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Teachers' Perceptions of and Self-Efficacy in Modeling and Providing Opportunities for Social and Emotional Learning Competencies

Elizabeth Sullivan, Johnson & Wales University


There is extensive research on the importance of the development of students’ social-emotional learning (SEL) competencies (Kress & Elias, 2013; Taylor & Larson, 1999). Research suggests that, a primary responsibility of middle schools is to address the developmental needs of adolescents, who are experiencing a major transition as they move between elementary school and high school. In order for maximum intellectual growth to take place, social-emotional, as well as physical growth must be incorporated into the plan (Dickinson, 2001). The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of educators’ beliefs about the development of social-emotional skills being a component of their instruction. Further, the study sought to examine educators’ confidence in modeling the skills and providing SEL opportunities for their students. A mixed methods sequential explanatory strategy was used to examine data from teachers (N=47) in one rural middle school in a recently regionalized school district. Quantitative analysis revealed significant difference between content area teachers’ familiarity with SEL, with special educators being higher than math and science teachers (p=.001). A trend was also found that indicated special educators understand and endorse SEL more than math, science, and unified arts teachers (p=.009). No significant differences were found with the demographics. Qualitative findings pointed to the need for training and professional development so teachers may become more skilled at providing SEL opportunities to students, and more efficacious in modeling social-emotional competencies. Additionally, relevant professional development may assist teachers in overcoming obstacles identified in qualitative data. Moving further into the 21st century, it is essential that educators provide students with all the skills they will need to be successful in college and career, as well as within society. These skills include, but are not limited to the abilities to effectively communicate with others, to collaborate with diverse groups of people, and to think critically. In order to best address students’ ability to attain proficiency in these skills, school leaders may consider the implementation of a school-wide social and emotional learning program.

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Sullivan, Elizabeth, "Teachers' Perceptions of and Self-Efficacy in Modeling and Providing Opportunities for Social and Emotional Learning Competencies" (2015). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3700997.