Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School Psychology


Middle school is a critical transition for all school-aged youth. On a personal level they experience rapid changes across several areas of development. Their environment simultaneously adapts as schools’ expectations seem greater and social pressures arise. During this juncture, they are more vulnerable to academic and psychological difficulties. Research findings demonstrate how positive school climates have the ability to moderate the detrimental effects of middle school students’ self-criticism on internalizing and externalizing behaviors (Kuperminc, Leadbeater, & Blatt, 2001). Historically schools have responded to the social emotional challenges students face at an individual level, however these finding points to the importance of school-wide approaches that synchronously address student perceptions of their environment. Within the area of social emotional learning, needs assessments can reveal the individual needs of the students enrolled in a school or district, as well as the larger school community. This paper describes a needs assessment conducted at a suburban middle school located in a Midwest City, which served sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. To learn about students’ social and emotional strengths and areas of need, the Social Emotional Assets and Resilience Scales (Merrell, 2011) was administered to students (n = 670). This case study concurrently examined the ecology of the middle school by assessing student (n = 804) perceptions of school climate through the School Safety and Climate Survey by Safe and Civil Schools (Pacific Northwest Publishing, 2012). Following the surveys, a focus group was conducted with students (n = 7) to build upon quantitative findings. Through a mixed-methodological lens, these findings were integrated to examine the relationship between social emotional functioning and school climate and inform the development of nonacademic interventions at A Middle School. Implications for school-based measurement of these constructs, as well as future practice and research in these areas, will be provided.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.