School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Sharon Farrell


social-emotional learning, social-emotional competencies, lived experiences, academics, behavior, embedded, COVID-19, social development, social constructivism, morning meetings


Education | Special Education and Teaching


The purpose of this hermeneutical phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of educators who embed behavioral learning support into their academic curriculum and describe the meaning of the perceived influence on academic achievement and social development for elementary students in two elementary schools. What are the lived experiences of educators who embed behavioral support as a form of social-emotional learning (SEL) into their academic curriculum? Social constructivism was the interpretive framework used to guide this study, supported by Gagne’s and Vygotsky’s learning theories. Ten elementary school teacher participants in a metropolitan Atlanta area school district were selected using purposive maximal variation sampling based on the established implementation of evidence-based school culture programs. Imaginative variation was used to describe participants’ lived experiences. Data analysis included horizonalization and triangulation of data, note taking, code identification, reduction of codes to themes for theme identification, frequency counts, creation of point of view, memoing, and data clusters. The triangulation of data required three different data sources. Interviews, journal prompts, and questionnaires were used to collect data to describe the essence of the participants' lived experiences. This study explored the influence of embedded behavioral support on academic performance and social development. Thematic analysis identified the reoccurrence of three themes: challenges, classroom management, and instruction, along with seven subthemes: time, behavior, relationships, expectations, academic, embedded, and student response. The lived experiences explored support the positive influence of SEL on academic achievement.