Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Ann Cale Kruger

Second Advisor

Miles Anthony Irving

Third Advisor

Kathryn A. Kozaitis

Fourth Advisor

Joel Meyers


Researchers have questioned specified outcomes of common approaches to social and emotional learning (SEL) in terms of the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed by students from under-served communities (Jagers et al., 2019; Simmons, 2021). Moreover, they have questioned programming and curriculum in terms of cultural compatibility (Garner et al., 2014). The theoretical framework for this study draws from social learning theories (Vygotsky, 1978), the participatory culture-specific intervention model (PC-SIM; Nastasi et al., 2004), the transformative SEL framework (Jagers et al., 2019), and formative interventions (Engeström, 2015; 2016; Sannino et al., 2016) to reconceptualize outcomes and methods for providing SEL among early adolescent Black girls. This study will examine the archived conversations of 18 Black or African American girls in 5th (n = 8) and 6th & 7th (n = 10) grades as they reflected on their participation in an 8-week intervention focused on developing problem-solving skills, facilitating critical thinking, and encouraging healthy relationships. Data collection methods were guided by the PC-SIM (Nastasi et al., 2004) and included adult-facilitated, same-sex, peer-based discussion groups. This study examines the data as a discussion-based activity system (Pollock & Kruger, 2023a) and describes higher order psychological processes (Vygotsky, 1978) and sources of knowledge (Pollock & Kruger, 2023b) within a dialogic community of learners (Rogoff, 1994). Research questions include: What themes emerge to reveal outcomes from participants’ perspectives? What higher order psychological processes are evident in participants’ discussion of each theme? What sources of knowledge are evident in participants’ use of higher order psychological processes related to their discussion of each outcome? What patterns are evident across groups of participants in terms of participants’ use of higher order psychological processes and sources of knowledge? and What patterns are evident between groups of participants in terms of participants’ use of higher order psychological processes and sources of knowledge? The findings from the proposed study will provide empirical evidence for the outcomes of a series of discussions with early adolescent Black girls and contribute to our understanding of the development of higher order psychological processes, the sources of knowledge used to support them, and the ways a group of early adolescent Black girls use these to make sense of critical social issues.


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