Introduction to Social and Emotional Learning Competencies

Beyond Content:  Incorporating Social and Emotional Learning into the StriveTogether Framework

About this Resource

This resource was developed to help users navigate the "Beyond Content: Incorporating Social and Emotional Learning into the StriveTogether Framework" report.

The report found that Social and Emotional Competencies that were both related to academic success and malleable. Click on the links below to find more information about each or continue reading for general information about the report with links to versions available for download and links to the appendix.  

Academic Self-Efficacy

Growth Mindset or Mastery Orientation

Grit or Perseverance

Emotional Competence

Self-Regulated Learning and Study Skills

Background

Mainstream education has traditionally put an emphasis on mastery of core academic content, particularly since the inception of “No Child Left Behind.” However, emerging research is demonstrating that other, non-content competencies are important to success in school and career.  Variously referred to as noncognitive competencies, social emotional skills, and/or 21st century skills, these skills are of increasing interest to the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network. (For more information on StriveTogether, please visit www.strivetogether.org)

Recognizing a connection between building social emotional competencies and academic success, and hearing much interest in the subject within the Network, the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network launched the Task Force on Measuring Social and Emotional Learning, in early 2013.  The Task Force was comprised of representatives from the Network as well as experts in the field.  Its charge was to:

  • Determine a menu of social and emotional competencies that meet the following criteria: [1] are well related to achievement, [2] are malleable, and [3] that cradle-to-career partnerships can track and measure as part of their work
  • Identify a set of scalable measures / assessments of these competencies

To accomplish these goals, Philliber Research Associates (PRA) was engaged to study this complex and emerging field, and identify competencies and measures that met the aforementioned criteria decided upon by the Task Force, which placed an emphasis on improvement of student academic achievement.  

The Task Force on Measuring Social and Emotional Learning unveiled its final report, authored by PRA, at the StriveTogether convening on September 27, 2013.  Entitled Beyond Content:  Incorporating Social and Emotional Learning into the Strive Framework, this report has been developed to serve as a resource to the Network and others working in the field of improving student achievement.  The report is organized into three volumes.

Click on the volume number below to access the version available for download. 

Volume I: Social and Emotional Competencies and their Relationship to Academic Achievement

Volume II: A Summary of Measures by Competency and Stage of the Cradle to Career Continuum

Volume III: A Compendium of Social and Emotional Competency Measures

Summary of Report

Volume l of the report identifies five social emotional competencies for which there is a solid research base that shows them to meet two main criteria identified by the Task Force: 1) they can positively impact academic achievement and 2) they have been shown to be malleable at different points along the cradle-to-career continuum.  These five competencies, along with paraphrased definitions, include:

Click on the name of the competency for a more in depth description and links to measures. 

1. Academic Self-Efficacy: the belief that one can succeed in a particular academic pursuit

2. Growth Mindset or Mastery Orientation: the belief that intelligence can be improved, much like a muscle that is exercised

3. Grit or Perseverance: the ability to stay focused on a goal despite obstacles along the way

4. Emotional Competence: the ability to deal with emotions in a constructive way, whether they are your own or others’

5. Self-Regulated Learning and Study Skills: those academic behaviors and use of study strategies that allow a student to focus on and meet academic demands

The Appendix to Volume l also includes information on two other competencies that may be of interest: critical thinking and creativity. These were not included in the main body of Volume I due to their more tenuous relationship to academic achievement.

Volume II provides a summary of existing measures organized by both age group and competency.  It contains a wealth of information regarding existing measures for these competencies including: what is measured; who completes the measure; time required to complete; cost; and psychometric properties. This summary of measures, while not exhaustive, is a broad representation of the kinds of measures available for each competency. 

Finally, Volume III is a compendium of actual copies of these measures, for review and, where possible, use by communities. 

It should be noted that the Task Force made an intentional decision to not recommend specific measures or assessment tools for use by communities.  Instead, a community is able to choose from this “menu” those measures that best meet its unique needs, or look beyond these tools to others not identified in this summary.  Over time, as more communities engage in measuring social emotional competencies and test these tools, it is possible that best practices can be identified and recommendations of tools can be made. 

Unmet Needs in the Field of Social Emotional Learning

In the course of developing this report, PRA and the Task Force have identified several areas in need of additional research and investment including:

  • Creation of measurement tools that assess more than one competency.  Currently, most available tools assess just one competency.
  • A clearer understanding of how the various competencies affect each other.
  • More clarity and consistency on names, definitions, and categorization of competencies.

Conclusion

Although the field of social emotional learning and its measurement is emergent and there is still much to learn, the existing evidence clearly demonstrates that the five competencies identified above are strongly related to academic achievement; are malleable and measurable; and, thus, are a potentially important strategy for communities in their goal of raising student achievement.  Partnerships within the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network, in particular, are well positioned to learn from their data how best to approach both the development and measurement of these competencies within their respective communities, as well as inform the broader field about which measures are the best for enabling continuous improvement and which can be most readily scaled to whole populations.

Appendix

Click on the titles below for more information about the competency and why it was not selected for this report. 

Critical Thinking

Creativity 

Measures by Age

Click on the links below to find the measures sorted by age group

Infants through 5 year olds

6 through 10 year olds

11 through 13 year olds

14 through 18 year olds

Adults

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