The purpose of this study was to examine the high school experiences of theatre students at a large university in Central Florida to determine which of the Collective for Academic and Social Emotional Learning's (CASEL) five social-emotional learning strategies (SEL 5) were remembered (CASEL, 2022). An opt-in focus group of students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, or asexual (LGBTQIA+) and were involved in K-12 theatre were interviewed to examine if the SEL 5 strategies being utilized had a distinct impression on this vulnerable population (Krishan, et al., 2016). Due to scheduling, only one student was able to participate in the focus group, a transexual male. In addition, teachers of the same Central Florida county were surveyed to determine the SEL 5 strategies most often used in their classrooms (including rehearsals and extracurricular activities). A content analysis was then performed on this qualitative data and then member-checked through an artificial intelligence program, ChatGPT. Within the SEL 5 framework, parallels were found between the descriptions of the SEL 5 and Arao and Clemens's (2013) description of a Brave Space, who used Augusto Boal and Paolo Freire as inspiration for their social justice framework. Qualitative Analysis was performed on all responses, then member-checked through an Artificial Intelligence (AI) program, ChatGPT. It was found that Self-Awareness, Social Awareness, and Relationship Skills were the SEL 5 ranked highest by not only teachers but students as well. Both groups ranked Self-Management and Responsible Decision Making as the lowest two. Students ranked Relationship Skills higher than Social Awareness. These top three SEL 5 competencies correspond to Challenges, Not Attacks; Mindful Respect; and Conflict with Humanity in the Brave Space model by Arao and Clemens (2013). Now these are known, there is discussion for school leaders to then transform school culture into a place where brave discussions can happen, and respectful behaviors can occur.


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Graduation Date





Vitale, Thomas


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Community Innovation and Education


Educational Leadership and Higher Education

Degree Program

Educational Leadership; Executive Track


CFE0009767; DP0027875





Release Date

August 2023

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)