Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education & Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Marcia A. B. Delcourt, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Pauline E. Goolkasian, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Patricia E. Cosentino, Ed.D.


This study was designed to gather information regarding the impact of social emotional learning (SEL) programming with a specific focus on student perceptions of courage. There is limited research in the field of education that characterizes courage. The researcher sought to understand perceptions of SEL competencies between students who were involved in an SEL lesson-driven condition that met particular inclusion criteria and students in a comparison group that also met specific inclusion criteria, as well as to uncover patterns in students’ thoughts about courage. A sample of convenience was comprised of fourth and fifth grade students from one state in the northeastern U.S. This mixed methods study incorporated a causal comparative design using intact groups as well as a multiple case study design. The researcher examined characteristics of social emotional learning competencies, including courage. Individual interviews were conducted to further understand student perceptions of courage. The results of a 2x2 ANOVA indicated that there was no significant difference between students’ scores on SEL competencies for students not involved in a specific, lesson driven SEL program compared to students who were involved in a specific, lesson driven SEL program (F(1,155) = 1.901, p = .170, partial eta squared = .012). There was a significant difference for gender, (F(1,155) = 13.301, p = .000, partial eta squared = .079). Female students (M = 3.451) had significantly higher mean scores on SEL competencies than male students (M = 3.283). The following four themes emerged regarding students’ perceptions of courage: (a) characteristics of integrity, (b) persistence, (c) what it takes to be courageous, and (d) cultivating courage at school.