Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.Social and emotional skills are critical to being a good student, citizen, and worker, and many risky behaviors (e.g., drug use, violence, bullying and dropping out) can be prevented or reduced when multiyear, integrated efforts are used to develop students' social and emotional skills.Although research suggests that course completion and grades in middle school are the strongest predictors of high school performance and graduation (Farrington et al., 2012), there is increasing evidence that social and emotional competence is also critically important.
At the classroom level the quality of teacher-student interactions is one of the most important predictors of student academic performance and adjustment (Hamre & Pianta, 2007; Mashburn & Pianta, 2006).
Students who report feeling listened to by teachers, involved in decisions that affect their lives, provided with opportunities to exert autonomy, and accepted by peers are more motivated and perform better in school than those who lack these positive experiences.
The also describes the significant advances the SEL field has made in the past decade, establishes new definitions of SEL at the secondary level, provides suggestions for future research and practice in SEL, and describes innovative approaches to educational practice (e.g., programs that promote mindful awareness) that may also contribute to students’ social and emotional development.
We are grateful to 1440 Foundation, the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, and No Vo Foundation for their generous support of this effort.
Several recent publications on college and career readiness, deeper learning, and 21st-century skills cite personal and social competencies, often called “noncognitive skills,” as fundamental to students’ level of engagement in middle and high school, their post-secondary performance and completion, and their workplace success (ACT, 2014; National Research Council, 2012).
Recognition of the unique needs of students aged 10-15 began with the advent of the “middle school movement” and continues today (Association for Middle Level Education, 2010).Adolescents also engage in more risky behavior than younger students and face a variety of challenging situations, including increased independence, peer pressure, and exposure to social media.Longitudinal studies have shown that increased social and emotional competence is related to reductions in a variety of problem behaviors including aggression, delinquency, substance use, and dropout.Leadership practices and organizational structures also influence the climate of a school, thereby indirectly influencing student outcomes.In schools characterized by supportive relationships, common goals and norms, and a sense of collaboration, students perform better academically and have fewer behavior problems (Bryk & Schneider, 2002; Payne et al., 2003).Evidence-based programs designed to promote positive outcomes and prevent problem behavior in students are increasingly being used in educational settings.