04 SES 02 E, Students at Risk: Dealing with the social and emotional dimensions of inclusive education
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an essential element of schooling worldwide. Acknowledging the strong positive impact of SEL on pupils' academic achievement, well-being, and future paths of life (e.g., Jones et al., 2015), many programmes and initiatives have been set up in recent years. For example, many European countries have introduced values education as a key part of the school curriculum. However, a systematic research into how recent SEL programmes run and their effectiveness is missing. Do they have a positive impact on students' social skills, on their attitudes and values, on prosocial behaviour, on well-being, and on academic performance? Which programmes work best and why? While there are some promising older meta-analyses (e.g., Durlak et al., 2011 who cover evidence until 2007, mainly on programmes in the US), some promising reviews of studies that focus on one outcome only (e.g., Loesel & Beelman, 2003, who show decrease in aggressive and antisocial behaviour), and some reviews of evidence for one specific country (e.g., Clarke et al., 2015, with evidence for the UK), a comprehensive meta-analysis of programmes of the 21st century is missing.
Addressing this need, the present paper will present findings from a meta-analysis of school-based interventions in the 21st century. The paper focuses on SEL interventions that benefit all pupils and explores factors that lead to success implementation and outcomes. Starting from a comprehensive literature search and identification of high-quality of SEL interventions (from kindergarten through to high school), the meta-analysis investigates effect sizes and impact on skills, attitudes and values, positive behaviour, well-being, and academic performance. Importantly, recent studies have gone beyond social and emotional outcome variables and explored how SEL can have a positive impact on cognitive development in childhood and adolescence. This will be in the focus of the present paper.
Today's population of pupils is highly diverse. A wide range of successful programmes acknowledges the variety in pupils' abilities and motivations for learning, but still aims to benefit all pupils. Exploring what works and what does not work in the context of diverse learning environments, the findings from the present paper will be relevant to both scientific audiences and actors in the educational sector.
The present paper uses meta-analysis, which is the statistical method to combine findings from multiple studies and hence systematically draw conclusions that are based on a very large amount of evidence. This meta-analysis is based a literature search where we consider all studies on social and emotional learning programmes in schools that have been published in English language since 2000, covering kindergarten through to high school. The meta-analysis hence looks at a range of outcome variables: skills, attitudes and values, positive behaviour, well-being, and academic performance. Our search with key terms in the most important international literature data bases is complemented with a manual search in key journals in the field. This is to avoid the strong emphasis on evidence from the US, which is present in the majority of recent meta-analyses in the field and to include high-quality evidence from Europe and other parts of the world as well. This method has identified several hundred studies, which are further filtered to make sure they meet established quality standards (e.g., inclusion of a control group) and provide the statistics needed (see Schmidt & Hunter, 2015). The final set of studies is then coded and categorised (e.g., per type of programme, outcome, age group, or implementation). Our data analysis will reveal effect sizes (i.e., the impact of the programmes) and explore what variables moderate the impact of the programmes (see Durlak et al., 2011). These moderation analyses will yield insights into how and for whom SEL programmes are most effective.
This meta-analysis will identify best practice in modern SEL (social and emotional learning) programmes in schools and will show which programmes have the strongest impact on each of the considered outcomes: social skills, values and attitudes, prosocial behaviour, well-being, and academic performance. Going beyond social and emotional outcomes and specifically exploring cognitive benefits of SEL programmes, the meta-analysis will provide novel insights. As steps are taken to avoid the typical focus on research from the US, the findings will be particularly interesting for European researchers. Our findings will be relevant across the educational sector, as they will reveal which programmes are most beneficial for all students. Our analysis will provide further insights into how programmes can be implemented best to unfold their positive impact. As the findings are relevant for both scientists and for practitioners, wide dissemination is a central objective of this project, and we are working with charities to make the key findings accessible to the public.
Clarke, A.M., Morreale, S., Field, C.A., Hussein, Y., & Barry, M.M. (2015). What works in enhancing social and emotional skills development during childhood and adolescence? A review of the evidence on the effectiveness of school-based and out-of-school programmes in the UK. A report produced by the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion Research, National University of Ireland Galway. Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82, 405-432. Jones, D. E., Greenberg, M., & Crowley, M. (2015). Early social-emotional functioning and public health: The relationship between kindergarten social competence and future wellness. American Journal of Public Health, 11, 2283-2290. Lösel, F., & Beelman, A. (2003). Effects of child skills training in preventing antisocial behavior: A systematic review of randomized evaluations. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 587, 84–109. Schmidt, F. L., & Hunter, J. E. (2015). Methods of meta-analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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