Date of Award

4-23-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Margot Waddington Vagliardo, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Mary Anne Hannibal, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Patricia Pinciotti, Ed.D.

Fourth Advisor

Susan Harlan, Ed.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this case study was to explore the effects of a literature-based social-emotional learning curriculum on kindergarten students' social-emotional behaviors, awareness, and early reading skills in a large elementary school. The study examined beliefs/perceptions of kindergarten teachers in regards to what reading skills students possess, the progress students make during a semester, how social-emotional skills affect the classroom environment and whether a literature-based social-emotional learning curriculum has a general impact. Two experimental and two control teachers participated in the study. There were fifty-three (N = 53) students who participated in the study. Forty (N = 40) students were assessed due to time constraints; twenty (N = 20) in the experimental group, twenty (N = 20) in the control group. Students were assessed using the Assessment of Children's Emotion Skills test, (Schultz, Izard, & Bear, 2004) to measure social awareness and emotional accuracy skills and the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) Next Assessment (Dynamic Measurement Group, 2011) to measure first sound and letter naming fluency both before and after implementation of Strong Start, the literature-based social skills curriculum. Qualitative data collected included teacher interviews, teacher reflective journals, fidelity check observations, communication logs, and researcher field notes. Results showed that while there was a change in scores on the ACES and DIBELS Next assessments from pretest to posttest for all groups and from experimental to control group, scores were not comparatively statistically different. The change in scores could not be attributed to the social-emotional learning curriculum. Gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, nor group had any effect on the scores for the ACES. However, white children did better than "other" students on the letter naming fluency DIBELS Next subtest. Experimental group students did not lose ground in reading, improved their problem-solving skills and enriched their social-emotional vocabulary. The data revealed classroom schedules filled with primarily teacher driven activities, core academics, and structure. Teachers changed their own behaviors by focusing on students' social-emotional skills and behaviors, teaching social-emotional skills formally and explicitly, and by modeling social-emotional skills.

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