Date of Degree

9-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Educational Psychology

Advisor

Anastasiya Lipnevich

Committee Members

David Rindskopf

Bruce Homer

Kate Walton

Joan Lucariello

Subject Categories

Early Childhood Education | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | Elementary Education

Keywords

Social and emotional learning, meta-analysis, assessment

Abstract

In the last several decades, the development of student social and emotional skills in educational contexts has received much attention, both domestically and internationally. Whereas previous school-based educational practices had primarily focused on the teaching and testing of cognitive skills, we now recognize that there are constituents of academic success beyond the cognitive skills that are traditionally taught and tested, and the field of social and emotional learning (SEL) has emerged as a result. This two-study dissertation attempted to fill existing gaps in the development of SEL practices by exploring new horizons in both intervention and measurement with preschool and elementary students. Whereas a great amount of meta-analytic evidence exists for K-12 contexts, no previous studies have used meta-analysis to synthesize the literature on preschool SEL interventions. The objective of the first study was to determine the effects of universal and targeted preschool SEL interventions on the development of social and emotional skills and the reduction of problem behaviors. Results showed medium effects for both universal (g = .35) and targeted interventions (g = .48), and meta-regression analyses identified intervention type as accounting for 83% of the heterogeneity found in universal interventions. The objective of the second study was to develop Likert and innovative items (situational judgment test and forced choice) using the Big Five as an assessment framework to measure social and emotional skills in elementary-aged students. This represents several advantages in the field, considering many assessments of student social and emotional skills rely on Likert items alone, and Big Five-based self-report measures for elementary-aged students are rare, albeit the Big Five serving as an empirically supported framework upon which to organize social and emotional skills. Results from a pilot study with these items showed moderate evidence for reliability and validity and also indicated where improvements could be made for future iterations of such items. Together, the two studies make significant contributions to the field - the first by extending meta-analytic evidence to the preschool population, and the second by examining best practices for developing innovative item types for elementary students. Conclusions from the two studies, implications, and future directions for measuring and developing young children’s social and emotional skills are discussed.

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