Social and emotional learning
Social and emotional learning skills make good citizens, good learners and successful people. Our center is convening youth workers and policy makers and researching social and emotional learning and its contribution to closing the achievement and opportunity gaps.
Comments on this page? Curator: Kate Walker, PhD, associate Extension professor and Extension specialist
Youth Development Insight
Our faculty blog about research, issues and trends in the field. Join the conversation!
How exactly does learning unfold in youth programs? They are a particularly rich context for young people to learn and practice social and emotional learning skills. It is critical that we understand how learning happens there, and how we as adults can support that process.
Youth in our programs often engage in real-world activities and projects, work in teams, take on meaningful roles, face challenges and experience the accompanying up and downs. Read more.
Who do young people confide in? Do they ever talk about setting goals, managing emotions, or understanding other people’s perspectives?
Young people will be most impacted by the policies concerning the teaching and assessment of SEL skills in schools and in out-of-school-time programs, yet their thoughts on the topic have not been heard. The YouthVoice project research team, an intergenerational group convened in collaboration with Youthprise, is working to remedy this situation.
See all social and emotional learning blog posts
Reports & journal articles
Academic skills are not the only thing a child needs to succeed in life. This report draws from research, theory and practice to identify three key factors to life success (agency, integrated identity, competencies) and describe four qualities youth need to grow and learn (self-regulation, knowledge and skills, mindsets, values), and how adults can foster their development in ways that lead to college and career success, healthy relationships and engaged citizenship. 2015.
Workforce Connections: Key “Soft Skills” That Foster Workforce Success: Toward a Consensus Across Fields"Soft skills” are centrally important for human capital development and workforce success. However, there is not a clear consensus about which soft skills are most critical. Developing a common understanding is hampered by a lack of comparability in the constructs, definitions, and measures used to assess youth and monitor progress. This confusion obstructs knowledge development and guidance for future investments in youth workforce development programs. This white paper helps bring clarity to the field by recommending a research-based set of key soft skills that increase the chance that youth ages 15-29 will be successful in the workforce. 2015.
Perspectives on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) from Out-of-School Time (OST) Leaders in Minnesota
This poster presents results from an online survey of over 900 leaders in the out of school time field. The survey taps their perspectives on social and emotional learning, its importance, its assessment, barriers, current efforts in this area, and which dimensions of SEL are considered most important. 2014.
This report is organized into three volumes – Volume I identifies and defines competencies that are clearly related to academic achievement and are malleable, Volume II summarizes available measures in the context of the cradle-to-career continuum, and Volume III offers a compendium of assessment tools. 2013.
Organized youth programs provide opportunities for adolescents to develop life and career skills while working on real-world projects, such as planning community events or creating public service announcements. In this chapter, the focus is on adolescents’ development of skills for managing emotions. 2013.
After school programs that follow evidence-based practices to promote social and emotional development are effective
This brief is to summarize the findings which indicated that afterschool programs that follow four evidence-based practices are successful in promoting young people’s personal and social development. 2012.
An important set of key skills which include problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and self-management - often referred to as "21st century skills" increase deeper learning, college and career readiness, student-centered learning, and higher order thinking. 2012.
This issue of Social Policy Report focuses on school’s role in supporting social and emotional learning (SEL), proposing that schools take a new approach: integrating the teaching and reinforcement of SEL skills into their daily interactions and practices with students. 2012.
Teaching adolescents to become learners. The role of noncognitive factors in shaping school performance: A critical literature review
Consortium on Chicago School Research brought its trademark approach to school reform: using research and data to identify what matters for student success and school improvement, creating theory-driven frameworks for organizing the research evidence, and asking critical questions about the applicability of research to practice. 2012.
The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions
Findings from a meta-analysis of 213 school-based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) programs involving 270,034 kindergarten through high school students. 2011.
This essay argues for the positive impact of school wide programs for Social and Emotional Development. 2011.
A Meta-Analysis of After-School Programs That Seek to Promote Personal and Social Skills in Children and AdolescentsA meta-analysis of after-school programs that seek to enhance the personal and social skills of children and adolescents indicated that, compared to controls, participants demonstrated significant increases in their self-perceptions and bonding to school, positive social behaviors, school grades and levels of academic achievement, and significant reductions in problem behaviors. 2010.
