Benefits of Social and Emotional Learning Programs

Resource - Rocky View Schools - This webpage outlines the evidence of the effectiveness of social and emotional learning programs.

Social and Emotional Learning Lowers Stress, Improves Behaviour and Grades

Improved student behaviours and attitudes

  • Studies show positive impacts from well-implemented social and emotional learning programs, including reductions in conduct problems, emotional distress, risk-taking behaviour, and aggression.
  • In review of 43 studies, social and emotional learning programs significantly decreased the number of suspensions and expulsions while improving school attendance, students’ attitudes towards school, and students’ grades.

Safer, more caring classrooms

  • Classrooms filled with socially and emotionally skilled students are more caring and safe.
  • Social and emotional learning decreases behaviours that Interfere with Learning. They decrease the prevalence of high-risk behaviours (e.g., violence, drug and alcohol use) that interfere with learning (Zins et al., 2004). Programs that foster engagement in school lead to reductions in problem behaviors such as drug use (Hawkins, et al., 2004), student misconduct and rebellious behavior in school (Gottfredson et al.), and violence and sexual activity in later life (Hawkins et al., 1999).

Personal success for all learners

  • While social and emotional learning programs take time out of the school day, they enhance academic performance. In one study, students receiving social and emotional learning programs scored 11 percentile points higher on academic achievement tests, and attained higher grades (Dymnicki, 2006). While grades were improving, so too were behaviour, feelings about self, and emotional problems.
  • Research shows that social and emotional factors are integral to academic learning and positive educational outcomes for children. Social and emotional learning improves academic attitudes (motivation and commitment), behaviours (attendance, study habits, cooperative learning), and performance (grades, test scores and subject mastery) (Zins et al., 2004).

Supportive relationships nurtured

  • Incorporating cooperative learning techniques into the classroom enhances the quality of student learning and academic performance. However, unless the students have good social and emotional skills the academic benefits of cooperative learning groups can be minimized or even negated (Munro, et al., 2006).

Relevant and connected learning

  • Social and emotional learning instruction is a particularly effective way of promoting both social-emotional and academic competence. When students are asked to use social and emotional skills such as perspective-taking and problem-solving to understand and analyze events or stories in class, learning improves (Elias, 2004).
  • Student perceptions of teachers’ warmth and support, and of teachers as promoters of positive and respectful social interactions in the classroom, are significant predictors of student’s academic motivation, engagement, and performance (Blum, et al., 2000). Students who are emotionally connected to their peers, who have bonded with adults who value learning and expect high levels of academic performance, adopt the value of academic achievement and have a positive academic orientation (Hawkins et al., 1999).
  • Improving the social and emotional competence of students and the climate of schools advances the primary academic focus. Social and emotional learning also ensures that schools will address a broader mission of educating students to be critical thinkers, good problem-solvers and caring, responsible, and engaged citizens.
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