MET:Academic Achievement and Social-emotional-learning

From UBC Wiki

This page has been authored for ETEC 510 65C, by Chantal Drolet, February 2009


Humans are emotional beings, who live in social contexts. These characteristics influence learning by filtering experiences through perceptions and attitudes. Consequently, effective learning involves internal factors (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1989) [1] and self-regulation (Peer & Martin, 2005)[2].

On the one hand, this presentation explores the ways in which the Social Emotional Learning (henceforth SEL) approach and academic success are connected. "A growing body of research demonstrates that evidence-based SEL interventions are associated with academic achievement, health, and citizenship […]", (Zins & Elias, 2001, p. 10)[3].

To present the complex relationship between the brain and enhanced performance, this brief interactive project will start with an overview of SEL outcomes and competencies; continue with a glimpse at brain based learning; followed by a look at neuroplasticity and its relation with academic achievement; and conclude with some SEL pedagogical guidelines.

On the other hand, this wiki also discusses some limitations associated with the SEL approach. Finally, it offers examples of SEL implementation practices.


The brain based method of teaching mainly facilitates process-based learning. It is particularly useful for higher thinking levels. The objective is to assist the students' cognitive skills in order to acquire meaningful knowledge (as opposed to memorization).

This didactic strategy encourages the recall of past references before exposing student to novel data.

According to Ozden & Gultekin (2008)[4], this linking method improves retention when compared to a traditional approach.

Indicates changes that occur in the organization of the brain as a result of experience.

The capacity to recognize and manage emotions, solve problems effectively, and establish and maintain positive relationships with others. (Ragozzino, Resnik, Utne-O’Brien, Weissberg, 2003)[5]

Academic Achievement and Social Emotional Learning

File:Girl sleeping with glasses.jpg
SEL: Do students' emotions affect their academic potential?

SEL Outcomes Related to Performance in School

Improved math, language arts, and social studies skills
Increases in achievement over time (elementary to middle school)
Higher achievement test scores and no decreases in scores
More progress in phonological awareness
Improved learning-to-learn skill
Better problem solving and planning
Improved nonverbal reasoning

From: Social and emotional learning (Zins & Elias, 2001, p. 5)

See also:

Building academic success on social and emotional learning: What does the research say?

Part 1, ch. 1, The Foundations of Social and Emotional Learning, (Zins, Bloodworth, Weissberg & Walberg, 2004, p. 17)[6]

Slide show: (Press on top of the following page/link to see the Powerpoint presentation):

SEL Slide Show: What Is It and How Does? It Contribute to Students’ Academic Success?

Core SEL Competencies

Self-Awareness Knowing what we are feeling in the moment; having a realistic assessment of our own abilities and a well-grounded sense of self-confidence
Social Awareness Sensing what others are feeling; being able to take their perspective; appreciating and interacting positively with diverse groups
Self-Management Handling our emotions so they facilitate rather than interfere with the task at hand; being conscientious and delaying gratification to pursue goals; persevering in the face of setbacks and frustrations
Relationship Skills Handling emotions in relationships effectively; establishing and maintaining healthy and rewarding relationships based on cooperation; resistance to inappropriate social pressure; negotiating solutions to conflict; seeking help when needed
Responsible Decision-Making Accurately assessing risks; making decisions based on a consideration of all relevant factors and the likely consequences of alternative courses of action; respecting others; taking personal responsibility for one’s decisions

From: Promoting academic achievement through social and emotional learning, (Ragozzino et al., 2003, p. 170).

Brain Based Learning: Social Emotional Learning Framework

VIDEO 50:52min:

Social Emotional Learning Framework, UCDavis, M.I.N.D. Institute, University of California

Presenter: Meryl Lipton, M. D., Ph. D., Rush Neurobehavioral Center, Rush University Medical Center [1]

Dr. Meryl Lipton gives a lecture on the Social Emotional Learning Framework (SELF) as a way to refocus research about children with brain based social emotional learning disorders.