The positive impact of social and emotional learning for kindergarten to eighth-grade students: Findings from three scientific reviews
Evidence is mounting that where and how youth spend their time outside of normal school hours has important implications for their development. 2008.
This report summarizes results from three large-scale reviews of research on the impact of social and emotional learning (SEL) programs on elementary-
and middle-school students — that is, programs that seek to promote various social and emotional skills. 2008.
What we're reading
From journals and the popular media.
- 7/21 Nice Kids Finish First: Study Finds Social Skills Can Predict Future Success : NPR
- 7/15 Workforce Connections: Key "soft skills" that foster youth workforce success | Lippman, Ryberg, Carney, Moore | Child Trends
- 6/23 Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework
- 6/3 St. Paul: A tailored, local approach to our school gap: Pioneer Press editorial - TwinCities.com
- 6/1 Rethinking How Students Succeed | Stanford Social Innovation Review
- 6/1 Nonacademic Skills Are Key To Success. But What Should We Call Them? : NPR Ed : NPR
- 2/17 The Activity Gap | The Atlantic
- 1/28 Is 'Grit' Racist? - Digital Education - Education Week
- 1/20 Social-Emotional Learning: Why Now? | Greater Good
- 1/14 Should Schools Teach Personality? - NYTimes.com
Our current symposium series is dedicated to understanding social and emotional learning and its contribution to closing the achievement and opportunity gaps. This series is sponsored by the Minnesota 4-H Foundation Howland Family Endowment for Youth Leadership Development.
Our past presentations
To fully address youth's learning and gaps in academic performance, we need to redefine educational excellence in a global society. At this symposium, Dr. JuanCarlos Arauz shares a framework for creating a rigorous inclusive environment with a diverse community. He discusses how to reframe the concept of equity issues from a deficit approach to an asset-based approach by identifying the skills young people gain from their diverse life experiences and translating them into success within and beyond the classroom.
Explore what communities have actually done to measure youth more holistically and how they've used data at the neighborhood, school and program level to enhance social and emotional learning. This symposium is not about what to measure, but about the opportunities that emerge when measuring social and emotional learning, as well as strategies for addressing the challenges that arise. May 6, 2014
There is increasing evidence that social and emotional factors are critical to young people's success. There is, however, little agreement on which factors to assess or how best to support their development in either school and out of school programs. Learn about one state's initiative to build broader understanding of these factors, their importance and the status of assessing them in practice and policy. 2014.
Dr. Weissberg shares recent research and proven strategies of how families, schools and communities are strengthening social and emotional skills as an essential part of every young person's learning and development. 2013.
This symposium focuses on how to assess non-academic outcomes such as the impact of programs on young people's engagement in their own learning. 2011.
This peer-reviewed series of issue briefs, funded in part by Youthprise, is designed to help people understand, connect and champion social and emotional learning in a variety of settings and from a variety of perspectives. Please direct questions and suggestions for future issue briefs to the managing editor, Kate Walker.
Susan Beaulieu and Kathryn Sharpe, July 2015
Amber Shanahan, June 2015
Peter Bauck, M.Div., April 2015Elizabeth Hagen, M.A., July 2014 Elizabeth Hagen, M.A., May 2014 Kate Walker, Ph.D. and Elizabeth Potter, M.S., April 2014 Elizabeth Hagen, M.A., Nov. 2013 Elizabeth Hagen, M.A., Nov. 2013
Dale Blyth, Howland Endowed Chair
Dale Blyth serves as Howland endowed chair for the social and emotional learning series. In this role, Dale will create an initiative designed to broaden the understanding of socio-emotional factors in learning and development, help build consensus around their meaning and measurement, and promote assessments and actions that support their development for all young people. The initiative will be a partnership between the University of Minnesota (both the Extension Center for Youth Development and the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement where Dale is a Senior Research Fellow) and Youthprise. The initiative partnership will engage youth and adults, convene events, gather data, facilitate and align several working groups, support learning communities in this area, and help develop new resources.
From 1998 to 2011, Dale served as the associate dean for the Extension Center for Youth Development. In his career, Dale has served in multiple faculty and leadership roles including positions at the Search Institute, Cornell and Ohio State University. His research on adolescent and youth development has focused on transitions, community learning opportunities, social networks, collective impact, and developmental assets. He has also served in a role as a convener on critical issues in the field of youth development at a local and state level.