Date of Award

Summer 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Linda Silvernail


This paper outlines a mixed methods action research study designed to evaluate current teacher competencies and practices at Central Midlands High School (pseudonym) to convey social and emotional learning (SEL) concepts, determine the social and emotional skills which students believe are most critical for their long-term success, and access the resources and professional development needs of teachers in order to better incorporate social and emotional learning elements into their curriculum. The study utilizes both qualitative and quantitative data gathered from both teacher and student surveys, interviews, and focus groups. The focus of this study is to evaluate current teacher practices to convey the SEL skills outlined in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate as well as identifying the noncognitive soft skills that students believe are most essential for their post-secondary success and where they require the most support. In addition, this research seeks to responsively access the professional development needs of educators to best meet the needs of both teachers and students to inculcate social and emotional learning concepts. The theoretical framework, researcher’s positionality, and research design and methods are discussed in depth. Results of the study may be of interest to appropriate practitioners who seek the identify the critical professional needs of teachers to better include SEL into their classrooms. In addition, this research looks to illuminate the unique and specific needs of students in a rural setting with regards to social and emotional learning competencies and the soft skills regarded as necessary for post-secondary success.