Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Oliver T. Massey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bruce Lubotsky Levin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Svetlana Yampolskaya, Ph.D.


Social and emotional learning, Life Skills Training, multilevel modeling, quality of implementation, multilevel modeling, school-based prevention


Social and emotional learning (SEL) programs have become increasingly popular during last 20 years, and have shown to reduce risky behaviors (i.e., substance use), improve communication skills, academic performance, and relationships among students of all ages when implemented in schools (Weissberg, Durlak, Domitrovich, & Gullotta, 2015; Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011). Although the benefits of SEL programs are significant, the issue of implementation fidelity often arises. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of implementation fidelity in the Life Skills Training program (LST) implemented with middle school students of a large South Florida school district. A not-for-profit-organization (NFPO) facilitated the training of teachers who implemented LST within the school district and provided the materials necessary to carry out the program’s lessons. Fidelity was assessed by eight observers from the NFPO by utilizing the Botvin Life Skills Training Fidelity Checklist-Middle School Level 1. Three core elements of implementation fidelity, adherence, quality of delivery, and participant responsiveness, were assessed. The school district was tasked with modifying and conducting the LST Pretest/Posttest Measure to assess student behavior gains.

Multilevel modeling was used to assess the effect of individual-level (gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status [SES]) and classroom-level characteristics (adherence, participant responsiveness, and quality of delivery) on student behavior outcomes measured at posttest. Results from this study indicated that on the individual level, students’ race/ethnicity and SES were significantly associated with predicting student behavior gains at posttest. On the classroom level, participant responsiveness was significantly associated with predicting student behavior gains at posttest. The findings from this study make a unique contribution to the literature as it examined frequently overlooked core elements of fidelity such as participant responsiveness and quality of delivery.