SELF presents

  1. A set of brain based social emotional processes;
  2. Available ways to assess social emotional learning strengths and weaknesses;
  3. A variety of strategies for intervention.

SEL and Neuroscience Research

New research on neuroplasticity shows that by using SEL principles in school, students’ brains are perceptibly altered and their learning behaviors adjust correspondingly.

VIDEO 20min:

The Heart-Brain Connection: The Neuroscience of Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning | Edutopia

Presenter: Richard J. Davidson , W. M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior, Waisman Center and Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience, Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Building Academic Success on SEL

Scientific research has shown that a child’s brain goes through major development until the mid-20s. Neuroplasticity is the transformation of the brain’s circuitry [...] in relation to what is experienced each day.

A secure [emotional] base [...] can create an environment that lets children's brains function at their best. That base becomes [...] a zone of strength from which they can venture forth to explore, to master something new, to achieve.

[...] When children are taught to better manage their anxiety [it helps them] focus their attention. This enhances their ability to reach an optimal zone for learning as well.

Excerpt from book, Lantieri, L. (2008). [2][7]:

File:Building Academic Success on SEL.gif

Book forward written by Daniel Goleman.

VIDEO 20min

Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: Are You Socially Intelligent? This video expands on the social aspect of emotions. The presenter claims that interactions have an effect on the brain. Human beings benefit from developing an awareness of their emotional output in order to optimize their potential and contribute to society more effectively.

SEL Pedagogical Guidelines

SEL programming in schools, when carried out systematically and comprehensively, supports caring classroom environments and helps develop positive relationships, (Ragozzino et al., 2003, p. 171).

Students trained with an SEL approach:

1. Have a better attendance at school

2. Behave well in class; suffer less from drug abuse, violence, or bullying

3. Improve their academic achievements perceptibly

SEL programming provides students with varied skills that positively affect academic achievement.

They include:

a. Managing emotions that interfere with learning and concentration

b. Developing motivation and the ability to persevere even in the face of academic setbacks and challenges

c. Working cooperatively and effectively in the classroom and in peer learning groups

d. Setting and working toward academic goals

SEL Strategies

Key strategies that characterize effective school-based prevention programming involve the following student-focused, relationship-oriented, and classroom and school-level organizational changes.

  • Teaching children to apply SEL skills and ethical values through cooperative learning in the classroom;
  • Combining SEL activities with regular academic curricula (e.g., English, social studies).
  • Integrate SEL methods into co-curricular activities (e.g., athletics).
  • Providing students with opportunities for self-direction, participation, and school or community service;
  • Encouraging nurturing relationships among students, school staff, and parents;

See: Greenberg, Weissberg, Utne O’Brien, Zins, Fredericks, Resnik & Elias, 2003, p. 470)[8]

See also: Zins & Elias, 2001, p. 8.

Controversies and Limitations

Opponents have called emotional intelligence a "buzzword" which in reality holds little meaning (Steiner, 1997), while others have proposed that it is just a new word for a collection of already established competencies (Woodruffe, 2001).

Goleman’s claims stating emotional intelligence’s significance in predicting success is over and above that of I.Q., and the conflicting evidence regarding these claims, resulted in many researchers doubting the legitimacy of the construct, (Epstein, 1998; Hedlund & Sternburg, 2000; Mayer et al., 2000; Roberts, Zeidner, & Matthews, 2002).

Another group of researchers [...] take issue with the fact that definitions of emotional intelligence range from encompassing purely cognitive factors to including cognitive factors as well as many personality traits.

Except from: Review of the Emotional Intelligence Literature and Implications for Corrections, (2004), p. 57 [3][9].

Example of SEL implementation

Lions Quest programs are school-based, comprehensive, positive youth development and prevention programs that unite the home, school and community, to cultivate capable and healthy young people of strong character, through life skills, character education, SEL, civic values, drug prevention, and service-learning education. [4]

File:Lionsquest image.jpg
Lions Quest programs can help improve academic performance as well as teach essential social and emotional competencies.

