The importance of SEL in High School
Updated: Jun 28, 2022
In 2018 DePaoli, Atwell, Bridgeland, and Shriver published a study that focused on high school student perception of specific aspects of climate and culture on their campus based on whether that school prioritized social and emotional learning or not. The researchers surveyed current (800) and former (500) high school students ages 16-22 across the country. Overall the study found that students cited social and emotional problems as significant barriers to learning, doing their best, getting along with others, and being successful in school (and out of it). Fewer than ½ of students surveyed felt that their school was doing a good job helping them to develop social and emotional skills.
The study went on to examine how students felt about specific aspects of climate and culture on their campuses. Student responses were divided based on whether or not they attended a school that emphasized or prioritized social and emotional learning or not. Take a look at a snapshot of some of the top results in the table below.
Overall, students in high schools with strong SEL programs felt safer, more engaged in learning (and more willing to ask questions and get involved in campus based clubs and activities), felt valued and heart, and felt better prepared for post secondary environments.
DePaoli, J.L., Atwell, M.N., Bridgeland, J.M., Shriver, T.P. (2018). Respected: Perspectives of youth on high school and social and emotional learning. Chicago: CASEL.
3 key takeaways:
Students, and young adults, from schools with strong SEL programs report a more positive school climate and learning environment. They also indicated that they did better academically and felt better prepared for life after high school compared to those in schools that did not prioritize SEL programs.
Schools that have strong SEL programs and emphasize social and emotional skill development are broadly appealing to ALL students across different races, ethnicity, income levels, geographic location, etc. Survey responses show that students see the benefits of schools that prioritize social and emotional skill development; however, less than half believe that their high schools are doing a good job of helping them develop these skills.
Students indicated that social and emotional problems are significant barriers to learning, doing their best, and being successful.
How do you think your high school students would rate your campus culture in these key areas?