Programs that teach emotional intelligence in schools have lasting impact

July 12, 2017
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Social and emotional learning programs for youth not only immediately improve mental health, social skills, and learning outcomes but also continue to benefit children years later, according to new research from UBC, University of Illinois at Chicago and Loyola University.

"Social-emotional learning programs teach the skills that children need to succeed and thrive in life," said Eva Oberle, an assistant professor at UBC's Human Early Learning Partnership in the school of population and . "We know these programs have an immediate positive effect so this study wanted to assess whether the skills stuck with students over time, making social-emotional learning programs a worthwhile investment of time and financial resources in schools."

Social-emotional learning teaches children to recognize and understand their emotions, feel empathy, make decisions and build and maintain relationships. Previous research has shown that incorporating these programs into the classroom improves learning outcomes and reduces anxiety and behavioural problems among students. Some schools have incorporated social-emotional learning programs - like MindUP and Roots of Empathy - into classrooms while other school systems, including the new B.C. curriculum, embrace it more systemically.

The new study analyzed results from 82 different programs involving more than 97,000 students from kindergarten to middle school in the U.S., Europe and the U.K. where the effects were assessed at least six months after the programs completed. The researchers found that social-emotional learning continued to have positive effects in the classroom but was also connected to longer-term positive outcomes.

Students who participated in programs graduated from college at a rate 11 per cent higher than peers who did not. Their high school graduation rate was six per cent higher. Drug use and behaviour problems were six per cent lower for participants, arrest rates 19 per cent lower, and diagnoses of 13.5 per cent lower.

Oberle and her colleagues also found that all children benefitted from the programs regardless of race, socioeconomic background or school location.

"Teaching social-emotional learning in schools is a way to support individual children in their pathways to success, and it's also a way to promote better public health outcomes later in life," said Oberle. "However, these skills need to be reinforced over time and we would like to see schools embed social-emotional learning systematically into the curriculum, rather than doing programs as a 'one-off.' "

Oberle and her colleagues say schools are an ideal place to implement these interventions because they will reach almost all , including those who are disadvantaged.

"Especially during middle- years and early adolescence, young people shift away from their families and toward influences in peer groups and teachers," Oberle said. "Children spend 923 hours in the classroom every year; what happens in schools is very influential on child development."

Explore further: Parent engagement programs increase student readiness for kindergarten

More information: Rebecca D. Taylor et al, Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta-Analysis of Follow-Up Effects, Child Development (2017). DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12864

Related Stories

Parent engagement programs increase student readiness for kindergarten

April 5, 2017
Kindergarten teachers report that of the 32 million children living in poverty or low-income homes in the United States, nearly half lack strong social-emotional skills and are not "ready to succeed in school," according ...

Positive engagement in preschool key to developmental gains

June 20, 2017
Many interventions and programs designed to improve low-income children's lives focus on providing high-quality early-childhood education. Preschool classrooms that are emotionally supportive, well-organized, and cognitively ...

Social emotional learning interventions show promise, warrant further study

May 31, 2017
Developing a child's social and emotional learning skills in early childhood is seen as a key to the child's success in school, but researchers are still working to understand which interventions most effectively boost those ...

Improving adolescents' social and emotional lives must go beyond teaching them skills

June 8, 2017
School programs designed to educate children and adolescents on how to understand and manage emotions, relationships and academic goals must go beyond improving the skills of the individuals to create a respectful climate ...

Recommended for you

Babies can learn that hard work pays off

September 21, 2017
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. A new study from MIT reveals that babies as young as 15 months can learn to follow this advice. The researchers found that babies who watched an adult struggle at two different ...

Oxytocin turns up the volume of your social environment

September 20, 2017
Before you shop for the "cuddle" hormone oxytocin to relieve stress and enhance your social life, read this: a new study from the University of California, Davis, suggests that sometimes, blocking the action of oxytocin in ...

Researchers develop new tool to assess individual's level of wisdom

September 20, 2017
Researchers at University of San Diego School of Medicine have developed a new tool called the San Diego Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE) to assess an individual's level of wisdom, based upon a conceptualization of wisdom as a trait ...

Alcohol use affects levels of cholesterol regulator through epigenetics

September 20, 2017
In an analysis of the epigenomes of people and mice, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the National Institutes of Health report that drinking alcohol may induce changes to a cholesterol-regulating gene.

Self-control may not diminish throughout the day

September 20, 2017
After a long day of work and carefully watching what you eat, you might expect your self-control to slip a little by kicking back and cracking open a bag of potato chips.

One in four girls is depressed at age 14, new study reveals

September 20, 2017
New research shows a quarter of girls (24%) and one in 10 boys (9%) are depressed at age 14.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.