Theses Doctoral

Effects of Teachers and School Factors on the Social Validity of Social Emotional Learning Interventions

Alves Nishioka, Silvia

School-based social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions have the potential to promote healthy development among children, including social and emotion regulation and academic achievement. Higher levels of implementation quality are associated with greater student outcomes compelling research to identify factors that contribute to successful implementation. Social validity refers to the social significance of an intervention and is thought to improve the uptake of interventions. The ecological model of teacher implementation proposes that individual and contextual factors influence social validity. The present study used a mixed-method design to examine how teacher and school factors were associated with the social validity of SEL interventions.

Participants included 112 PK-5 teachers who completed an online survey about their perceptions of social validity of SEL interventions, their demographics, SEL beliefs, self-efficacy, stress level, multicultural competence (MCC), school climate, school location, and proportions of students and teachers of color. Participants responded to four open-ended questions regarding their perceptions of SEL interventions. Structural equation modeling was used to test model fit and estimate relationships between variables. Teacher SEL Competence (indicated by SEL beliefs, self-efficacy, and MCC), School Diversity (indicated by location, proportions of students and teachers of color), stress level, race/ethnicity, and school climate were examined in their association with the social validity (i.e., acceptability, willingness, perceived effectiveness, and disruption) of SEL interventions. Thematic analysis was used to extract common themes from qualitative data and expand the understanding of teachers’ perceptions about SEL interventions.

Quantitative and qualitative results showed that teacher and school factors were significantly associated with social validity. Overall, teachers reported positive perceptions about SEL interventions; particularly, teachers with higher SEL competence perceived SEL interventions to be more acceptable and effective and were more willing to engage in them. Teachers with higher stress levels also perceived SEL interventions as more acceptable, suggesting they may think SEL interventions can improve both student behavior and teacher well-being. On the other hand, teachers with more years of teaching experience perceived SEL interventions as more disruptive to classroom routines. This may point to barriers in school settings such as lack of time for non-academic activities. Notably, teachers of color also perceived SEL interventions to be more disruptive, and teachers working in more diverse schools rated SEL interventions to be less acceptable. Teachers noted that SEL interventions should be customized to students’ context and reality. Teachers of color and those working in diverse schools may be more aware of the lack of cultural responsiveness of SEL interventions, and therefore find them less socially valid.

Providing trainings and supports that develop teacher SEL competence can significantly increase social validity and, consequently, engagement in interventions. It is also important to promote teachers’ MCC and infuse multicultural considerations into school practices. Research on intervention development, evaluation, and dissemination should account for cultural diversity as well as investigate adaptations to improve implementation quality, sustainability, and student outcomes. Advancing SEL interventions in these areas has the potential to promote a healthier development among students particularly those from diverse communities.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Huang, Cindy J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 14, 2022