The Core Components of Evidence-Based Social Emotional Learning Programs

Abstract

Implementing social emotional learning (SEL) programs in school settings is a promising approach to promote critical social and emotional competencies for all students. However, there are several challenges to implementing manualized SEL programs in schools, including program cost, competing demands, and content that is predetermined and cannot be tailored to individual classroom needs. Identifying core components of evidence-based SEL programs may make it possible to develop more feasible approaches to implementing SEL in schools. The purpose of this study was to systematically identify the core components in evidence-based elementary school SEL programs, using the five interrelated sets of competencies identified by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) as an organizing framework. We present the components that were identified, and the rates at which each component was included in the sample of evidence-based SEL programs. The core components that occurred most frequently across programs were Social Skills (100% of programs), Identifying Others’ Feelings (100% of programs), Identifying One’s Own Feelings (92.3% of programs), and Behavioral Coping Skills/Relaxation (91.7% of programs). These findings illustrate the feasibility of systematically identifying core components from evidence-based SEL programs and suggest potential utility of developing and evaluating modularized SEL programs.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

*Reference used to code SEL program

  1. Abry, T., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., & Curby, T. W. (2017). Are all program elements created equal? Relations between specific social and emotional learning components and teacher–student classroom interaction quality. Prevention Science, 18, 193–203.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Boustani, M. M., Frazier, S. L., Becker, K. D., Bechor, M., Dinizulu, S. M., Hedemann, E. R., … Pasalich, D. S. (2015). Common elements of adolescent prevention programs: Minimizing burden while maximizing reach. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 42, 209–219. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488-014-0541-9.

  3. *Brown, E. C., Low, S., Smith, B. H., & Haggerty, K. P. (2011). Outcomes from a school-randomized controlled trial of steps to respect: A bullying prevention program. School Psychology Review, 40, 423–443.

  4. *Bruene Butler, L., Romasz-McDonald, T., & Elias, M. (2011). Social decision making/social problem solving: A curriculum for academic, social, and emotional learning. Champaign: Research Press.

  5. Castro, F. G., & Yasui, M. (2017). Advances in EBI development for diverse populations: Towards a science of intervention adaptation. Prevention Science, 18, 623–629.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  6. *Catalano, R. F., Mazza, J. J., Harachi, T. W., Abbott, R. D., Haggerty, K. P., & Fleming, C. B. (2003). Raising healthy children through enhancing social development in elementary school: Results after 1.5 years. Journal of School Psychology, 41, 143–164.

  7. Chorpita, B. F., & Daleiden, E. L. (2009). Mapping evidence-based treatments for children and adolescents: Application of the distillation and matching model to 615 treatments from 322 randomized trials. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77, 566–579.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Chorpita, B., Daleiden, E., & Weisz, J. (2005). Identifying and selecting the common elements of evidence based interventions: A distillation and matching model. Mental Health Services Research, 7, 5–20. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11020-005-1962-6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Chorpita, B. F., Becker, K. D., & Daleiden, E. L. (2007). Understanding the common elements of evidence-based practice. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 46, 647–652. https://doi.org/10.1097/chi.0b013e318033ff71.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Chorpita, B. F., Daleiden, E. L., Park, A. L., Ward, A. M., Levy, M. C., Cromley, T., … Krull, J. L. (2017). Child STEPs in California: A cluster randomized effectiveness trial comparing modular treatment with community implemented treatment for youth with anxiety, depression, conduct problems, or traumatic stress. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85, 13–25. https://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000133.

  11. Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). (2013). Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs – Preschool and Elementary School Edition. Chicago: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). (2015). Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs – Middle and High School Edition. Chicago: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  13. *Committee for Children. (2011). Second step: Skills for social and academic success. Grade 3 teaching materials.

