Study: Social and emotional learning yields academic gains

It seems logical to think that teaching good character to kids would improve their academic performance. After all, a trustworthy, responsible, and respectful student attends class, pays attention, completes work on time, and makes good decisions. But it’s always nice to get some hard data agreeing with that assumption.

From the January/February issue of the journal Child Development (via Education Week) comes a recent meta-analysis of several previous studies of the effectiveness of social and emotional learning (SEL) programs. Researchers at Loyola University, Chicago, and University of Illinois, Chicago, examined findings from 213 school-based SEL programs involving 270,034 K-12 students.

The researchers found that students who participated in social and emotional learning programs “demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentile-point gain in achievement.” This confirms our most recent data from Downey Unified in California, where, in the four years after CC! was implemented, annual district API scores rose 5.12%. (See more of our data.)

The authors of the meta-study explain the correlation between SEL and academic achievement by citing previous studies linking social and emotional learning programs to improved attitudes and performance (Zins et al., 2004) and higher self-awareness and confidence, which leads to greater persistence (Aronson, 2002).

The authors also found that programs that adhere to SAFE (sequenced, active, focused, and explicit) practices yield the greatest improvements. When done right, CC! adheres to each of these practices.

If you’ve implemented CC!, keep up the good work, and make sure you’re getting the most out of it.

Sign up for training.

Attend our free webinars.

Integrate character into your curriculum.

Use our free lesson plans.

Finally, measure your progress so you can make adjustments to maximize your success. (And, please, email us your data.)

If you haven’t yet implemented CC!, what are you waiting for?