Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Wenfan Yan

Second Advisor

Patricia Krueger-Henney

Third Advisor

Lindsay Fallon


For social and emotional learning (SEL) initiatives to have the greatest positive impact on students, they must be implemented schoolwide. There is an urgent need for schools to shift away from traditional SEL frameworks toward transformative SEL (TSEL). TSEL program implementation cannot be done in isolation; rather, it must be fueled by a shared vision and dedication to team learning. To conduct this study, the researcher employed the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) Guide to Schoolwide SEL and Senge’s learning organization as a theory of change. The study sought to uncover gaps in schoolwide SEL implementation in one public urban elementary school designated as requiring assistance or intervention by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Using a case study research design, the researcher met with school-based staff in a variety of roles to find out the degree to which their knowledge of SEL, or lack thereof, affected the implementation of successful schoolwide SEL. This qualitative research project included interviews and focus groups along with a document review. The study results call for urban schools to rethink SEL implementation and encourage their transformation into learning organizations that include the voices and participation of all members of the school community.


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