Social Emotional-Academic Learning: The Foundation of Success
Those unfamiliar with the research have a tendency to view academics and social-emotional learning as an either-or proposition, as if these two areas of skill development compete for time at school. The research, however, is clear: a strong commitment to social-emotional learning at school supports advanced academic growth and achievement for all students, regardless of ability levels, serving as the essential foundation for children to gain the confidence and self-esteem necessary to challenge themselves and struggle, purposefully, with more complex and multifaceted skills and concepts. According to the Chicago-based Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)–and in keeping with the research conducted by Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence–emotions drive academic learning, as learning emotional skills expands the human capacity for learning, and for learning deeply.
CASEL shared results from a meta-analysis of 213 studies including 270,000 students finding that social-emotional learning on five competencies – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making – increased academic performance by 11 points compared to other students. About 27% more students would improve their academic performance at the end of the program and 24% more would have improved social behaviors and lower levels of distress. Students participating in social-emotional learning at school showed an increased ability to manage stress and depression and more positive attitudes about themselves, others, and school, all of which support deeper and more consistent academic motivation and engagement. A 2021 study found that social-emotional learning reduces symptoms of anxiety (a threat to well-being and academic growth found often in more affluent students). Studies also found a positive correlation between strong social emotional assets and higher levels of well-being up to 18 years later (Taylor et al., 2017). For more research on social emotional learning and academic success, visit this site.