Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations


Impact of Trauma-Informed Care Professional Development on School Personnel Perceptions of Knowledge, Dispositions, and Behaviors Toward Traumatized Students

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Rachel Vannatta Reinhart (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Dawn Anderson (Other)

Third Advisor

Joyce Litten (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Paul Johnson (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Todd Cramer (Committee Member)


Childhood trauma is prevalent and has a profound impact on student learning, behaviors, social-emotional well-being (Perfect et al., 2016), physical health, relationships (Tishelman et al., 2010), and brain architecture (Perry, 2001). Trauma-informed care professional development (PD) within the school setting is a relatively new notion for school reform efforts (Craig, 2016); therefore, this study adds to the nascent literature.

The purpose of this quasi-experimental retrospective study was to determine the extent to which employees perceived that their knowledge, dispositions, and behaviors toward traumatized students improved as a result of participation in a traditional and transformational PD. Certified and classified employees (n = 552) of one large, urban school district in Northwest Ohio completed the Trauma-Informed Care Dispositions Survey (TIC-DS). The TIC-DS contains 52 closed-form and one open-ended survey item and is measured on a Likert scale. Survey items were selected from four existing instruments and modified into a retrospective pre/posttest design. The TIC-DS is a valid and reliable instrument: Cronbach’s alpha for the TIC-DS was found to be .960 on the retrospective pretest responses and .955 on the posttest responses, which suggests strong internal reliability.

Data were analyzed using t-test of paired samples, t-test of independent samples, and ANOVA. Three theoretical frameworks (trauma theory, transformational learning, and dispositions) were used as a lens to interpret study outcomes. Data analyses revealed the following broad conclusions as a result of the TIC PD: 1) Significant gains in all seven subscales. 2) Greater gains in Knowledge than Dispositions and Behaviors. 3) Females reported significantly greater gains in Student-Centeredness and Total Dispositions than males. 4) Elementary (K-5) educators had significantly greater gains in five subscales and Total Dispositions than secondary (6-12) educators. 5) Employee classification and years of employment did not generate significant differences in subscale gains; however, subscale gains were larger for classified than certified in all subscales except Empathetic Concern. 6) Classified employee gains in learning, dispositions, and behavior were greater for the transformational and traditional professional developments than participating in one or the other; therefore, employees may have greater gains from attending both types of sessions.