The Importance of SEL
Research has demonstrated that SEL is key to the prevention of risky behaviors. An analysis by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) demonstrated a positive connection between SEL and a reduction of behavior problems. Two major meta-analyses (Durlak et al., 2011; Taylor et al., 2017) examined the influence of universal, school-based SEL programs on student outcomes in six domains; social and emotional skills, attitudes towards self and others, positive social behavior, conduct problems, emotional distress, and academic performance. The meta-analyses evaluated studies from a total of 265 reports, and 222 of these reports differed across the two analyses. Major findings included:
Students participating in SEL programs showed significantly more positive outcomes in all six areas compared to control students.
SEL programs enhance academic achievement. The higher academic performance of students who participated in an SEL program translated into a 11 percentile-point gain in achievement.
SEL programs that were implemented well and adhered to a combination of recommended practices--sequenced, active, focused, and explicit learning--were particularly likely to promote positive outcomes.
Many of the 2017 studies investigated follow-up effects, years later, of participation in SEL programming. Major findings include:
At follow-up, students who had participated in SEL programs continued to show significantly more positive outcomes in all six domains.
A small number of studies that included long-term follow-up through adolescence and young adulthood found that SEL program participants continued to show significantly better adjustment. More had graduated from high school and attended college; fewer had been arrested.
Research has also demonstrated that SEL programs are most successful when they are implemented in a planned, cohesive manner within a system.