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!
For more than 30 years, Youth Teaching Youth has been a prime example of a cross-age teaching program. In cross-age teaching, teens are not just assisting an adult teacher or informally sharing experiences,but facilitating an entire learning experience by teaching curriculum and fully managing a group of younger peers. Cross-age teaching can also enhance social and emotional learning for both teacher and learner.
Bombarded by advertisements of what to buy, media messages of how to look and peer pressure of what to do, responsible decision making can be tough stuff. Every day, youth are tasked with promoting their own health, avoiding risky behaviors and dealing honestly and fairly with others. That’s decision making – a social and emotional skill. Decision making can be defined as the process of making choices among possible alternatives. How can you help youth to have the skills for mastering this skill? There are many guides for you to use – including a new online course.
Reports & journal articles
A series of briefs and tools focused on how afterschool programs can support the social and emotional development of young people. Designed to make research on the afterschool and expanded learning field accessible, easy to read, and ultimately useful in practice. 2016.
This field guide of best practices and case examples sheds new light on how out-of-school programs can equip teens with the valuable social and emotional skills they need to succeed. It is the result of the Social and Emotional Learning Challenge, designed to identify promising practices for building skills in six areas: emotion management, empathy, teamwork, initiative, responsibility, and problem solving. 2016.
A suite of tools to help education leaders, practitioners, and policymakers decide whether and how to assess social and emotional development. The toolkit includes a brief that invites users to "STOP" and learn about the landscape of SEL assessment, a decision tree that helps users "THINK" about whether and how to use SEL assessments, and a tools index that empowers users to "ACT" with confidence to choose from a list of the selected SEL outcomes tools. 2015.
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.
This report, prepared by RAND researchers, gives an in-depth review of twenty measurement approaches and tools. It is intended to acquaint teachers, school leaders, and district administrators with the current state of 21st century competencies assessment, provide examples of relevant measures they may wish to consider using, and offer some guidance to help them compare measures and implement an assessment system. 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
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.
- The Power And Problem Of Grit : NPR
- Don't Grade Schools on Grit - The New York Times
- Testing for Joy and Grit? Schools Nationwide Push to Measure Students' Emotional Skills - The New York Times
- Are You Ready to Assess Social and Emotional Development? | American Institutes for Research
- Preparing Youth to Thrive:Promising Practices for Social & Emotional Learning
- Supporting Social and Emotional Development Through Quality Afterschool Programs | American Institutes for Research
- Rethinking How Students Succeed | Stanford Social Innovation Review
- When the Focus on 'Grit' in the Classroom Overlooks Student Trauma - The Atlantic
- Ready for Work? How Afterschool Programs Can Support Employability Through Social and Emotional Learning | American Institutes for Research
- Studying Program Implementation Is Not Easy but It Is Essential - Springer
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
This webinar explored SEL and what it means for after school programs and adults supporting youth. Participants learned about a newly developed Ways of Being model that conceptualizes SEL and integrates available evidence, as well as practical strategies to promote SEL in their work.
This symposium focused on promoting social and emotional learning in youth program settings. You'll learn about recent, path-breaking research on how youth learn skills such as strategic thinking and emotional management, and what strategies experienced leaders use to facilitate this development.
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