Date of Award

Spring 4-25-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership for Learning Dissertations


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair

Dr. Chinasa Elue

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Sheryl Croft

Second Committee Member

Dr. Nicholas Clegorne


Social and emotional learning (SEL) had become a focus of educators around the world because of global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing social unrest that hurled the topic to the forefront of today’s educational conversations (Bozkurt, et al., 2020) Despite this recent interest in SEL, it is not a new concept. This research informs educational leaders on students’ perceptions of school culture and contributes to literature that has shown that improvements in students’ social and emotional skills transfer to other areas of their lives. The teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic is not enough to equip today’s students. Social and Emotional Learning objectives are now a part of many districts’ curricula, and educators are directly tasked with growing minds and hearts. The purpose of the study is to identify students’ perspectives of adults’ behaviors that help students feel safe and supported. This was a phenomenographic qualitative study incorporating data from interviews and focus group sessions. The overarching finding uncovered by this study revealed how intentional adult behaviors focused on social and emotional learning can create a sense of belonging for students.