Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Andrew Roach, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kris Varjas, Psy.D.

Third Advisor

Nancy Jo Schafer, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Stephen Truscott, Psy.D.


Teachers are at the forefront of national and state initiatives designed to foster positive student outcomes through classroom management (i.e., SEL programming; Adams, 2013); however, many teachers state their preservice training provides inadequate learning experiences on how to best meet students’ diverse needs (Duck, 2007; Strawn, Fox, & Duck, 2008). Unlike content-area curriculum and instruction, minimal research has been conducted to expand our understanding of effective classroom management. The purpose of this study was to: (a) explore preservice teachers’ perceptions of diverse pedagogical strategies that enhanced their confidence about and abilities in classroom management; and (b) assess how preservice teachers’ personal beliefs about and approaches to effective classroom management can change as a result of explicit and applied learning in SEL programming (i.e., Responsive Classroom). Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 32 preservice teachers to obtain in-depth information regarding whether (and how) instructional methods used in their training program aided or hampered their knowledge and skill acquisition and assess for potential changes in participants’ personal beliefs and approaches to effective classroom management. Hypothetical classroom management vignettes were administered at three measurement points during the first year of the participants’ teacher preparation program to further explore how their approach to classroom management changed as a result of direct instruction and authentic school-based experiences. Inductive and deductive methods of thematic data analysis (Nastasi, 2009; Varjas, Nastasi, Moore, & Jayasena, 2005) were utilized to analyze interview data. Qualitative results suggest participants viewed both their enrollment in a stand-alone classroom management course and an applied student teaching opportunity as learning experiences that positively impacted knowledge and skill acquisition. Additionally, the majority of participants reported changes in their beliefs. The reported changes in participants’ beliefs of classroom management appeared to increasingly align with that of the Responsive Classroom approach (SEL program) used in their classroom management training. Quantitative results of vignette responses suggested participants’ use of Responsive Classroom and other SEL strategies to address students’ problem behaviors increased after each phase of direct and applied classroom management training. Implications and future research studies for preservice training aimed at increasing teacher quality are discussed.