Date of Award


Degree Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

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




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

Committee Chair

David G. Title, Ed.D.

2nd Reader

T. Lee Morgan, Ph.D.

3rd Reader

Christine Sipala, Ph.D.


This Improvement Science Dissertation in Practice investigated the impact professional learning in Culturally Responsive Pedagogy had on teacher SEL self-efficacy and instructional practices in a middle school. Educators faced many new challenges with the onset of a global pandemic, increased political polarization, and social unrest fueled by system racism. In the blink of an eye, teachers adapted their instructional practices to teach in full remote, hybrid, and, eventually, in-person instruction with strict COVID-19 guidelines. Teachers noted a decrease in student connectedness and higher disengagement from school. Students’ social and emotional needs grew, and classroom teachers became the triage nurses in education, working to identify students most in need of intervention. At P.T. Barnum Middle School (PTBMS), teachers lacked the confidence and competencies to address the SEL needs of their students in their classrooms. This Improvement Science Dissertation in Practices sought to identify the role that culturally responsive pedagogy had on a teacher’s perception and SEL self-efficacy when RULER training was ongoing. The researcher developed a professional learning series in culturally responsive pedagogy and collected both qualitative and quantitative data to measure the impact of the intervention. Findings revealed that Culturally Responsive Pedagogy positively impacted teachers’ cultural awareness, perception of the district’s commitment to professional learning, SEL self-efficacy, and instruction. The implication of these findings is that to ensure that teachers have higher SEL self-efficacy, districts must take steps to ensure that their teachers receive meaningful, ongoing professional learning in more than SEL alone. To support the changes occurring in districts, teachers need professional learning in Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. This study found that such professional learning positively impacted students and teachers.

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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