“Kernels” of Social-Emotional Learning

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“Kernels” of Social-Emotional Learning


The Wallace Foundation commissioned a series of analytic papers that draw on their major report, Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out, which examines the 25 most widely-used Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL) programs. In the United States and other countries, schools and out-of-school-time programs (including Sistema programs) are increasingly embracing the expanding field of social and emotional learning.  However, researchers found that the extra time and funding required to teach SEL skills can impede this valuable work, especially in lower income settings.

This paper suggests one possible solution: identifying and using low-cost, targeted strategies called “evidence-based prevention kernels.” These strategies, which address a specific behavior, can be taught quickly and are easier to implement than comprehensive programs. For example, a teacher could use a deep-breathing exercise (known as the “turtle technique”) to help students calm down when they are angry, or use hand signals to indicate a change in direction for the class.

Drawing on a content analysis of 25 top SEL programs by researcher Stephanie Jones and her team at Harvard’s EASEL Lab, the study shows how kernels could be applied across different settings—in classrooms, on the playground, at home, or in rehearsal—to maximize their impact. When employed consistently and regularly, kernels could have the potential to increase both social adjustment and academic achievement, researchers say.  They also postulate that kernels could be more readily applied, are easy to administer, and ultimately could come at a lower cost for schools and programs.

Click here to read the entire Wallace Report.

Click here to read the Kernels of Practice for SEL brief.

Date Published: 15 December 2018