Students' appropriate social skills and behaviors are essential for classroom success at any level but are of special importance at an elementary school level when the foundations of these skill sets are developing (Lane, Givner, & Pierson, 2004). An initial study investigated which social skills Utah elementary school teachers identified as being most important, and which behaviors are most problematic during the elementary school years. Elementary school teachers (Kindergarten through sixth grade) were randomly selected from Utah's school districts. In total, 295 of 1,144 teachers (26% return rate) participated (Weed, 2015). As a follow-up, this current study utilized data from the initial study and analyzed teachers' perceptions by grade level, determining if there were discernible differences between the grades. A statistically significant difference was found in the social skill of following directions between third and fifth grade with the mean for third grade being higher. This suggests that third grade teachers viewed following directions as a more important social skill for students to display than fifth grade teachers did. Between first and fourth grade there were significant differences in both the areas of anxiousness and trouble making friends, again with first grade results showing higher means in both areas. This suggests that based on their teaching experiences, first grade teachers would find these behaviors more problematic in their classroom than fourth grade teachers. In all areas of statistical significance, the mean of the younger grade was higher than that of the lower grade suggesting that these behaviors are considered more problematic to teachers of younger grades. These differences are important to consider when helping schools address children's social skills, taking into account potential developmental differences that emerge across ages. Additionally this age-specific information will assist school-based mental health practitioners to understand teachers' perceptions of which specific social skills are considered most important at a particular point in time so that these skills can be targeted as needed.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





social skills, behavior problems, elementary school teachers, teachers' perceptions