Date of Award


Degree Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)


Educational Leadership


A dissertation in the Isabelle Farrington College of Education and Human Development presented to the faculty of Sacred Heart University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education.

Committee Chair

David G. Title, Ed.D.

2nd Reader

Suzanne Marmo, Ph.D.

3rd Reader

Kathleen Williamson, Ph.D.


This Improvement Science Dissertation in Practice investigated the impact of training and continuous support on the effectiveness of a high school Student Assistance Team’s ability to identify and discuss students experiencing high stress levels. In Phase 1 of this action research, the researcher determined the problem of practice to be high stress levels that impacted students’ academic, social, and emotional development. After conducting a root cause analysis and the identification of drivers of change, the researcher selected one high leverage practice to implement. In Phase 2, the researcher implemented training and support sessions to foster the Student Assistance Team members’ ability to identify students experiencing high stress and implement the Team-Initiated Problem-Solving (TIPS) process during meetings. Using a mixed-methods design, the researcher collected quantitative and qualitative data through individual interviews, focus groups, and Student Assistance Team observations. In addition, the researcher used the Decision, Observation, Recording, and Analysis-II (DORA-II) form to collect evidence during the Student Assistance Team meetings. After the training and support, the data showed that the Student Assistance Team improved its acquisition of new knowledge regarding students with high stress levels. In addition, the Student Assistance Team displayed an increased ability to implement the Team-Initiated Problem-Solving process, leading to a positive impact on the team’s functioning. Enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Student Assistance Team is the first component of providing adequate student support and reducing student stress levels. Recommended next steps include expanding the Student Assistance Team to include additional stakeholders, evaluating the long-term impact on students, and developing an ongoing training and support method. Future research should include longitudinal studies and the implementation of training and support within other schools to determine if the positive impact translates to other settings and systems.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.



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