‘Press the button and make it go’: How successful is our current approach to SEL implementation and evaluation?
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is a global phenomenon. Currently, a wide range of SEL programmes feature in schools and classrooms across the world, including in the US, Australia, Europe, Jamaica, Korea and Japan. However, despite recent meta-analyses suggesting SEL can lead to a range of salient outcomes, including improved social and emotional skills, school attitudes, academic performance, and reduced mental health difficulties, individual programmes are not always able to produce the same impressive results when adopted and implemented by practitioners in schools.
Drawing upon data from prior projects for illustration (including several English students and a recently completed meta-analysis) I will briefly consider what is meant by SEL, and examine what research can, and cannot, tell us about the conditions under which SEL may be successful. This includes consideration of issues such as social validity and perceived need, fidelity vs. adaptation, and cultural transferability. I will also consider the research practices and paradigms that used to explore these. Finally, implications for policy, practice, and research will also be discussed.
Dr Michael Wigelsworth is a senior lecturer within the Manchester Institute of Education at the University of Manchester. His work focuses on the evaluation of school-based mental health interventions, specifically the assessment of outcomes. Michael is currently leading a Cluster-RCT of the FRIENDS programme, designed to address childhood anxiety and depression. Michael is an editorial board member for the ‘International Journal of School and Educational Psychology’, and ‘Mental Health and Prevention’.
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