RAND Center for Social and Emotional Learning Research

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Recent research has demonstrated the importance of helping students develop a broad range of competencies, including, but not limited to, academic achievement. Educators are increasingly working to promote students’ interpersonal competencies, such as collaboration and social awareness, and their interpersonal competencies, such as emotion regulation and goal setting. The process through which these competencies are developed is often referred to as social and emotional learning (SEL). Research suggests that the development of SEL while students are in school predicts a variety of later outcomes, including participation in postsecondary education, success in the workforce, and personal well-being.

  • Children playing hand games in the grass

    Research on the Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative

    Jan 15, 2019

    RAND is conducting research on The Wallace Foundation’s Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative (PSELI), which explores whether and how students will benefit if adults in schools and out-of-school time (OST) programs work together to align and improve experiences and climate to foster social and emotional learning.

  • schoolHappy school kids sitting together on staircase

    RAND Education Assessment Finder

    Nov 1, 2018

    An interactive tool with information on more than 200 assessments of interpersonal, intrapersonal, and higher-order cognitive competencies. Practitioners, researchers, and policymakers can use it to explore what assessments are available, how they are administered, and other attributes.

RAND’s research on SEL aims to generate new evidence about the effectiveness of SEL programs and practices and to translate that evidence into concrete guidance to inform policy and practice at all levels of the education system. RAND is also examining the contextual conditions in schools and other youth-serving organizations that can support the development of the whole child. RAND is addressing questions such as the following:

  • How can practitioners, policymakers, and researchers measure students’ SEL competency development, and how can they use results from SEL assessments appropriately?
  • What does research tell us about the effectiveness of specific SEL curricula and practices?
  • How can reforms to disciplinary strategies promote student development and improve school environments?
  • How can schools partner with out-of-school-time providers to infuse SEL supports into students’ experiences throughout the whole day?
  • What resources can support state and local education leaders in their efforts to improve policies related to SEL and school safety?

Recent Commentary

  • Students and a counselor sit in a circle, photo by Steve Debenport/Getty Images

    What Two New Studies Reveal About Restorative Justice in Middle School

    Apr 17, 2019

    There are many nuances to the implementation and impact of restorative practices. This suggests that continued experimentation could allow school districts to realize the benefits of instituting these practices and reduce the cost of doing so.

  • Students building something together with tiles, photo by FatCamera/Getty Images

    How Do You Measure Social and Emotional Learning?

    Mar 28, 2019

    As the desire to improve SEL for all students grows, it is increasingly important to measure its effectiveness. But the field has lacked an organized method of identifying, choosing, and using the best assessments to measure students' competencies. Two newly developed tools can help.

  • School children stretching up at lesson, photo by mediaphotos/Getty Images

    Measuring Social-Emotional Skills, Carefully

    Feb 28, 2019

    In the often-fraught debate over education policy, there is growing agreement that educators should pay close attention to the development of the social and emotional skills that allow students to persevere when working on difficult tasks, regulate emotions, and work effectively in teams. But measuring such skills remains a significant challenge.

  • Students sitting and talking in a school corridor, photo by Don Mason/Getty Images

    Choosing the Right Social and Emotional Learning Programs and Practices

    Feb 5, 2019

    Educators have become increasingly interested in supporting students to cultivate the inter- and intra-personal skills that are developed through the process of social and emotional learning. A new guide developed at RAND is meant to help educators adopt evidenced-based interventions that fit the needs of their students and communities.

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    Finding the Right Assessment Tool: Another Resource for Educators and Researchers

    Nov 7, 2018

    To teach something effectively, educators need to determine whether their instructional approaches are working, and make adjustments to those approaches as needed. The Assessment Work Group and RAND have developed tools to assist educators in finding and using assessments to measure social and emotional learning and higher-order cognitive competencies.

  • Community members outside of a high school

    Social and Emotional Learning Prepares Students for Life

    Aug 27, 2018

    The goal of social and emotional learning is to give students the skills they need to work in teams, communicate their ideas, and manage their emotions. Research can help educators determine which programs work and which ones qualify for federal funding under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

  • Teacher talking to pupils

    Learning How to Measure Social and Emotional Learning

    Jan 11, 2018

    Educators and policymakers are increasingly focusing on non-academic competencies, known as social and emotional learning. To support growth in these areas, teachers need assessments that can help them understand how well students are learning these skills, and what instructional approaches work best.

  • A group of young school children stretching their arms out above their heads

    Building Support for Social and Emotional Learning: Having an Evidence Base Is Critical

    Dec 14, 2017

    Students need more than proficiency in reading or math. Perseverance, active listening, empathy and good decision-making help kids succeed both academically and in life. Schools need access to high-quality social and emotional learning assessment measures to ensure programs will improve student learning and their futures.