2008 Meta-Analysis of SEL Programs

Some of the most compelling information supporting Social Emotional Learning (SEL) comes from findings of the largest, most scientifically rigorous review of research ever done on interventions that promote children’s social and emotional development. This review of more than 700 studies published through 2007 included school, family, and community interventions designed to promote social and emotional skills in children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 18. This large sample of studies was divided into three main areas: studies about (a) school-based interventions, (b) after-school programs, and (c) programs for families. Results of the school-based research, which included 207 studies of programs involving 288,000 students, is of key relevance here.

In this meta-analysis (study of studies), researchers used statistical techniques to summarize the findings across all the studies and found a broad range of benefits for students:

9% decrease in conduct problems, such as classroom misbehavior and aggression

10% decrease in emotional distress, such as anxiety and depression

9% improvement in attitudes about self, others, and school

23% improvement in social and emotional skills

11% improvement in achievement test scores

More information on the research results is available in a CASEL briefing paper and as an archived teleconference.