  14. Dariotis, J. K., Bumbarger, B. K., Duncan, L. G., & Greenberg, M. T. (2008). How do implementation efforts relate to program adherence? Examining the role of organizational, implementer, and program factors. Journal of Community Psychology, 36, 744–760.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Domitrovich, C. E., Bradshaw, C. P., Poduska, J. M., Hoagwood, K., Buckley, J. A., Olin, S., et al. (2008). Maximizing the implementation quality of evidence-based preventive interventions in schools: A conceptual framework. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, 1, 6–28. https://doi.org/10.1080/1754730X.2008.9715730.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  16. Durlak, J. A., & DuPre, E. P. (2008). Implementation matters: A review of research on the influence of implementation on program outcomes and the factors affecting implementation. American Journal of Community Psychology, 41, 327–350. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-008-9165-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions: Social and emotional learning. Child Development, 82, 405–432. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01564.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Embry, D. D., & Biglan, A. (2008). Evidence-based kernels: Fundamental units of behavioral influence. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 11, 75–113. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-008-0036-x.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  19. Fleiss, J. (1981). Statistical methods for rates and proportions (2nd ed.pp. 38–46). New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Forman, S. G., Olin, S. S., Hoagwood, K. E., Crowe, M., & Saka, N. (2009). Evidence-based interventions in schools: Developers’ views of implementation barriers and facilitators. School Mental Health, 1, 26–36. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-008-9002-5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. *Frey, K. S., Hirschstein, M. K., Snell, J. L., Edstrom, L. V. S., MacKenzie, E. P., & Broderick, C. J. (2005). Reducing playground bullying and supporting beliefs: An experimental trial of the steps to respect program. Developmental Psychology, 41, 479–490.

  22. *Frey, K. S., Hirschstein, M. K., Edstrom, L. V., & Snell, J. L. (2009). Observed reductions in school bullying, nonbullying aggression, and destructive bystander behavior: A longitudinal evaluation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 466–481. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013839.

  23. Garland, A. F., Hawley, K. M., Brookman-Frazee, L., & Hurlburt, M. S. (2008). Identifying common elements of evidence-based psychosocial treatments for children’s disruptive behavior problems. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 47, 505–514. https://doi.org/10.1097/CHI.0b013e31816765c2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. *Gerber Allred, C. (2016). Positive action: Grade 3 instructor’s manual. Twin Falls: Positive Action, Inc.

  25. *Greenberg, M.T. & Kusche, C. (2011). PATHS: Promoting alternative thinking strategies grade 3. South Deerfield: Channing Bete Company, Inc.

  26. *Haggerty, K. P., Fleming, C. B., Catalano, R. F., Harachi, T. W., & Abbott, R. D. (2006). Raising healthy children: Examining the impact of promoting healthy driving behavior within a social development intervention. Prevention Science, 7, 257–267. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-006-0033-6.

  27. *Harachi, T. W., Abbott, R. D., Catalano, R. F., Haggerty, K. P., & Fleming, C. B. (1999). Opening the black box: Using process evaluation measures to assess implementation and theory building. American Journal of Community Psychology, 27, 711–731.

  28. *Hirschstein, M. K., Edstrom, L. V. S., Frey, K. S., Snell, J. L., & MacKenzie, E. P. (2007). Walking the talk in bullying prevention: Teacher implementation variables related to initial impact of the steps to respect program. School Psychology Review, 36, 3–21.

  29. Hoffman, D. M. (2009). Reflecting on social emotional learning: A critical perspective on trends in the United States. Review of Educational Research, 79, 533–556.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Hunter, L. J., DiPerna, J. C., Hart, S. C., & Crowley, M. (2018). At what cost? Examining the cost effectiveness of a universal social–emotional learning program. School Psychology Quarterly, 33, 147–154. https://doi.org/10.1037/spq0000232.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. January, A., Casey, R. J., & Paulson, D. (2011). A Meta-analysis of classroom-wide interventions to build social skills: Do they work?. School Psychology Review. 40. 242-256.

  32. Jones, S., Brush, K., Bailey, R., Brion-Meisels, G., McIntyre, J., Kahn, J., Nelson, B., & Stickle, L. (2017). Navigating SEL from the inside out: Looking inside & across 25 leading SEL programs--a practical resource for schools and OST providers. Cambridge: Harvard Graduate School of Education.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Kendall, P. C. (1994). Treating anxiety disorders in children: Results of a randomized clinical trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 100–110.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Kininger, R. L., O’Dell, S. M., & Schultz, B. K. (2018). The feasibility and effectiveness of school-based modular therapy: A systematic literature review. School Mental Health. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-018-9270-7.

  35. Kolko, D. J., Dorn, L. D., Bukstein, O. G., Pardini, D., Holden, E. A., & Hart, J. (2009). Community vs. clinic-based modular treatment of children with early-onset ODD or CD: A clinical trial with 3-year follow-up. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 591–609.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  36. *Linares, L. O., Rosbruch, N., Stern, M. B., Edwards, M. E., Walker, G., Abikoff, H. B., & Alvir, J. M. J. (2005). Developing cognitive-social-emotional competencies to enhance academic learning. Psychology in the Schools, 42, 405–417. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.20066.

