Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Sara Whitcomb

Second Advisor

Jennifer Randall

Third Advisor

John Hintze

Fourth Advisor

Chris Overtree

Subject Categories

Child Psychology | Community Psychology | Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Leadership | Educational Methods | Educational Psychology | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration | Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Leadership Studies | Organization Development | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences | School Psychology | Social Statistics | Special Education Administration | Urban Education


In order to effectively transport universal social and emotional learning (SEL) programs into natural settings, it is important to understand implementation barriers that may hinder the likelihood of successful outcomes (Fixsen, Naoom, Blasé, Friedman, & Wallace, 2005). The current study is primarily based on the notion that within the planning phase of implementation, few technically adequate assessment measures targeting both organizational capacity (OC) and provider characteristics (PC) for SEL programming actually exist. The purpose is to extend the SEL implementation assessment literature by developing a new rating scale designed to measure SEL implementation barriers (School SEL Capacity Assessment [SSCA]) and make preliminary inferences regarding the current state of SEL implementation. In order to satisfy our objectives, we evaluated the psychometric quality of the SSCA using the Rasch Rating Scale model. In all, the data are encouraging and provide promising validity evidence of internal structure for the OC and PC scales within the SSCA. Within reason, the SSCA met the qualifications for accurate measurement. Findings from the Rasch analysis helped us analyze survey response differences among subgroups, which included participants’ stage-of-implementation, years of professional experience, grade level, and social economic status. Generally speaking, teachers who are maintaining an SEL program found it easier to endorse items on the SSCA, suggesting that they have more OC and PC attributes. Contrary to what we would expect, years of professional experience is not related to teachers’ level of OC and PC attributes. Because they’re so few teachers in several of the grade levels, any comparison would be tenuous and we have opted to not to include the analysis in our results. As anticipated however, the results show that teachers in high SES schools have significantly more OC attributes, but their level of PC attributes are not affected by their schools SES. Limitations of this study as well as directions for future research are discussed.