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

Suzanne Marmo-Roman, Ph.D.

2nd Reader

David G. Title, Ed.D.

3rd Reader

Heather Batchelor, Ed.D.


While research has indicated that social emotional learning (SEL) approaches promote essential, long-lasting individual and collective development for students, the literature indicates a lack of evidence that educators are implementing SEL approaches to affirm the assets, lived experiences, and identities of students, particularly those belonging to minoritized groups. This Improvement Science Dissertation in Practice (ISDiP) employed a mixed-methods pragmatic, researchintervention process model that utilized a community-based action research approach to evaluate a trauma-informed SEL professional learning (PL) intervention as a viable practice to mitigate high school educators’ implicit biases. Through an anti-racist, anti-oppression framework, this study sought to determine the potential influence of a trauma-informed SEL PL intervention on 80 educators’ biases, SEL skills and competencies, and experiences at a 9-12 high school in a small suburban district in a Northeastern state. Pre-test and post-test surveys, feedback surveys, and semi-structured focus groups were conducted over a span of 6 weeks. Themes identified in educators’ response data reveal that a trauma-informed SEL PL intervention (1) may further develop educators’ self-awareness and social-awareness skills and have positive implications for promoting educational equity, (2) may increase transformational educator behaviors, and (3) may be impacted by whiteness norms as they continue to generate structural barriers that impact iv educator implicit and explicit biases. Study results suggest that educators require transformational leadership support, including facilitation of professional learning communities (PLC), active learning opportunities that include reflective practices of personal and collective biases, and ongoing peer coaching. Once established, these key components may contribute to teachers reporting a greater development of their cultural awareness and action, which may indicate application of self and social awareness skills and competencies. When educators employ adult SEL skills and competencies, they are empowered to engage in change-making actions to address and eliminate educational inequities throughout their communities. Recommendations to schools and districts on how to implement a trauma-informed SEL approach within their organizations and navigate whiteness norms are presented.

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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