Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Crooks, Claire V.


The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic added a layer of challenge and complexity to the implementation of school-based social-emotional learning (SEL) programs such as MindUP. As we move forward and work to remediate some of the adverse consequences of the pandemic, prioritizing SEL programs such as MindUP will be a critical public health measure. As such, understanding the experiences of educators who implemented MindUP during the pandemic is critical to promote both the sustainability of MindUP and evidence-based programming in the face of future school disruptions. Using a mixed-methods study design data were collected from educators using surveys (n=59) and focus groups (n=20). Participants included educators who taught in an entirely virtual classroom as well as those who taught primarily in-person but were required to make several shifts between in-person and virtual learning throughout the 2020-2021 school year. Overall, there was considerable variation between educators’ experiences implementing MindUP during the pandemic. However, the results suggested that most educators who participated in this study found the program to be worthwhile, relevant, and beneficial for both students and educators. Five overarching themes were identified and used to highlight successes, challenges, and modifications necessary to deliver MindUP during the pandemic. The findings have implications for the sustainment of the MindUP program and for virtual implementation of SEL programming more broadly which might be necessary for reasons aside from the pandemic.

Summary for Lay Audience

Social-emotional learning (SEL) programs are designed to foster positive development in school-aged children by promoting positive self-image, positive behaviour and reducing mental health challenges. The MindUP program is a mindfulness-based SEL program that has been shown to have numerous benefits for the well-being of school-aged children. While programs such as MindUP are important, there is often variation or differences in the way that educators deliver them. The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the delivery of programs like MindUP even further. However, prioritizing the implementation of MindUP will be an important step in ensuring the well-being of school-aged children who have been negatively affected by the pandemic and associated school disruptions. The goal of the current study was to understand educators’ experiences with implementing the MindUP program during the pandemic. To do this, surveys were collected from 59 educators, and focus group sessions were conducted with 20 educators. Participants included educators who taught completely online as well as educators who taught primarily in-person but were required to switch back and forth between virtual and in-person learning over the course of the 2020-2021 school year. The results suggested that educators had a wide range of experiences with implementing MindUP during the pandemic. Most educators who were able to implement MindUP believed that the program was beneficial for students and relevant during the pandemic. Despite these successes and benefits, educators identified several challenges related to delivering MindUP during the pandemic. Further, five overarching themes were identified: 1) External factors served as barriers and facilitators to implementation 2) Features of the MindUP program itself impacted implementation 3) Online implementation had advantages and disadvantages 4) Educator characteristics contributed to continued implementation, and 5) Belief in the MindUP program matters. These themes provide information on successes and challenges, and modifications that educators had to make to implement the MindUP program during the pandemic. The findings are important as they identify factors that impacted implementation during the pandemic and provide suggestions to educators who might implement SEL programs during future school disruptions or virtually for reasons other than the pandemic.