So, What does ‘Social & Emotional Learning’ Mean? 

Juan Ramirez

April 12, 2022

Now that the pandemic has ceased and students are going back to the classroom, some words have gained more weight and importance. Some of the most common terms are ‘Social & Emotional Learning,’ better known as ‘SEL.’ So, what does ‘SEL’ mean?


Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) is defined as “the process through which children and adults apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”


Schools and communities must adopt an ‘SEL’ standard to foster beneficial outcomes related to social and emotional skills; attitudes about self, school, and civic engagement; social behaviors; conduct problems; emotional distress; and academic performance. 


At BRAVE UP!, we help schools and communities to improve their overall SEL score with our resources, activities, and webinars. We have noticed that a positive SEL score leads to improved academic outcomes and behaviors. Academic learning accelerates when students have supportive relationships and opportunities to develop and practice social, emotional, and cognitive skills across many different contexts. Also, hundreds of studies offer consistent evidence that SEL bolsters academic performance.


Results from a landmark meta-analysis that looked across 213 studies involving more than 270,000 students found that:

  • SEL interventions that address the five core competencies increased students’ academic performance by 11 percentile compared to students who did not participate.
  • Students participating in SEL programs showed improved classroom behavior, an increased ability to manage stress and depression, and better attitudes about themselves, others, and school.
  • Additional meta-analyses echoed these findings. Consistency across independent research teams offers strong support that well-implemented SEL programs are beneficial.


What do these results mean? About 27% more students would improve their academic performance at the end of the program, and 24% more would have improved social behaviors and lower levels of distress.


A positive ‘SEL’ score also benefits your community long term. Subsequent analyses spoke to the long-term effects of SEL implementation and SEL’s effectiveness in diverse cultural contexts. “An SEL approach was consistently effective with all demographic groups both inside and outside the United States. This supports the idea that social and emotional assets promoted in SEL can support the positive development of students from diverse family backgrounds and geographic contexts. (Taylor et al., 2017).” 


When you plan and implement technological initiatives for the classroom, it’s important to maintain a broad view of education. Knowledge is power because it is empowered with personal and social responsibility. Educational resources, likewise, should be empowered with resources that promote social and emotional learning.

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