Date of Award

Summer 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Audra Classen

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Hollie Filce

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Kenneth Thompson

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Alex Smith

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Leonard Troughton

Committee Member 5 School



Students with disabilities as a group remain behind in academic achievement when compared to students without disabilities. Without the right school-based interventions, many students with disabilities will experience academic failure, disciplinary infractions, social isolation, self-doubt, school disengagement, and school dropout. Additionally, social-emotional intervention helps older students to improve executive functioning, develop self-regulation skills, and score better on achievement tests than the students not receiving any social-emotional programming. Moreover, students enrolled in schools that implement evidence-based educational interventions to facilitate students’ social-emotional competencies demonstrate more positive behaviors and social-emotional interactions. Students with social-emotional competencies have also described feeling safer and happier at school.

One example of a school-based behavioral intervention effective for students with disabilities is School Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS). As a preventative and evidence-based implementation framework, SWPBIS is beneficial to all students. Specifically SWPBIS improved students’ academic, behavioral, and social-emotional competencies. The primary researcher used the Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) for this study’s theoretical framework.

The purpose of this research was to examine differences in the social-emotional MESH competencies between fifth- and sixth-grade students with and without disabilities who attend schools with or without SWPBIS. Results from the factorial ANOVA analyses revealed a significant interaction effect, F (2, 126) = 5.58, p = .02, for schools implementing SWPBIS and grade on the social-emotional MESH competencies students with and without disabilities. The primary researcher discusses the findings in the context of SCT and students’ personal, behavioral, and environmental factors that play a reciprocal role in learning and development. Finally, the significant interaction effects between grade and schools with SWPBIS suggests that the positive behavioral interventions that improve the school environment provide an ideal model for learning social-emotional and behavioral competencies.