In Lions Quest Research Brief for Schools:

  • SEL can lead to a 11% increase in academic performance
  • When SEL is integrated into the total school experience, outcomes are the greatest including changes in attitudes, behaviors, and performance


According to Zins et al., (2004), an SEL program improves students' sense of ownership; decision making skills and assessment results. Recent research also shows that SEL can improve academic performance by at least 11% (Weissberg, 2007)[10]

We have the science to foster children’s social, emotional, and academic learning […]. The next generation […] will require researchers, educators, and policymakers [...] to design evidence-based, [...] youth development programming [...] and support systems [… for] all young people to realize their full potential, (Greenberg, et al., 2003).

References (Linked to text)

  1. [Bereiter, C., Scardamalia, M. (1989). Intentional learning as a goal of instruction. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Retrieved February 14, 2009, from:]
  2. [Peer, K. S. & Martin, M. (2005). The learner-centered syllabus: From theory to practice in allied health education. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice, 3 (2), ISSN 1540-580X. Retrieved February 14, 2009, from:]
  3. [Zins, J. E. & Elias, M. J. (2001). Social and emotional learning. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. Reprinted from: Zins, J. E., Elias, M. J., & Greenberg, M. T. 2003. Facilitating success in school and in life through social and emotional learning. Perspectives in Education, 21(4), pp. 59–60. Retrieved February 14. 2009, from:]
  4. [Ozden, M. & Gultekin, M. (2008). The effects of brain-based learning on academic achievement and retention of knowledge in science course. Electronic Journal of Science Education 12(1). Retrieved February 20, 2009, from:]
  5. [Ragozzino, K., Resnik, H., Utne-O’Brien, M. & Weissberg, R. P. (2003). Promoting academic achievement through social and emotional learning. Educational Horizons, p.171. Retrieved February 14, 2009, from:]
  6. [Zins, J. E., Bloodworth, M. R., Weissberg, R. P. & Walberg, H. J. (2004). Building academic success on social and emotional learning: What does the research say? Teachers College Press, Columbia University.]
  7. [Lantieri, L. (2008). Building emotional intelligence: Techniques to cultivate inner strength in children. Sounds True Publications. Retrieved February 14, 2009, from:]
  8. [Greenberg, M. T., Weissberg, R. P., Utne O’Brien, M., Zins, J. E., Fredericks, L., Resnik, H. & Elias, M. J. (2003). Enhancing school-based prevention and youth development through coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning. American Psychologist, June/July 2003, 58(6/7), 466–474 DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.58.6-7.466]
  9. [Review of the emotional intelligence literature and implications for corrections. (2004). Research Branch, Correctional Service of Canada, N° R-150, p.57. Retrieved February 15, 2009, from:]
  10. [Weissberg, R.P. (2007, December). Social and emotional learning for student success. Presentation at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning Forum, New York.]

References (Alphabetically)

Additional Resources

AssociationAdvances in SEL Research

CASEL Update, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (December 2007). The Benefits of School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Programs: Highlights from a Forthcoming CASEL Report

Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning

Efectiveness of School-Based Social and Emotional Education Programmes Worldwide

Efectiveness of School-Based Social and Emotional Education Programmes Worldwide

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

How Evidence-Based SEL Programs Work to Produce Greater Student Success in School and Life

Proposal: Social Emotional Learning as Part of a Basic Education in Washington State

SELAS Social Emotional Learning for Academic Success Skills for Learning, Skills for Life 2007-2008 Information Sheet

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)and Student Benefits: Implications for the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Core Elements

Ten steps to promoting social and emotional learning.

The Children’s Center for Emotional Intelligence

The Healthy Schools! Healthy Kids! Guide to Profiles and Practices of Rhode Island Educators

See Also

BC Performance Standards - Social Responsibility: A Framework

National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention