletic programs have become a major revenue source for America's universities that has easily become a priority over the student-athletes educational development. Low eligibility requirements; as well as, minority athletes participating in very easy collegiate courses to continue to play ball are just a couple of incidences that decrease collegiate integrity. Furthermore, my capstone project explores possible remedies to help minority athletes become professional in the classroom; as well as, on the field

Brandon Little

Law, Justice, and Society

May 2013

Brandon Little
Intervention Strategies for Troubled Youth
Utilizing reading and writing as intervention strategies for troubled youth.

For my capstone project I focused on reforming,repairing, and implementing new initiatves among the juvenile justice system and also the school system. My research includes looking at the current juvenile system, but replacing that system with restorative justice and prevention programs. This project looks at trying to reduce juvenile delinqency and trying to stop it before it happens.

Brooke Brennan

Law, Justice, and Society

May 2013

Brooke Brennan

After School Tutoring for Y.E.S.

Developing volunteer resources for Youth Encouragement Services

I provided educational materials for the after school program for Youth Encouragement Services, YES. These materials included activities for all subjects and learning styles for the grades K-6. I also provided ACT preparatory materials for the students in high school. All students in Metro Public Schools must take the ACT in school, so the ACT preparatory materials are especially important. These materials will help the students and the tutors who volunteer at YES. It will provide activities for the volunteers to do with the students, and will help both groups get the most out of their time there.


Mary Holt

HIstory Education

December 2012

Mary Holt
Meeting educational needs of immigrants and refugees seeking U.S. citizenship

During my three years as an English Language Learner’s teacher, I came across a need from a silent portion of our campus family. Several of the facilities workers are Africans who have been privileged to receive a Green Card status here in the United States but desire to become citizens. I was initially able to tutor my English student in what is necessary to know for the naturalization test, but it was at her naturalization celebration that her friends expressed a desire to also pursue permanent residency through citizenship. I knew only a few workers had current English teachers, and would likely not in the near future, so I devised a plan to fill the need myself. I designed and implemented a six to eight week course twice a week for morning workers to be able to attend by permission during their shift. I taught the necessary English skills and American history, civics, and government information to half a dozen ESL adults using the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services guidelines. I am confident that after the processing of their initial paperwork and the completion of a fingerprinting by the state, my students will surpass the final obstacle in initiating their American dreams when they individually ace the naturalization test itself.

Emily Endres
May 2012


Lipscomb's Initiative for Education
Expanding the Life Program into the Room In The Inn

I have been involved, in various ways, with the Life Program for three and a half years either as a student, advocate, or intern. My senior research work focused on expanding the Life Program that currently takes classes at the Tennessee Prison for Women into the homeless population of Nashville through a partnership with Room In The Inn. I answered the questions of what such expansion would look like and what benefits it would bring. While there are many shelters and services that help the homeless, none offer any form of educational opportunity to provide them with the skills and knowledge necessary to better their lives. By expanding this program into the homeless population Lipscomb could promote Christian fellowship and Christian ideals in the lives of those involved, through education.The traditional way of combating the homeless problem is through the use of shelters, however, with 4,000 people without place on any given night, Nashville only has 1,500 shelter or transitional beds to offer. Many people become or remain in a constant homeless cycle because they lack the basic skills and education necessary to qualify for a job or maintain consistent employment. Education improves decision making skills and promotes pro-social skills which will not only help them obtain and maintain employment but will also allow them to become better family and community members. With no current service offering a much needed educational opportunity, I proposed that the Life Program utilize its resources and tools to evolve into a partnership with Room In The Inn creating the first step on a much larger educational path for the men involved. I surveyed the men of the current program and the educational staff on how they felt Lipscomb could best partner with them for the long-term, the most common response I received was for Lipscomb to continue offering classes and possibly establish some sort of degree path in the future. The second most common response was to offer GED preparation and tutoring along with college-prep level tutoring. The overall desired outcome for this program is to embody Lipscomb University’s spiritual mission and continue to expand and grow. This growth would include, but not be limited to, adding a larger, diverse selection of useful classes, raising awareness of Lipscomb’s presence at Room In The Inn throughout the members of the center and getting more men involved in taking classes. The benefits of expansion are countless in number, ranging from helping homeless men to offering a unique perspective and educational experience for traditional students.

Tyler Conger
Law, Justice & Society
May 2012


After-School Program Success
Measuring the effectiveness of after-school programming

Harvest Hands is a 5-year-old community development corporation. They have never surveyed the parents of the elementary after-school program to see how the parents view the after-school program services. With the help of the HH staff, I created a survey that focused on the parents' views of our program. After gathering completed surveys, I analyzed the data with SPSS and composed a research paper including literature reviews, a methodology, the findings, limitations, and implications for the future. I presented my research to Harvest Hands CDC in hopes that it will be used to increase the success and influence of the elementary after-school program.

