The Social Emotional Learning Language Arts (SELLA) Curriculum: a Qualitative Evaluation of Implementation

Date of Award


Degree Name

Specialist in Education (Ed.S.)


Department of Counselor Education and Human Services


Advisor: Elana Bernstein


Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process by which students incorporate skills, attitudes, and behaviors to deal effectively with life's daily obstacles (CASEL, 2019). Social and emotional skills are predictors of school success; thus, schools are increasingly looking for ways to develop students' social-emotional skills. SEL programs can have a long-term impact behaviorally and academically. Most SEL programs are implemented in after-school programs or added on to schools' pre-existing daily curricula. SEL is often integrated into a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) and specifically provided to those students who demonstrate a need for it (Eklund, Kilpatrick, Kilgus, & Eckert, 2018). To date, few studies have investigated SEL programs that are delivered within the academic curriculum; programs that demonstrate alignment between SEL standards and academic learning standards remain largely unexplored. Using a qualitative inquiry design, the implementation of a social-emotional learning English/Language Arts program known as SELLA was examined from the perspective of participating teachers for its feasibility, acceptability, and alignment with the state's learning standards for ELA. Themes fell into two categories related to teachers' perceptions of the program experience, including: 1) areas of strength and 2) areas of suggested improvement. Additionally, three themes emerged specifically regarding alignment of the program with the state's learning standards in writing: 1) teachers needed to independently add content to meet writing standards; 2) teachers see improvements in their students writing after the SELLA program; however, they cannot deduce if that is a direct result of the SELLA program; and 3) students who do not normally participate in the general curriculum are now participating in the SELLA curriculum. The findings are presented along with implications for future research.


Education, Educational Psychology, Mental Health, Psychology, School Counseling, Teacher Education, Social and Emotional Learning, SEL, Language Arts, ELA, SEL and ELA, SEL and ELA alignment, Program Evaluation, Qualitative Inquiry Design, SELLA, Social and Emotional Learning during the school day, SEL embedded in ELA curriculum, SEL curriculum

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