Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Roger Mitch Nasser

Second Advisor

Lynda Leavitt

Third Advisor



In this mixed-methods study the researcher analyzed teacher perceptions of social and emotional learning and whether students in subgroup populations including Black students, students receiving free and reduced lunch, and students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) attained social and emotional competency at the same level as peers not in the aforementioned subgroups.

The researcher used the CASEL competencies (self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, social awareness, and relationship skills) to define social and emotional learning data in the study. The researcher used descriptive statistics and a t-test from data collected in a student self-reported survey to determine whether subgroup populations achieved SEL competency at the same levels as students not in subgroups. The researcher found students who received IEP services achieved a statistically significant difference in achievement levels in two of the CASEL competencies in a self-reported SEL survey compared to students who did not receive IEP services. However, the researcher did not find statistically significant differences in achievement levels in a self-reported SEL survey of the social and emotional learning CASEL competencies between students on free and reduced lunch and students not receiving free and reduced lunch nor between Black students and students of all other races.

The researcher also conducted a thematic analysis and coding of answers from teacher interviews and open-ended questions on the surveys and conducted a descriptive analysis of the teacher survey answers from Likert-style survey questions. Data from the interviews and surveys provided a qualitative and descriptive analysis of staff attitudes and beliefs regarding social and emotional learning. Questions in the surveys and interviews covered five topics: preparedness to teach SEL, perception of SEL effectiveness/impact, perceptions of subgroup needs and competency, teacher efficacy, and teacher implementation of SEL. Throughout the researcher’s analysis, there were several themes that occurred in more than one research question, making them even stronger than if they had only occurred once. Based on these results, the researcher found teachers strongly believed 1) More training is needed about social and emotional learning, 2) Home life affects SEL skill development, and 3) Teachers felt they don’t have enough time to teach social and emotional learning and the required curriculum. Based on these conclusions, the researcher recommended future social and emotional learning research centered around improved assessment tools for SEL in the educational setting and high quality SEL professional development for teachers.

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