A Feasibility Study of a School-Based Social Emotional Learning Program: Informing Program Development and Evaluation

  • Laura A. VoithEmail author
  • Susan Yoon
  • James Topitzes
  • Michael J. Brondino


The Peace Program is a school-based social emotional learning program. Despite increased efforts to develop, implement, and evaluate school-based SEL programs in the past few decades, the short- and long-term effectiveness of such programs remains unclear. Considering the previously identified gaps that may contribute to modest effect sizes and erosion of initial effects over time, we conducted a feasibility study to better understand adoption and implementation of a local SEL program in order to inform future program design, delivery, and evaluation. Using mixed-methods, feasibility indicators: program acceptability, facilitator competence, and students’ social–emotional outcomes were examined. Qualitative data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Outcome analyses were conducted on facilitator competence measures and student outcomes using mixed-model repeated measures analysis of variance. Qualitative results indicated acceptance for the Peace Program. Facilitators demonstrated competence, with no difference across grade, classroom, or schools. Significant interactions effects were found for students’ aggression, concentration/attention, and emotional competence. School-level associations were found for students’ concentration/attention. Implications of results and future directions are discussed, including the critical role of teachers and social workers in promoting SEL among socioeconomically disadvantaged children; the impact on SEL programming on children in early elementary grades; and the potential effects of school climate and culture.


Social emotional learning Feasibility Mixed-methods School 



We would like to acknowledge the leadership team and staff of the Peace Program and SET Ministry, Inc. for their commitment to the evaluation process.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The first author declares a potential conflict of interest: the first author was paid a fee by SET Ministry, Inc. to conduct an evaluation of the Peace Program. The other co-authors declare no conflicts of interests. We have followed approved ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social SciencesCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  2. 2.College of Social WorkThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, The Institute for Child and Family Well-beingUniversity of Wisconsin – MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA
  4. 4.Helen Bader School of Social WelfareUniversity of Wisconsin – MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA

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