Publication Date

Spring 2017

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Antony D. Norman (Director), Jie Zhang, and Gary Houchens

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


In order to assess the effects of the Goal-driven, Resilient, and Influential Teens (GRIT) program on social and emotional learning and academic performance in high schools throughout Kentucky, data from several sources were compiled and analyzed. These sources included results from the Student Engagement and Performance (STEP) survey, an instrument developed by the Rock Solid Evaluation Team at Western Kentucky University and administered yearly to high school students and teachers, and school-level academic and socioeconomic data from the Kentucky Department of Education. Additional data on fidelity of GRIT program implementation were obtained from FranklinCovey, the GRIT program’s developer and publisher.

Analyses of the aforementioned data were conducted using correlations, partial correlations, and t-tests. The results suggest that there is an inverse relationship between poverty and SEL levels as perceived by students and teachers. They also suggest that SEL correlates with academic performance (ACT scores) after controlling for poverty, school size, and ethnic composition, but that this correlation accounts for relatively little in the way of variance of academic performance levels. Interpreting these results was complicated by the inconsistency of the relationship between student and teacher perceptions of SEL within a school. While student and teacher survey responses correlate to a certain extent, the strength of these correlations varies greatly from year to year and by the construct and sub-constructs measured. Finally, no clear pattern emerged in SEL score changes over time. These results indicate that further research on effective, consistent measurement of SEL; the effects of the GRIT program on SEL; and the relationship between SEL and academic performance and demographic factors is warranted.


Child Psychology | Clinical Psychology | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Leadership | Educational Psychology | Social Psychology