Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 2

social-emotional learning Related Abstracts

2 Efficacy of a Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum for Kindergarten and First Grade Students to Improve Social Adjustment within the School Culture

Authors: Ann P. Daunic, Nancy Corbett

Abstract:

Background and Significance: Researchers emphasize the role that motivation, self-esteem, and self-regulation play in children’s early adjustment to the school culture, including skills such as identifying their own feelings and understanding the feelings of others. As social-emotional growth, academic learning, and successful integration within culture and society are inextricably connected, the Social-Emotional Learning Foundations (SELF) curriculum was designed to integrate social-emotional learning (SEL) instruction within early literacy instruction (specifically, reading) for Kindergarten and first-grade students at risk for emotional and behavioral difficulties. Storybook reading is a typically occurring activity in the primary grades; thus SELF provides an intervention that is both theoretically and practically sound. Methodology: The researchers will report on findings from the first two years of a three-year study funded by the US Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences to evaluate the effects of the SELF curriculum versus “business as usual” (BAU). SELF promotes the development of self-regulation by incorporating instructional strategies that support children’s use of SEL related vocabulary, self-talk, and critical thinking. The curriculum consists of a carefully coordinated set of materials and pedagogy designed specifically for primary grade children at early risk for emotional and behavioral difficulties. SELF lessons (approximately 50 at each grade level) are organized around 17 SEL topics within five critical competencies. SELF combines whole-group (the first in each topic) and small-group lessons (the 2nd and 3rd in each topic) to maximize opportunities for teacher modeling and language interactions. The researchers hypothesize that SELF offers a feasible and substantial opportunity within the classroom setting to provide a small-group social-emotional learning intervention integrated with K-1 literacy-related instruction. Participating target students (N = 876) were identified by their teachers as potentially at risk for emotional or behavioral issues. These students were selected from 122 Kindergarten and 100 first grade classrooms across diverse school districts in a southern state in the US. To measure the effectiveness of the SELF intervention, the researchers asked teachers to complete assessments related to social-emotional learning and adjustment to the school culture. A social-emotional learning related vocabulary assessment was administered directly to target students receiving small-group instruction. Data were analyzed using a 3-level MANOVA model with full information maximum likelihood to estimate coefficients and test hypotheses. Major Findings: SELF had significant positive effects on vocabulary, knowledge, and skills associated with social-emotional competencies, as evidenced by results from the measures administered. Effect sizes ranged from 0.41 for group (SELF vs. BAU) differences in vocabulary development to 0.68 for group differences in SEL related knowledge. Conclusion: Findings from two years of data collection indicate that SELF improved outcomes related to social-emotional learning and adjustment to the school culture. This study thus supports the integration of SEL with literacy instruction as a feasible and effective strategy to improve outcomes for K-1 students at risk for emotional and behavioral difficulties.

Keywords: Social Skills, vocabulary development, Socio-cultural context for learning, social-emotional learning

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1 A Qualitative Study of Experienced Early Childhood Teachers Resolving Workplace Challenges with Character Strengths

Authors: Michael J. Haslip

Abstract:

Character strength application improves performance and well-being in adults across industries, but the potential impact of character strength training among early childhood educators is mostly unknown. To explore how character strengths are applied by early childhood educators at work, a qualitative study was completed alongside professional development provided to a group of in-service teachers of children ages 0-5 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Study participants (n=17) were all female. The majority of participants were non-white, in full-time lead or assistant teacher roles, had at least ten years of experience and a bachelor’s degree. Teachers were attending professional development weekly for 2 hours over a 10-week period on the topic of social and emotional learning and child guidance. Related to this training were modules and sessions on identifying a teacher’s character strength profile using the Values in Action classification of 24 strengths (e.g., humility, perseverance) that have a scientific basis. Teachers were then asked to apply their character strengths to help resolve current workplace challenges. This study identifies which character strengths the teachers reported using most frequently and the nature of the workplace challenges being resolved in this context. The study also reports how difficult these challenges were to the teachers and their success rate at resolving workplace challenges using a character strength application plan. The study also documents how teachers’ own use of character strengths relates to their modeling of these same traits (e.g., kindness, teamwork) for children, especially when the nature of the workplace challenge directly involves the children, such as when addressing issues of classroom management and behavior. Data were collected on action plans (reflective templates) which teachers wrote to explain the work challenge they were facing, the character strengths they used to address the challenge, their plan for applying strengths to the challenge, and subsequent results. Content analysis and thematic analysis were used to investigate the research questions using approaches that included classifying, connecting, describing, and interpreting data reported by educators. Findings reveal that teachers most frequently use kindness, leadership, fairness, hope, and love to address a range of workplace challenges, ranging from low to high difficulty, involving children, coworkers, parents, and for self-management. Teachers reported a 71% success rate at fully or mostly resolving workplace challenges using the action plan method introduced during professional development. Teachers matched character strengths to challenges in different ways, with certain strengths being used mostly when the challenge involved children (love, forgiveness), others mostly with adults (bravery, teamwork), and others universally (leadership, kindness). Furthermore, teacher’s application of character strengths at work involved directly modeling character for children in 31% of reported cases. The application of character strengths among early childhood educators may play a significant role in improving teacher well-being, reducing job stress, and improving efforts to model character for young children.

Keywords: Professional Development, Positive Psychology, character strengths, social-emotional learning

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