Black Students’ Perspectives of Social-Emotional Learning

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.S. in School Psychology


Department of Counselor Education and Human Services


Susan Davies


Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the way in which individuals acquire and apply knowledge and skills that relate to their identity, emotions, and social relations (CASEL, 2021). There are indicators that Black students are underserved by current SEL programs; however, there is scarce empirical research investigating this concern. This study examined whether SEL practices connect with students from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds. Specifically, this project explored Black students’ perspectives of the social emotional curriculum used at their Midwestern high school. Participants included eight Black high school students. These students were in their first year of an SEL curriculum at a high school in Ohio. A semi-structured interview protocol and group interview protocol were created by the primary researcher for this study. The interviews consisted of open-ended questions with opportunities for follow-up questions. Students participated in a one-on-one in-person interview with the primary researcher, followed by a group interview. Themes emerged from the individual and group interviews were: appreciation of social connection, emotional skills improvement, fit of SEL to culture, things liked and disliked, and suggestions for improvement. In conclusion, each individual has varying perspectives of the SEL class at their school, but schools should select curriculums that fit the needs of their student populations.


Social emotional learning, Black students, student perspective

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