Evidence Supporting the Impact of Enhancing Students’ SEL


We can not always build the future for our youth, but we can build the youth for our future.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”
Nelson Mandela


We were able to work with Roger Weissberg from the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (www.casel.org) this afternoon.

Research shows that SEL can have a positive impact on school climate and promote a host of academic, social, and emotional benefits for students. Durlak, Weissberg et al.’s recent meta-analysis of 213 rigorous studies of SEL in schools indicates that students receiving quality SEL instruction demonstrated:

  • better academic performance: achievement scores an average of 11 percentile points higher than students who did not receive SEL instruction;
  • improved attitudes and behaviors: greater motivation to learn, deeper commitment to school, increased time devoted to schoolwork, and better classroom behavior;
  • fewer negative behaviors: decreased disruptive class behavior, noncompliance, aggression, delinquent acts, and disciplinary referrals; and
  • reduced emotional distress: fewer reports of student depression, anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal.

(research results from The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Intervention http://static.squarespace.com/static/513f79f9e4b05ce7b70e9673/t/52e9d8e6e4b001f5c1f6c27d/1391057126694/meta-analysis-child-development.pdf)


The Meta-Analysis explored the effects of SEL programming across multiple outcomes: social and emotional skills, attitudes towards self and others, positive social behavior, conduct problems, emotional distress, and academic performance.

Coordinating Student’s Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioural Realms

Roger identified that positive student outcomes have been shown when instructional practice changes to include not only focused work on SEL, but that classroom practice also includes:

  • more student input
  • student problem solving
  • student self-assessment
  • natural consequences
  • caring community
  • higher level discussions
  • cooperative learning
  • student-centered democracy
  • school-family partnership

Actionable, Research-Based Family, School and Community Approaches

  1. Support and strengthen family functioning
  2. Sustained results with caring adults
  3. Provide high quality education
  4. Connect students and their schools
  5. Make communities safe and supportive for children
  6. High quality out-of-school-time programs
  7. Provided children and youth with opportunities to build social and emotional competencies

So, essentially…

  • Relationships are the foundations of learning,
  • Emotions affect how and what we learn,
  • Social and emotional skills can be taught, and
  • Social and emotional skills are required by employers.

SEL is the process of acquiring and apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes related to the Five Core Competencies of Social and Emotional Learning. CASEL has identified five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective and behavioral competencies. The definitions of the five competency clusters for students are:

  1. Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism.
  2. Self-management: The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.
  3. Social awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.
  4. Relationship skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed.
  5. Responsible decision making: The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well-being of self and others.

(from http://www.casel.org/social-and-emotional-learning/core-competencies)



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