Rachel Moen
Social Work
May 2012


Study of charter schools

I did a comprehensive study of nashville's charter schools and how they operate in order to find a reason why some charter schools continue to fail and others thrive

Ryan Madgett
LJS Conflict Management
May 2012


Engaging Latino college students in the process of professional, business and community development

This past year and a few of my peers and I started an organization, FUTURO, designed to engage Latino college students in the process of professional, business and community development. Through unique partnerships and intentional mentorship, FUTURO gives Latino college students the opportunity to pursue professional development opportunities and become an integral part of the community. The ultimate goal of FUTURO is to increase enrollment and retention rates of Latino students in the state of Tennessee. We aim to accomplish this goal by focusing on four specific areas: Professional development through a series of workshops/training seminars, corporate partnerships designed to provide internship opportunities, professional networking opportunities through networking events by the Latin American Chamber of Commerce, and community building by serving as mentors to high school students.  As a founding member of this organization I have been heavily involved in the developing aspects of the organization.  As chair of the Business Development committee, I carry the responsibility to develop corporate partnerships within the Nashville area in order to gain funding for new programming and increase the capacity of the program.  In addition, I assist the director identify both student leaders and campus advisors for chapters in formation at universities across Tennessee.  As part of the growth strategy, I have drafted a guide on how to officially become recognized as a chapter at the respective university.  This along with other strategic plans will serve as blue prints for the Business Development committee going forward.

Jose Rodriguez
International Business
May 2012


Reinforcement Assessment with a child with Autism
“Positive Reinforcement is the presentation of a stimulus immediately following a response which increases the future rate or probability of the response” ("Reinforcement,”).

The Brown Center uses specific modes of reinforcement to motivate students to continue learning in the therapy classroom settings. “Positive Reinforcement is the presentation of a stimulus immediately following a response which increases the future rate or probability of the response” ("Reinforcement,”). This can be seen at the Brown Center when a student performs a certain task or activity he/she is rewarded with a special game, book, or other preferred activity. When working with children with autism communication can be a difficult task and figuring out the best motivating rewards can be challenging. Completing a reinforcer assessment is an effective way of finding out what reinforcers best motivate a particular student. The Brown Center works with sixteen to twenty students a year. Each student has different needs and is motivated differently. When new students enter The Brown Center, staff traditionally completes various assessments to determine the best way to teach the child. The purpose of this project is to find out what motivates the student, EU, to learn and then take what is learned from this assessment and apply it. Various toys, books, and other rewards will be given and data on their effectiveness recorded in order to determine what reinforcers work best with this particular student. We performed a total of three reinforcement assessments where we tested which toys EU would select and then had him perform tasks to see if he would work for the toy he selected in reinforcement assessments. This research project was successful in that we found two new items that EU would work for throughout his sessions.

Kayla Lupo
Social Work
May 2012


ACT Prep
The ACT Preparatory course is designed for college students to assist
highschool students to get higher scores on the ACT.

I combined and edited sources from the ACT TEST PREP website
( to create a teaching rubric and
grading system for students to take an actual timed test in a
classroom setting. I gathered other Lipscomb University students to
assess their ACT experience and useful tips they know now but were
unaware of in high school that would have made a drastic difference in
their ACT Comprehensive score and being able to attend any college of
their choice.

Sierah Campbell
May 2012


Bridging the Gap
Best practices to bridge the academic gap between traditional students and the English Language Learners (ELL). 

My report explores the best practices utilized to bridge the academic gap between traditional students and the English Language Learners (ELL).  With more than 13 percent of the U.S. population consisting of immigrants, the demographics of communities and their schools are changing.  This transformation is particularly important in Tennessee, for it has the fourth fastest immigrant population growth from 2000 to 2010.  22 percent of Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools’ 78,400 students have a non-English language background, and nearly 100 different languages are spoken in these schools.  Tennessee’s most diverse school, Glencliff High School, has transformed itself to meet its new students’ needs, and in this process, GHS has become a model to other schools.  The key to its approach is to include everyone connected to the ELL student in its new programs.  Using Glencliff’s example and notable education organizations’ research, I will delve into the effectiveness of content learning and specialized teacher training, family and community support, and alternative programs for language practice.  When educators create a learning environment that includes everyone in the community, the ELL students have the right support to succeed—but only if the state and its policies support the alternative programs associated with this approach.  Focusing only on the student is no longer enough.English classes, mainly geared towards the spouses of visiting scholars.

Bethany Eldridge
Law Justice & Society
May 2012


Tutoring Vanderbilt PhD students and their spouses
Teaching English to a Forgotten Population
For the past 2.5 years I have been teaching English within a local Chinese community, located near Vanderbilt. This community consists mainly of visiting PhD scholars and doctors involved with the Vanderbilt Medical Center. Many within this community are here with their spouses, who are on visitor's visas. This denies them any chances of working during their sometimes up to a year stay, leaving them with little to do at times. Over the summer I provided an increased curriculum of available English classes, mainly geared towards the spouses of visiting scholars. 
Benjamin Hargis
May 2010
Strengthening communities in the midst of a Honduran military uprising
Programa de Fortalecimiento Escolar
I drafted curriculum for and helped implement the Programa de Fortalecimiento Escolar (School Strengthening Program) for a mountainous area of Honduras. The curriculum included seven themes with separate lesson plans developed for teenage students. The plans were written completely in Spanish, and were designed to be used by someone with no formal training as a teacher. The purpose of the program as a whole was to encourage dialogue between the parents and children, especially on hot topics such as respect and values. 
Michael Garrison
Social Work
May 2010