For a detailed description of the overall study methodology, including the program selection criteria and coding/data collection system, please see Appendices B and C of the full report, Navigating SEL from the Inside Out: Looking Inside and Across 33 Leading SEL Programs.
Academic achievement and physical and emotional well-being are two of many positive outcomes associated with school-based SEL. These outcomes are both short and long-term.
But program implementation matters. Inconsistent or ineffective SEL implementation can produce less powerful results. And disorganized approaches can do more harm than good, affecting both staff morale and student engagement in a negative way.
This brief summarizes the features and best practices of effective social and emotional learning (SEL) programs. It offers recommendations for effective SEL implementation. It also offers guidance to help practitioners make informed decisions about SEL program selection.
Effective SEL implementation requires careful planning. It also requires the selection of programs or strategies that meet the needs of a particular context.
The most effective SEL programs incorporate four elements represented by the acronym SAFE:
Building upon these SAFE elements, SEL programs are most effective when they also:
A strong, evidence-based SEL curriculum must be well-implemented to deliver positive outcomes. The authors outline a set of recommendations for effective SEL implementation.
The authors conclude the brief by offering a process for making informed program selection decisions.
This guidance includes links to tools and worksheets to help guide the program selection process.
One large-scale review of prevention programs found that in more than 500 studies, implementation practices had an important impact on program outcomes.