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

Suzanne Marmo, Ph.D.

3rd Reader

Michael A. Alfano , Ph.D.


Research has shown how students’ social-emotional development impacts their lives beyond school and the benefits social-emotional development has had on academic growth, as social-emotional development and academics, worked in unison (Locklear, 2020). Therefore, students should receive support in developing their social-emotional learning skills while they are receiving academic instruction (Yoder, 2014b). One suggested way to accomplish this goal is to provide teachers with the knowledge about social-emotional learning, followed by supporting them through their social-emotional learning implementations (Ferguson-Patrick, 2010). This Improvement Science Dissertation in Practice utilized a convergent mixed methods intervention design to interact with the six research partners, who taught Kindergarten through Grade 5 in a rural district in the southern region of the United States. Through the behavior theory framework, specifically, the social environment and social cognitive theoretical frameworks, the researcher provided personalized professional learning and reflective coaching practice sessions to support the research partners implementation of cooperative learning strategies, which was the selected instructional practice that supports social-emotional learning.

During the research study, the research partners participated in semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, reflective coaching practice sessions, pre- and post- AIR Self-Assessments of SEL Survey (Yoder, 2014a) and a personalized professional development session. As a result of the ongoing support during the implementation phase of the intervention, iv the research partners and their students exhibited growth in both their social-emotional development and their academics. The quantitative data results for research question one reflected a significant difference from the beginning to the end with a moderate effect size for the group. However, the effect size for the individual research partners were large. Per the qualitative data, in response to research question two, one research partner stated, “I can see where its leading and this is why I want to continue doing it this way. My students are getting more and more engaged.” Therefore, the research findings demonstrated how the research partners were moving the needle towards improving their students’ social-emotional development. Furthermore, the study enumerated four recommendations to continue the positive social-emotional development and academic growth the research partners began.

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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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