Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

Document Type



Principals are the gatekeepers of their school environment. Therefore, their beliefs and attitudes about social and emotional learning (SEL) will influence their staff, students and parents. The purpose of this grounded theory study was to explore school principals’ beliefs and attitudes about SEL. Researchers have focused on SEL’s success as it relates to academic achievement, but little is known about the adults’ roles in effective SEL integration. Findings from this study may inform how administrators (e.g., school system superintendents) structure training for principals to acquire skills in influencing and integrating programs into the overall school climate. The findings may also be used to assist program developers by providing key strategies that principals feel are needed to support their efforts to champion SEL adoption. The methodology used for data collection was semi-structured interviews with eight principals located in urbanized areas across Louisiana. The themes that emerged from this study included: lack of passion for SEL, lack of understanding of SEL, social influences on SEL school integration, and principal presence and staff proficiency in modeling and implementing. The lack of understanding of an SEL definition was a major barrier in this study making it impossible for a theory to emerge. However, valuable information was garnered. Late majority adopter principals exhibited an overall lack of passion for SEL integration into the school in contrast to early adopters who were passionate about SEL integration. Late majority adopter principals possessed neutral to no attitudes in contrast to early adopter principals who possessed positive attitudes regarding SEL. Principals have influence on everyone involved in the system, but do not seem to be easily influenced by others. Overall, being visible and accessible to everyone, providing adequate professional development for teachers, and boosting teacher competence were of importance to all principals included in this study. Finally, a few other notable ideas materialized relative to principals, students and the overall school environment.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Cater, Melissa