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

T. Lee Morgan, Ph.D.

2nd Reader

David G. Title, Ed.D.

3rd Reader

Jason Erb, Ed.D.


This Improvement Science Dissertation in Practice (ISDiP) investigated to what extent professional development impacted teacher understanding of social-emotional learning (SEL) and its potential compatibility with Biblical teachings. The dissertation followed an Improvement Science framework to address a specific problem of practice: an increase in student maladaptive behavior. As student coping repertoires diminished following the COVID-19 and racial pandemics, teachers experienced stress and frustration. To bolster teachers' learning and provide new pathways for teachers to address student behavior and build classroom climate, the researcher introduced SEL to a group of teacher volunteers (n=21) in an independent Christian school through six professional development (PD) sessions focused on building SEL knowledge and social-emotional competencies (SEC) of the participants. Additionally, the PD sessions allowed participants to explore the possible connections between SEL and Biblical teachings. This convergent mixed-methods action research study gathered quantitative data assessing teacher knowledge and SEC pre- and post-intervention and qualitative data through exit tickets and a semi-structured focus group. Data showed statistically significant growth in teacher awareness and SEL confidence, increased teacher SEC in their SEL actions, and a vi firm conclusion by the participants that SEL and Biblical teachings are compatible. This study can serve as a model for other Christian schools seeking to introduce SEL and integrate its benefits with Biblical teaching.

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.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.