Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Hillary Merk

Second Advisor

Nicole Ralston

Third Advisor

Randy Hetherington

LC Subjects

Study and teaching (Elementary); Elementary school teaching; Curriculum evaluation


The goal of this study was to determine if the Strong Kids social and emotional learning curriculum (2nd ed.) could serve as a universal tool for developing social-emotional competency with students in grades K to 6. This was the first study to investigate the second edition of the program and only the second to include a school-wide population. The study followed a quasi-experimental, non-equivalent control group design. Knowledge test scores and SEL competency ratings were incorporated into the pretest-posttest design in order to measure student growth between schools (Treatment, N = 399; Control, N = 492). There were no significant differences between groups prior to the study. An ANCOVA revealed statistically significant knowledge gains for students receiving English language support (p < .05). Students at the primary (p < .01) level experienced statistically significant decreases in externalizing behaviors and all students experienced statistically significant decreases for internalizing behaviors. There was a slight degree of social validity overall (64%). Although not all findings were congruent with previous Strong Kids work, many were aligned with CASEL (2017) indicating the Strong Kids treatment is beneficial when implemented with fidelity. As indicated throughout research, students who were able to demonstrate high levels of social-emotional competency were able to perform better behaviorally and academically (Durlak et al., 2011; Jones & Doolittle, 2017).


Copyright for this work is retained by the author.