Social Emotional Research

Research shows that students who receive high quality social emotional education demonstrate improvements in several areas. This includes academic performance, motivation to learn, school behavior, and even attendance. Check out the excerpts below from some recent SEL Research studies and articles:

Kindergarten Social Competence and Future Wellness

Objectives. We examined whether kindergarten teachers’ ratings of children’s
prosocial skills, an indicator of noncognitive ability at school entry, predict key
adolescent and adult outcomes. Our goal was to determine unique associations
over and above other important child, family, and contextual characteristics.


Methods. Data came from the Fast Track study of low–socioeconomic status
neighborhoods in 3 cities and 1 rural setting. We assessed associations between
measured outcomes in kindergarten and outcomes 13 to 19 years later (1991–
2000). Models included numerous control variables representing characteristics of the child, family, and context, enabling us to explore the unique contributions among predictors.


Results. We found statistically significant associations between measured social-emotional skills in kindergarten and key young adult outcomes across multiple domains of education, employment, criminal activity, substance use, and mental health.


Conclusions. A kindergarten measure of social-emotional skills may be useful for assessing whether children are at risk for deficits in noncognitive skills later in life and, thus, help identify those in need of early intervention. These results demonstrate the relevance of noncognitive skills in development for personal and public health outcomes. 

(Am J Public Health. 2015;105:2283–2290. doi:10. 2105/AJPH.2015.302630)

Read the full Penn State study regarding kindergarten social competence here

Digital Ecosystem Benefits

By incorporating digital solutions that support SEL in curriculum and making this an organic part of their teaching practices, teachers can help students build essential skills they can use inside and outside the classroom. Digital and adaptive technology can free up the time teachers are currently spending grading and analyzing print-based materials, and help teachers identify each unique learner’s strengths and weaknesses, similar to the experience students receive in tutoring. 

To make the most of digital solutions, teachers may undergo a learning curve. Therefore, district leaders need to make professional development opportunities accessible, to ensure teachers are comfortable and up-to-date with the latest processes.

Read more of this McGraw Hill article 

Academic Performance

This article presents findings from a meta-analysis of 213 school-based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) programs involving 270,034 kindergarten through high school students. Compared to controls, SEL participants demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentile-point gain in achievement. School teaching staff successfully conducted SEL programs. The use of four recommended practices for developing skills and the presence of implementation problems moderated program outcomes. The findings add to the growing empirical evidence regarding the positive impact of SEL programs. Policymakers, educators, and the public can contribute to healthy development of children by supporting the incorporation of evidence-based SEL programming into standard educational practice…

Read More about Improved Academic Performance

Educational Policy

Recently, the US has been taking greater interest in developing federal policy to support the presence of non-traditional skills and competencies — with a focus on social emotional learning (SEL) — in traditional academic curriculum, and made this a priority across the nation. State policy has followed, leading to a broad swath of schools with varying demographics and socioeconomic characteristics participating in SEL. 

Research has shown the correlation between students who receive SEL and a wide range of positive outcomes: higher high school graduation rates, higher college matriculation rates, greater chances of success in the workforce, and positive health and well-being overall.

Read more about the educational policy that supports SEL

Building Blocks

Social, emotional, and cognitive skills are not predetermined by one’s genetic blueprint. Rather, our genes interact with experience so that these skills emerge, grow, and change over time, beginning in the earliest years and continuing throughout childhood and adolescence. Indeed, there is some evidence to suggest that social and emotional learning skills are malleable over long periods of development, whereas some core cognitive skills become less so as children get older. Although more research is needed in this area, two important developmental principles are at play. 

First, some skills act as building blocks, serving as a foundation for more complex skills that emerge later in life. For example, regulating and managing one’s emotions is fundamental to resolving complex social conflicts, and identifying basic emotions in oneself is essential to being able to regulate them effectively. This suggests that children must develop certain basic social, emotional, and cognitive competencies before they can master others.

Read More About Social Emotional Building Blocks 

School Behavior and Attendance

Research shows the skills taught in SEL curricula have wide-ranging benefits that affect children’s success in school, career, and  life. For instance, kindergartners with stronger social and emotional skills are more likely to graduate from high school and college and have stable, full-time employment while being less likely to commit crimes, be on public assistance, and have drug, alcohol, and mental health problems.

In the long run, greater social and emotional competence can increase the likelihood of high school graduation, readiness for post-secondary education, career success, positive family and work relationships, better mental health, reduced criminal behavior, and engaged citizenship.

In the largest SEL study ever done, school-based programs improved students’ ability to get along with others, improved student-school bonding, reduced delinquency and aggression, and decreased anxiety and stress.

Read More About School Behavior and Attendance 

Five Guiding Principles of SEL Implementation

This study, along with others, provides a compelling argument for the integration of social and emotional learning into K–12 instruction. However, in order for students to reap the full benefits of SEL, it is important to ensure that SEL instruction takes place every day, in every school setting.

With all that must be accomplished in a school day, how can teachers, administrators, and school staff also make time for social and emotional skills?

We have created this guide to help answer this question, drawing upon the extensive research that has informed the development of the SEL field. This guide is intended to support all stakeholders in the important work of building SEL into the academic day, at every grade level and in every setting.

Read more about these 5 Guiding Principles

Social Emotional Learning in Elementary School

Students develop social, emotional, and academic competencies in their relationships with adults, both at home and at school. The opportunity for positive social and emotional development will be greater when adults who are important in a child’s life are intentional and coordinated about supporting SEL. Also, open communication between families and educators is vitally important. School-family partnerships (SFP) to enhance children’s social, emotional, and academic learning—especially  during the preschool and elementary years—are becoming more common. Indeed, the CASEL review1 found that 17 out of 19 evidence-based programs included activities designed to involve families in supporting student SEL.

Read more about Preparation for Success