  37. Lyon, A. R., Ludwig, K., Romano, E., Koltracht, J., Vander Stoep, A., & McCauley, E. (2014). Using modular psychotherapy in school mental health: Provider perspectives on intervention-setting fit. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 43, 890–901.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. McKown, C., Russo-Ponsaran, N. M., Johnson, J. K., Russo, J., & Allen, A. (2016). Web-based assessment of children’s social-emotional comprehension. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 34, 322–338. https://doi.org/10.1177/0734282915604564.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. McLeod, B. D., Sutherland, K. S., Martinez, R. G., Conroy, M. A., Snyder, P. A., & Southam-Gerow, M. A. (2017). Identifying common practice elements to improve social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes of young children in early childhood classrooms. Prevention Science, 18, 204–213. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-016-0703-y.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. *Michigan. Department of Education., Michigan. Department of Community Health, & Central Michigan University Educational Materials Center. (2016). Michigan Model for Health Grade 2 Curriculum. Holt: Michigan Model for Health Clearinghouse.

  41. Mihalic, S. F., & Irwin, K. (2003). Blueprints for violence prevention: From research to real-world settings—Factors influencing the successful replication of model programs. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 1, 307–329. https://doi.org/10.1177/1541204003255841.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Molloy, L. E., Moore, J. E., Trail, J., Van Epps, J. J., & Hopfer, S. (2013). Understanding real-world implementation quality and “active ingredients” of PBIS. Prevention Science, 14, 593–605. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-012-0343-9.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  43. *Phillips, M. & Roderick, T. (2015). The 4Rs teaching guide 3: Reading, writing, respect & resolution. New York: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

  44. *Ray, P., Alson, S., Lantieri, L., & Roderick, T. (2007). Resolving conflict creatively: A teaching guide for grades kindergarten through six. New York: Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.

  45. *Shure, M. (2001). I can problem solve: An interpersonal cognitive problem-solving program. Kindergarten and primary grades, 2nd edn. Champaign: Research Press.

  46. Sklad, M., Diekstra, R., Ritter, M. D., Ben, J., & Gravesteijn, C. (2012). Effectiveness of school-based universal social, emotional, and behavioral programs: Do they enhance students’ development in the area of skill, behavior, and adjustment? Psychology in the Schools, 49, 892–909. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.21641.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Stephan, S. H., Sugai, G., Lever, N., & Connors, E. (2015). Strategies for integrating mental health into schools via a multi-tiered system of support. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 24, 211–231. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chc.2014.12.002.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  48. *The Hawn Foundation. (2011). MindUP curriculum: Brain-focused strategies for learning—and living. Grades 3–5. New York: Scholastic Inc.

  49. Waller, G., & Turner, H. (2016). Therapist drift redux: Why well-meaning clinicians fail to deliver evidence-based therapy, and how to get back on track. Behavior Research and Therapy, 77, 129–137. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat2015.12.005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. *Webster-Stratton, C. (2012). Incredible teachers: Nurturing children’s social, emotional, and academic competence. Seattle: Incredible Years, Inc.

  51. Weisz, J. R., Chorpita, B. F., Palinkas, L. A., Schoenwald. S. K., Miranda, J, Bearman, S. K., ... & The Research Network on Youth Mental Health. (2012). Testing standard and modular designs for psychotherapy treating depression, anxiety, and conduct problems in youth: A randomized effectiveness trial. Archives of General Psychiatry, 69, 274. https://doi.org/10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.147.

Download references

Funding

This project was completed with funding from Baltimore County Public Schools, Consultant Contract Agreement No. JNI-748-16-02 with the University of Maryland Baltimore, as part of their Project AWARE efforts funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The work was partially supported by T32MH109433. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gwendolyn M. Lawson.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

For this type of study, formal consent is not required.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lawson, G.M., McKenzie, M.E., Becker, K.D. et al. The Core Components of Evidence-Based Social Emotional Learning Programs. Prev Sci 20, 457–467 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-018-0953-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Core components
  • SEL
  • Social emotional learning
  • Universal interventions
  • Schools