Social-emotional learning ups academic performance

By Anne Collier

Right from the proverbial horse’s mouth, so hear this: that social and emotional learning (SEL) has brought academic gains “that equal the results of many programs focused exclusively on academics … is one of the most important findings from a far-reaching review of social and emotional learning programs for which I was the principal investigator,” writes author and retired psychology professor Joseph Durlak at The study – published in the latest issue of the journal Child Development – found that, compared to students who don’t participate in social and emotional learning programs at school, those who do participate benefit in the following ways:

* Achievement test scores and school grades, including an 11-percentage-point gain in academic achievement
* Social and emotional skills
* Positive social and classroom behavior
* Conduct problems such as classroom misbehavior and aggression
* Attitudes about themselves, others, and school
* Emotional distress such as stress and depression

This being true, think about the benefits of instruction in digital citizenship (which should have elements of SEL as well as media literacy baked in and should be folded into regular, everyday teaching of core curricula, pre-K-12): It’s protective and not just nice or a luxury add-on (because youth who engage in aggressive behavior online are more than twice as likely to be victimized online – see Archives of Pediatrics and this about the opposite effect); it supports a culture of respect online as well as offline; and it improves student engagement and academic performance when learned with educational social-media tools.

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